The Honourable

From Academic Kids

The prefix The Honourable or The Honorable (abbr. The Hon. or formerly The Hon'ble) is a title of quality attached to the names of certain classes of persons.


Commonwealth usage


In the United Kingdom, all sons and daughters of viscounts and barons and the younger sons of earls are styled with this prefix. (The daughters and younger sons of dukes and marquesses and the daughters of earls have the higher style of Lord or Lady before their first names, and the eldest sons of dukes, marquesses and earls are known by one of their father or mother's subsidiary titles.) The style is only a courtesy one, however, and on legal documents they are described as, for instance, John Smith, Esq., commonly called The Honourable John Smith. As the wives of sons of peers share the titles of their husbands, the wives of the sons of viscounts and barons and the younger sons of earls are known as, e.g., The Hon. Mrs John Smith.

Some persons are entitled to the prefix by virtue of their offices. Rules exist that allow certain individuals to keep the prefix The Honourable even after retirement.

Many corporate entities are also entitled to the style, for example:

  • The Honourable the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament Assembled;
  • The Honourable East India Company;
  • The Honourable Artillery Company; etc.


The style The Honourable is always written on envelopes, and formally elsewhere, in which case the style Mr or Esq. is omitted. In speech, however, The Honourable John Smith is referred to simply as Mr John Smith.

In the House of Commons and other lower houses of Parliament and other legislatures, members refer to each other as honourable members etc. out of courtesy, despite the fact that they are not entitled to the style in writing.

Where a person is entitled to the prefix The Right Honourable he will use this higher style instead of The Honourable.

American usage

In the United States, the prefix The Honorable is used for a large number of high ranking (and not so high ranking) government officials, including:

The term Your Honor as a spoken form of address is usually reserved for judges, justices, and magistrates (who are invariably addressed as such when presiding in court).

Australian usage

In Australia, all ministers in Commonwealth, state and territory governments are styled The Honourable as a result of their membership of the executive councils of their respective jurisdictions. This title is retained for life. The Presiding officers of both houses of each of the parliaments of the Commonwealth, the state and the territories are also styled The Honourable.

Traditionally, members of the Legislative Councils of the states were also styled The Honourable. This practice is still followed in New South Wales, Western Australia and South Australia. It is not followed in Tasmania. In Victoria, the practice was abolished in 2003. Queensland has no upper house. Members of the Australian Senate are not styled The Honourable unless they are present or former office-holders.

Canadian usage

In Canada, the following people are entitled to the style The Honourable for life:

In addition, the some people are entitled to the style while in office only:

It is usual for Speakers of the House of Commons to be made Privy Councillors, in which case they keep the style for life, and provincial Premiers are sometimes also made Privy Councillors.

Members of the Canadian House of Commons and of provincial legislatures refer to each other as "honourable members" but are not entitled to have The Honourable as a prefix in front of their name.

The Governor General of Canada, the Prime Minister of Canada, the Chief Justice of Canada and certain other eminent persons are entitled to the style The Right Honourable.

see Styles of Address (Canada) (

Hong Kong usage

In Hong Kong, China, the prefix "the Honourable" is used for the following people:

New Zealand usage

In addition to the standard Commonwealth usage, the Speaker of the House of Representatives is entitled to be referred to as "the Honourable". New Zealand office holders who are "honourable" ex-officio are usually personally granted the title for life as a courtesy when they vacate the office.

See also


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