A title is one or more words used before or after a person's name, in certain contexts. It may signify either generation, an official position, or a professional or academic qualification. In some languages, titles may be inserted between the first and last name (for example, Graf in German, Cardinal in Catholic usage (Richard Cardinal Cushing) or clerical titles such as Archbishop). Some titles are hereditary.
Madam (also Madame and Ma'am) – Formal form of address for an adult woman. Also used to denote a position of power or respect, opposite the usage of "Mister" for men, e.g. "Mister/Madam Ambassador".
Controversy around usage of common titles
Some people object to the usage of titles to denote marital status, age or gender. In 2018, a campaign named GoTitleFree was launched to encourage businesses to stop requesting, storing and using marital status titles in their registration forms, and when speaking with customers, launched on the grounds that titles often lead to assumptions about a woman's age or availability for marriage, and exclude non-binary people. This is in line with established practice advocated by the World Wide Web Consortium and the Government Digital Service which sets the standard for UK government online services. This in turn means that titles are optional on UK passports and driving licences.
Aunt, Auntie, or Uncle may be used as titles by nieces and nephews, or by children to adults whom they know.
Prince/Princess – From the Latinprinceps, meaning "first person" or "first citizen". The title was originally used by Augustus at the establishment of the Roman Empire to avoid the political risk of assuming the title Rex ("King") in what was technically still a republic. In modern times, the title is often given to the sons and daughters of ruling monarchs. Also a title of certain ruling monarchs under the Holy Roman Empire and its subsidiary territories until 1918 which is still used in Liechtenstein, (Monaco still uses the title Prince to this day, even though it was not a part of the Holy Roman Empire) and in Imperial Russia before 1917. The German title is Fürst ("first"), a translation of the Latin term;[A] the equivalent Russian term is князь (knyaz).
Marquis or Marquess/Marquise or Marchioness – From the French marchis, literally "ruler of a border area", (from Old French marche meaning "border"); exact English translation is "March Lord", or "Lord of the March".
Count/Countess - From the Latin comes meaning "companion". The word was used by the Roman Empire in its Byzantine period as an honorific with a meaning roughly equivalent to modern English "peer". It became the title of those who commanded field armies in the Empire, as opposed to "Dux" which commanded locally based forces.
Earl (used in the United Kingdom instead of Count, but the feminine equivalent is Countess) – From the Germanic jarl, meaning "chieftain," the title was brought to the British Isles by the Anglo-Saxons and survives in use only there, having been superseded in Scandinavia and on the European continent.
Baron/Baroness - From the Late LatinBaro, meaning "man, servant, soldier". The title originally designated the chief feudal tenant of a place, who was in vassalage to a greater lord.
In the United Kingdom, "Lord" and "Lady" are used as titles for members of the nobility. Unlike titles such as "Mr" and "Mrs", they are not used before first names except in certain circumstances, for example as courtesy titles for younger sons, etc., of peers. In Scotland "Lord of Parliament" and "Lady of Parliament" are the equivalents of Baron and Baroness in England.
Lord – From Old English hlāford, hlāfweard, meaning, literally, "bread-keeper", from hlāf ("bread") + weard ("guardian, keeper") and by extension "husband, father, or chief". (From which comes modified titles such as First Sea Lord and Lord of the Manor.) The feminine equivalent is Lady from the related Old English hlǣfdīġe meaning, literally, "bread-kneader", from hlāf ("bread") + dīġe ("maid"), and by extension wife, daughter, or mistress of the house. (From which comes First Lady, the anachronistic Second Lady, etc.)
King/Queen – Derived from Old Norse/Germanic words. The original meaning of the root of "king" apparently meant "leader of the family" or "descendant of the leader of the family," and the original meaning of "queen," "wife". By the time the words came into English they already meant "ruler".
Tsar/Tsarina (Tsaritsa) – Slavonic loan-word from Latin.
Chief – A variation of the English "Prince", used as the short form of the word "Chieftain" (except for in Scotland, where "Chieftain" is a title held by a titleholder subordinate to a chief). Generally used to refer to a recognised leader within a chieftaincy system. From this come the variations paramount chief, clan chief and village chief. The feminine equivalent is Chieftess.
There are normal baronies and sovereign baronies, a sovereign barony can be compared with a principality, however, this is an historical exception; sovereign barons no longer have a sovereign barony, but only the title and style
Popess The title of a character found in Tarot cards based upon the Pope on the Roman Catholic Church. As the Bishop of Rome is an office always forbidden to women there is no formal feminine of Pope, which comes from the Latin word papa (an affectionate form of the Latin for father). The mythical Pope Joan, who was reportedly a woman, is always referred to with the masculine title Pope, even when her female identity is known. Further, even if a woman were to become Bishop of Rome it is unclear if she would take the title Popess. A parallel might be drawn with the Anglican Communion, whose female clergy use the masculine titles of priest and bishop as opposed to priestess or bishopess. Nonetheless some European languages, along with English, have formed a feminine form of the word pope, such as the Italian papessa, the French papesse, the Portuguese papisa, and the German Päpstin.
Titles used by knights, dames, baronets and baronetesses
Dr. – Short for doctor, a title used by those with doctoral degrees, such as DPhil, MD, DO, DDS, PhD, EdD, DCN, DBA, DNP, PharmD, DVM, and LLD. Those with JD degrees, although technically allowed, do not use this as a title by convention.
The names of shipboard officers, certain shipping line employees and Maritime Academy faculty/staff are preceded by their title when acting in performance of their duties.
Captain (nautical) – a ship's highest responsible officer acting on behalf of the ship's owner (Master) or a person who is responsible for the maintenance of the vessels of a shipping line, for their docking, the handling of cargo and for the hiring of personnel for deck departments (Port Captain).
In North America, several jurisdictions restrict the use of some professional titles to those individuals holding a valid and recognised license to practice. Individuals not authorised to use these reserved titles may be fined or jailed. Protected titles are often reserved to those professions that require a bachelor's degree or higher and a state, provincial, or national license.
Mirza, Persian/Iranian, Indian and Afghanistan and Tajikistan King
Beg (Begzada or Begzadi, son-daughter of Beg), Baig or Bey in Under Mirza & using King or Military title.
Patil – meaning "head" or "chief" is an Indian title. The Patil is in effect the ruler of this territory as he was entitled to the revenues collected therefrom.
Phrabat Somdej Phrachaoyuhua – King of Thailand (Siam), the title literally means "The feet of the Greatest Lord who is on the heads (of his subjects)" (This royal title does not refer directly to the king himself but to his feet, according to traditions.)
Großbürger/Großbürgerin (English: Grand Burgher) – historical German title acquired or inherited by persons and family descendants of the ruling class in autonomous German-speaking cities and towns of Central Europe, origin under the Holy Roman Empire, ceased after 1919 along with all titles of German nobility.
Kaiser/Kaiserin – Imperial rulers of Germany and of Austria-Hungary
Kniaz'/Knyaginya/Knez/Knjeginja (generally translated as "prince") – Kievan Rus'/Serbia