The Honourable

The prefix The Honourable or The Honorable (abbreviated to "The Hon." or formerly "The Hon'ble") is a style used before the names of certain classes of persons.



In Australia, all ministers in Commonwealth, states and the Northern Territory (not including the Australian Capital Territory) governments are entitled to be styled "The Honourable". The exception of the Australian Capital Territory is because they do not have an Executive Council and instead the Commonwealth Minister for Territories exercises that role. Except in New South Wales, South Australia and Tasmania, the title is retained for life because it recognises that their appointment to the relevant executive council (when they first become a minister) is an appointment for life, and the person technically remains "an executive councillor-on-call". In New South Wales, South Australia and Tasmania the Premier can advise the Queen to grant former ministers the style for life. In the Northern Territory the Chief Minister can request the Administrator to make a recommendation to the Governor General who in turn makes a recommendation to the Queen of Australia. A minimum 5 years' service as a Member of the Executive Council and or as a Presiding Officer is a prerequisite. All such awards are published in the Commonwealth Government Gazette. The presiding officers of the parliaments of the Commonwealth, the states and the Northern Territory are also styled "The Honourable" but normally only during their tenure of office. Special permission is sometimes given for a former presiding officer to retain the style after leaving the office as is the case in the Northern Territory.

Former Australian members of the Commonwealth Executive Council previously appointed members of the Privy Council are still entitled to be styled The Right Honourable.

Justices of the High Court of Australia, the Federal Court, the Family Court, and the Supreme Courts of all States and Territories are entitled to be styled the Honourable while in office and on retirement. The same is not extended to County or District Court Judges, Magistrates or members of Tribunals in any jurisdiction.

The style "The Honourable" is not acquired through membership of either the House of Representatives or the Senate. A member or senator may have the style if they have acquired it separately, eg. by being a current or former minister. During proceedings within the chambers, forms such as "The honourable Member for ...", "The honourable the Leader of the Opposition", or "My honourable colleague" are used. This is a merely a parliamentary courtesy and does not imply any right to the style.

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 and Tasmania. In Victoria, the practice was abolished in 2003.

The Caribbean

Members of the Order of the Caribbean Community are entitled to be styled The Honourable for life. []

In Puerto Rico, much like the continental United States, the term "honorable" (in Spanish) is used, but not required by law, to address Puerto Rican governors as well as city mayors.

Members of The Barbados House of Assembly are styled "The Honourable".


In Canada, the following people are entitled to the style "The Honourable" (or l'honorable in French) for life:

* Speaker and Members of the Canadian Senate
* Members of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada (and thereby members of the federal Cabinet)
* Provincial Lieutenant-Governors

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

* The Speaker of the Canadian House of Commons;
* Judges;
* Premiers and government leaders in provinces and territories;
* Members of provincial Executive Councils while holding office;
* Speakers of provincial legislatures while holding office; and,
* Territorial Commissioners.

Derivatives include:
* The Honourable Mr / Madam Justice — Justices of superior courts.
* His / Her Honour Judge — Judges of provincial courts and formerly judges of district or county courts.

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" (or l'honorable député) 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 " for life (or le/la Très honorable in French).

"see Styles of Address (Canada) [ Styles of Address (Canada)] " and Style (manner of address)

The Congo

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the prefix "Honorable" or "Hon" is used for members of both chambers of the Parliament of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Informally, senators are sometimes given the higher title of "Venerable".

Hong Kong

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

* Members of the Legislative Council.
* Members of the Executive Council.
* The Chief Executive.
* Chief Secretary, Financial Secretary, Secretary of Justice, and Secretaries of Bureaux.
* Judges of the Court of Final Appeal.
* Judges of the High Court.
* Bearers of the title Grand Bauhinia Medal, the highest medal in Hong Kong's honours system.

Isle of Man

In the Isle of Man, the style The Honourable (often abbreviated to Hon.) is used to refer to a Minister while holding office.


In Italy, the prefix "onorevole" is used for members of the Chamber of Deputies.

New Zealand

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 style for life as a courtesy when they vacate the office.

Governors-General uses the style upon assuming the office and holds the title for life here after. Former living Governors-General were retroactively appointed if they were not already a holder or a Privy Councillor.

Private organizations

Private organizations or religious movements sometimes style a leader or founder as The Honourable; e.g. "The Honourable Elijah Muhammad".

The patent of membership presented by The Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels by the Governor of Kentucky refers to the honoree as "Hon. Firstname Lastname".

ri Lanka

In Sri Lanka, the following people are entitled to the style "The Honourable" :

* Speaker & Members of the Parliament of Sri Lanka.
* Supreme & appeal court judges.

United States

In the United States, the prefix "The Honorable" is used for some current and, in some cases, former government officials. Though there are few actual legal regulations of the style, it does appear in correspondence regulations and guides to forms of address.

The federal usage is expressed in the United States Department of State correspondence guidelines and includes:

*The President and Vice President, "(referred to as Excellency when traveling abroad, however)", United States Senators, and members of the United States House of Representatives, and those that are “-elect,” that have won the election but have not yet been sworn into office.
*All federal, state and local judges, justices of the peace and magistrates "whether appointed or elected"
*"Appointed" federal department heads, cabinet-level officials, Assistants to the President (down to the “Special Assistant” level), Special (or “Personal”) Envoys, members of federal boards, and "most" appointees that must be confirmed by the Senate (e.g. Ambassadors, members of the Federal Communications Commission). (Note that "some" appointees, such as Assistants to the President, do not require Senate confirmation, but still are styled "Honorable." It should also be noted that United States Attorneys are "not" granted the style, even though they generally "are" confirmed by the Senate.)
*Officers of the United States House of Representatives and of the United States Senate, and heads of legislative agencies, such as the Comptroller General
*Governors, lieutenant governors, statewide elected officers, such as the State Attorney General, members of a governor’s cabinet "(In some states an incumbent governor is also referred to as Excellency by long established custom or by some legislative or constitutional act.)"
*Members of State Legislatures

Federal usage also notes that the style of “Honorable” is used for life. This would include persons convicted of crimes after leaving office, resigned under a cloud, or who were removed from office (i.e. impeached or recalled). []

Some recent editions of Emily Post have disputed the usage for mayors, as a lifetime style, and state officials lesser than a governor. Other experts disagree, stressing "Once an Honorable, always an Honorable." [] The 1922 edition of "Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics, and at Home" noted that a consul (normally not entitled to the style) that was a former Assemblyman would retain the style of “Honorable,” as a matter of “right”. [] The 1945 edition did not.

Other sources expand the list of those that are styled “Honorable” even further. Some sources extend it to elected county officials, such as county supervisors or commissioners, and the presiding officer of local legislative bodies of a municipality, e.g. city council. [] Still others, notably "Webster Dictionary and Thesaurus", extend this down all members of local legislative bodies and municipal attorneys (though not "Special Assistants to the President"). [] "Webster's" also extends the style for life to former "elected" federal officials. These are at variance with the federal usage, which specifically excludes county and local officials, other than mayors, from the style, but grants it for life more broadly.

In New York City the style seems to have been extended to non-elected department heads.

The style “Honorable” is not a particularly rare style in the United States. In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania alone, even using the conservative “federal usage”, there are more than 2,000 positions (inclusive of the members of Congress, state legislators, federal, state, and county judges, along with the more local district justices, and mayors) that would grant the holder the style of “honorable”. The more liberal usage (including county and municipal attorneys, county officeholders, and members of municipal legislative bodies), as seen in "Webster", would increase that number to over 13,000 positions. (Note: These figures are "exclusive" of former officeholders.)

The style “The Honorable,” or the abbreviation of “Hon.” is used on envelopes when referring to the individual in the third person, i.e. in a formal introduction. It generally is not used with an additional style or title, such as Dr. or The Reverend, though it can be used with post nominal initials, for example “The Hon. John H. Sununu, Ph D.” Other modifiers ("The Right Honorable", "The Most Honorable") are not used in American practice.

A spouse of someone with the style of "The Honorable" receives no additional style, unless personally entitled to the style. The wife of former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge, Michele Ridge, does not, and did not, receive the style, even though her husband has held various offices (governor, member of Congress, cabinet secretary, and assistant to the president) that would grant the style for life under all usages. The wife of current Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, Marjorie Rendell, is a Federal Judge (appointed years prior to Rendell's election as Governor) and is properly styled as "The Honorable Marjorie Rendell".

In the State of Texas, licensed attorneys and counselors at law are entitled to be referred to as "the Honorable" while practicing before the bar, however, they do not use the style outside of court unless they are otherwise entitled to it.

Aside from the prefix, "The Honorable", the spoken form of address, "Your Honor", is used when addressing judges, justices, and magistrates (who are addressed as such when presiding in court). Mayors, who have or traditionally had, a judicial function, are also addressed as "Your Honor". When speaking of a judge or mayor in this manner in the third person, "Your Honor" becomes "His [or "Her"] Honor". This can be seen in the case of the Mayor of New York City, who is technically a magistrate of the court system. This form has given rise to the rather disparaging variant, "Hizzoner", applied most frequently by city newspapers to the mayors of large US cities (c.f. "Hizzoner!", 1984 TV movie. [] )

United Kingdom


In the United Kingdom, all sons and daughters of viscounts and barons (including baronies created as life peers) 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 styles of their husbands, the wives of the sons of viscounts and barons and the younger sons of earls are styled, for example, "The Hon. 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.

* Judges of the High Court and other superior courts in the Commonwealth (if the judge is a knight, the style "Sir John Smith" is used socially instead of "The Honourable Mr Justice Smith".);
* Members of Commonwealth executive councils and the Canadian Privy Council (and by extension, cabinets);
* Members of legislative councils (or senates) where the legislature is bicameral; and
* Certain representatives of the Sovereign, e.g. Lieutenant-Governors of Canadian provinces.

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 AssembledFact|date=October 2007 (modern stylisation of "The Right Honourable the Knights, Citizens and Burgesses");
* The Honourable East India Company;
* The Honourable Artillery Company;
* The Honourable Society of the Inner Temple etc.


The style "The Honourable" is always written on envelopes (where it is usually abbreviated to "The Hon"), 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 British House of Commons, as in 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 member is a barrister, he will instead be referred to as "the learned member".

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

ee also

*The Most Honourable
*His Honour
*Your worship
*Use of courtesy titles and honorifics in professional writing
*Honorary degree (also uses the abbreviation "Hon" in front of that of the degree, e.g. HonDLitt)


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