Fantastic Honorifics

Many cultures have extremely detailed systems of titles and honorifics, denoting who is speaking to who, what their respective ranks are, and a thousand other factors. Writers often find these are too dull to use in their works (or maybe they just need an honorific for wizards), so they make their own.

Interestingly, the phrase "ser" is a very common stock fantastic honorific, often gender-neutral, enough to deserve its own folder.

See also Hold Your Hippogriffs. Closely related to Fantastic Rank System, and not to be confused with Red Baron (for one-off earned titles). Compare Fantastic Naming Convention.


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  • "Ser" as a gender-neutral form of "Sir" is used in several of L. E. Modesitt, Jr.'s novels.
  • "Ser" is used as the equivalent of "Mister" in Frank Herbert's ConSentiency stories.
  • "Ser" is also used (in the same way, gender-neutral form of "sir") in the Uplift series by David Brin.
  • "Ser" is directly equivalent to "Sir" in A Song of Ice and Fire, being most frequently applied to knights. This is a male-only honorific, because female knights are nigh unheard of in Westeros, and there isn't any "Dame" equivalent; the only one is Brienne of Tarth, whose squire is quite confused about how to address her, "ser" or "m'lady".
  • "Ser" and "Sera" are the Komarran descendant of "mister" and "miss" in the Vorkosigan Saga.
  • In The Sun Sword, "Ser" is the honorific given to male members of the aristocratic clans of the Dominion of Annagar. The feminine version is "Serra", and commoners regardless of gender are "Serafs".

Video Games
  • "Ser" also appears as a title in Privateer 2: The Darkening, first used to refer to the main character of Ser Lev Arris (played by Clive Owen before he became famous years later). The same game featured "Sera" as a feminized version of the title for women.
  • The Dunmer use a system of honorifics in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. They are "sera", "muthsera" and "serjo", in increasing order of politeness.
  • Dragon Age:
    • In Dragon Age: Origins, "Ser" is a gender-neutral title for a Ferelden knight. At one point in the game a servant addresses The Warden as "ser", so it may also be a general term of respect.
    • In Dragon Age II, Serah is used for addressing someone of equal or lower status in the Free Marches. Messere is the proper way to address someone of higher status.
  • The PSP remake of Final Fantasy Tactics also uses "ser" to address knights, but unlike most other examples, it is not a gender-neutral term and applied only to males.
  • Dragon's Dogma. It's gender-neutral and normally applied to knights. However, certain NPCs address The Arisen this way as well, so similar to the Dragon Age: Origins example, it may simply be a term of respect.

    Fan Works 

  • Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers fandom came up with "Dal" as a prefix meaning "student of" for the Xanadausians. So, a Fanon name for Niko, Niko Dal'Ariel, merely means "Niko, Student of Ariel"

  • Star Wars gave us the Grand Moffs, military governors over vast regions of galactic space, and the Darths, the title held by Sith Lords. Also Padawan, the title of a Jedi apprentice.

  • The final installment of the Uglies series, Scott Westerfeld based the honorifics on traditional Japanese suffixes (-sensei, -san, -chan) except he uses them to indicate the "face rank" or fame of the individual to which they are applied.
    • The first three books also use a type of honorific that Westerfeld said was inspired by the Japanese Honorific system. Pretties add either -la or -wa to their friends' names ("-la" is used with every name except those names that have the letter "l" in them, in which case "-wa" is used).
  • In A Brother's Price, the eldest daughter of a family is, apparently, named "Eldest". (If she dies as an adult, the next in line is not renamed, but keeps her (normal) name - how exactly the title is then used is not clear) This is also the honorific used for her, until she has her first child. Then she's called "Mother Elder [Lastname]" The eldest of the reigning Queens is "Queen Mother Elder".
  • The Inheritance Cycle had honorifics in the Ancient language that came after a person's name, such as -elda, -finiarel, -svitkona, and the like.
  • 'Sai' in The Dark Tower serves as both sir/ma'am and Mr./Mrs.
  • In the Vorkosigan Saga:
    • "Vor" is a prefix denoting a family belonging to the Barrayan hereditary military caste. Aristocracy by any other name ...
    • Also the Cetagandan haut-lords and ghem-soldiers.
  • The Rod Albright Alien Adventures has Tar Gibbons, the alien equivalent of an Old Master. As he explains, the term Tar is an honorific, meaning approximately "Wise and beloved master who could kill me with his little finger if he so wished."
  • In the last book of the Mage Storms trilogy, the Eastern Empire uses "Siara" as a default I-don't-know-your-proper-honorific.
  • The Keys To The Kingdom has a few of these.
  • The Long Price Quartet has a number of fake Japanese-style honorifics.
  • Dan Simmons:
    • M. is used for all adult humans in the Hyperion Cantos. Androids are adressed as A.
    • The honorific used for old-style humans in Illium and Olympos is "Uhr", and it follows the name rather than precedes it.
  • In The Blue Sword, the native Damarians use sola for men and sol for women; the heroine, Angharad "Harry" Crewe, is dubbed "Harimad-sol" as an Affectionate Nickname and mark of respect.
  • "Brightness" and "Brightlord" from The Stormlight Archive, referencing the lighteyes most redeeming feature (and the light-based magic of the setting).
  • C. J. Cherryh's Foreigner series has several of these:
    • nand- / nandi : very formal.
    • nadi : less formal.
    • -ji : familiar.
  • The Dune series of books has the military rank of Bashar, roughly equivilant to some sort of General, used by various different military forces over the course of the books.
  • In The Wheel of Time series, Aes Sedai always have "Sedai" fixed onto the ends of their names after being raised to the shawl, since "Aes Sedai" roughly translates to "Servants Of All" the honorfic most likely translate to "Moraine The Servant" or something similar.
  • The the World of Warcraft novel Cycle of Hatred, the Guardians of Tirisfal are referred to by the honorific "Magna", Jaina insists on using to refer to Aegwynn despite the later's protests.
  • Marie Brennan's Doppelgänger series has sixteen different honorifics for the various classes of witches in the story. "Katsu" is a generic term; the others are based on a witch's rank and area of specialization.
  • In the New Jedi Order, there are several examples among the Yuuzhan Vong, notably "Fearsome One" (used for high-ranking members of the warrior caste such as the Warmaster and his Supreme Commanders), "Eminence" (for priests) and "Dread Lord" (for the Supreme Overlord). The prefix "Yun-" is also added to the names of deities, though it's never used for mortal characters.
  • The original Planet of the Apes novel had a mention of "Mai" as an honorific-Uylsses uses it on Zaius when he's trying to learn the language. It's not in the movies, though.
  • In Tamora Pierce's The Circle Opens quartet, every new country the characters visit has its own system of Fantastic Honorifics, with variations appropriate to each culture. All of them seem to have a special honorific for mages, which is usually gender-neutral, even when no gender-neutral honorifics are used for non-mages.
  • In Diane Duane's Young Wizards series, wizards are formally addressed as "Emissary", presumably in reference to their status as mortal agents of the divine Powers That Be. It is traditional for wizards to address each other as "cousin" and any of the aforementioned Powers that they might speak to personally as "elder sister/brother".
  • In Star Trek: Vulcan's Soul, "T'Kehr", a Vulcan honorific for learned scientists or philosophers in positions of leadership.
  • In The Buried Age - a novel of Star Trek: The Lost Era - a very minor character named Deb'ni has the academic title "Questor". Qr. Deb'ni is Algolian, and Questor seems to be the Algolian equivalent of "honoured research scientist".
  • The web-novel Domina has more than a few, which cross over with Fantastic Rank System. Elites are referred to as "honored," and each culture has their own title for them—vampires would be addressed as "Honored Nightstalker," angels "Honored Daybreaker," and so on. Then above that are the warlords, who also get their own honorifics; in addition to the title itself (which is basically a rank), men get referred to as "Knight," and women as "Dame." Ex; "Knight Derek," "Dame Laura."
  • In the world of Harry Potter, a delegate of the International Confederation of Wizards is referred to as a Mugwump and a male justice of the Wizarding supreme court is a Warlock. In real life, a mugwump is an anti-corruption activist, who is holier-than-thou in public but acts less than ethically in private.
  • In the Discworld novels grag, the dwarfish word for "master of dwarfish lore", is used as an honorific, as in "Grag Bashfulsson". There's also dezka-knik, which means "chief mining engineer", but is usually translated into Morporkian as "king".
  • Life Artificial's cyberpunk society is obsessed with anonymity, so people in formal settings call each other by the last four digits of their Social Accountability Numbers, e.g. "Lastfour 3547", or "Lastfour" for short.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • The Northern mountain clan elder's honorific is a "The".
    • The go-to honorific among alchemists is "Wisdom", for example, "Wisdom Hallyne".
    • Ghiscari nobility have the nobiliary particles "zo" and "mo" (the former appears to be more prestigious, but it's never explained what's the difference).

    Live Action TV 
  • Babylon 5
    • The Minbari title of Satai is for members of their inner governing circle, the Grey Council.
    • Teachers, at least the ones who train the Rangers, have the title Sech.
    • The leader of the Rangers is commonly known as Anla'shok Na (Ranger One), but there is another title which has a similar function but is apparently higher in meaning, Entil'zha. The title originated with Valen himself, and only Sinclair, Delenn, and Sheridan have held it since.
  • The Doctor Who serial "The Caves of Androzani" has "Trau" (Mr) and "Krau" (Ms). This was later taken up by the Doctor Who New Adventures novels set in the future.

  • BIONICLE has several titles:
    • A "Toa" is a Matoran that has been transformed into a powerful hero and protector.
    • Similarly, a "Turaga" is a former Toa that has given up that power and undergone another physical transformation, becoming a wise elder.
    • "Makuta" is a species name that is also used as a title for members of that species.
    • A "Barraki" is a warlord.
    • A "Glatorian" is a kind of warrior similar to a Gladiator.

    Video Games 
  • In addition to the "ser" system detailed above, in Dragon Age the Dalish elves also appear to have a complex system of honorifics. As do the Qunari.
  • In the Green-Sky Trilogy, the Ol-Zhaan, an elite caste of priests, rulers, and judges, are addressed as "D'ol" (corrupted from "Doctor," we find out later)
  • The Vahnatai in Avernum have a series of honorifics for various members of their communities; the three most common in-game are -Tel (for government officials), -Ihrno (for high-ranking mages and similarly powerful community members), and -Bok (a posthumous honorific; the Crystal Souls you meet all bear -Bok suffixes to their names).
  • In addition to the ser-derived honorifics detailed above, The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind also features (far less prominently) the honorifics of "Sedura" (appears to be associated with wealth) and "Kena" (appears to be associated with scholars or wizards). They can stack, too — one play refers to a character as "Sedura Kena Telvanni Hordalf Xyr" (Hordalf Xyr being the character's name, and Telvanni being his House) by another character pretending to be his servant.
  • The Ravenmark games have this crossing over with Fantastic Rank System. The title of Rook in The Empire appears to be the equivalent of a Lord. However, it's also a general-level rank, and all Rooks usually have high posts in the Imperial Mark (the army). "Ravenborne" is a generic term for an officer (all Ravens have also attained limited nobility). "Earthbound" is a generic term for an NCO.
  • WarCraft: Among Night Elves Shan'do is a title of respect for instructors, which means "Honored Teacher". This is the title by which Malfurion Stormrage is addressed, indicating what his findamental role is. Thero'shan is a similar title for students.

    Web Comics 
  • In Drowtales, the prefixes Val and Vel. When saying a noble's full name, used in front of the last name (e.g., Ariel Val'Sarghress), whereas when addressing the titleholder directly, used in front of the first name (e.g., Val Ariel) or alternately Lady/Lord Val/Vel.
  • In Erfworld, when Lord Stanley is called a "tool" by Parson, he declares that "Tool" will be his title from now on, because he didn't realize it was an insult.
  • In Escape from Terra, the anarchistic belters call each other "Sovereign", e.g. Sv. Rosenberg or Sov. King, to avoid connotations of ownership.

     The Catholic Church 
  • Priests should generally be called Father, or (rarely) Monsignor (if they have a Prefect of Honor, Confessor to His Holiness, or Protonotary Apostolic designation).
  • Bishops and Archbishops can be called Your Excellency (or Your Grace if you like British terms), but a lot of bishops forego the honor.
  • Patriarchs and Major-Archbishops, such as those of Jerusalem, Galicia, Lisbon, and Venice, are addressed with Your Beatitude regardless of whether they are Cardinal-Patriarchs/Cardinal-Major-Archbishops or just Patriarchs/Major-Archbishops.
  • Cardinals generally must be called Your Eminence, but My Lord Cardinal works too.
  • And finally, the Pope himself is only addressed with Your Holiness.