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Fantastic Honorifics

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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 word "ser" is a very common stock fantastic honorific, often gender-neutral, enough to deserve its own folder. (In real life, "Ser" is actually an archaic Italian title, a contraction of signore, meaning "sir"/"Mr."/"[my] lord"—you often see it in translations of old Italian literature, like The Divine Comedy and The Decameronnote .)

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 and Fictional Greetings and Farewells.


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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".
  • Remnant Population by Elizabeth Moon: Ofelia is an old woman who decides to stay behind when a colony on an alien planet is abandoned. After she has become used to having the place to herself, a different faction starts a new colony. Ofelia meets a young woman from this group, and asks to be addressed as Sera. The woman misunderstands, and calls her Sarah.

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 (Dark Elves) use a system of "Ser" honorifics in The Elder Scrolls series, particularly present in Morrowind, which takes place in their homeland. They are "sera", "muthsera" and "serjo", in increasing order of politeness.
  • Dragon Age uses ser in a similar fashion to A Song of Ice and Fire (a formal title for knights as well as a respectful form of address) - a major inspiration on the franchise - albeit in Dragon Age its gender neutral. It appears to be used by several different kingdoms. Dragon Age II introduces another gender-neutral honorific: "serah", which isn't also a title like ser, and appears to be localized to the Free Marches region of Thedas.
  • 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"
  • In the cat conlang of Warriors Redux, the respectful honorific "ai" is used towards a higher ranked female and "oun" is used towards a higher ranked male.
  • In The Confectionary Chronicles, after Hermione performs her first ritual sacrifice to Loki (she just cuts herself and drips her blood onto her altar, but it still counts), Loki occasionally refers to her as "Minn blótgyðiur", Old Norse for "My sacrificial priestess", a term that Hermione accepts.
  • Tales From The Hypnoverse: in "Starstruck" (a crossover with Independence Day), Ginny’s alien master Zellarom refers to her as his ezan corbaiz, which essentially translates to ‘treasured possession’, although Ginny’s telepathic-induced language download gives her insight to recognise that the term means more than just a valued personal object. There is a reciprocal term in Zellarom’s language, but since Ginny can’t pronounce some of the syllables in that word, she simply calls him ‘master’ in turn.
  • A form of this features in Apex Predator, when discussing the role that non-Veela women can play in Veela society. Fleur muses that just as some past societies used eunuchs as trustworthy figures as their lack of interest in sex or children would make them more focused on other duties, some Veela choose human women to be "vessels". However, unlike human culture, such women are still allowed to remain fertile, as they aren't considered a "threat" to their Veela mistresses due to their lower sex appeal, particularly if the chosen women have some interest in other women that can be manipulated by Veela allure. As of Chapter 10, Fleur is contemplating granting Hermione Granger such a position, as she recognises Hermione's intelligence and her close bond with Harry, and has also noted Hermione's reaction to Fleur's allure.
  • The War of the Masters: Create Your Own Fate, The Burning Of Beruns World, and Myrmidons show that in their own language, the Bajorans have an extensive list of honorifics. Bajoran Militia Lieutenant Jaro is addressed by a boot private as "Jaro'va", while Starfleet Captain Kanril Eleya is addressed by another Bajoran Starfleet officer as "Kanril'raken", then as "Kanril'rakana" after her promotion to rear admiral. The Fantastic Caste System of the Bajorans has something to do with it as well, as Eleya is once addressed as "Kanril'entana", which she explains as a compliment meaning that someone has surpassed their caste.

  • 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.
  • Though not quite as fantastic, The Culture novel Look to Windward reveals that composers are held in such high regard in the Culture it's even a title with a standardised abbreviation - one of the main characters is Cr. Ziller.
  • The Rod Allbright Alien Adventures has Tar Gibbons, the alien equivalent of an Old Master. As it 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.
  • 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.
  • The Stormlight Archive:
    • "Brightness" and "Brightlord", referencing the lighteyes most notable feature (and the light-based magic of the setting).
    • When the Knights Radiant begin to return, they're called "Brightness/Brightlord Radiant" a little awkwardly, simply because no one knows what else to call them.
    • Shin have the honorific "-nimi", which seems to indicate some form of respect, as that's what Szeth uses for his talking sword.
  • C. J. Cherryh's Foreigner (1994) 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.
  • The Wheel of Time: 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 honorific most likely translates to "Moraine the Servant" or something similar.
  • World Of Warcraft: In 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.
  • 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.
  • Planet of the Apes: The original novel has 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.
  • Circle of Magic: In 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.
  • Young Wizards: 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".
  • Star Trek: Vulcan's Soul: "T'Kehr", a Vulcan honorific for learned scientists or philosophers in positions of leadership.
  • Star Trek: The Lost Era: In The Buried Age, 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."
  • 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.
  • Discworld: 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.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • The Northern mountain clan elder's honorific is a "The". (This appears to be based on the custom of referring to certain Scottish clan chiefs as "The [Name of Clan]", e.g. "The Cameron" for the chief of Clan Cameron.)
    • 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), such as Skahaz mo Kandaq or King Hizdahr zo Loraq.
  • In Ryuunosuke Akiyama's A Terribly Dangerous Coat, the term Mijato or Mijata following the surname is used in place of Mr., Miss, or Mrs..
  • In The Quantum Thief the old "Mr." and "Ms." honourifics have been replaced with a simple "M." in the Oubliette colony on Mars.
  • In The Tygrine Cat, the Cressida Kin use elaborate titles. A high-ranking cat's title is prefaced with the sound "pirrup", followed by "the courageous" (if one's most notable accomplishment involves fighting) or "the sagacious" (if one's most notable accomplishment involves intellect), their rank, their given name, and then some descriptive phrase. For instance, Pangur's official title is "pirrup: The Courageous Chief Pangur, Lord of the Realm."
  • The world of The Goblin Emperor features quite a variety. Elvish society is preoccupied with rank and etiquette. Mer (adult men), Merrem (married women), and Min (single women) fill the basic functions of Mister, Mrs. and Miss, respectively. Nobility use Osmer, Osmerrem, and Osmin. High-ranking nobility use Dach'osmer, Dach'osmerrem, Dach'osmin. The Emperor's title is Zhas, and he is properly addressed as Serenity. Reigning empresses are Zhasan, emperors' widows are Zhasanai. Master craftsmen use Dachensol instead of the usual honorifics for commoners. Mages use Athmaza, regardless of gender.
  • The nation of Adara in the One Rose Trilogy uses the title of "Reinine" instead of "Queen". Well, technically it could mean a monarch of either sex, but since Adara is a matriarchy where the position of monarch isn't hereditary but rather elected by a gathering of nobles and church officials (the overwhelming majority of whom are also women), no one expects for there to be a male Reinine any time soon.
    • They also have the title of naitan (plural naitani) for magic-users.
  • In The Gods Themselves, the Soft ones address the Hard ones as "Hard-sir" while the Hard ones call them (the Rationals at least), "left-dear".

    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.
  • Foundation (2021): Rather than "Emperor", the monarchs of the Genetic Dynasty are often referred to simply as "Empire", to emphasize that they are one being, and inseparable from the realm they rule over. That said, the Empire as a political identity, meanwhile, is sometimes referred to as "Imperium" to make the distinction a bit less confusing. Among themselves, the Cleons of each triad are also referred to by their age and position within the Genetic Dynasty - Brother Dawn (the youngest), Brother Day (the adult and reigning monarch), and Brother Dusk (the eldest).
  • In the first episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, the leader of the Bandi is addressed as "Groppler".
    • Likewise, it is standard practice in Starfleet to address all superiors as "sir", including women.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Magic: The Gathering, knights of any gender in the world of Eldraine, which largely borrows from European fairy tales, are referred to as "Syr".

  • 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 

  • 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" system detailed above, in Dragon Age the Dalish elves also appear to have a complex system of honorifics. As do the Qunari.
  • 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.
  • 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)
  • Horizon Zero Dawn: Carja are often given single-word descriptive honorifics for various reasons. A priest in charge of making reparations for his people's crimes under the Mad Sun-King is known as Mournful Naman, and one of the Mad Sun-King's advisers who was secretly working against him the entire time is Blameless Marad. The youngest of the Sun-King's sons is Radiant Itamen, and while his older brothers used to have this honorific as well, Avad gave it up when he became Sun-King himself. These titles are exclusively used as part of their names, never on their own.
  • 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.
  • The Garlean Empire of Final Fantasy XIV has an extensive system, where the middle element of a name indicates the person's position in society, e.g. the current Emperor is Varis zos Galvus, whilst his son (next in line for the throne) is Zenos yae Galvus. The system covers practically every rung of the social ladder, from military personnel and scientists to public officials and common citizens, and goes all the way down to aan for slaves or inhabitants of annexed territories.

    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.

    Web Originals 
  • C0DA, written by former The Elder Scrolls series writer/designer Michael Kirkbride, takes place in the far distant future of TES universe. As such, the Dunmer honorifics mentioned above are present. At one point, Jubal refers to Hlaalu Hir as "muthsera", to which Hir tells Jubal to not be so formal.

    Western Animation 
  • In Steven Universe members of the Diamond Authority are addressed by their direct subjects as "My Diamond", and in general as "Your Radiance". Sapphires, being aristocratic seers, are addressed as "Your Clarity". According to Word of God, the 'My (Gem's Name Here)' statement isn't exclusive to the Diamonds, but any superior or one the one saying it holds in high regard, and is never used to denote possession of another. This makes Rose calling Pearl "My Pearl" in a conversation a huge compliment especially coming from a Diamond.