Use of The Honourable

When to Use ‘the Honourable’ (British Spelling)

The Honourable is used in direct address with e.g., a son of a viscount or baron; wife of the son of a viscount or baron; a younger son of an earl or viscount; wife of a younger son of an earl; daughter of an earl, viscount, or baron.

The Honourable is also used in direct address with many Canadian officials (below the rank of prime minister and deputy prime minister) and many Australian officials (including the prime minister and deputy prime minister.)

The Right Honourable is a courtesy title used with certain current and former Commonwealth officials such as members of the Queen’s Privy Council.  It is typically abbreviated the Right Hon.

—–#1) The Honourable and the Right Honourable (both with a U like colour, flavour and armour) are British courtesy titles. The are not merely words to be translated – they are parts of a person’s name. Because it is considerate to write a person’s name exactly as he or she writes their name, use the British spelling with Commonwealth citizens and officials of former Commonwealth countries using British spellings.

—–#2) It is correct for an American to use the American spelling –– the Honorable –– with U.S. officials and officials of non-English speaking countries that use the Honorable as a courtesy title.

— Robert Hickey


Robert Hickey author of “Honor & Respect”

When Should You Use the Forms on this Page?

You can use these forms of address for any mode of communication: addressing a letter, invitation, card or Email. (If there are differences between the official and social forms of address, I will have mentioned the different forms.)  The form noted in the salutation is the same form you say when you say their name in conversation or when you greet them.
___What I don’t cover on this site are many things I do cover in my book: all the rules of forms of address, about names, international titles, precedence, complimentary closes, details on invitations, place cards, all sorts of introductions, etc. I hope you’ll get a copy of the book if you’d like the further detail.

Not Finding Your Answer?

—-#1)  At right on desktops, at the bottom of every page on tablets and phones, is a list of all the offices, officials & topics covered on the site.

—-#2)  If you don’t see the official you seek included or your question answered send me an e-mail. I am pretty fast at sending a reply: usually the next day or so (unless I am traveling.)  Note: I don’t have mailing or Email addresses for any of the officials and I don’t keep track of offices that exist only in history books.

—-#3)  If I think your question is of interest to others, Sometimes I post the question  – but always change all the specifics.

— Robert Hickey 


Robert Hickey author of “Honor & Respect”