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Indian honorifics

Indian honorifics are honorific titles or appendices to names used in India, covering formal and informal social, commercial, and religious relationships. These may take the form of prefixes, suffixes or replacements.


Prefix typeEdit

The most common honorifics in India are usually placed immediately before the name of the subject. Honorifics which can be used of any adult of the appropriate sex include '"Sri"' (also written as Shri), "'Smt'" and '"Kum"'.[citation needed]

  • Sri (Sanskrit: श्री॰; also Sree, Shri, Shree, Siri or Seri) is the most commonly used honorific for men. The title is derived from the Sanskrit श्रीमन्, "śrīman", and is akin to the English term "Mister".
  • Unmarried women bear the title Kum (कुमारी, read as kumārī) as they would the English "Miss", while married women employ Smt (श्रीमती, read as śrīmatī), the equivalent of "Mrs".
  • Thiru (Tamil: திரு is the most commonly used honorific for men in Tamil and is akin to the English term "Mister", while boys are called ""செல்வன்"", read as selvan.
  • Unmarried Women, Girls employ ""செல்வி"" (Tamil, read as "Selvi" Married women employ Tmd (திருமதி, read as thirumadhi), the equivalent of "Mrs".

In HinduismEdit

  • Pt: (Pandit) for priests in Hindu Temples or the Maestro of some skills (i.e. music/art/literature).
  • Shri: (Shriman) for men, similar to Mr. in English.
  • Smt: (Shrimati) for married women, similar to Mrs. in English.
  • Su/Ku: (Sushri or Kumari) for unmarried women, similar to Miss. in English.

Replacement typeEdit

Some honorifics act as complete replacements for a name, as "Bhavān" (Sanskrit: भवान्) or "Bhavatī" (Sanskrit: भवती),"Seth", "Sethji", "Sethaani" (fem.).

  • Baba and Babaji mean "Father", and denote very great respect, usually also indicating the bearer's spiritual mastery.
  • Swami and Goswami are titles for monks and nuns, i.e. those who have enter the path of sannyasa or renunciation.
  • In Hinduism, paṇḍit is a title given to a scholar or teacher, particularly one skilled in Sanskrit and Hindu law, religion, music or philosophy. It is thus the origin of the English word pundit, which carries a somewhat similar connotation of learnedness.
  • Janab (Hindi: जनाब janāb) is sometimes used for the word "Mister" in Hindi. It is derived from Persian.
  • Sahib pronounced sahb, is used in North Indian languages for Sir. It is ultimately from Arabic.
  • Dangoria (Assamese: ডাঙৰীয়া dangoria) is used in Assamese. It is from dangor (ডাঙৰ) which directly translates to mean "big" in Assamese but is used commonly as an honorific for elderly male members holding a certain position in the society like that of a village headman or a Gaon Panchayat member or someone of an honorary repute.

Suffix typeEdit

  • -ji is the traditional honorific suffix in the Indo-Aryan languages of northern, western and central India. If is mainly used by the adherents of Indian-origin Dharma religions (such as Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists). Usage, someone named as Yash Dhillon could be called as Yash ji (usage with first name) or Dhillon ji (usage with surname). Another example of M.K. Gandhi, known outside India by the title Mahatma, was also often referred to as "Gandhi-ji" and "Bapu-ji".


Influence of Indian honorifics on other Asian culturesEdit

Historically much of South and Southeast Asia was influenced by India. As a result, Ancient Indian Sanskrit-origin Hindu-Buddhist honorifics have had a profound impact on the Malay styles and titles, Thai royal and noble titles, Filipino styles and honorifics, Indonesian honorifics and Sri Lankan Sinhalese honorifics along with honorifics in Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam.

See alsoEdit