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Letter writing[edit]

What does 'SIR' in the beginning of formal letters mean? -- 08:26, 12 Mar 2005

It is a mark of courtesy, like "Sir, you've dropped your hat." --Wetman 13:54, 12 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Chinese titles?[edit]

"However, in Chinese, the title Sir (爵士) is used with the knight's surname or full name." What's the point with the chinese title here? Although I appreciate a detailed article, this fact has no relevance whatsoever. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:23, 2 January 2008 (UTC)

since c. 1205/125[edit]

in the origins section it says "since c. 1205" should that 'c.' be there? I'm pretty sure it is not correct, because Im almost certain that 'c.' stands for circa and you dont need "sir has been used since circa 1205" maybe im wrong but.... Dappled Sage 00:25, 8 February 2007 (UTC)

It should be written "ca. 1205", since "ca." is the accepted and common abbreviation for "circa".-The Gnome (talk) 06:25, 9 August 2010 (UTC)

Is Paul McCartney a good example here?[edit]

Since we are talking about the correct form of address for a knight, is Paul McCartney really a good example? His real name is James Paul McCartney. Wouldn't the correct form of address for him be Sir James McCartney?

In extremely formal contexts, yes. But as he's usually known as Paul, it's perfectly ok in most cases to call him "Sir Paul McCartney". -- JackofOz 02:06, 28 August 2007 (UTC)


Under the Miscellaneous heading, in the bullet for Sire, what does the parenthetical "l.s." mean? -Onceler 17:02, 3 March 2006 (UTC)

typo, corrected to "i.e.".-The Gnome (talk) 06:25, 9 August 2010 (UTC)

Neuter usage?[edit]

On star trek, both men and women superior officers are often referred to as "sir." Is this an oddity, or is military usage neuter? (Also, Marcie frequently refers to Peppermint Patty as "sir.") Citizen Premier 02:41, 12 April 2006 (UTC)

Star Trek usage is an oddity in a rather strange attempt to reflect the fact that men and women are equal in the future. Female officers in Star Trek are also referred to as "Mister"! In modern military usage, "Ma'am" would be used for a female superior. I think Marcie's use is meant to merely be amusing! -- Necrothesp 17:48, 8 June 2006 (UTC)
I came to this page wondering about neuter usage as well, but not for Star Trek. I tend to get emails from people from other countries who address me as Sir; I'm not sure if they really think I'm a boy or if it is customary to address both men and women as Sir there. Anyone have ideas on this? --Strangerer (Talk | Contribs) 23:22, 4 March 2007 (UTC)

Honorary might cause confusion[edit]

"Sir is a British honorary title"

I presume the writer is trying to say a title of honour. However in Britain an honorary title is not the same as a real title. That is, Bill Gates is an honorary KBE but he can't use the 'Sir' because he is not a UK subject. Where as say Sir John_Betjeman can. The first is an honorary title the second a title of honour. I think perhaps we need to rewrite this to avoid potential confusion. Alci12 16:00, 8 June 2006 (UTC)

I have now removed this section because as I said in a pm "I think on balance we should remove the intro para altogether. Obviously for the majority of the English speaking planet it isn't a title of british knighthood but of respect in a business or military context and listing it as we have might lead to accusations that we are intoducting nation specific bias. I can't quite decide how to rejig it but I think perhaps it should begin "Sir derives from the Middle English sire..." Alci12 12:38, 9 June 2006 (UTC)
While I appreciate that you and Nec are trying to clean this up, you're now starting an encyclopeadia article with a derivation rather than a definition. Doesn't work for me. You miss the fundamental question: What is 'Sir'?
Quill 05:54, 25 June 2006 (UTC)


I removed "(i.e., a citizen of a non-Commonwealth realm)" from this section: "With regard to British knighthood, a person who is not a subject of the British monarch (i.e., a citizen of a non-Commonwealth realm) who receives an honorary knighthood is entitled to use this style, but national custom may not allow it." since it renders the section inaccurate. To begin with, citizens of Commonwealth realms are not subjects of the British monarch, as implied in the original sentence. They are subjects (if that term is not obsolete) of the monarchs of their respective realms (for example, Canadians are "subjects" of the Queen of Canada, not the British monarch). This may sound like mere semantics, but it is a legal reality. As a consequence, each realm has (or potentially has if not actually yet) its own honours system which stems from its own crown. Thus citizens of Commonwealth realms have no special claim on Knighthoods, honorary or not. In Canada, for example, it requires the approval of cabinet before a Canadian may accept a knighthood or other title from a foreign state. 22:57, 3 January 2007 (UTC)


In most of the articles I have read pertaining to titles of knighthood, the author keeps saying that it is the lowest rank of aristocracy or nobility. A knight is not an aristocrat and it is not a noble title. The lowest ranking noble is a Baron. Anyone with the title "sir" is a commoner, not a noble. This is certainly the case in the British system and as far as I am aware it is also the case in continental Europe.

  • Not quite: while knighthood is in se a diffrent thing then nobility, although soon most knights were noble-born and various traditions (especially military orders) required quarters of nobility before admission as a knight, in some traditions an ennobling title of knight had been awarded as a rank below the lowest tited nobility - by the way in Britain, the lowest true noble title (not a peerage) is Baronet, below Baron and its German-type equivalent Freiherr Fastifex 08:25, 24 June 2006 (UTC)

sire is french not english![edit]

sieur is the old version of sire [pronounced "cyr"], sir is the english rendering of sire. medieval french "messire" gave "my lord". Shame On You 20:39, 8 April 2007 (UTC)

See "Origin: 1175–1225; Middle English < Old French (nominative singular) < Vulgar Latin *seior, for Latin senior senior (compare French monsieur orig., my lord, with sieur < *seiōr-, oblique stem of *seior " --Bruce Hall (talk) 02:42, 2 April 2011 (UTC)

Sir with papal knighthoods[edit]

It was always my understanding that a papal knighthood conferred no "Sir" title, and I can find no evidence that such a usage has ever been formally promulgated. However, I've come across the case of Gilbert Levine, a Jewish-American conductor, who has been awarded 2 papal knighthoods and now calls himself "Sir Gilbert Levine", and is referred to as such in various websites. Apparently (see Levine's talk page), Pope Benedict XVI himself has referred to Levine as Sir Gilbert. Is this acceptable practice, or just a confusion in the Vatican. Are there any other such cases? If this is something new to papal knighthoods, we'll need to add some info to this article and to the papal knighthood article about it. -- JackofOz 02:16, 28 August 2007 (UTC)

I'm not sure it's that clear cut. Part of the problem seems to stem from the fact that 'Sir' is (largely) used in English speaking countries, the majority of which are part of the Commonwelath (and thus, in which the only titles that may be used are those granted by the crown). It's worth noting that the Order of the Holy Sepulchre (in the USA at least) applies the title 'Sir' to it's Knights (for an example, see, and I'm fairly sure this has been the case for some time - indeed, I remember having found an obituary from a deceased member (in the 1960s) who had used the tile -- (talk) 20:15, 24 March 2015 (UTC)


Removed this: "It may also be related to the word shree in sanskrit via Indo European languages which means gentleman." It's not; Sri originally meant approximately "prosperous", although that is not considered sufficient to translate it as it is currently used.--Kineticman (talk) 09:06, 22 November 2007 (UTC)

Text added in references section[edit]

I've removed the following text:

It is also a perfectly legal title in nations which recognise the use of the term Sir. Which is nearly all apart form the USA. If one is a member of a Military Order. Most often The Knight's Malta or Knight's Templar or the Teutonic Knights or indeed a member of a Religious Order as in a Priory. As in the UK great precedence is given to order of post nominal letters. The tradition is very clear. Any orders of merit directly fromt he reigning monarch on behalf of the state come directly after your name. As does confusingly the Knight's Thistle of which there are only 12 all handpicked by the Prince of Wales. However KT directly after ones name would indicate one is a Knight Thistle and yet if after educational qualifications comes professional bodies and religioud orders. So anyone BA MA KT would be a Knight Templar and not knighted by HM the Queen. If however you saw someone KT BA . they would either be one of the 12 which you can find online or someone most mistaken about their position of their letters. This has never happened to my knowledge ever but it is possible.

A "Sir" as a title in the UK is also the first born of many orders of higher Aristocracy. Often the first born or all sons of hereidtary Lords are and were allowed to call themselves "Sir" quite legally within the UK.

It get complicated as if you meet a "Sir" you could be speaking to the eldest son of a Lord, someone honoured by the state for services to society and Great Britain or someone with a very Gnostic view of religion who is steeped in Medieval History and Priory meetings.

Here's why:

  • It's in the wrong place -- after the references section
  • It's very poorly written (even after various people have edited it)
  • It's factually wrong (Knights of the Thistle are not chosen by Prince Charles; there are not twelve of them; 'Sir' is never the title of the eldest son of anybody (by virtue of that fact); and the major claim, which is that membership of orders like the Knights of Malta confers a title is untrue, at least in the UK, in so far as it deals with orders that actually exist and obviously fantasy in so far as it deals with the Knights Templar).

If anyone wants to rescue any parts of this and put them back into the article they should feel free. Mhardcastle (talk) 10:46, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

American usage[edit]

The Steven Spielberg example is confusing and/or inconsistent with the Formal Styling section.

The Formal Styling section mentions that non-Commonwealth citizens are not entitled to use the title Sir, but only to use the postnominal letters KBE.

As far as I know Spielberg is not a citizen of a Commonwealth country, so why does the American Usage section stress that he could use the title Sir and that there is no law that prevents him from doing this? He simply is not entitled to (and maybe would violate UK law, but I have not checked this). JeroenKvanH (talk) 05:19, 26 March 2008 (UTC)

An "English" honorific?[edit]

There is a discussion going on at Talk:Lord#An English title? which seems relevant to this article as well.GSTQ (talk) 02:30, 24 April 2008 (UTC)

Clergy and their wives[edit]

It is common practice among Anglican and some other clergy for the recipient of a knighthood to use whatever postnominal letters are appropriate, but not to use the title "Sir". Perhaps we should make some mention of that.

I also have a question about their wives. Is the wife of "James Smith KBE", an Anglican clergyman, known as "Lady Smith", or simply "Mrs Smith"? Does the "Lady" depend on whether or not he uses "Sir", or simply on his having received a knighthood? It would be odd for such a couple to be introduced at a formal function as "The Most Reverend Archbishop James Smith and Mrs Smith", when, had he been a non-clergyman, it would have been "Sir James and Lady Smith". -- JackofOz (talk) 19:56, 23 April 2009 (UTC)

Another question I have is about clergymen not receiving the accolade, i.e. dubbing with a sword. This is usually stated as the reason they do not use "Sir". However, other knights use "Sir" immediately upon the public announcement, which is usually months before they attend a conferring ceremony. In some cases, they have died before such a ceremony ever took place, so were never dubbed, but they're still referred to as "Sir". If the reason that clergymen do not use "Sir" is correct, why does this not also apply to all other knights between the public announcement and the conferring ceremony? -- JackofOz (talk) 16:37, 24 April 2009 (UTC)

Usage after death[edit]

Cannot find whether or not it's appropriate to denote someone as "sir" after his death. The same rule, whatever it is, would apply, I'm sure, to "mister", etc. -The Gnome (talk) 06:25, 9 August 2010 (UTC)

I've never heard of any practice to divest dead knights of their "Sir". We still talk of "Sir Winston Churchill", etc. Where it's appropriate to refer to a person as "Mr <surname>", that would continue after their death too. -- Jack of Oz ... speak! ... 11:11, 9 August 2010 (UTC)


I know that the title "Sir" is also used for eminent people of public standing in Nigeria, and not only as a honorific address, but as actual part of their name. Sometimes this seems to be the case even for people who can't have received their "Sir" from the British Crown. Can anyone explain that? I think this would make an interesting addition to the article. Thank you. ViennaUK (talk) 21:10, 9 October 2010 (UTC)

Awards in the personal gift of the monarch[edit]

"Again, those orders are not Australian or New Zealand, but British (Garter, Thistle) or Commonwealth (Victorian Order, etc) awarded to Australians, etc) (undo) "

They are still official Australian awards, as the Queen can still give them to Australians (and Australia has the same head of state as the UK). As the article is now, it gives the impression that knighthoods can no longer be awarded to Australians.
No they aren't. The Order of the Garter is an English order, the Order of the Thistle a Scottish one. Strictly taken they aren't national orders but dynastic ones (thereby not under direct control of the government), awarded by the monarch's pleasure and bestowed on recipients from British and other realms. The Order of Merit and the Royal Victorian Order on the other hand are Commonwealth orders awarded by the sovereign of the Commonwealth realms. The Australian government does not see them as Australian awards, but as Imperial awards, but recognized by the Australian Honours System. In contrast, the Order of Australia is purely an Australian award created in the Australian Honours System. The Order of the British Empire is a merely British national order, not part of the Australian Honours System, but recognized by the Australian government and allowed to use and wear. Mr. D. E. Mophon (talk) 09:49, 26 February 2011 (UTC)

Section on non-honor titles?[edit]

Nigeria was mentioned above. Here in the Philippines, "sir" is often used in reference to people of higher position, including elderly, often with the frist name. So teaches are more likely to be called "Sir Bruce" than "Mr. Hall". The "sir" would be attached too to nicknames so that someone might be "Sir Steel" (translated from the original Ilocano; he fell from a height when a kid and was OK). And it is used in written communication. If someone came across a reference to "Sir Bruce" who was unfamiliar with the Philippines they might think that it was an actual title. But does this suggest a section is needed? --Bruce Hall (talk) 02:52, 2 April 2011 (UTC)

Sir Sandwiches[edit]

I'm going to delete the reference to Marine recruits using sir sandwiches (sir, yes sir). If it ever was practiced, it is now long gone and actively discouraged. — Preceding unsigned comment added by VulcanNinjaElf (talkcontribs) 02:59, 30 June 2011 (UTC)


« Both derived from the Vulgar Latin senior, sire comes from the oblique case declision senior and seigneur, the nominative case declision seniōrem. »

I think this sentence is not only confusing, but wrong:

  1. Does the word declision exist in English? Shouldn’t it rather be declension?
  2. Senior is not an oblique-case declension, but nominative.
  3. Seniōre(m) is not nominative, but accusative/one oblique case.
  4. The Vulgar Latin word where these forms derive from is not senior, but the accusative seniōre(m), whereas sire is based on the classical nominative senior.

--Galtzaile (talk) 13:43, 13 April 2015 (UTC)

Hi Galtzaile. I've corrected "declision/declension". Regarding the 'case' issue, do you have any references to confirm that? If so, feel free to be be bold and update the article. Sotakeit (talk) 13:57, 13 April 2015 (UTC)

Galtzaile is correct, this is clearly an error. Regarding the reference, well, every Latin grammar will say so. I am not familiar about the correct procedures in Wikipedia, so I will not edit, but I really think this should be changed. Not a good reference probably, but shows that "nominative" and "oblique case" are currently not used in their correct sense here. (talk) 06:13, 24 July 2016 (UTC)

Less-than-honorific usage?[edit]

What about the use of "sir", particularly in the American South, of "Sir" when speaking to someone you know to be your social inferior? Like "Sir, I resent that comment. I shall have to ask for satisfaction." I realize that is merely treating the other party as if he WERE a "real gentleman", but still. More importantly, I just read that in the early decades at West Point, the style of address forced onto the cadets mandated calling EVERYONE "sir", even if they were a newbie who had just showed up and hadn't even been officially inducted into the school yet (i.e. blatantly an absolute inferior, a worm). The cadets would talk down to the newcomers, and yet were forced to end every sentence with "sir", as they had to with every male they spoke too, even when what they were saying was making it very clear that the cadets-to-be were "less than nothing" with the words they spoke between "sirs". Again, obviously an example of a traditional form of "gentlemanly address" used in all cases, but it certainly pokes a whole in the idea that calling someone "sir" inherently is a sign of respect...that may be the INTENTION of the phrase, but not necessarily the actual usage. Basically, it's a term they used when speaking to other males to demonstrate that THEY were gentlemen, not to suggest that the person they spoke to was. I can't think of the word right now...not "sarcastic" or "facetious", but related..45Colt 07:26, 20 September 2015 (UTC)

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@ From your edit history I'm assuming that you are trying to clarify a point here. Whilst "sir" may occasionally be applied to a female in a military context, it is not the common way to address female officers. It is, however, used to superior males who are not entitled to it as in the preceding paragraph. Would "... commonly used as a respectful way to address a man (and occasionally a woman), usually of superior ..." be better?

A couple of small points: please add an edit summary to all edits and have you considered getting a username? Regards, Martin of Sheffield (talk) 08:20, 13 November 2018 (UTC)

hey sir how are you are you having a nice day what are you doing right now i hope you are having a nice day today my name is Victoria do you have any Family members m[edit]

HEY SIR HOW ARE YOU ARE YOU HAVING A NICE DAY WHAT ARE YOU DOING RIGHT NOW I HOPE YOU ARE — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2607:FEA8:A99F:EE1C:C167:AEE1:5CF7:338C (talk) 13:20, 9 February 2019 (UTC)

Funny how this term used for administrators and officials with some rank in government is being used extensively to refer to teachers(usually substandard) in India[edit]

It's really a very sad state of affairs — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:26, 14 February 2021 (UTC)