The Wikipedia article on honorifics states that

Some honorifics act as complete replacements for a name, as "Sir" or "Ma'am", or "Your Honor"

I had initially thought that titles generally needed a name appended onto the end (Mr Smith, Mrs Jones, Dr Williams) and that honorific was used for a term of address (e.g. Ma'am, Sir (when used to address a teacher, not when used to specify a male who has been knighted!)), but it seems I was obviously wrong!

Is there a word to specifically denote those words / terms which I thought were honorifics (i.e. Ma'am, Sir, Your Honour)?

  • 1
    In the introduction to that article, you will see the link to style, wherein it is noted that honorific is an alternative term, both referring to an official or legally recognized title. Perhaps the article at Honorific needs to be moved to Honorific title. – choster Apr 5 '16 at 0:54
  • T. C. Harris seems at least largely correct. This is an old Question, in no way helped by Wikipedians allowing that author to get away with defining those terms as “honorific” as though that were a noun. It’s not and they aren’t and there ain’t no such critter. “An honorific style of address” would be one thing, the “style of address” being what mattered. “An honorific” is an adjective without a noun. On titles and formal styles of address read, eg, Debrett’s Correct Form or Burke’s Peerage or just an office version of Webster’s Dictionary… and please note their length! – Robbie Goodwin Jun 5 '18 at 22:00
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    @RobbieGoodwin Honorific is absolutely a noun as well as an adjective. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jan 2 '19 at 9:07
  • Janus, if that's so why can you not present three or four examples, with supporting explanations from sources such as Burkes' or DeBrett's or Webster's? – Robbie Goodwin May 11 '20 at 19:57

The question asks: Is there a word specifically to denote those words/terms which had been thought to be honorifics (i.e. Ma'am, Sir, Your Honour)?

Yes, there is a word specifically to denote those words/terms, and that word is none other than: Honorific

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