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I know the meaning of this expression, but I want to know how it got what it means.

When we say "My lord", it's really obvious what we're talking about: somebody is my lord. I couldn't come up with a similar argument about "Your grace". On a comment on another question, "Your majesty" (which might be a similar usage) was related to "you, who are majestic". Is that it? Is there any rule to connect the dots between such phrases and what they actually mean and how they're constructed? And how's that a title for someone; Your grace? That's strange.

Why isn't it "The grace"? What's the role of "Your" to make a title? How does putting "your" before "grace" make a title? Can't figure out the structure.

I'm just looking for why we use that phrase as a title or an addressing and how we got to that phrase, not the "grace" alone, but "your grace".

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  • 3
    The same question can be raised about your honour, your worship, or your excellency.
    – jsw29
    Jul 9, 2019 at 23:48
  • @jsw29 Yes, actually. Thanks.
    – mrmowji
    Jul 9, 2019 at 23:51
  • You,who has the grace? Translated by whom and where?
    – Lambie
    Jul 10, 2019 at 0:16
  • @Lambie Sorry. I remembered the wrong phrase. It was "Your majesty". english.stackexchange.com/a/2819/73391
    – mrmowji
    Jul 10, 2019 at 0:51
  • Please edit your question. What do you mean translated by? Please add specifics to your question.
    – Lambie
    Jul 10, 2019 at 14:55

1 Answer 1

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This is from the OED:

  1. Chiefly with capital initial. a. With a possessive adjective: a title of respect, esp. for a person of royal or noble rank. Frequently (in your Grace) as a form of address. Now archaic or hist. Formerly (in England until the reign of Henry VIII and in Scotland until 1707) used for a monarch or prince; now replaced by Majesty or Highness (see majesty n. 2, highness n. 2b).

b. spec. As the title given to a duke, duchess, or archbishop. (Now the only non-historical use.)

Here is a snippet from the etymology of it (which is very long) from there: Etymology: < Anglo-Norman grase, graze, Anglo-Norman and Old French, Middle French grace, Anglo-Norman and Middle French grasse (Middle French, French grâce ) favour, benevolence, an instance or manifestation of favour, (specifically) the benevolent influence and favour shown by God to mankind (all end of the 11th cent.), (chiefly in plural) thanks (1135), talent, virtue (second half of the 12th cent.), (in plural) prayer of thanksgiving after a meal (c1160), pardon, mercy, forgiveness [etc. etc.]

With the idea of the divine right of kings is also the idea of By the Grace of God.

The only person above a king was God. And the kings were also subject to God's Grace, in that sense they were like all others. So, I suppose that historically, there came a time when this identification of the king as having God's "special" grace was turned into a form of address.

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  • Related: 1, 2, 3, 4. Bonne chance! :)
    – tchrist
    Jul 10, 2019 at 0:44
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    Thanks a lot. But I'm not sure if I got the answer to my question. Why is it "your grace" and not something like "the grace" or "God's grace"; which are more meaningful titles and have a familiar structure?
    – mrmowji
    Jul 10, 2019 at 1:02
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    @mrmowji Because it is too intimate to use the second person to address someone that important so directly. The style of instead addressing that elevated person's "grace" as a form of courteous address allowed for the use of more distancing third person forms. This practice developed throughout Europe around the same time and for the same reason.
    – tchrist
    Jul 10, 2019 at 1:21
  • @tchrist Thanks. So we're addressing somebody's grace to be able to use third-person forms. Good thing to know. That make sense I guess.
    – mrmowji
    Jul 10, 2019 at 2:13
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    Yes, Your Grace, Your Highness, Your Majesty addresses the person's station, not the person directly. It's as if there were a cloud around the person of grace, highness or majesty, and that is what is being addressed. It all leads back to the idea of greatest used in Rome: Latin maiestas, greatness. Yes, one can provide all the languages such as Portuguese, Spanish and French, but is that really relevant here?
    – Lambie
    Jul 10, 2019 at 14:59

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