My dad's asking me if he should say "I'm a public notary practicing in Australia" or "I'm a notary public practicing in Australia".

I thought notary public was nonsense, but when I googled it, it seems both are used. Which one is grammatically correct?


1 Answer 1


I am a Colorado notary public, notary training instructor, and notary historian.

Postpositive adjectives are adjectives that follow the nouns they modify.
In Latin, the phrase is notarius publicus.
The English phrase “notary public” shows its origin from the Latin language. Notaries trace their history to Tiro, a servant scribe of famous Roman Senator Cicero.

For many centuries, notaries were members of the clergy, who knew Latin.

Some other English phrases that use postpositive adjectives are:

  • accounts payable
  • attorney general
  • postmaster general
  • court martial
  • God almighty
  • poet laureate
  • words unspoken

See my original blog post: Notary Public or Public Notary?

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