What are the most common Chinese honorifics? As far as I know we have:

  1. 大人 = respect, like the -sama in Japanese
  2. 贵 = your
  3. 臣 = your servant
  4. 朕 = I (only used by the emperor)
  • I hope this is not off-topic and we make a complete list
    – Lex
    Jun 6, 2016 at 20:12
  • no 4 should be 朕 (u+6715), used as "I" for emperor only since 秦始皇. Jun 6, 2016 at 20:29
  • 1
    isn't the wiki page enough? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_honorifics Jun 6, 2016 at 20:32
  • That wiki list would need some serious amendment, though. As an example, 先生 is not reserved for men, but could also mean mistress in some localities (Suzhou and Shanghai, for instance).
    – user4452
    Jun 6, 2016 at 20:37
  • I have to admit that I didn't expect for a list to already exist. However I am wondering if all the terms are all quite common, for example I can see from the list that 愚,鄙,敝 have basically the same meaning, so maybe one of these is never used. From the Pov of someone who wants to study the honorifics, I would say that the wiki doesn't give much explanation in this sense.
    – Lex
    Jun 6, 2016 at 20:56

1 Answer 1


When addressing the listener's family, a prefix 令 (ling4, which has a meaning of good, lucky) can be used:

  • 令尊, your father
  • 令堂, your mother
  • 令郎, your son
  • 令嫒, your daughter
  • 令兄, your elder brother
  • 令弟, your younger brother
  • 令姊, your elder sister
  • 令妹, your younger sister

Correspondingly, when addressing the speaker's own family, a prefix 家(jia1, which means home, family) is used:

  • 家父, 家严, my father
  • 家母, 家慈, my mother
  • 家兄, my elder brother
  • 家弟, 舍弟, my younger brother
  • 家姊, my elder sister
  • 家妹, 舍妹, my younger sister

舍 (she4, my humble house) is used only with the younger of the same generation, or the younger generation:

  • 舍侄 (brother's son), 舍甥 (sister's son), my nephew

My son and my daughter are 犬子, 犬女. 犬 here is puppy. But it's extremely rude to call others with any dog related words.

In daily informal cases, we can use:

  • 您 as a replacement of 令
  • 我 as a replacement of 家、舍,
  • common words like 父亲, 母亲, 哥哥, 弟弟, 姐姐, 妹妹, 儿子, 女儿


  • 您父亲, your father
  • 我弟弟, my younger brother

My father and my mother can be 我爸爸, 我妈妈. But 您爸爸X or 您妈妈X is not proper because 爸爸 and 妈妈 are not honorific while 父亲 and 母亲 are.

Besides, 尊 (zun1, honor, respect) is a honorific prefix:

  • 尊夫, your husband
  • 尊夫人, your wife, also 嫂夫人
  • 尊驾, you
  • 尊师, your teacher
  • 尊长, your elders

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