Who merits professional honorifics?

On a recent episode of The Americans, I thought it odd that people who were not church members referred to another character as Pastor Tim, when introducing him to a neighbor in a social setting. In the move Concussion, the physician main character repeatedly corrected individuals - including a delivery man - who called mim Mr. X instead of Dr.And a thread in GQ discusses whether lawyers ought be referred to as “Dr.”

What professions do you feel merit honorifics, and in what settings? Professors? Judges? PhD recipients? Church officiants such as priests/ministers/rabbis. Martial arts Sensesi or philosophical gurus?

If you are a guest in my home and I’m introducing you to other guests, or I’m introducing you to the rest of a golf foursome, I’d likely use your first name. I wouldn’t usually say, “Bob the plumber, meet Sue the writer.”

I’ll start:

Ph.D. holder. Students, call me “Dr. Drake” on campus. Colleagues, call me Aloysius. Friends and family call me Aloysius. In a social setting, introduce me as Aloysius Drake, and then call me Aloysius.

I would appreciate it if you didn’t refer to me as Mr. Drake, though—anyplace that comes up (almost never), I’d rather be Dr. Drake.

(Exception: strangers reading my name from a screen inevitably call me by my hated first name, Egbert. I’d rather they erred on the side of “Mr. Drake.”)

Outside of his religion or congregation ‘Pastor Tom’ may be more of a nickname than an honorific.

Professionally I’ll refer to people with the titles they prefer, in casual circumstances I’m a first name kind of guy. Whether or not you have a PhD or you are a ‘real’ doctor it’s pretentious to use the title in a non-professional context.

Just curious - PhD in what? Don’t call a lot of people Mr. or Dr., but think I probably use Dr. more for MDs/DOs - or at least PhDs in psychology, than other fields.

Do most forms have checkboxes for “Dr.”? Because I could imagine a number of instances where someone - a delivery person for example - simply has your first and last name. If they try to suggest respect/deference/politeness by calling you Mr. Drake, would you correct them?

I’m a lawyer and a judge. I think on my daughter’s wedding invites I was The Hon. Dinsdale. And at work. But never elsewhere. (Well, other than the assholes I golf with who never tire of saying “Your honor, your honor.” :rolleyes:

That’s pretty much how I’d think it goes.

I mean, I know a number of Jesuits, and some are “Father/Brother So-And-So”, but a handful are “Marcus”, or “Bill” or “Jose”. Same goes for physicians and academics- the ones I know from being a student were mostly “Dr. So and So”, but some were first-name basis. And the ones I know from when we went to school together are just “Paul”, “Matt”, “Anthony” and “Steve”. Same for the ones I know socially- they’re “Elizabeth”, “Alexis”, “Rachel” and “Bill”.

The only odd situation I can think of is where a friend of mine who’s a historian was called “Professor”, instead of “Dr.”, although I think that might be a military thing, as he’s been employed by a couple of branches of the military during most of his professional career in service academies and military colleges. So you hear him referred to as “Professor Bump’s Friend”, not “Dr. Bump’s Friend”, even though in civilian academia, I suspect he’d be “Dr. Bump’s Friend”, as he’s got a PhD.

At my alma mater, there were Associate Professors, Assistant Professors, and full Professors. Professors got paid more. Only Professors were eligible for tenure. You could hold the two lower ranks with only a masters, but you had to have a doctorate before you could apply for the top rank. So it was a big deal. On the first day of the semester, one of my teachers introduced himself to the class saying, “I’m not a professor, I’m only a doctor.”

I don’t know why, but I like calling people by their titles. It amuses me.

An honorific means that the holder of the title may use it if he wishes to. People who know him will know whether or not to use the honorific. If a person’s presence in a conversation is related to the title, then the title is more likely to be used than if it is completely casual.

My best friend has a PhD, but I didn’t know that until I had known him for five years. I never heard him called Doctor by anyone, and I think he might take it as borderline sarcastic if anyone called him that. Meanwhile, my other best friend calls me “Mister Firstname” because when she first met me, thought that was an appropriate form, and never stopped calling me that, increasing intimacy notwithstanding.

This can be a regionalism, and what flies in one part of the country may not seem appropriate in another. Here in Texas, the manager of my apartment complex is known as “Miz Amy”, even to tenants who are a generation older than she is. People here were brought up to address people that way, and it never occasions any more discomfiture than the use of “y’all”.

My ex-wife, who was a nurse, would always refer to a doctor as “Dr. Jones” within earshot of anyone who was not an insider (such as a patient), but “Dr. Bill” in a professional setting where all present were known to each other on a first-name basis. Just “Bill”, if casually meeting at the supermarket.

The Associate/Assistant/Professor hierarchy is pretty standard everywhere in US academia.

But in some 7 years of time getting 3 degrees from two universities, I can’t say that I ever heard any academics referred to as “Professor” anyone- it was always “Dr.”, even when they might be the world’s foremost authority on something, a full Professor, and a holder of a prestigious endowed chair.

“Doctor” is Latin for “teacher,” and is an entirely appropriate honorific for a PhD in anything. It’s less logical for a medical doctor, but there you go. There’s not really any chance of confusion!

But no, I don’t correct people who call me “Mr. Drake”—it’s both pointless and kind of jerkish. An honorific is, by definition, bestowed—you can’t really demand it, especially not in social settings. Just that people who already know shouldn’t call me “Mr.”—just the names will do in a social setting, no honorific necessary.

If I have a personal relationship with you (i.e. know you outside of your work setting) then I’m going to refer to you with your first name, even if it is in your work setting.

I’ll refer to you as Mr. So-n-so or Dr. So-n-so in your professional setting, if you introduce yourself to me in that manner. If we get beyond that in a relationship where first names are used, as in if you use my first name, I’m going to use yours.

I call people whatever they want to be called. If my surgeon wants to be called Bob and my gardener wants to be called Dr. Arbor that’s what I’ll call them. It doesn’t cost me anything and makes them happy.

When I’m in court, opposing counsel is “my friend”. If opposing counsel has a QC, they’re “my learned friend”.

If there is another lawyer on the file with me, they’re “my colleague.”

If I’m in Provincial Court, the judge is “Your Honour”.

If I’m in Queen’s Bench or the Court of Appeal, the judge is “My Lord / My Lady” or “Your Lordship / Your Ladyship”.

For MDs, PhDs, Chef, etc, I’ll use your title in the applicable setting if you prefer it. Anywhere else and you’re out of luck. I’d likely address religious leaders by whatever they want, but that’s not ever put to the test, and not because I’d mean it, but because I’m not really pro-drama. I’d still address Admirals, Generals, and Sergeant Majors with those titles, because they earned it.

I’m curious- what’s the “bar” for the title Chef? It seems like a fairly indistinct title to me.

And of course, Maestro! :wink:

My general feeling towards honorifics is that they are appropriate in

  1. Professional contexts
  2. Social contexts where your primary connection with the person is through their professional capacity.

So I would expect my branch secretary to call me Dr. Godot. If I was at an office party I would also expect the same secretary to call me Dr. Godot, because that is what she is used to calling me. But the guy who installs the cable at my house can call me Mr. Godot and I won’t bat an eye.

I think this works for other honorifics as well. A priest in my opinion should be called Mr. O’Leary when applying for a credit card but as Father O’Leary by his flock, whether he is in church or just visiting.

Same here. Aside from the ones I know personally (who are “Bob” or whatever to me), they’re all “Father [whatever].” The situation with Jesuits can get a bit complicated, depending on context, though, because Jesuits tend to have advanced degrees in any number of fields. I’ve known Jesuit physicians, and Jesuit lawyers, and Jesuit academics with Ph.D.s, and so on. The ones I’ve known (can’t speak for the Society, of course) tend to use “Father” in formal settings, even when they’re entitled to the “Dr.”

When I worked at Bell Labs half the technical staff had PhDs, and no one called each other doctor anything. One new person did once, and my boss (also a PhD) told him that we didn’t do that so that no one would ask us to prescribe something for them.

In my first grad school people used Professor. (Grad students used first names.) In my second one, not as good, some professors had Masters degrees only, so Doctor was used for those that didn’t because it was higher prestige.
Now, I merit doctor, and so does my daughter who also has a PhD, but we’d sound damn silly if we called each other that.

None. I’ll use them if I’m being paid to. But otherwise Firstname Lastname or Firstname suffices.

I once had a young boy ask me if I was a lieutenant, I said “no”. He asked if I was “more than a lieutenant”, I said “no”. He then said “my dad is a lieutenant”.

Later, I stressed to my own kids that they were not in the military. I told them to address adults as Mr./Mrs. and not worry about learning or remembering rank.