Don (honorific)

Don (honorific)

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Don, from Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 dominus
Dominus (title)
Dominus is the Latin word for master or owner. As a title of sovereignty the term under the Roman Republic had all the associations of the Greek Tyrannos; refused during the early principate, it finally became an official title of the Roman Emperors under Diocletian...

, is an honorific
Honorific
An honorific is a word or expression with connotations conveying esteem or respect when used in addressing or referring to a person. Sometimes, the term is used not quite correctly to refer to an honorary title...

 in Spanish
Spanish language
Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

 (don), Portuguese
Portuguese language
Portuguese is a Romance language that arose in the medieval Kingdom of Galicia, nowadays Galicia and Northern Portugal. The southern part of the Kingdom of Galicia became independent as the County of Portugal in 1095...

 (Dom
Dom (title)
Dom is a title of respect prefixed to the given name. It derives from Latin Dominus.It is used in English for certain Benedictine and Carthusian monks, and for members of certain communities of Canons Regular. Examples include Benedictine monks of the English Benedictine Congregation...

, dõ), and Italian
Italian language
Italian is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, by minorities in Malta, Monaco, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia, and by immigrant communities in the Americas and Australia...

 (ˈdɔn). The female equivalent is Doña (ˈdoɲa), Dona (ˈdonɐ), and Donna (ˈdɔnna), abbreviated "Dª" or simply "D."

Usage


Although originally a title reserved for royalty, select nobles, and church hierarchs, it is now often used as a mark of esteem for a person of personal, social or official distinction
Distinction (social)
Distinction is a social force that places different values on different individuals. The criteria for such judgements have always been a matter of controversy and subject to criticism. They are, furthermore, subject to constant change....

, such as a community leader of long standing, a person of significant wealth, or a noble
Nobility
Nobility is a social class which possesses more acknowledged privileges or eminence than members of most other classes in a society, membership therein typically being hereditary. The privileges associated with nobility may constitute substantial advantages over or relative to non-nobles, or may be...

, but may also be used ironically
Irony
Irony is a rhetorical device, literary technique, or situation in which there is a sharp incongruity or discordance that goes beyond the simple and evident intention of words or actions...

. As a style
Style (manner of address)
A style of office, or honorific, is a legal, official, or recognized title. A style, by tradition or law, precedes a reference to a person who holds a post or political office, and is sometimes used to refer to the office itself. An honorific can also be awarded to an individual in a personal...

, rather than a title
Title
A title is a prefix or suffix added to someone's name to signify either veneration, an official position or a professional or academic qualification. In some languages, titles may even be inserted between a first and last name...

 or rank, it is used with, and not instead of, a person's name.

Syntactically
Syntax
In linguistics, syntax is the study of the principles and rules for constructing phrases and sentences in natural languages....

, it is used in much the same way (although for a broader group of persons) as "Sir" and "Dame" are used in English when speaking of or to a person who has been knight
Knight
A knight was a member of a class of lower nobility in the High Middle Ages.By the Late Middle Ages, the rank had become associated with the ideals of chivalry, a code of conduct for the perfect courtly Christian warrior....

ed, e.g. "Don Firstname" or "Doña Firstname Lastname". Unlike "The Honourable" in English, Don may be used when speaking directly to a person, and unlike "Mister" it must be used with a given name. For example, "Don Diego de la Vega," or (abbreviating "señor") "Sr. Don Diego de la Vega," or simply "Don Diego" (the secret identity of Zorro
Zorro
Zorro is a fictional character created in 1919 by New York-based pulp writer Johnston McCulley. The character has been featured in numerous books, films, television series, and other media....

) are typical forms. But a form like "Don de la Vega," is not correct. "Sr. Diego" is not correct either, even if it is becoming widespread in certain environments (e.g.: supermarkets' megaphone systems) where people try to sound formal despite their lack of awareness regarding style
Style (manner of address)
A style of office, or honorific, is a legal, official, or recognized title. A style, by tradition or law, precedes a reference to a person who holds a post or political office, and is sometimes used to refer to the office itself. An honorific can also be awarded to an individual in a personal...

.

In North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

, Don has also been made popular by films depicting the Mafia
Mafia
The Mafia is a criminal syndicate that emerged in the mid-nineteenth century in Sicily, Italy. It is a loose association of criminal groups that share a common organizational structure and code of conduct, and whose common enterprise is protection racketeering...

, such as The Godfather
The Godfather
The Godfather is a 1972 American epic crime film directed by Francis Ford Coppola, based on the 1969 novel by Mario Puzo. With a screenplay by Puzo, Coppola and an uncredited Robert Towne, the film stars Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall, Sterling Hayden, John Marley, Richard...

series, where the crime boss
Crime boss
A crime boss or boss is a person in charge of a criminal organization. A boss typically has absolute or near-absolute control over his subordinates, is greatly feared by his subordinates for his ruthlessness and willingness to take lives in order to exert his influence, and profits come from the...

 would claim for himself the signs of respect that were traditionally granted in Italy to nobility. This usage of the honorific in these films (e.g. Don Corleone, Don Barzini, etc.) is not common or correct in normal historic usage in Italy. The proper Italian usage is similar to the Castilian Spanish usage mentioned in the previous paragraph.

Spain and the Spanish Colonies in America and in the Philippines


Historically, the term was used to address members of the nobility, e.g. hidalgos
Hidalgo (Spanish nobility)
A hidalgo or fidalgo is a member of the Spanish and Portuguese nobility. In popular usage it has come to mean the non-titled nobility. Hidalgos were exempt from paying taxes, but did not necessarily own real property...

 and fidalgo
Fidalgo
Fidalgo , from Galician and Portuguese filho de algo—sometimes translated into English as "son of somebody" or "son of some "—is a traditional title used in Portugal to refer to a member of the titled or untitled nobility...

s, as well as members of the secular clergy
Secular clergy
The term secular clergy refers to deacons and priests who are not monastics or members of a religious order.-Catholic Church:In the Catholic Church, the secular clergy are ministers, such as deacons and priests, who do not belong to a religious order...

. The treatment gradually came to be reserved for persons of the blood royal, and those of such acknowledged high or ancient aristocratic birth as to be noble de Juro e Herdade, that is, "by right and heredity" rather than by the king's grace. But by the twentieth century it was no longer restricted in use even to the upper classes, since persons of means or education (at least of a "bachiller" level -equivalent of a Bachelor-), regardless of background, came to be so addressed and, it is now often used as if it were a more formal version of Señor, a term which was also once used to address someone with the quality of nobility (not necessarily holding a nobiliary title). This was, for example, the case of military leaders addressing Spanish troops as "señores soldados" (gentlemen-soldiers). In Spanish-speaking Latin America, this honorific is usually used with people of older age.

In colonial Philippines, this title was reserved to the local
Datu
Datu is the title for tribal chiefs, sovereign princes, and monarchs in the Visayas and Mindanao Regions of the Philippines. Together with Lakan , Apo in Central and Northern Luzon, Sultan and Rajah, they are titles used for native royalty, and are still currently used in the Philippines...

 nobilities
Nobility
Nobility is a social class which possesses more acknowledged privileges or eminence than members of most other classes in a society, membership therein typically being hereditary. The privileges associated with nobility may constitute substantial advantages over or relative to non-nobles, or may be...

 - the Principalía
Principalia
The Principalía or noble class was the ruling and, usually, the educated upper class in the towns of colonial Philippines, composed of the Gobernadorcillo , and the Cabezas de Barangay who governed the districts. The distinction or status of being part of the Principalía is a heriditary right...

, whose right to rule was recognized by Philip II
Philip II
-People:* Philip II of Macedon * Philip II Philoromaeus * Philip II of France * Philip II of Navarre * Philip II of Taranto * Philip II, Duke of Burgundy * Philip II, Duke of Savoy...

 on 11 June 1594.

The honorific was also used among Ladino
Judaeo-Spanish
Judaeo-Spanish , in Israel commonly referred to as Ladino, and known locally as Judezmo, Djudeo-Espanyol, Djudezmo, Djudeo-Kasteyano, Spaniolit and other names, is a Romance language derived from Old Spanish...

-speaking Sephardi Jews, as part of the Spanish culture which they took with them after the Expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492.

The honorific title Don is widely used in Latin America
Latin America
Latin America is a region of the Americas where Romance languages  – particularly Spanish and Portuguese, and variably French – are primarily spoken. Latin America has an area of approximately 21,069,500 km² , almost 3.9% of the Earth's surface or 14.1% of its land surface area...

. This is the case of the Mexican
Mexican people
Mexican people refers to all persons from Mexico, a multiethnic country in North America, and/or who identify with the Mexican cultural and/or national identity....

 New Age author Don Miguel Ángel Ruiz
Miguel Ángel Ruiz
Don Miguel Ángel Ruiz , better known as Don Miguel Ruiz, is a Mexican author of New Age spiritualist and neoshamanistic texts. His teaching is significantly influenced by the work of Carlos Castaneda....

, the Chilean
Chile
Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

 television personality Don Francisco
Don Francisco (television host)
Mario Luis Kreutzberger Blumenfeld , better known by his stage name, Don Francisco, is a Chilean television personality, and a popular television personality on the Univision network reaching Spanish-speaking viewers in the United States...

, and the Puerto Rican
Puerto Rican people
A Puerto Rican is a person who was born in Puerto Rico.Puerto Ricans born and raised in the continental United States are also sometimes referred to as Puerto Ricans, although they were not born in Puerto Rico...

 industrialist and politician Don Luis Ferre
Luis A. Ferré
Don Luis Alberto Ferré Aguayo was a Puerto Rican engineer, industrialist, politician, philanthropist, and a patron of the arts. He was the third Governor of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico from 1969 to 1973, and the founding father of the New Progressive Party which advocates for Puerto Rico...

, among many other figures. The title Don is considered highly honorific, more so than, for example, academic titles such as "Doctor" or than political titles such as "Governor." For example, although Puerto Rican politician Pedro Albizu Campos
Pedro Albizu Campos
Don Pedro Albizu Campos was a Puerto Rican politician and one of the leading figures in the Puerto Rican independence movement. He was the leader and president of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party from 1930 until his death...

 had a doctoral degree, he has been titled Don. Likewise, Puerto Rican Governor Luis Muñoz Marin
Luis Muñoz Marín
Don José Luis Alberto Muñoz Marín was a Puerto Rican poet, journalist, and politician. Regarded as the "father of modern Puerto Rico," he was the first democratically elected Governor of Puerto Rico. Muñoz Marín was the son of Luis Muñoz Rivera, a renowned autonomist leader...

 has oftentimes been called Don Muñoz Marin instead of Governor Muñoz Marin. In the same manner, Don Miguel Ángel Ruiz is an M.D.

Prior to the American conquest of the Southwest, a number of Americans immigrated to California, where they often became Mexican citizens and changed their given names to Spanish equivalents, for example "Juan Temple" for Jonathan Temple. It was common for them to assume the honorific "don" once they had attained a significant degree of distinction in the community.

Today in Mexican-American communities, the Don or Doña is used in honorific form when addressing a senior citizen.

Portugal and Brazil


The usage of Dom
Dom (title)
Dom is a title of respect prefixed to the given name. It derives from Latin Dominus.It is used in English for certain Benedictine and Carthusian monks, and for members of certain communities of Canons Regular. Examples include Benedictine monks of the English Benedictine Congregation...

was a prerogative of princes of the royal blood and also of other individuals to whom it had been granted by the sovereign. In most cases, the title was passed on through the male line. Strictly speaking, only females born of a nobleman bearing the title Dom would be addressed as Dona, but the style was not heritable through daughters. The few exceptions depended solely on the conditions upon which the title itself had been granted. A well-known exception is the descent of Dom Vasco da Gama
Vasco da Gama
Vasco da Gama, 1st Count of Vidigueira was a Portuguese explorer, one of the most successful in the Age of Discovery and the commander of the first ships to sail directly from Europe to India...

.

There were many cases, both in Portugal and Brazil, in which the title of Dom (or Dona) was conceded to, and even bought by, people who was not from the royalty. In any case, when the title was officially recognized by the proper authority, it became part of the name.

Today, in Portugal and Brazil, Dom is ordinarily employed only for higher members of the clergy, and for superiors
Superior general
A Superior General, or General Superior, is the Superior at the head of a whole religious order or congregation.The term is mainly used as a generic term, while many orders and congregations use other specific titles, notably:* Abbot general...

 of religious orders, such as the Order of Saint Benedict
Order of Saint Benedict
The Order of Saint Benedict is a Roman Catholic religious order of independent monastic communities that observe the Rule of St. Benedict. Within the order, each individual community maintains its own autonomy, while the organization as a whole exists to represent their mutual interests...

, wherein it is also associated with the status of Dom Frater. Dom is similarly used within the Benedictine Order throughout France and the English speaking world. In France, it is also used within the male branch of the Carthusian
Carthusian
The Carthusian Order, also called the Order of St. Bruno, is a Roman Catholic religious order of enclosed monastics. The order was founded by Saint Bruno of Cologne in 1084 and includes both monks and nuns...

 Order.

In the Portuguese language
Portuguese language
Portuguese is a Romance language that arose in the medieval Kingdom of Galicia, nowadays Galicia and Northern Portugal. The southern part of the Kingdom of Galicia became independent as the County of Portugal in 1095...

, the female, Dona (or, more politely, Senhora Dona), has become common when referring to a woman who does not hold an academic title. Its commonly used to refer to First Ladies, although less common for female politicians.

Italy


Officially, Don was the style for a principe
Prince
Prince is a general term for a ruler, monarch or member of a monarch's or former monarch's family, and is a hereditary title in the nobility of some European states. The feminine equivalent is a princess...

or duca
Duke
A duke or duchess is a member of the nobility, historically of highest rank below the monarch, and historically controlling a duchy...

(and any legitimate, male-line descendant) who was a member of the nobility (as distinct from a reign
Reign
A reign is the term used to describe the period of a person's or dynasty's occupation of the office of monarch of a nation or of a people . In most hereditary monarchies and some elective monarchies A reign is the term used to describe the period of a person's or dynasty's occupation of the office...

ing prince or duke, who was generally entitled to some form of the higher style of Altezza
Highness
Highness, often used with a possessive adjective , is an attribute referring to the rank of the dynasty in an address...

). This was how the style was used in the Almanach de Gotha
Almanach de Gotha
The Almanach de Gotha was a respected directory of Europe's highest nobility and royalty. First published in 1763 by C.W. Ettinger in Gotha at the ducal court of Frederick III, Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg, it was regarded as an authority in the classification of monarchies, princely and ducal...

 for extant families in its third section. The feminine, "Donna", was borne by their wives and daughters. Genealogical
Genealogy
Genealogy is the study of families and the tracing of their lineages and history. Genealogists use oral traditions, historical records, genetic analysis, and other records to obtain information about a family and to demonstrate kinship and pedigrees of its members...

 databases and dynastic
Dynasty
A dynasty is a sequence of rulers considered members of the same family. Historians traditionally consider many sovereign states' history within a framework of successive dynasties, e.g., China, Ancient Egypt and the Persian Empire...

 works still reserve the title for this class of noble by tradition, although it is no longer a right under Italian law.

In practice, however, the style Don/Donna (or Latin Dominus/Domina) was used more loosely in church, civil and notarial records. The honorific was often accorded to the untitled gentry (e.g., knights or younger sons of noblemen), priests, or other people of distinction. It was, over time, adopted by organized criminal societies in Southern Italy (including Naples, Sicily, and Calabria) to refer to members who held considerable sway within their hierarchies.

Today in Italy, the title is widely given everywhere only to Diocesan Catholic
priests, (never for prelates, who bear higher honorifics such as monsignore, eminenza and so on).
Outside of the priesthood or old nobility, usage is now fairly uncommon in the south and rarely if ever used in central or northern Italy. It can be used satirically or ironically to lampoon a person's sense of self-importance.

As in the Spanish usage, Don is prefix
Prefix
A prefix is an affix which is placed before the root of a word. Particularly in the study of languages,a prefix is also called a preformative, because it alters the form of the words to which it is affixed.Examples of prefixes:...

ed either to the full name or to the person's given name
Given name
A given name, in Western contexts often referred to as a first name, is a personal name that specifies and differentiates between members of a group of individuals, especially in a family, all of whose members usually share the same family name...

, less commonly to the surname alone (as is the custom of the heads of mafia syndicates). The feminine Donna (with capital initial) is rarely used nowadays.

Other uses


At the University of Oxford
University of Oxford
The University of Oxford is a university located in Oxford, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest surviving university in the world and the oldest in the English-speaking world. Although its exact date of foundation is unclear, there is evidence of teaching as far back as 1096...

 , a member of the academic staff is sometimes referred to as a Don
University don
A don is a fellow or tutor of a college or university, especially traditional collegiate universities such as Oxford and Cambridge in England.The term — similar to the title still used for Catholic priests — is a historical remnant of Oxford and Cambridge having started as ecclesiastical...

—a remnant of the time when the university was considered a religious institution and its staff a kind of clergy. In practice within the University (and at the University of Cambridge) is most commonly used to refer to fellow
Fellow
A fellow in the broadest sense is someone who is an equal or a comrade. The term fellow is also used to describe a person, particularly by those in the upper social classes. It is most often used in an academic context: a fellow is often part of an elite group of learned people who are awarded...

s of the colleges.

The Don is the official mascot of the athletic teams fielded by the University of San Francisco
University of San Francisco
The University of San Francisco , is a private, Jesuit/Catholic university located in San Francisco, California. Founded in 1855, USF was established as the first university in San Francisco. It is the second oldest institution for higher learning in California and the tenth-oldest university of...

.