What Are Honorifics?

What Are Honorifics?

Rose MacDowell

Never heard of honorifics? Even if you don't know what they are, chances are you've used them many times before. And if you have a partner, they may be a surprisingly important part of your life together.

What are honorifics, and why do some lovers use them with each other? Come along as we dive into the topic of honorifics, and discuss their crucial role in certain intimate relationships. 

What Are Honorifics?

If you've ever called someone Sir or Ma'am, you've used honorifics. 

Honorifics are words or titles for other people that imply status or respect. They can be indications of a profession, like Captain or Your Honor, but when lovers use them, they describe the sort of intimate bond they share. 

Honorifics are typically used in relationships in which kink plays a significant part. Dominant and submissive lovers often use honorifics, and in fact, may consider those titles to be inseparable from their deep connection. 

Learn more: Dominant and Submissive Relationships

What Are Examples of Honorifics?

Like other elements of your relationship, your honorifics will reflect the attachment you have with your partner. You might choose names with personal meaning, use tried and true titles, or even create words that fit your unique dynamic.

There are no hard-and-fast rules when it comes to honorifics, but there are some well-established terms in the kink community. These include:  

  • Master
  • Mistress
  • Pet
  • Sir
  • Goddess
  • Daddy
  • Princess
  • Babygirl
  • Good boy
  • Kitten

Now, these might seem like simple pet names — after all, who hasn't called their SO something other than their given name? ("Yes, Mistress, I'll take out the garbage now.") But honorifics in the context of kink have a much deeper and more symbolic meaning. 

Why Kink Honorifics Are Different

When it comes to kink, honorifics are titles that need to be earned and consented to after the dynamic has been established.

Anyone can describe himself as a Dom and ask to be called Sir, but to be worthy of the honorific is something else altogether. This requires taking on the role of a Dom in a relationship with a submissive, which involves consent (again), responsibility, and a shared understanding of what it means to be dominant with your partner.

No one is saying you can't call your partner Daddy or any other term of endearment unless you're in a Dom/sub dynamic. But if you and your partner want to explore a kink in more than a superficial way, ground rules are key. Though the relationship can be as casual as you like, the dynamic calls for the full commitment and agreement of all involved. 

Establish the terms of your connection ahead of time, and revisit those terms frequently. And remember, honorifics don't come first. Establishing the dynamic does. 

Honorifics And Their Meanings

Though traditional honorifics may be common in kink relationships, they're anything but ordinary. Let's take a look at the some of the most well-loved terms, and the meaning behind them.

Keep in mind that these terms are no longer reserved for people of a certain sex, and can be applied to any gender. 


A Master and Mistress are typically the Dominants in their relationships. These honorifics imply a position of control and authority, which can be gentle and quasi-parental, or stricter and more intense. 

A relationship with a Master or Mistress is based on trust, particularly in relationships with a full-time Dom/sub dynamic. Even a part-time Master or Mistress has the responsibility to care for, listen to, and receive the consent of the submissive under their control. 


These terms are royal for a reason. The Queen or King in a kink relationship is the recipient of respect, deference, and even worship from their partner. A Queen or King may be sexually dominant or not, depending on the unique boundaries of the relationship.

Like a Master or Mistress, a Queen/King dynamic may be full or part-time, and the terms of the relationship must include the full participation and consent of the other partner.    


Perhaps the best known of all kink honorifics is Sir, which has become a standby of BDSM novels and films. Its popularity hasn't diminished its usage in the kink community, however, and it remains one of the most important of all honorifics used by Dominant and submissive partners. 

The word Sir is typically said with respect, obedience, and a certain formality that can intensify the sexual connection between lovers. 


Pet is an honorific for a partner who is usually, but not always, submissive. Pets are typically pampered and treated with kindness, though some Pets might also agree to firm boundaries in the relationship, and receive discipline if they violate them.

A Pet may also, but not always, participate in pet play, a kink that involves playing the role of an animal like a dog, pig, or cat. A Pet may be in a relationship with a Daddy, Mommy, Master, or a partner who foregoes an honorific themselves but takes on the role of a loving mentor or caregiver.  


Much like Sir, Daddy is a classic honorific in widespread usage. Common in both straight and gay relationships, Daddy is generally reserved for Dominant partners with a caring, parental demeanor. This role may be restricted to the bedroom, or may be an important, 24/7 element of a couples' dynamic.