1. High respect, as that shown for special merit; recognition or esteem: the honor shown to a Nobel laureate; the place of honor at the table.
a. Great privilege: I have the honor of presenting the governor.
b. Good name; reputation: I must defend my honor.
c. A source or cause of credit: was an honor to the profession.
3. A mark, token, or gesture of respect or distinction, such as a military decoration.
a. Public acts or ceremonies showing respect: was buried with full honors.
b. Special recognition for unusual academic achievement: graduated with honors.
c. A program of advanced study for exceptional students: planned to take honors in history.
d. Social courtesies offered to guests: did the honors at tea.
5. High rank: assumed the honor of kingship.
6. Honor Used with His, Her, or Your as a title and form of address for certain officials, such as judges and the mayors of certain cities: Her Honor, Judge Jones.
a. A sense of principled uprightness of character; personal integrity: conducted herself with honor; saw the challenge as a matter of honor.
b. A code of integrity, dignity, and pride, chiefly among men, that was maintained in some societies, as in feudal Europe, by force of arms.
c. A woman's chastity or reputation for chastity.
8. Sports The right of being first at the tee in golf.
a. Any of the four or five highest cards, especially the ace, king, queen, jack, and ten of the trump suit, in card games such as bridge or whist.
b. often honors The points allotted to these cards.
tr.v. hon·ored, hon·or·ing, hon·orsIdioms:
a. To hold in respect; esteem: a researcher who is highly honored for her work.
b. To show respect for: honored the volunteers with a party.
c. To confer distinction on: He has honored us with his presence.
d. To bow to (another dancer) in square dancing: Honor your partner.
2. To accept or pay as valid: honor a check; a store that honors all credit cards.
Under an obligation enforced by the personal integrity of the one obliged: I was honor bound to admit that she had done the work.
on (one's) honor
Under an obligation enforced by the personal integrity of the one obliged.
[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin.]
Synonyms: honor, homage, reverence, veneration, deference
These nouns denote admiration, respect, or esteem accorded to another as a right or as due. Honor is the most general term: A stamp was issued in honor of her achievements. The ritual was intended to show honor to one's ancestors. Homage is often in the form of a ceremonial tribute that conveys allegiance: “There is no country in which so absolute a homage is paid to wealth” (Ralph Waldo Emerson).
Reverence is a feeling of deep respect and devotion: “Kill reverence and you've killed the hero in man” (Ayn Rand).
Veneration is both the feeling and the reverential expression of respect, love, and awe: “The account of Turner's Rebellion that followed left no doubt that the authors considered the rebel leader a hero and martyr, worthy of veneration” (Scot French).
Deference is courteous, respectful regard for another person that often implies yielding to that person: The children were taught to show deference to their elders.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.