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[on-er] /ˈɒn ər/
noun, verb (used with object), adjective, Chiefly British
Usage note
See -or1.


or (especially British) honour

[on-er] /ˈɒn ər/
honesty, fairness, or integrity in one's beliefs and actions:
a man of honor.
a source of credit or distinction:
to be an honor to one's family.
high respect, as for worth, merit, or rank:
to be held in honor.
such respect manifested:
a memorial in honor of the dead.
high public esteem; fame; glory:
He has earned his position of honor.
the privilege of being associated with or receiving a favor from a respected person, group, organization, etc.:
to have the honor of serving on a prize jury; I have the honor of introducing this evening's speaker.
Usually, honors. evidence, as a special ceremony, decoration, scroll, or title, of high rank, dignity, or distinction:
political honors; military honors.
(initial capital letter) a deferential title of respect, especially for judges and mayors (preceded by His, Her, Your, etc.).
  1. special rank or distinction conferred by a university, college, or school upon a student for eminence in scholarship or success in some particular subject.
  2. an advanced course of study for superior students.
    Compare honors course.
chastity or purity in a woman.
Also called honor card. Cards.
  1. Bridge. any of the five highest trump cards, as an ace, king, queen, jack, or ten in the trump suit, or any of the four aces in a no-trump contract.
    Compare honor trick.
  2. Whist. any of the four highest trump cards, as an ace, king, queen, or jack in the trump suit.
Golf. the privilege of teeing off before the other player or side, given after the first hole to the player or side that won the previous hole.
verb (used with object)
to hold in honor or high respect; revere:
to honor one's parents.
to treat with honor.
to confer honor or distinction upon:
The university honored him with its leadership award.
to worship (the Supreme Being).
to show a courteous regard for:
to honor an invitation.
Commerce. to accept or pay (a draft, check, etc.):
All credit cards are honored here.
to accept as valid and conform to the request or demands of (an official document).
(in square dancing) to meet or salute with a bow.
of, relating to, or noting honor.
be on / upon one's honor, to accept and acknowledge personal responsibility for one's actions:
West Point cadets are on their honor not to cheat on an exam.
do honor to,
  1. to show respect to.
  2. to be a credit to:
    Such good students would do honor to any teacher.
do the honors, to serve or preside as host, as in introducing people, or carving or serving at table:
Father did the honors at the family Thanksgiving dinner.
Origin of honor
1150-1200; (noun) Middle English (h)on(o)ur < Anglo-French (Old French (h)onor, onur) < Latin honōr- (stem of honor, earlier honōs); (v.) Middle English < Anglo-French (h)on(o)urer < Latin honōrāre, derivative of honor
Related forms
honorer, noun
honorless, adjective
overhonor, verb (used with object)
rehonor, verb (used with object)
self-honored, adjective
unhonored, adjective
1. probity, uprightness. Honor, honesty, integrity, sincerity refer to the highest moral principles and the absence of deceit or fraud. Honor denotes a fine sense of, and a strict conformity to, what is considered morally right or due: a high sense of honor; on one's honor. Honesty denotes the presence of probity and particularly the absence of deceit or fraud, especially in business dealings: uncompromising honesty and trustworthiness. Integrity indicates a soundness of moral principle that no power or influence can impair: a man of unquestioned integrity and dependability. Sincerity implies absence of dissimulation or deceit, and a strong adherence to truth: His sincerity was evident in every word. 3. deference, homage; reverence, veneration. Honor, consideration, distinction refer to the regard in which one is held by others. Honor suggests a combination of liking and respect: His colleagues held him in great honor. Consideration suggests honor because of proved worth: a man worthy of the highest consideration. Distinction suggests particular honor because of qualities or accomplishments: She achieved distinction as a violinist at an early age. 5. distinction. 13. esteem, venerate.
1. dishonor, dishonesty. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for honours
Historical Examples
  • I left Pete to do the honours, so to say, helped by mamma, of course.

    Peterkin Mary Louisa Molesworth
  • Did not your lordship tell her of the honours you designed me?

  • Such also was the punishment awarded the famous Jesuit, Girard, who was loaded with honours when he should have got the rope.

  • As an author he may justly claim the honours of magnanimity.

  • Judging myself, I fear it was so when I took the work in hand; not that I cared for the money or the honours to come from it.

    General Gordon Seton Churchill
  • It was clear that Nancy was painfully trying to do the honours.

    Tutors' Lane Wilmarth Lewis
  • These honours were bestowed by the King in person at an investiture held in the Ulster Hall in the afternoon.

    Ulster's Stand For Union Ronald McNeill
  • And it is for this that men have paid her honours which were the portion only of the gods!

  • The latter replies that he does not want treasures or honours, but a diploma drawn up in legal form.

    The Russian Opera Rosa Newmarch
  • These bets were on the turn-up, the colour, the “honours,” or the “odd trick.”

    The Quadroon Mayne Reid
British Dictionary definitions for honours


plural noun
observances of respect
(often capital)
  1. (in a university degree or degree course) a rank of the highest academic standard
  2. (as modifier): an honours degree, Hons Compare general (sense 9), pass (sense 35)
a high mark awarded for an examination; distinction
last honours, funeral honours, observances of respect at a funeral
military honours, ceremonies performed by troops in honour of royalty, at the burial of an officer, etc


noun, verb
the US spelling of honour


personal integrity; allegiance to moral principles
  1. fame or glory
  2. a person or thing that wins this for another: he is an honour to the school
(often pl) great respect, regard, esteem, etc, or an outward sign of this
(often pl) high or noble rank
a privilege or pleasure: it is an honour to serve you
a woman's virtue or chastity
  1. (bridge, poker) any of the top five cards in a suit or any of the four aces at no trumps
  2. (whist) any of the top four cards
(golf) the right to tee off first
do honour to
  1. to pay homage to
  2. to be a credit to
do the honours
  1. to serve as host or hostess
  2. to perform a social act, such as carving meat, proposing a toast, etc
(Brit, school slang) honour bright, an exclamation pledging honour
in honour bound, under a moral obligation
in honour of, out of respect for
on one's honour, upon one's honour, on the pledge of one's word or good name
verb (transitive)
to hold in respect or esteem
to show courteous behaviour towards
to worship
to confer a distinction upon
to accept and then pay when due (a cheque, draft, etc)
to keep (one's promise); fulfil (a previous agreement)
to bow or curtsy to (one's dancing partner)
See also honours
Derived Forms
honourer, (US) honorer, noun
honourless, (US) honorless, adjective
Word Origin
C12: from Old French onor, from Latin honor esteem


preceded by Your, His, or Her
  1. a title used to or of certain judges
  2. (in Ireland) a form of address in general use
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for honours



c.1200, "glory, renown, fame earned," from Anglo-French honour, Old French honor (Modern French honneur), from Latin honorem (nominative honos, later honor) "honor, dignity, office, reputation," of unknown origin. Till 17c., honour and honor were equally frequent; the former now preferred in England, the latter in U.S. by influence of Noah Webster's spelling reforms. Meaning "a woman's chastity" first attested late 14c. Honors "distinction in scholarship" attested by 1782. Honor roll in the scholastic sense attested by 1872. To do the honors (1650s) originally meant the customary civilities and courtesies at a public entertainment, etc.


mid-13c., honuren, "to do honor to," from Old French honorer, from Latin honorare, from honor (see honor (n.)). In the commercial sense of "accept a bill due, etc.," it is recorded from 1706. Related: Honored; honoring.

A custom more honoured in the breach than the observance. Whoever will look up the passage (Hamlet I. iv. 16) will see that it means, beyond a doubt, a custom that one deserves more honour for breaking than for keeping: but it is often quoted in the wrong & very different sense of a dead letter or rule more often broken than kept. [Fowler]


chiefly British English spelling of honor; also see -or. Related: Honoured; honouring; honours.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with honours


In addition to the idiom beginning with
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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