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sir

[ sur ]
/ sɜr /
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noun
a respectful or formal term of address used to a man: No, sir.
(initial capital letter) the distinctive title of a knight or baronet: Sir Walter Scott.
(initial capital letter) a title of respect for some notable personage of ancient times: Sir Pandarus of Troy.
a lord or gentleman: noble sirs and ladies.
an ironic or humorous title of respect: sir critic.
Archaic. a title of respect used before a noun to designate profession, rank, etc.: sir priest; sir clerk.
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Origin of sir

1250–1300; Middle English; unstressed variant of sire
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

VOCAB BUILDER

What is a basic definition of sir?

Sir is a respectful form of address for a man or a term for a gentleman. When capitalized, Sir is used as a title for a knight. The word sir has a few other senses as a noun.

Sir is a respectful term used to address a man. Sir is especially likely to be used to refer to a person of higher rank or authority. In this sense, sir is the male equivalent of madam or ma’am.

  • Real-life examples: Waiters or other service workers are very likely to use sir when addressing male customers. Members of the military will refer to superior officers as sir or ma’am when not using their title or rank. A person may refer to their boss or manager as sir.
  • Used in a sentence: The recruits answered the drill sergeant with a loud “Sir, yes, sir!”

Sir can also be used to refer to a gentleman or a lord, especially in a formal setting.

  • Used in a sentence: I meant no offense to the good sir or his noble family.

The capitalized Sir indicates that a man is a knight or a baronet.

  • Real-life examples: Sir Lancelot and Sir Gawain were two of the knights who served the legendary King Arthur. Sir Isaac Newton and Sir Walter Raleigh are famous historical figures who were knighted. Sir Sean Connery, Sir Patrick Stewart, and Sir Ian McKellan are three modern actors who were knighted by Queen Elizabeth II.
  • Used in a sentence: Because Gregory had served Great Britain loyally for over 50 years, he was knighted and became Sir Gregory.

Where does sir come from?

The first records of sir come from around 1250. It comes from Middle English and is an unstressed variant of the word sire, another formal term of address for men.

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What are some other forms related to sir?

  • sirs (plural noun)

What are some synonyms for sir?

What are some words that share a root or word element with sir

What are some words that often get used in discussing sir?

What are some words sir may be commonly confused with?

How is sir used in real life?

Sir is a common form of address used for men, especially by people showing respect or formality.

Try using sir!

True or False?

Sir is a formal title that indicates that a man is a captain of a ship.

How to use sir in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for sir (1 of 2)

sir
/ (sɜː) /

noun
a formal or polite term of address for a man
archaic a gentleman of high social status

Word Origin for sir

C13: variant of sire

British Dictionary definitions for sir (2 of 2)

Sir
/ (sɜː) /

noun
a title of honour placed before the name of a knight or baronetSir Walter Raleigh
archaic a title placed before the name of a figure from ancient history
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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