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.

Origin of sir

1250–1300; Middle English; unstressed variant of sire Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for sir

king, title, knight, master, lord, monsieur

Examples from the Web for sir

Contemporary Examples of sir

Historical Examples of sir

  • Miss Avice won't be down, sir, and I'm to fetch her up a pot of coffee, sir.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • And oh, sir,” added Stephen, “may we crave a drop of water for our dog?

    The Armourer's Prentices

    Charlotte M. Yonge

  • The poor dog heard the tumult, and leapt to your aid, sir, and we made after him.

    The Armourer's Prentices

    Charlotte M. Yonge

  • Birkenholt, sir,” answered Ambrose, “but our uncle is Harry Randall.

    The Armourer's Prentices

    Charlotte M. Yonge

  • "No, sir," said Robert, looking boldly in the face of his former employer.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

British Dictionary definitions for sir



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



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

Word Origin and History for sir

c.1300, title of honor of a knight or baronet (until 17c. also a title of priests), variant of sire, originally used only in unstressed position. Generalized as a respectful form of address by mid-14c.; used as a salutation at the beginning of letters from early 15c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper