Honor “Legally” Defined

The following definitions for “honor” are taken from Ballantine’s Law Dictionary (3rd edition), Bouvier’s Law Dictionary (6th edition), Black’s Law Dictionary (2nd edition), and Webster’s Dictionary (1828):





Verb: To pay or to accept and pay [UCC §1-201(21)].

Noun: Adherence to right principles of conduct; integrity. Respect accorded another. A seigniory consisting of an aggregation of manors held under one lord paramount was so called, especially if it had belonged to an ancient feudal baron, or had been at any time in the hands of the crown [2 Bl Comm. 91].

See acceptance for honor; payment for honor.



  1. High estimation. A testimony of high estimation. Dignity. Reputation. Dignified respect of character springing from probity, principle, or moral rectitude. A duel is not justified by any insult to our honor. Honor is also employed to signify integrity in a judge, courage in a soldier, and chastity in a woman. To deprive a woman of her honor is, in some cases, punished as a public wrong, and by an action for the recovery of damages done to the relative rights of a husband or a father [Vide criminal conversation].

  2. In England, when a peer of parliament is sitting judicially in that body, his pledge of honor is received instead of an oath; and in courts of equity, peers, peeresses, and lords of parliament, answer on their honor only. But the courts of common law know no such distinction. It is needless to add, that as we are not encumbered by a nobility, there is no such distinction in the United States, all persons being equal in the eye of the law.

In English law, the seigniory of a lord paramount [2 Bl. Com. 9F].



In English law, a seigniory of several manors held under one baron or lord paramount. Also those dignities or privileges, degrees of nobility, knighthood, and other titles, which flow from the crown as the fountain of honor [Wharton].

In American law, the customary title of courtesy given to judges of the higher courts, and occasionally to some other officers; as “his honor,” “your honor.”

  • Honor courts: tribunals held within honors or seigniories.

  • Office of honor: as used in constitutional and statutory provisions, this term denotes a public office of considerable dignity and importance, to which important public trusts or interests are confided, but which is not compensated by any salary or fees, being thus contrasted with an “office of profit” [see Dickson v. People, 17 Ill. 193].



HON’OR, n. on’or [L. honor, honos].

  1. The esteem due or paid to worth; high estimation.

    • A prophet is not without honor, except in his own country. Matt. 13

  1. A testimony of esteem any expression of respect or of high estimation by words or actions; as the honors of war; military honors; funeral honors; civil honors.

  2. Dignity; exalted rank or place; distinction.

  • I have given thee riches and honor. 1 Kings 3.

  • Thou art clothed with honor and majesty. Ps. 104.

  • In doing a good thing, there is both honor and pleasure.

  1. Reverence; veneration; or any act by which reverence and submission are expressed, as worship paid to the Supreme Being.

  2. Reputation; good name; as, his honor is unsullied.

  3. True nobleness of mind; magnanimity; dignified respect for character, springing from probity, principle or moral rectitude; a distinguishing trait in the character of good men.

  4. An assumed appearance of nobleness; scorn of meanness, springing from the fear of reproach, without regard to principle.

  • Shall I violate my trust? Forbid it, honor.

  1. Any particular virtue much valued; as bravery in men, and chastity in females.

  2. Dignity of mien; noble appearance.

  • Godlike erect, with native honor clad.

  1. That which honor; he or that which confers dignity; as, the chancellor is an honor to his profession.

  2. Privileges of rank or birth; in the plural.

  • Restore me to my honors.

  1. Civilities paid.

  • Then here a slave, or if you will, a lord, to do the honors , and to give the word.

  1. That which adorns; ornament; decoration.

  • The sire then shook the honors of his head.

  1. A noble kind of seignory or lordship, held of a king in captive. On or upon my honor, words accompanying a declaration which pledges one’s honor or reputation for the truth of it. The members of the house of lords in Great Britain are not under oath, but give their opinions on their honor. Laws of honor, among persons of fashion, signify certain rules by which their social intercourse is regulated, and which are founded on a regard to reputation. These laws require a punctilious attention to decorum in external deportment, but admit of the foulest violations of moral duty. Court of honor, a court of chivalry; a court of civil and criminal jurisdiction, having power to redress injuries of honor, and to hold pleas respecting matters of arms and deeds of war.

HON’OR, v.t.. on’or [L. honoro].

  1. To revere; to respect; to treat with deference and submission, and perform relative duties to.

  • Honor thy father and thy mother. Ex. 20

  1. To reverence; to manifest the highest veneration for, in words and actions; to entertain the most exalted thoughts of; to worship; to adore.

    • That all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. John 5

  1. To dignify; to raise to distinction or notice; to elevate in rank or station; to exalt. Men are sometimes. Men are sometimes honored with titles and offices, which they do not merit.

  • Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delighteth to honor. Esth 6.

  1. To glorify; to render illustrious.

  • I will be honored upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host. Ex. 14

  1. To treat with due civility and respect in the ordinary intercourse of life.

  • The troops honored the governor with a salute.

  1. In commerce, to accept and pay when due; as, to honor a bill of exchange.

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