What is the linguistic term for words like sir, mam, miss, pal, bro, dude, buddy, son, mom/mum, dad etc.?

Although I understand that there is a fair degree of overlap, I'm not looking for the term "title". Titles are used with the addressee's name. I'm specifically looking for the term for the words used without (instead of) the addressee's name.

  • 6
    If they're being used in direct address (e.g: Hi, Mom. Sir, your fly is unzipped. Wassup, Bro?) then they're called vocatives. This was a case in Latin, with a special ending (in any Latin prayer, the word Domine 'O Lord', with an -e suffix, is in the vocative case: Domine non sum dignus 'O Lord I am not worthy'.
    – jlawler
    Nov 19, 2013 at 18:28
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    @jlawler: +1 and why not make that an Answer? Detail: generally only words of the second declension masculine have a vocative ending that was different from the nominative. But you probably know that. In Greek, there are slightly more vocative markers.
    – Cerberus
    Nov 19, 2013 at 19:22
  • Detail: of course. That's why I used a 2nd declension noun as an example. As for answer making, it's more work for nothing. Why bother?
    – jlawler
    Nov 19, 2013 at 20:17
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    I would call it "address".
    – Anixx
    Aug 26, 2014 at 22:22
  • id call it "Terms of Recognition" Oct 31, 2014 at 9:22

1 Answer 1


'Term of address' might be one way of referring to such expressions. I believe 'honorific' denotes both the Mr/Mrs type and the sir type. However this may not include less formal terms like bro etc.

Along the same lines as jlawler, it seems that the noun 'vocative' can be applied to these kinds of words as well.

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