AskDefine | Define lordship

Dictionary Definition



1 a title used to address any British peer except a duke and extended to a bishop or a judge; "Your Lordship"; "His Lordship"
2 the authority of a lord

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. The state or condition of being a lord; hence (with his or your), a title applied to a lord (except an archbishop or duke, who is called Grace) or a judge (in Great Britain), etc.
  2. Seigniory; domain; the territory over which a lord holds jurisdiction; a manor.
    What lands and lordships for their owner know My quondam barber. -Dryden.
  3. Dominion; power; authority.
    They which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them. -Mark x. 42.
  4. Formal form of address to a judge.
    "May I ask that the order be granted, if your lordship so pleases?"


Seigniority, domain

See also

Extensive Definition

"Lord" is a title with various meanings. It can denote a prince or a feudal superior (especially a feudal tenant who holds directly from the king, i.e., a baron). The title today is mostly used in connection with the peerage of the United Kingdom or its constituent countries, although some users of the title do not themselves hold peerages, and use it 'by courtesy'. The title may also be used in conjunction with others to denote a superior holder of an otherwise generic title, in such combinations as "Lord Mayor" or "Lord Chief Justice". The title is primarily taken by men, while women will usually take the title 'lady'. However, this is not universal, as the Lord of Mann and female Lord Mayors are examples of women who are styled 'lord'.
In religious contexts Lord can also refer to various different gods or deities. The earliest uses of Lord in the English language in a religious context were by English Bible translators such as Bede. This reflected the Jewish practice of substituting the spoken Hebrew word 'Adonai' (translated as 'Lord') for YHWH when read aloud.
According to the Oxford Dictionary of English, the etymology of the word can be traced back to the Old English word 'hlāford' which originated from 'hlāfweard' meaning 'bread keeper', reflecting the Germanic tribal custom of a superior providing food for his followers. Lady, the female equivalent, originates from a similar structure, believed to have originally meant 'loaf-kneader'.



Five ranks of peer exist in the United Kingdom, in descending order, these are: duke, marquess, earl, viscount, and baron. The title is used most often by barons who are rarely addressed with any other. The style of this address is 'Lord (X)', for example, Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson, is commonly known as 'Lord Tennyson'. The ranks of marquess, earl and viscounts commonly use lord as well, with viscounts using the same style as used for baron. However, marquesses and earls have a slightly different form of address were they can be called either the 'Marquess/Earl of (X)' or 'Lord (X)'. Dukes also use the style, 'Duke of (X)', but it is rarely acceptable to refer to them as 'Lord (X)'. Dukes are usually referred to as 'Your Grace'. In the Peerage of Scotland, the members of the lowest level of the peerage have the title 'Lord of Parliament' rather than baron.
For certain members of the peerage, the title lord also applies by courtesy to certain of their children; for example the younger sons of dukes and marquesses can use the style 'Lord (first name) (surname)'. The titles are courtesy titles in that the holder does not hold a peerage, and is, according to British law, a commoner.

House of Lords

In the UK, the House of Lords (known commonly as 'the Lords') forms the upper house of Parliament. Here all peers are treated as lords but there are three different classifications:
  • All lords who hold peerages created before the passage of the Life Peerages Act 1958 (and a handful who hold peerages created after then) are hereditary peers, who until 1999 constituted the most numerous category of lords sitting in the House. There are in excess of 700 lords whose titles may be inherited, however since the House of Lords Act 1999, they are no longer guaranteed a seat in the Lords and instead must take part in an election for a total of ninety-two seats. All male peers of England, Great Britain and the United Kingdom were before 1999 entitled to sit in the House of Lords by virtue of their title. Peeresses were granted the right to sit in 1963. Peers of Scotland and Ireland, however, historically had limitations on their right to sit at Westminster. Between 1707 and 1963, Scottish peers participated in elections to determine which of them would take the sixteen seats allocated to them. Elections were abolished in 1963, and from that time until 1999 all Scottish peers and peeresses were entitled to sit. Irish peers participated in similar elections between 1801 and 1922, when the Irish Free State was established. Since 1922, Irish peers have not had a right to sit at Westminster by virtue of their Irish peerages. However, many Irish peers also hold peerages of Great Britain and the United Kingdom.
  • The importance of hereditary lords has declined steadily following the increase in the appointment of life peers. These peers are entitled to sit in the House of Lords for the duration of their life, but can not transfer their titles to their heirs. They are rarely above the rank of baron and are created under the Life Peerages Act 1958. Since the Act was passed, some 1,086 life peers have been created. The only hereditary privilege associated with life peerages is that children of life peers are entitled to style themselves 'The Honourable (firstname) (surname)'.
  • These first two groups are collectively termed Lords Temporal as opposed to the third type of lord sitting in the House known as Spiritual Peers or Lords Spiritual. This group consists of twenty-six Church of England bishops who are appointed in order of superiority. Unlike Lords Temporal, who can be appointed from any of the four nations of the UK, only bishops with English Sees are eligible to sit in the Chamber. The Church of Scotland has not sent bishops to sit in the House since the Reformation. The Church of Ireland ceased to send bishops to sit after disestablishment in 1871. The Church in Wales ceased to be a part of the Church of England in 1920 and was simultaneously disestablished in Wales. Accordingly, bishops of the Church in Wales were no longer eligible to be appointed to the House as bishops of the Church of England.


Lord is also used as a title by members of both the British and some Commonwealth legal systems when referring to judges. In this case the style used is 'The Right Honourable Lord Justice (surname)'; in the case were two or more judges have the same surname, then they will add their first name to their title. In court they are referred to as 'My Lord' or 'Your Lordship'.
Examples of courts where this is used include:

Lord of the Manor

The title of Lord of the Manor arose in the English medieval system of Manorialism following the Norman Conquest. The title Lord of the Manor is a titular feudal dignity which is still recognised today. Their holders are entitled to call themselves "[Personal name], The Lord/Lady of the Manor of [Place name]" but, for example, the United Kingdom Passport Agency does not recognise such titles. The title is not a title of the nobility.


The Scottish title Laird is ofter anglicised to Lord. A Laird is a hereditary title for the owner of a landed estate in Scotland. The title of Laird may carry certain local or feudal rights, though unlike a Lordship, a Lairdship has never carried voting rights, either in the historic Parliament of Scotland or, after unification with the Kingdom of England, in the British House of Lords.


Various high offices of state may carry the cachet of honorary lords, seen through titles such as Lord High Chancellor or Lord Mayor.
Another English title, that of Lord of the Manor, does not connote peerage and does not carry parliamentary rights. The title merely marks the holder as the owner of a manor who has certain local rights, and is the equivalent of lairds in Scotland.
In the middle ages, bishops were influential and powerful magnates who held the feudal rank of 'lord'; thus even today the form of address 'Lord Bishop' is still sometimes heard, (particularly in Commonwealth countries) for Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops.


In feudalism, a lord has aristocratic rank, has control over a portion of land and the produce and labour of the serfs living thereon. The serf would swear the oath of fealty to the lord, and would then become a vassal.
As part of the heritage of feudalism, lord can generally refer to superiors of many kinds, for example landlord. In many cultures in Europe the equivalent term serves as a general title of address equivalent to the English 'Mister' (French Monsieur, Spanish Señor, Portuguese Senhor, Italian Signore, Dutch Meneer/Mijnheer/De Heer (as in: to de heer Joren Jansen), German Herr, Hungarian Úr, Greek Kyrie or to the English formal "you" (Polish Pan). See also gentleman.


People have often used the term 'lord' in religious contexts, where, The Lord refers to God in Judaism or Islam, or to God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit in Christianity. In many Christian Bibles (such as the King James Version), the Hebrew name YHWH (the Tetragrammaton) is rendered LORD (all caps) or (small caps). This usage follows the Jewish practice of substituting the spoken Hebrew word 'Adonai' (translated as 'Lord') for YHWH when read aloud.
Other religious uses of the word Lord include:
  • Ba'al, or Baal, is a Northwest Semitic title meaning 'lord', used for various gods and local spirit-deities. In some texts, the term refers to Hadad, the lord of the divine assembly whose name only priests were allowed to speak. References to Baal in the Hebrew Bible, such as the prophet Elijah's confrontation with Baal's priests, usually correspond to local gods rather than to Hadad.
  • Bel meaning 'Lord' is a common title of the Babylonian deity Marduk.
  • The name of the god Adonis may derive from the Hebrew word for 'lord'.
  • In the Pagan religion Wicca, the male god is also referred to as 'The Lord' and the female as 'The Lady'.
  • A Dark Lord is a title is usually used in religion and mythology to refer to the Devil and other demons, or evil gods. In Christian religion, "Dark Lord" refers to "Satan".


lordship in Czech: Pán
lordship in Danish: Lord
lordship in German: Lord
lordship in Spanish: Lord
lordship in Esperanto: Eternulo
lordship in French: Seigneur
lordship in Irish: Tiarna
lordship in Scottish Gaelic: Tighearna
lordship in Korean: 주인
lordship in Italian: Signore
lordship in Hebrew: לורד (תואר אצולה בריטי)
lordship in Lithuanian: Lordas
lordship in Hungarian: Úr
lordship in Macedonian: Лорд
lordship in Dutch: Heer (feodalisme)
lordship in Japanese: 封建領主
lordship in Norwegian: Lord
lordship in Polish: Lord
lordship in Portuguese: Lorde
lordship in Russian: Лорд
lordship in Finnish: Lordi (arvonimi)
lordship in Vietnamese: Chúa
lordship in Turkish: Lord
lordship in Ukrainian: Сюзерен
lordship in Chinese: 勳爵

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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