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See also: herr



EB1911 - Volume 01 - Page 001 - 1.svg This entry lacks etymological information. If you are familiar with the origin of this term, please add it to the page per etymology instructions. You can also discuss it at the Etymology scriptorium.

Proper noun[edit]


  1. A surname​.


German Wikipedia has an article on:
Wikipedia de

Alternative forms[edit]

  • Herre (archaic)
  • Herꝛ (archaic; sometimes used in fraktur)


From Old High German hēriro, hērro, the comparative form of hēr (noble, venerable) (German hehr), by analogy with Latin senior (elder). Cognate with Dutch heer, Swedish herre, compare also herrschen (to rule). The Old High German word originally meant "grey, grey-haired", and descends from Proto-Germanic *hairaz (grey), making it cognate with Old English hār (English hoar), Old Norse hárr.



Herr m (genitive Herrn or Herren, plural Herren or Herrn)

  1. Mr., mister, sir
  2. gentleman
    Meine Damen und Herren = Ladies and gentlemen
  3. master, lord, generally denotes that somebody has control over something, either in a generic or in a regal sense
    • Herr der Lage sein ('to be master of the situation'; a phrase meaning that somebody is able to cope with something)
    • Weil die Tiere auf seinen Wink reagieren, nennt man ihn den Herren der Wölfe. ('Because the animals react on his wink, he is called lord of the wolves.')
    • Wer ist Herr dieser Landen? Der Graf von Karabas. ('Who is the ruler/owner of these lands? The Count of Karabas.' From Der gestiefelte Kater, 'The Booted Tomcat'.)
  4. Lord, God
    Das Haus des Herrn = The House of God
  5. Used as a title of respect that is not translated into English or replaced with Sir:
    • Herr Schmidt = Mr. Schmidt; but:
    • Herr Doktor von Braun = Dr. von Braun
    • Herr Professor = Dr. (Ph.D.); professor
    • Jawohl, Herr Oberst! = Yes, sir! (lit.: 'Yes, Mr. Colonel.' Because Herr already is a respectful form of address, adding a term like 'sir' is unnecessary)
    • Mein Herr? Sie haben Ihre Uhr verloren. = Sir? You've lost your watch. (standard usage between strangers)
    • After supper Frau Brechenmacher packed four of the five babies to bed, allowing Rosa to stay with her and help to polish the buttons of Herr Brechenmacher's uniform. - "Frau Brechenmaster Attends A Wedding", from "Selected Short Stories" by Katherine Mansfield (first published in 1910)
    • (18th century), Beschreibung, Wie es bey der Allerdurchlauchtigst- und Großmächtigsten Fürstin und Frauen, Frauen Elisabethae Christinae, Römischen Kayserin, In Germanien, Hispanien, Hungarn und Böheim Königin, Ertz-Hertzogin zu Braunschweig-Lüneburg, Am 8. Septembris Anno 1723. In der Königlichen Haupt- und Residentz-Statt Prag Fürgegangenen Königlichen Böhmischen Krönung gehalten worden., Prag, page "C 2" (at books.google):
      (actual spelling:) Der Herꝛ Erꜩ⸗Bischoff wendete ſich ʒu dem Altar um vor ſeinem Faldiſtorio niederʒuknyen/ und die Litaney Aller⸗Heiligen vorʒubethen/
      (common modern transcription:) Der Herr Ertz-Bischoff wendete sich zu dem Altar um vor seinem Faldistorio niederzuknyen, und die Litaney Aller-Heiligen vorzubethen,

Usage notes[edit]

  • Omitting Herr (or the female form Frau) when addressing a person with their last name is usually perceived as disrespectful, but it is more common when speaking about somebody who is not present, except in formal contexts. However, there may be contextual pitfalls and regional differences, which makes it advisable for learners not to leave out Herr (and Frau).
  • When people address each other with their last name, but say du to each other, the words Herr and Frau are always left out in most regions. In parts of western Germany, however, there is (or was) a system of saying du and Herr (Frau) among coworkers.


  • The forms Herrn and Herren were originally simple phonetic/graphic variants. Both were used for the singular and plural inflections. In contemporary standard German they are—usually—distinguished functionally, Herrn being the inflected singular, Herren the plural.
  • Contemporary standard:
  • Without functional split of -n/-en:

Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]

External links[edit]

  • Herr in Duden online