Don (salutation)

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Don ( Spanish / Italian ) and Dom ( Portuguese ) is a polite, respectful form of address (from the Latin : dominus - Herr, Hausherr), which is also used as a title. The female form is Doña (Spanish), Donna (Italian) and Dona (Portuguese) (from Latin: domina - mistress, landlady).

Use in Spanish-speaking countries

In the Spanish-speaking area, addressing don or doña is mainly used to address (older) members and especially the heads of families of influential families.

In Spain itself, this form of address is often associated with titles of nobility (such as the hidalgo ), which are preceded by the name and don or doña . Even the former king is addressed as Don Juan Carlos I , and Prince Don Carlos has been the subject of several literary and musical works. It is common to use Don by first name or full name. It is quite common in Spain to address even very high-ranking personalities like the king by their first name, if the Don is put in front. The use of the Don alone with the surname, however, is perceived as impolite and uncultivated. If only the designation Don or Doña is used, this can be viewed as contempt.

The address Don is also widespread in Latin America , where parents or grandparents are also addressed as hosts with this title, with the female form being particularly common. Employees and guests also usually address the hosts with the title Don (see also letter forms and greetings in the Spanish language ).

Use in the Portuguese language area

The salutation Dom is less common in Portugal. As in the Spanish-speaking area, the feminine form is used more frequently and is used against older women. The salutation cathedral itself is only used for clergy of high rank such as bishops and abbots .

In Brazil, the salutation with Dom is also used. The Brazilian Archbishop Dom Hélder Câmara was always named with this salutation.

In Portuguese Timor , the form of address was used for the local petty rulers, the Liurais .

Use in Italy

In Italy the salutation Don is used for clergymen (including ordinary priests), and sometimes also for nobles. As in Spanish, the salutation is also used as an honorary title for heads of family. In southern Italy, especially in Sicily, in areas that were under Spanish influence, the salutation Don towards higher-ups is e.g. T. still in use. The fictional Don Corleone is popularly known as the head of a mafia family from Mario Puzo's The Godfather . The title has become known in a religious context u. a. by Don Bosco, canonized in 1934, or by Giovanni Guareschi's novels about the fictional priest Don Camillo .

Use in French-speaking countries

In French-speaking areas, the title cathedral is often used for monks - such as the Carthusian and Benedictine monks - and other religious priests .

Use in Albania

In Albania the secular priest is addressed as "Dom" (followed by the first name); Religious priests are called "At" (also followed by the first name).


  • Bustos Argañaraz, Prudencio; Orígenes de los apellidos hispanoamericanos ; Boletín del Centro de Estudios Genealógicos de Córdoba, No. 26; Cordoba (Argentina); 1997; P. 29 ff.