Date: Mon, 25 Aug 1997 19:29:31 -0400

From: Gregory {Greg} Downing downingg[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]IS2.NYU.EDU

Subject: Re: Esquire

At 03:56 PM 8/25/97 +0000, you (M_Lynne_Murphy[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] wrote:

does anybody actually call anybody else 'squire'? all my dictionaries

give the sense of a judge/lawyer/justice of the peace, but don't list

it as being archaic, but i've never heard it used except jokingly.

(and do lawyers seriously put 'esquire' after their names--is this a

regional thing?)

Esquire or Esq. is still used by some law firms, if not by others, in their

official names (e.g., "X and Y, Esqs."), correspondence, and documents filed

with a court or with the county clerk's office. I checked a file of things

relating to some family matters from the past year or so, all from the New

York City metropolitan area, and some but by no means all lawyers and firms

still use the term.

Yes, "Esq." is often used to make fun of lawyers, who are not always looked

on fondly. The use of Esq(uire) as an honorific outside of strictly

aristocratic circles goes back to the 16C (as discussed some by OED1 and

OED2), but it may well sound affected in the anti-formal US of the late 20C.

I don't know that it is especially regional, or even American as opposed to


It originally meant shield-bearer, and was thus applied to a class of minor

aristocrat below a knight (opinions about proper usage differed widely not

only over time, but even in the same period). Evetually, it got extended as

an honorific to people who were not really aristocrats but were thought to

deserve some honorable title (something more than "Mister/Master").

But there are actual lawyers on this list -- I know you're out there....

Anything to say on this?

Greg Downing/NYU, at greg.downing[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] or downingg[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]