Honorifics used in cultivation novels

Jan 2, 2019
I've tried my best in searching the internet about this but I couldn't find any that gives a very clear outline for which is used on whom so if anyone could tell me when or what a cultivator would use when addressing people from his generation, or older or younger, and if they'd use a different honorific from someone not on the same sect. Thanks!


Spud Cannon
Dec 23, 2018
Hmm. Please note that this will be from personal experience in reading novels. I am not Chinese and do not know the language or culture particularly well.

Brother/Sister - someone from the same clan/sect/whatever (generally, not always though) that the speaker is close to or wishes to suck up to.

Junior - Generally but not always a term of some respect/acknowledgement, used (generally) by someone in the same clan/sect/whatever or is friendly to the one being spoken to, where the one speaking has a higher status or more power.

Senior - term of respect, indicating that the person speaking is lesser than whoever they are speaking to. Not necessarily used to address people of the older generation, although it is sometimes the case. More often it is used to refer to someone from the same generation or slightly older who has more status/power than the speaker. Not necessarily used to refer to someone from the same sect/clan, although it is often so. If not, it may be an attempt to suck up to the person being spoken to, or an acknowledgement that the speaker is weaker/less status than the one being spoken to.

Elder - Term of respect, used to refer to someone of high (but not the highest) status, often of the older generation/two generations ago. Note that this is often an actual position in clans and sects, so it may also be used by anyone to refer to someone in that position.

Master - term of great respect, indicating that the one being spoken to is much greater than the one speaking. Generally only used by students to their masters. Note that this isn't used in a simple relationship like an elder teaching juniors in a sect, but more an inheritance situation where an elder is passing on much of his skill and knowledge to a single disciple.

Disciple - Term of acknowledgement, speaker is the master of the one being spoken to.

Dog/Trash - This should be obvious, but a derogatory term, meant to indicate that the speaker is much higher than the one being spoken to, either as a statement of fact or as an insult.

Note that depending on context pretty much any of these can be friendly or an insult.


Active member
Jan 5, 2019
Here: https://dreamsofjianghu.ca/修真世界-world-of-cultivation/cultivation-terms-and-glossary/

Assorted Terms
大哥( da ge): eldest brother
哥 (ge): brother, could be used as a suffix onto a person’s name. Or as “Hey, bro!”
人妖 (renyao): Hong Kong slang for Thailand transvestites. It was then adopted as internet slang for males that used female avatars in MMORPGs. It’s also used to describe “girliness” in boys. The literal meaning is human-spirit. In this case here, Pu is really a yao, and he does look androgynous.
爷 (ye): means grandfather. At the same time, it can be a way of referring to oneself in third person, usually in an egotistical manner.

Relationship Appellations
Used for females:
Shijie: refers to female disciples older / higher ranked than speaker
Shimei: refers to female disciples younger / lower ranked than speaker
Used for males:
Shixong: refers to male disciples older / higher ranked than speaker
Shidi: refers to male disciples younger / lower ranked than speaker
Older Generation
Shibo: refers to disciple of previous generation older / higher ranked than speaker’s elder
Shishu: refers to disciple of previous generation younger / lower ranked than speaker’s elder


ฅ/ᐠ ̳ .ᆺ. ̳ ᐟ\ฅ ~~ᴺʸᵃᵃ
Jan 15, 2019
so does this mean I'd use the same appellations even with disciples for other sects?
I think for formality's sake, yes. Nothing like 'ge' or 'da ge' though. Those are reserved for sworn brothers or people of the same sect. More like 'shixiong' or 'shidi' and the like. The thing I find common in cultivation novels is that the sects are formal to each other out of respect and decorum.