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Respect denotes both a positive feeling of esteem for a person or other entity (such as a nation or a religion), and also specific actions and conduct representative of that esteem. Respect can be a specific feeling of regard for the actual qualities of the one respected (e.g., "I have great respect for her judgment"). It can also be conduct in accord with a specific ethic of respect. Rude conduct is usually considered to indicate a lack of respect, whereas actions that honour somebody or something indicate respect.

Specific ethics of respect are of fundamental importance to various cultures. Respect for tradition and legitimate authority is identified by Jonathan Haidt as one of five fundamental moral values shared to a greater or lesser degree by different societies and individuals.

Kinds of Respect

Some societies expect certain kinds of respect for everyone, such as an ethic of reciprocity, or respect for the legal rights of citizens.

Respect for Superiors

Respect, and outward signs of respect, are used in hierarchical organizations to reinforce values of obedience and submission.

Military organizations maintain discipline by requiring respect from members. For example, in the United States armed forces, conspicuous contempt toward officials is a punishable offense. The system of military rank relies on subordinates respecting their superiors.

Respect for and loyalty to one's lord is an important part of the ethics of Chivalry and Bushido.

Organized crime syndicates such as the Mafia and the Yakuza also rely on an ethic of respect for superiors.

Respect for Parents and the Elderly

In many societies, people are expected to be respectful of their parents and other elders. In Confucianism, filial piety is the virtue of showing respect to ones parents. Japanmarker has the holiday Respect for the Aged Day

Respect for Nations

Most societies expect members to be patriotic, showing respect to the nation as a whole.

This respect is sometimes extended to concrete symbols of the nation, such as flags. Respect for the American flag is shown by adhering to a list of rules as to its display: it must not be flown at night, it must not be allowed to become ragged, and so on.

Respect in Religion

Many religions require specific gestures of respect towards religious figures and religious artifacts. Examples include genuflection towards bishops or consecrated hosts in the Catholic church, and zemnoy poklon in the Eastern Orthodox church.

Respect for Other Cultures

Intercultural competence is an ethic of respecting many different cultures, usually in accordance with each culture's specific notions of respect.

Signs of Respect and Disrespect


Respect is shown in many languages by following specific grammatical conventions, especially in referring to individuals.

An honorific is a word or expression (often a pronoun) that conveys respect when used in addressing or referring to a person.Typically honorifics are used for second and third persons; use for first person is less common. Some languages have anti-honorific or despective first person forms (meaning something like "your most humble servant" or "this unworthy person") whose effect is to enhance the relative honor accorded a second or third person.

A Style is a legal, official, or recognized title which by tradition or law precedes a reference to a person who holds a post, or which is used to refer to the political office itself. Styles are particularly associated with monarchies, where they may be used by a wife of an office holder or of a prince of the blood, for the duration of their marriage. They are also almost universally used for presidents in republics and in many countries for members of legislative bodies, higher-ranking judges and senior constitutional office holders. Leading religious figures also have styles.

Honorific speech is a more general term encompassing any special grammatical rules that indicate more respect on the part of the speaker. For example, in Japanese, all verbs are conjugated differently in the honorific mode, even when they are not directly related to figure of respect.

Gestures and Actions

There are many gestures whose main purpose is to indicate respect, such as:

Disrespect is also shown through traditional symbolism, such as shoe throwing in Arab cultures.


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