How to call senior when meet at a school? When I don't know the name. When I call him or I refer to him to someone who are my friends. or on the speech, "I respect all you senior" ? Hey senior? Hey elder student? Hey seniority?

  • I'm assuming you mean high school, and not college?
    – J.R.
    Mar 26, 2018 at 18:02
  • Can be high school, college,university, work place.
    – 이관우
    Mar 26, 2018 at 18:03
  • 2
    This is a very "Asian" question to ask, because it is as much about culture as it is about language. I assume you are referring to something like seonbae/hubae in Korean or kohai/senpai in Japanese; English simply doesn't have anything like these.
    – stangdon
    Mar 26, 2018 at 18:27
  • I agree with stangdon. At least in the US, there is no special term for those ahead of you in school. It's not part of the culture. There may be some of this in things like boarding schools or British University, at least those that are more old-fashioned. You do see some of this in Harry Potter, for example, where Hogwarts is based on the traditional British boarding school system. The younger students look up to the older students, and the older students are given more responsibilities. Instead we call people by name, usually without any honorific.
    – Andrew
    Mar 26, 2018 at 19:11
  • 1

2 Answers 2


We use the words freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior when talking to about how far someone has progressed in a four-year educational program; however, as a general rule, we do not use these words as a form of address. In other words, I would never say to a stranger:

Hey, senior, can I ask you a question?

However, I might say to a friend:

That guy standing over there is a senior – do you know his name?

Also, phrases such as, "Hey, elder student," or "Hey, seniority" are simply not used in this way – neither in school nor in the workplace. For the most part, we simply don't make a big deal about someone being a few years older than someone else, and don't have special titles for people who happen to be a few years older or who have worked in a company a little bit longer.

If you are looking for a word to use when you don't know someone's name, English doesn't have a lot of options for that. Sometimes "sir" (or "ma'am") can be used:

Excuse me, sir, do you know what time it is?

but even these terms would sound out-of-place in most schools where a freshman is asking an upperclassman about the time.

  • 1
    OP did not indicate a locale, but if you're going to mention freshman, et al I think we should add that these terms are exclusive to the U.S.
    – choster
    Mar 26, 2018 at 19:38
  • 1
    Sometimes, if you're addressing a group of people who are all in the same class, you will use the plural noun as form of address, like this: "Juniors, you are excused. Seniors, please stay here for the next presentation." But I agree that you would never directly address a single individual this way. Mar 26, 2018 at 21:43

It depends entirely on the culture of the group you're in.

Where I come from, we don't use different terms for more senior students/colleagues. We use given names, or if the other person is much older (i.e. at least a generation older) we use Mr. Surname or Mrs. Surname.

The only honourific I've seen used is sir, but I've never used it myself. I would only ever call someone sir if I joined the military.

This isn't really an English language question, but a local culture question.

  • I agree that it's a local culture question, but I disagree with the assertion that this "isn't really an English language question."
    – J.R.
    Mar 26, 2018 at 18:20

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .