Worshipful?

Originally, the term to worship meant to pay the honor and reverence that was due to one who was worthy; it meant deference paid to some object or person of great importance; hence, worshipful means being full of the qualities deserving of such deference. It is derived from the Anglo-Saxon weorthe which means worth and scipe which means ship; hence a state or condition of worthiness. Originally, the term to worship meant to pay the honor and reverence that was due to one who was worthy; it meant deference paid to some object or person of great importance; hence, worshipful means being full of the qualities deserving of such deference. It is derived from the Anglo-Saxon weorthe which means worth and scipe which means ship; hence a state or condition of worthiness.

Worshipful was used in medieval times to describe ones parents, officers of the state, prelates, etc. and signified that such persons were of high station and were entitled to deferential respect. It is still commonly used in England as a title of honor given to municipal and judicial officers. Thus, the mayors of small towns and justices of the peace are called Worshipful and mayors of large cities are called Right Worshipful. This usage has been adopted and retained by our fraternity as a title of honor and respect when addressing the Master of a Lodge and the Officers of the Grand Lodge.

Few Masonic words are less understood by the public. Some ridicule has come upon the fraternity from those who suppose that it is used by Masons to signify that the person being addressed is worthy of worship and is being deified. Nothing could be further from the truth; it has no sacred or religious implication.

From Mackeys Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, Masonic Vocabulary and The Masonic Trowel


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