Capitalization Confusion: Lord versus lord

Posted August 5, 2013 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

I can understand why writers would get confused over Lord versus lord. Most of us have been brought up with religion as an important part of our childhood — no matter which religion it was, and of course, one always thought Lord.

If you stop to think about it, Lord is a proper noun, which means it’s capitalized. It specifically refers to an individual person. The Lord my God is, well, a person as most people think of him (her!). Lord Wellington is a specific person. My lords and ladies are not specific people. It’s a generic noun, which means lowercase.

You could consider this confusion a formatting issue as well as it’s a question of whether to capitalize or not. The post on capitalization could be useful for more examples.

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end.

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Lord lord
Credit to: Apple
See God versus god for its particularities.

“Fantasy Casting: the men” courtesy of Renee’s Book Addiction

Renee is doing some fantasy casting with Rupert Penry-Jones as Lord John in Diana Gabaldon’s Lord John Grey series

“Profanity” is Tomia‘s derivative image, which is in the public domain, of Polylerus‘s original image, via Wikimedia Commons

Capitalization Issues
CAPITALIZE lowercase
Part of Grammar:
Proper Noun
Plural: Lords
Exclamation; Noun; Verb, transitive

Plural for the noun and third person present verb: lords
Past tense or past participle: lorded
Gerund or present participle: lording

A name for God or Christ

In the U.K.:

  • A title given formally to a baron, and less formally to a marquess, earl, or viscount and prefixed to a family or territorial name, i.e., Lord Derby
    • This would also apply to their wives, i.e., Lady Derby
  • A courtesy title given to a younger son of a duke or marquess prefixed with their first name, i.e., Lord John
    • This would also apply to their daughters, i.e., Lady Jane
  • An informal collective reference to the House of Lords, i.e,. the Lords
  • A compound title of people with authority, i.e., the Lord High Executioner
Do apply capitalization rules if lord begins a sentence.

Used to express surprise, worry, or for emphasis

Someone or something having power, authority, or influence

[Generic honorific] Lowercase unless they begin a sentence or if the honorific is used as a specific name or nickname for a particular person

[Astrology] Ruling planet of a sign, house, or chart

[Historical] A feudal superior

[Historical] Proprietor of a manor house

Verb, transitive:
Act in a superior and domineering manner toward someone

[Archaic] Confer the title of “Lord” upon someone
Lord, what I done to offend thee?

Lord Wellington trounced Napoleon at Waterloo.

He is the Lord thy God.

The Duke of Chiswell’s youngest son is Lord Richard.

Are the Lords sitting today?

Oh lord, what have you done!

Lord, it’s hot!

He is the lord of the manor.

There is someone at the door for you, my lord.

Jesus, he’s drunk as a lord.

Verb, transitive:
Oh brother, why does he have to try and lord it over everyone!

Adjective: lordlike
History of the Word:
Old English

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves?

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