General English


  • verb to pay attention to


  • noun the honour shown to someone in authority


  • noun an all-purpose exclamation of greeting and acknowledgment and an essential concept in peer-group relationships. ‘Respect’ was a key term from the rituals of street-based black subcultures of the late 1970s and early 1980s.


  • noun a feeling or attitude of admiration and deference towards someone

Origin & History of “respect”

Respect and respite (13th c.) are ultimately the same word. both go back to respectus, the past participle of Latin respicere ‘look back at’, hence ‘look at, regard, consider’. this was a compound verb formed from the prefix re- ‘back’ and specere ‘look’ (source of English spectacle, speculate, etc). Respectus passed into English, perhaps via Old French respect, as respect, in the sense ‘regard, relation’ (as in with respect to); the key modern meaning ‘deference, esteem’ developed towards the end of the 16th century. An earlier borrowing of respectus into Old French produced respit, which preserved another meaning of the Latin word, ‘refuge’. This was the source of English respite.