During the GOP convention, the prefix "the honorable" was used frequently, as when Oregon delegate Perry Atkinson said, "We are working to elect John Lindsey, Brian Boquist, and the Honorable Charles Starr to join the Honorable Greg Walden in the U.S. Congress." What does it take to be honorable?
In the United States, "honorable" is used as a title of courtesy for current and former public officials. (In England, there are strict rules about who gets the title.) U.S. usage varies, because there is no official etiquette; the honorific is often used for judges and justices, members of Congress, governors, mayors, and members of state legislatures. Hence the Honorable Charles Starr (Oregon state senator, R-Hillsboro) and the Honorable Greg Walden (U.S. congressman., R-Ore.).
Explainer thanks Joe Pickett at Houghton-Mifflin, publisher of the American Heritage Dictionary.