The long names and titles of Buddhist monks sometimes bewilder Westerners who are new to these teachings. Once the basic principles and customs are understood, however, the names of Thai monks are easily grasped.
Phra: "Venerable." An honorific that refers to a monk of any rank or seniority. In informal situations Than("reverend" or "venerable") is used.
Ajaan,Ajarn,Ajahn, etc.: "Teacher" or "mentor" (derived from the Pali acariya, "teacher"). This title may be applied to monks and laypeople, alike.
Chao Khun: One of several ecclesiastical titles conferred upon senior monks selected by the King.
Maha: A prefix given to a monk who has passed the third level of the standard Pali exams.
Looang Boo, Luang Pu: "Venerable grandfather". A term of respectful affection applied to a senior monk.
Luang Phor: "Venerable father." A term of respectful affection applied to a senior monk.
Upasika: A female lay-follower of the Buddha. Upasaka is the corresponding term for a male.