A Dictionary of Diplomatic Terminology Currently in Circulation
agrément – the host government's acceptance of the nomination of an ambassador to the country
ambassador-designate – a diplomatic agent who has been designated by the President as his/her choice as personal representative but who has not yet been confirmed by the Senate and who has not taken the oath of office (U.S. only)
ambassador – an official envoy or diplomatic agent of the highest rank accredited to a foreign government as the official resident representative of his own government; or an official appointed for a special, often temporary, diplomatic assignment
ambassador at large – an ambassador whose portfolio addresses specific issues rather than one specific country
ambassador extraordinaire and plenipotentiary – a diplomatic agent who is the personal representative of the head of one state accredited to the head of another
attaché – a civilian or military technical expert or specialist on the mission
chancery – the embassy office building
chargé d' affaires – a diplomatic agent accredited by letter to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Secretary of State of one country by his/her counterpart in lieu of a duly accredited ambassador
chargé d' affaires ad interim – also referred to as chargé; a subordinate diplomat who substitutes for an ambassador or minister in his/her absence
chief of mission – principal officer of an overseas mission, with the title of Ambassador, Minister, or Chargé d' affaires.
consul – a consular officer of the highest rank; senior official at the consulate general
consular agent – individuals who perform limited consular functions in cities where there is no mission
consulate – a constituent or subordinate post; also the office of the consul and his/her staff
consulate general – a large constituent or subordinate post
counselor – a diplomatic title accorded to a head of a section in the embassy, suchas "Counselor for Political Affairs" or "Political Counselor"
demarche – a request or intercession with a foreign official, e.g., a request for support of a policy, or a protest about the host government's policy or actions
deputy chief of mission (DCM) – the second in command at an embassy who becomes the chargé d' affaires in the ambassador's absence
diplomatic agent – a generic term denoting a person who carries out regular diplomatic relations of the nation he/she represents in the nation to which he/she has been accredited
diplomatic note – a formal written means of communication among embassies
diplomatic corps – the collective heads of foreign diplomatic missions and their staff members
diplomatic immunity – exemption of foreign diplomatic agents or representatives from local jurisdicition
diplomatic ranks – Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
- Minister Plenipotentiary
- Chargé d' affaires ad hoc or pro tempore
- Chargé d' affaires ad interim
- Counselors (or Senior Secretaries in the absence of Counselors)
- Army, Naval and Air Attaches
- Civilian Attaches
- First Secretaries
- Second Secretaries
- Assistant Army, Naval and Air Attaches
- Civilian Assistant Attaches
- Third Secretaries and Assistant Attaches
Dual accreditation – having two or more responsibilities, such as an ambassador who is simultaneously accredited to two nations
Embassy – a diplomatic mission in the capital city of a foreign country headed by an ambassador
Exequatur – written, official recognition of a consular officer issued by the government to which one is accredited
Interest section – the office responsible for protecting the interests of the US, housed in a third country embassy, in a country which the US has no formal diplomatic relations
Legation – a diplomatic mission in a foreign country headed by a minister. The US has none at present, but a few other countries do
Mission – a generic term for embassy. Mission also describes the entirety of official US representation in a given foreign country, which functions under the supervision of the ambassador, including civilian and military personnel (except US military reporting to a unified command and official US representation to a multilateral organization).
Passport – the official document issued to a person by his/her government certifying citizenship and requesting foreign governments to grant the individual safe passage, lawful aid and protection while under that government's jurisdiction
p.c. – used in written social correspondence, "pour condoler" (to express sympathy)
p.f. – used in written social correspondence, "pour feliciter" (to extend congratulations)
p.m. – used in written social correspondence, "pour memoire" (to remind)
p.p. - used in written social correspondence, "pour presenter" (to introduce)
p.p.c. – used in written social correspondence, "pou prendre conge" (to say goodbye)
p.r. – used in written social correspondence, "pour remercier" (to express thanks)
persona non grata – an individual who is unacceptable to or unwelcome by the host government
precedence – priority; the right to superior honor on a ceremonial or formal occasion; for ambassadors in a country, precedence is determined by the order in which they presented their credentials to the host government
secretary (third, second, first) – diplomatic rank of officers posted overseas, in ascending order of seniority
Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations – UN convention, adopted in 1961, formalizing the rights and privileges of diplomatic agents.
vice-consul – a junior ranking consular officer
visa – a seal or endorsement made on a passport by the proper officials of a country which entitles the bearer to apply for entry into another country at the port of admission.
Overseas Breifing Center, Foreign Service Institute. Protocol for the Modern Diplomat.
US Department of State: Washington, DC.
Last Edited on August 17, 2012