Let's do away with the existing adjectives used to describe the professorial ranks. These terms are inaccurate, somewhat annoying, and they do not inspire confidence in our non-academic friends and relations. We need more awe-inspiring adjectives.
Even once you become a Professor (as in, a so-called "full" professor, although "full" is not technically part of the title) and you lose the demeaning adjectives, all is not perfect. When people ask me my title and I say "Professor", I am then asked "What kind of professor? Do you have tenure?", as if I am leaving out some information by not including any adjective. In some situations I am reluctant to say "full professor" because I am quite tired of the "full of what?" question that inevitably follows. We all need better adjectives.
I do not think we should adopt a military style system. Many of the names of ranks are unintuitive in terms of their relative significance. For example, I think my brother's rank sounded more impressive when he was a Commander than a Captain, but I'm pretty sure he was a Captain after he was a Commander. I suppose everyone knows that an Admiral or a General is a highly ranked officer, but the rest of the names are kind of obscure. And I can never keep track of whether my Marine Colonel uncle is more highly ranked than my Army Captain uncle. I don't really care, but apparently this controls who gets what chair at the dinner table.
I suppose we could add 'stars' to our professorial ranks, as that is a simple concept that would instantly convey status. If we are going to keep some adjectives for the pre-full professor ranks, though, we need some better adjectives.
So: Send me some adjectives and I will construct a poll of the top choices.
13 years ago