What is Mrs. short for?

History and etiquette tell us that Mister and Missus, known by the contractions Mr. and Mrs., are the proper form of address for men and women. Beneath the surface of these everyday honorifics lies a linguistic glitch that has spawned social havoc since “Mrs.” entered mainstream English in the 17th century.

Mister is a direct variant of master, which in turn derives from the Old English maegester meaning “one having control or authority.” Already a discrepancy rears its head: The period that follows the abbreviation Mr. is usually omitted in British English grammar. According to the Oxford A-Z of Grammar and Punctuation, “If the abbreviation includes both the first and last letter of the abbreviated word, as in ‘mister’ and ‘doctor’, a full stop is not used.” However, a period always follows the title in American English grammar – as in Mr. President and Mr. Speaker.

Once used to address men under the rank of knighthood, by the mid-18th century mister became a common English honorific to generally address males of a higher social rank. English domestic servants often used the title to distinguish the eldest member of the household – a practice that is, for the most part, obsolete today.

Mrs. is a contraction derived from Middle English maistresse, “female teacher, governess.” Once a title of courtesy, mistress fell into disuse around the late 14th century. The pronunciation, however, remained intact. By the 15th century, mistress evolved into a derogatory term for “a kept woman of a married man.”

By the early 17th century, Mr., Mrs. Ms. and Miss became part of English vernacular, creating an awkward socio-linguistic discrepancy. In an attempt to avoid the use of “mistress,” a variety of phonetic substitutes have been utilized, including “missus” or “missis.”

While Mrs. does refer to a married woman, according to The Emily Post Institute, Ms. is the proper way to address a woman regardless of marital status — the term alleviates any guesswork. Miss is often used to address an unmarried woman, presumably a girl under the age of eighteen years old. Note however, that “Miss” also derives from “mistress.”

In 2011, what is the proper manner of address for men and women? Miss, Ms., or something entirely different? Are these honorifics too formal for our society, or the perfect bit of courtesy? Let us know.


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  1. Tanner Mayes -  April 29, 2016 - 8:32 pm

    about five pounds

  2. monkey madness -  September 20, 2015 - 8:18 am

    In keeping with several comments I read, it is your upbringing not your region of birth or rearing that dictates your courtesy/respect. I was raised in New York by a Virginia woman and was taught to address my elders as Sir or Ma’am. Close family friends (people that mom and pop) had grown up with or associated with frequently were often addressed as “Aunt ***” and “Uncle ***”. I was in my 20′s before I realized many of these people were not actually related to me or just cousins who were significantly older than me.

    Mr and Mrs as a form of address makes social/business interaction so much more pleasant and easier. Although it’s still a bit jarring when I’m addressed as Mr *** at work (on rare occasions) by some of our older clients. It does make me try a bit harder – I want to live up to deserving being addressed that way. So much more pleasant than being addressed as “Hey”, “Bub”, “Dude”, “Oi”, “Mate”, or whatever.

    • haty -  November 1, 2015 - 3:40 pm

      why are the spellings differ

      • Jeff -  November 8, 2015 - 5:01 am

        Ms., Mrs, and Miss may all be derived from Mistress, but they have completely different meanings today. Use the wrong one at great risk of offending someone. (Do not blame me, but most Americans seem to feel there is great benefit in being offended.)

        Mrs. indicates a married lady.
        Miss indicates an unmarried lady.
        Ms. indicates any female person, married or not, lady or not.

        “Ms.” gained currency in the 70′s, when Feminists decided they wanted only 1 form of address for any female person, operating under their usual (misogynistic) principle of: “if men have one thing, and women have another, then what the men have is better. Of course. Always. Because it’s what the men have.”

        • Jane -  November 23, 2015 - 4:08 am

          I know what you mean about the ‘whatever the boys have must be better’ fallacy of current feminism, but it makes sense on Ms. The idea is to make a woman’s status in society less contingent on men. ‘Miss’ and ‘Mrs.’ are separate to emphasize whether or not a woman is available for marriage, like that’s all she’ll ever do or care about. Ms. puts her in the position of a man because this time, what the boys have really is better: an honorific that is about them, not about whoever they’re married to.

        • Lucas -  November 30, 2015 - 1:53 pm

          There’s an additional honorific, which is gender neutral: Mx. (pronounced “mix”). It’s used for nonbinary, anonymous, or otherwise gender-unknown people. It does indeed come from Ms., Miss, Mrs., and Mr., which (besides mister) do come from mistress.

          Also, about your comment about the origin of Ms. Misogyny is when a man hates all women; I think you mean misandry (the other way around). Also, that’s not at all the principle of feminism. I’m not trying to start a fight, and there are many people who identify as feminists whose views don’t line up with feminism (who may have been the kind that started Ms.), kind of like a conservative person who identifies as a Democrat. A feminist believes in the social, economical, and political equality of the sexes. And with your “if men have one thing…” comment, we don’t believe all that to be true. Sometimes men do have better things, and sometimes they don’t. That was a case where what the men had was indeed better, and although I do admit it’s kind of trivial, any step towards equality, whether helping men or women reach the other’s level, is important. I also agree with Jane’s comment.

          • Chuck Pewsey -  May 6, 2016 - 3:26 pm

            Thank you. Mx would be very handy when one is less concerned about marital status than gender!

        • Keith Anker -  April 21, 2016 - 12:06 am

          Offence is very easy to create: I knew a woman who said “I am NOT “Ms”; I am a “Mrs”.

        • katy -  April 22, 2016 - 7:45 pm

          The use of these different terms are all based in the prejudice of our world. Women were addressed by their marital stratus and men were addressed as male only. Because ” girls are for marriage” any female not marrying was looked on with suspicion and contempt, particularly if she were pooor or elderly. On the other hand, men may remain single and maintain status and dignity regardless of age or social status. Hence the change from Mrs.or miss. It was equality and dignity women sought with this change. There are many other examples of feminism changing our use of language regarding gender.

    • wolf tamer tree guy -  December 3, 2015 - 8:18 pm

      People call you Mr. @$$ at work?

      • Bee Lover -  May 17, 2016 - 8:35 pm

        Stop, only Mrs. $$ can be a prostitute.

    • Kim -  February 4, 2016 - 12:37 am

      Mister does in fact have a name for an unmarried young man and that is Master. My young Grandson is formally addressed in person or on a package as Master Micah Collor and my young Granddaughter as Miss Samara Collor. It has been this way for centuries. The little boys wear short pants until old enough to wear long pants and thats around when they change from Master to Mister and not only at marriage. Whereas a woman only changes her title from Miss to Mrs once married. So remember the proper way to address young babies through elementary school/Jr. High School is “Master!”

    • Kim -  February 4, 2016 - 1:02 am

      Mister does in fact have a name for an unmarried young man and that is Master. My young Grandson is formally addressed in person or on a package as Master Micah Collor and my young Granddaughter as Miss Samara Collor. It has been this way for centuries. The little boys wear short pants until old enough to wear long pants and thats around when they change from Master to Mister and not only at marriage. Whereas a woman only changes her title from Miss to Mrs once married. So remember the proper way to address young babies through elementary school/Jr. High School is “Master!”Thank you for another interesting, educational article!

  3. Wendy -  September 12, 2015 - 5:38 pm

    Hello :-)
    Personally I’ve never used Ma’am or Madam. If I am addressing a female in which I have met before or will soon, I will use Mrs. or Ms. depending on if they are married or not. If I don’t know of this state, then I will use Ms. For males, I use Mr.
    Aside from this, I use Sir and Ms. if I accidentally bump into one of older age on the street or I am asking someone such as a cashier a question, et cetera.
    That’s all I wanted to say, thank you :-)

  4. Brian -  September 11, 2015 - 5:59 pm

    I find it curious that Ms. should be considered a non-specific term meaning Mrs. OR Miss. I had long assumed that Ms. indicated a once-married woman (Mrs.) whose former husband (Mr.) had legally divorced her or been divorced by her. Mrs. became Ms. when Mr. departed with his “r”, unless she became a widow, in which case she retained the “r” in her title.

    That usage, correct or not, has often enabled a man to ascertain the marital status of a woman with whom he is speaking, if her wedding ring is not apparent.

    • monkey madness -  September 20, 2015 - 8:22 am

      Haha, THAT’S brilliant, “…when Mr. departed with his “r”…” I love it. Sounds like one of those “daddisms” my kids are always rolling their eyes at when I say them.

      • stu boi -  October 1, 2015 - 4:25 am

        Yeah must agree with you ….if i were to be married and divorced ,i would surely make sure no female departed with my “r” enjoyed ur comments…simple things_______

    • Kim -  February 4, 2016 - 12:33 am

      Mister does in fact have a name for an unmarried young man and that is Master. My young Grandson is formally addressed in person or on a package as Master Micah Collor and my young Granddaughter as Miss Samara Collor. It has been this way for centuries. The little boys wear short pants until old enough to wear long pants and thats around when they change from Master to Mister and not only at marriage. Whereas a woman only changes her title from Miss to Mrs once married. So remember the proper way to address young babies through elementary school/Jr. High School is “Master!”

    • Nicola -  June 12, 2016 - 1:51 am

      Apologies for the somewhat late response to this, but why should a man need to determine a woman’s marital status when speaking to her for the first time? Unless of course you intend to judge her on her availability as a potential suitor for you, which is extremely archaic and exactly the reason that nowadays the term “Ms” is often preferred by women married, divorced or other.

  5. Angel Sean -  June 30, 2015 - 2:19 pm

    My boyfriend of 10 years broke up with me a 3 weeks ago.. I am devastated and I want him back.

    • Levi Ryan -  August 31, 2015 - 1:03 pm

      I hate to sound unfeeling, Angel, but I’m afraid that your love life does not relate the article in which you posted.

      • Noel Quinn -  September 12, 2015 - 2:26 am

        Unless of course she was his mistress.

      • ayyyyy lmao -  December 3, 2015 - 8:29 pm


    • Clammy -  September 30, 2015 - 5:28 pm

      Poor angel;(btw 150000000$please…..thanks!

    • Clammy -  September 30, 2015 - 5:30 pm

      Ps I don’t have emojis sniff

  6. CharlieHAravjo -  June 12, 2015 - 12:05 pm

    Hi mates, good post and pleasant urging commented here, I
    am actually enjoying by these.

  7. Michael Despres -  April 9, 2015 - 8:52 pm

    Miss, Pardon me, as being polite, as to gently gain an attention. Ma’am, as to quicken the attention of the addressed person, female. Madam, as to not jolt the addressed female, as too give a sense she may be in a savioring turn to the addresser. Madam as to re- address a sense of respect to her occurring owns thoughts of her moment. Madam, as to allow – female to gently log mind her ability to return to her origin of thought after concluding the communication. Madam, as to communicate to her a sense of safety in her presence of her unguarded apparel of thoughts. Miss, as to represent a hyphened expression to her attention that a question is the interest. Mrs. is to require an attention to an importance to the respect of her reacting to the reaction to the need to reply in the knowledge of a kind , polite request to reply if she isn’t wishing to disregard her attention to her need to be away from her home stay. Most times when her location is to your knowing her ties to where you are. A business location with her leaving a gentleman’s side of safety…. Ms. an addressing to someone in a learning mode, or occupied to the power of another – present or receiving knowledge on her return. Sir. Attention to return to give the gentleman the ability to return to his kindness to the return sharing’s of home. Mister, is to draw the attention to the addressee needing a kind reply to a requirement of further assistance to the addressee’s further well-being. Master, a reply to the acknowledgement of the Nationality of shared knowledge to the respect of the world at peace. . .

    • Lori -  May 31, 2015 - 10:58 pm

      Quite a little ditty. I like it. It moves right along, I could use a little of that attention myself:)

    • TurboShari -  September 25, 2015 - 12:53 pm

      Madam in my upbringing has always and always will be the woman patriarch or owner of of a whore house.

      • Big Apple Annie -  May 29, 2016 - 7:55 am

        Yup TurboShari, My understanding exactly. But people do ma’am or madam when addressing older women, patriarch or not. (I am enjoying this discussion, interesting to learn new stuff and to get the perspectives of others on such a somewhat minor tho interesting topic.) Ah, words … I love them all.

        • Lyd -  October 14, 2016 - 7:23 am


  8. Crazy cakes -  April 8, 2015 - 1:24 pm

    U all think ur so smart but ur not my dinner is smarter than everyone and if i knew any of u I would hate u especially the gay kid who is on the website who was talking about his girlfriend on this website I would kill him that faggot

    - sincerely,
    Your enemy crazy cakes

  9. Abigail -  February 17, 2015 - 2:16 pm

    I’m with laconic… Don’t force a girl to like you…

    • rokicat -  September 9, 2015 - 7:57 am

      I think you should consider if you are really serious about her. If you are, I think you should be able to prove it to her. But take it easy, like the others said you shouldn’t force a girl to like you. Don’t think of it as winning over her heart and try to see through her side of view by compromising. Regardless of what happens you should be happy with life because when other moment is there to be happy except for now? Good luck! ;)

    • Rachel -  September 21, 2015 - 11:03 am

      why im 19and fine

  10. Laconic -  December 30, 2014 - 10:43 pm

    Hi… I know this is not the platform for ur query but If she like someone else then give her that freedom. U should never force anyone to like u… Please use another platform for ur query (hope I’m not dispiriting u) Have a great 2015!!!

    • Juan Lugo -  January 30, 2015 - 3:06 pm

      Such kind words……..wonderful direction….hope he takes it…….

  11. Rohan -  November 26, 2014 - 2:31 am

    I find it annoying how we have to call teachers mr/mrs, we should just scrap the whole thing, no-one calls anyone that kind of thing

    • me -  January 30, 2015 - 8:06 pm

      agree completely!

      • Henny -  February 2, 2015 - 11:38 am

        Same here!


        • Te Aniwa -  June 9, 2015 - 1:51 am

          I am a new-ish teacher. I am amazed how everyone automatically calls me Miss, even though I am clearly 56 years old. I think its also a shortcut for when they can’t remember my name. I was also struck by how teachers address each other by these terms, when in front of the students.

          • Levi Ryan -  August 31, 2015 - 1:04 pm

            It is just a precaution; nothing to get upset over.

          • Jeff -  November 8, 2015 - 5:07 am

            That’s because using an honorific title (like Mr or Miss) automatically conjures up honor, at some subconscious level. When I was teaching, I found that when I consistently addressed the kids as “Mr” or “Miss,” they behaved better, trying to live up to the honor I was showing them. Even the gang members. Really.

          • Tyler -  February 17, 2016 - 6:07 pm

            It teaches young people respect. That’s what’s wrong with this world… no one has respect for one another.

    • Henny -  February 3, 2015 - 7:02 am
    • Jones Jonathan -  February 11, 2015 - 4:21 pm

      but it would be weirder to call them Professor “___”, Sir “____”, or Dame/Madam “___”.

    • Ms Sandra Hutch -  March 29, 2015 - 2:37 am

      Sadly enough, as time continues to pass there’s even less of the one thing in my opinion we as a society of supposed civilized beings need much more of in this day and age. And that’s respect! Honorifics display due respect. I certainly feel that the lack of such display greatly contributes to the decline of society as we know it! I’m a southerner myself. And being so addressed as Mrs., Mr., Ms and Miss is greatly appreciated in my world. Needless to say there are a lot less endearing titles one can be labeled with…
      What do you think?

      • Cyril -  April 1, 2015 - 9:10 am

        i completely agree with you however, the negligent of these vitae recognition to the honorific tittle, creates disrespect at times when addressing people.Q

      • Leigh -  July 14, 2015 - 10:55 am

        I don’t think being a “southerner” has anything whatsoever to do with being due any respect. The age-old misconception of southern ladies being so prim and proper and full of etiquette should be done away with. A southerner in my eyes is a bigot, full of racial hatred and belief that a white lady is something to cherish and a woman of any other color is something to degrade. I have a friend in Arkansas that was fired from her job in 1975 for being seen talking to an old black gentleman on the entry steps to the grand old hotel where she worked.
        I was born in 1952 in Michigan and I remember well in the little town where I grew up, that people of any color were not allowed to live within the city limits, and could be arrested for being within the city limits after sundown.
        Honor someone ONLY if they deserve it.

        • km -  July 28, 2015 - 5:51 am

          Leigh, the lady from the South was not claiming that she was due any respect for being from the South, nor was she claiming any special grace for the South. She was merely stating that civility in general was on the decline all across the country, and that in the South it was appreciated when the Miss, Mrs, and Mr titles were used.

          I’m from the far Northeast, and I’ve lived in the South, as well. She is correct. The Northeast does not bother with titles like Aunt this, or Uncle that, nor much beyond “Hey” or a whistle, to get another’s attention. I’ve worked in customer service, wherein a customer actually called to complain that one of our reps called her Ma’am, and she was highly incensed because she felt he was being rude to keep calling her Ma’am, while she was berating him on the line. He wasn’t, and it took me a long time to convince her of that. It’s that rare that people are called Ma’am or Sir in that area.

          That said, I think it’s time to stop the hating on everyone from the South. The news media and Hollywood seem to be on a mission to paint the entire South as being hillbilly racists, and anyone who disagrees with their politics as being gun toting terrorists, but it just simply isn’t so.

          Was your friend in Arkansas a racist bigot? She was from the South. How about your hometown? It’s not in the South, but you claim it was racist. How does that comport with only the South being racist, when you are from Michigan?

          Giving titles to people like Miss, Mrs, or Mr. is not a gift of honor for their good deeds, it is merely a more courteous alternative to Hey you! No one can know the worthiness of a stranger, but one can be courteous to everyone, worthy, or not. I suggest you give it a try, and dial back on the hate for an entire third of the country.

          • Stephanie -  August 5, 2015 - 10:59 am

            Thank you KM – you said everything I wanted to say! I live in Biloxi, MS. and love that manners are still used down here – especially “yes sir, no sir, yes ma’am and no ma’am”……..I moved here from Reno, NV., 21 years ago and that was the first thing I noticed…and I loved it!
            I wish people weren’t so hateful (like you said)….and that is so true -why do people think everyone from the south is a “hillbilly racist”??? That is just not true!!
            You said in the northeast, they don’t bother with titles like “Aunt” or “Uncle” – do they just use their name? That’s strange to me. :-) I love how some people down here say “Aunt” (pronounced “ahnt”) or “Auntie” (pronounced “ahntie”. :-)
            I do love how the various areas of the country are so different – but that being said – I think we should all be more respectful of one another. It goes a long way! :-) Thank you ‘km’ and ‘Ms Sandra Hutch’…have a great day! :-)

          • Alhana -  August 15, 2015 - 9:34 am

            I suppose that, under any circumstances, how you were raised is more important in affecting the amount of respect you have for people than where you live is. I was born and raised in the northeast and I have always called people “Mr, Mrs, or Miss” and I commonly refer to family members as “Aunt Kelly”, “Uncle John”, “Uncle Micheal”, etc. If I had ever referred to them as anything else, I would have gotten myself into a lot of trouble with my family.

        • Terauchi -  September 24, 2015 - 5:05 pm

          After being told to call my elders Mr. and Mrs. as a youth, now that I am an adult it is disapointing not to have the same kindness extended to me.
          Worse than being called by my first name in business situations by strangers is to be called guy. “Hey you guys”, “How are you guys”. I ignore this greeting.
          Thankfully now that I live in Japan I am addressed with respect which I find very heart warming. My daughter-in-law respectfully calls me Mother and I call her daughter.
          My American daughter-in-law calls me by my first name. When a person is called by their first name right from the start it does not give the other person a chance to say please call me …..so and so. Greeting me Hi then my first name puts me down to the level of her junior high school students. I call her my daughter. Introducing our father as step-father is also upsetting. In Japan we only need to say Father. An other thing that I experienced that was not so good was – ” This is my nephew he is half”. Half what? The meaning was that the child had parents of different desent. On a happier note in addressing letters it is nice to receive a letter with the title Mr. and Mrs. I also enjoy signing letters to young children Master, and Miss. To me it gives them more respect and worth as a little person of society. For me I am more comfortable honoring all people even a smile and a nod brings warmth without any titles.

          • Big Apple Annie -  May 29, 2016 - 8:10 am

            Terauchi, well phrased and I totally agree. When I was young I would never have called an older person by their first name, even when given permission I felt uncomfortable doing it and often ended not using anything, which was not so good. Now I am 80 and still feel offended when a young person automatically assumes it’s OK to call me by my first name without asking permission to do so, which I would probably grant but would like to think I’m important enough to be asked.

      • BJD -  September 1, 2015 - 9:06 pm

        Ms. Hutch, I agree with you wholeheartedly.

    • Relsoh -  May 24, 2015 - 3:05 am

      It’s a form of respect. You should always use Mr or Mrs and then the surname if you don’t personally know the person or to show respect to them. In most business’ Mr and Mrs are used when talking to peole you know the surname of, otherwise it would be Sir/ Madam. It is still widely used when working in a profession that deals with members of the public.

      • Sandra McIntyre -  August 12, 2015 - 3:24 pm

        I completely agree with those who remember that the use of Mr. or Mrs. or Ms. followed by the surname when you know it simply denotes respect from one person to another, when the relationship has not progressed to more familiarity.
        I am of the age when being referred to as Ma’am simply acknowledged the age difference between myself and the person speaking to me. I find that my response to it is usually one of appreciation and warmth to the topic of conversation, even if that conversation pertains to the location of a particular brand of socks in a store at which I am a new customer. The familiarity of using one’s first name, even if known, should only be used when the person being addressed invites you. This accomplishes two important things: it invites casual familiarity, and informs the name by which one prefers to be addressed. It is very annoying to someone who prefers to be called “Cindy” to automatically be called “Cynthia” if the only time she is known by her signature is in strictly legal situations.

    • Karen -  August 31, 2015 - 10:24 pm

      Sure they do. It’s a sign of respect.
      I wonder, though, why an illiterate biggot like Crazy cakes is commenting on a dictionary.com blog. Really?

      • Henry Mullins -  September 21, 2015 - 3:12 pm

        I am pretty sure that Crazy Cakes was being sarcastic. I just thought that I should mention that.

    • Big Apple Annie -  May 29, 2016 - 8:02 am

      Not only teachers but doctors, lawyers, people of any profession who have no problem calling me by my first name but I’m corrected if I should dare not refer to their status … like they earned it (which I guess they did) but so what … you call me by my first name I have the right to call you by yours. In addressing letters, that’s different, The secretary’s handbook refers to how to address people formally in written dialogue, i.e., legislatures, etc. I accept that but I resent not expecting the privilege of using first names of pros who freely use mine. Arghhhhh!!

  12. Jonathan -  October 13, 2014 - 10:31 am

    I think that the titles “Mr.,” “Mrs.,” “Ms.” and “Miss” along with “Messrs.,” “Madame,” and “Ma’am.” should still always be used in certain situations (business and school, as examples) and in certain instances and for certain occasions: For women and girls who are married (or were married, then divorced or widowed), “Mrs.” (“Missus” or “MIssis”) should be used, unless they specify otherwise. For women and girls never married, “Miss” should be used. If they don’t want their marital status known, then “Ms.” should be used.

    For men, regardless of marital status, and for boys who are married (or were married, then divorced or widowed), “Mr.” (“Mister”) should be used.

    For superiors, “Sir” for a man and “Ma’am” for a woman should be used.

    There are other examples as well which are too many to list here.

    I’m currently 37, and ever since I can recall, whenever I’ve addressed strangers older than me or around my same age when speaking, I have addressed them as “Sir” for a man, and “Ma’am” for a woman, regardless of their position, station and/or stage in life. I did the same for those much older than me whom I knew and were outside of my family until I was about 18 y.o., at which time I started addressing them by their first names.

    Currently for anyone around my age whom I know on a personal, social and/or casual basis (and probably for the rest of my life), I address them by their first name.

    Currently for those younger than I, I use their first names if I know them. But I say “Hey kid!” if they’re a boy I don’t know. I say “Hey dude” or “Yo, dude” if they’re a teen boy or younger man I don’t know.

    I say “Hey kid!” or “Miss” if they’re a girl I don’t know. For a teen girl or younger woman I don’t know (and if I don’t know their marital status), I say “Ms. So” if I know they’re last name. But if I don’t know that, I just say “Ma’am,” regardless of marital status.

    Anyway, I don’t think the titles are sexist. In fact, they most likely are not. Truth be told, for thousands of years til about the the mid-eighteen hundreds or so, they were used by many people around the world to convey respect for many certain reasons which are too many to list here. But I’ll list a sampling of them: Station in life (and in other things); and in business, politics, education and so forth. There was no sexism whatsoever intended to be conveyed on the part of the letter writer nor intended to be construed, conjectured, inferred or otherwise believed or thought of by the recipient at all… unless it was a romantically intimate letter between lovers of the male and female sexes or lovers of the same sex. Or if the writer and recipient had nonsexual, nonromantic but intimate feelings for each other; or one had feelings for the other, but the other didn’t reciprocate those feelings for whatever reason. Or whatever the case would have been. All of the immediately preceding also went for talking and speaking unless they were in mixed company (males and females of any age together), then they were more circumspect. But there were also many other situations and circumstances, too numerous to mention and too complicated to explain here, when people communicated more circumspectly, even in correspondence, and for many reasons.

    Now, a side note: I had always assumed that “Mister” was a rough translation of “Messieur.” Though, for quite awhile now, I figured that it may have something to do with “Master.” Also I had always assumed that “Madame” was a rough translation of “Mesdames.” And that “Miss” was a rough translation of “Mademoiselle.” However, I wasn’t aware of their etymologies til I read this article. Thank you. But I did know the etymology of “Missus” as being from “Mistress.”

    Anyway, in answer to one reply, “Madam” didn’t originate as the term describing the female head of a whorehouse. It was in use long before that and for several and completely different reasons. It’d take too long to explain. Anyway, I wish that I could answer several other replies, but I’ve typed too much as it is already; so, I’ll say Goodbye!

    • Mili -  October 14, 2014 - 8:11 am

      I really do not like the word ‘ma’am’ which I find they mostly use in the west. Being from the east coast when I was growing up I heard the word ‘Miss’ alot. I only heard the word ‘ma’am’ when watching a country or slavery show or flick. Being that I’m a city girl and despise slavery it’s probably why I do not like the word ma’am.

      • Amanda -  February 22, 2015 - 3:18 pm

        Where did you grow up? Because what your sounding like describes the fact you grew up North of Washington, DC. I grew up in SC and I was ALWAYS taught “sir and ma’am” to those not just older than myself but my superiors in the workplace. Its not just the West. Its not just a courtesy its a form of respect.

        • ELM -  March 24, 2015 - 10:33 am

          It depends on where you are. I grew up in the Northeast and now live in the South. In the South, Ma’am and Sir are considered respectful. In the Northeast they are often insults. If you Ma’am a northern woman, you’re telling her that you think she’s at least as old as your mother, and even if she is, she doesn’t want to hear it.

          Even having lived in the South for a while now, Ma’am and Sir still strike me wrong. I use them on occasion but not often. Most people here don’t know that they can be construed as insulting so I don’t usually object to being Ma’am’ed even though I don’t really appreciate it.

        • Person -  April 8, 2015 - 6:13 pm

          I’m in Colorado, and my mom has ALWAYS taught me “Ma’am and Sir”.

        • pebbles7 -  August 19, 2015 - 5:24 am

          I’m from Australia and when speaking to teachers always address them in this way:

          ‘Miss [last name here]‘ for an unmarried woman
          ‘Mrs [last name here]‘ for a married woman
          ‘Ms [last name here]‘ for a woman who does not want it to be known if she is married or not.
          ‘Mr [last name here] for a man.

          It’s interesting seeing how people in other countries use words that people here in Australia take for granted. If I or any of my friends called a teacher ma’am, sir or just ‘miss/mrs/ms/mr’ without a surname at the end, people would think it was strange and old-fashioned.

          I guess in Australia we use these as a sign of respect. It’s probably always been a tradition to use respectful names for mentors or teachers.

          But all countries are different and I guess some people will think that what I consider normal is strange.

      • Larry -  July 8, 2015 - 10:55 am

        You yankees always talk different than the rest of the country. That’s why traveling in the north-east there are always so many grumpy people, because the can’t relate to regular english.

        • km -  July 28, 2015 - 6:01 am

          Larry, we’re not grumpy because of the language issue. We’re cold, and our backs hurt from shoveling snow. : )

      • stu boi -  October 1, 2015 - 4:30 am

        Yes i would agree with you there the Ma’am and sir do remind me of terms which may have been used by slaves.,..Well to their “masters” faces anyway.. :)

    • Dee -  October 20, 2014 - 6:35 am

      Jonathan, while I thoroughly agree with the majority of your post, I have to disagree with your penultimate paragraph.

      ‘Mister’ is the equivalent of the French ‘Monsieur’ (mon sieur = my lord, from which we also get ‘Sir’ as a title and honorific), which is singular. Similarly, ‘Madame’ (ma dame = my lady) is also singular. One uses messieurs (messrs) and mesdames (mmes) when addressing more than one man or woman – ie, the plural forms.

      I assume (although I haven’t looked it up) that the reason for the proliferation of titles is that modern English derives from an amalgam of several languages including Anglo-Saxon and Norman French.

      As an aside, the words ‘Lord’ and ‘Lady’ are Anglo-Saxon: ‘hlaford’ = loaf-giver=lord and ‘hlafdian’=loaf-maker=lady.

      I stand ready to be corrected on this!

      • Terauchi -  September 24, 2015 - 5:32 pm

        I love going to the French department store here in Tokyo just to hear Madame, Mademoiselle, and Monsieur being used. The store is called
        the French word for butterfly.

    • Jim -  October 23, 2014 - 7:51 am

      In my experience men don’t mind being called “sir,” but women don’t like being called “ma’am.” For whatever reason it seems to be true. So I’ll call a woman “miss” unless I see a wedding ring, in which case I’ll call her “Mrs,” pronouncing it “missus.” This is probably incorrect, but nobody seems to mind, which is my goal.

      • Tammy -  October 26, 2014 - 6:17 am

        Jim thank you for calling us woman miss instead of ma’am. I’m not sure why but most women I know say it makes them feel old. So my vote goes to Ms or Mrs if you know their last name.

      • Soren Cicchini -  October 27, 2014 - 8:16 pm

        The dislike of being called ma’am is probably related to the unsavoury connection to the sex industry, where a female brothel manager is known as a madam.

        • Jeree -  March 8, 2015 - 4:01 pm


      • Axnar -  October 28, 2014 - 5:30 am

        I think “ma’am” is very colonial title and shouldn’t be used at all. Its disrespectful to use it because it is only abbreviation of madame. And if person wants to give respect than he should use whole word not only part.

        Miss is already accepted like abbreviation and everybody pronounce it whole. In written form i don’t mind them. same with missis and mister.

    • Dr. Sci -  October 28, 2014 - 12:27 pm

      Thank you for informing me. Now it all makes sense, Ms. whoever you are.
      The feminists and especially all women should learn something from this. When I first heard “Ms., ” in the late 50′s I believe, I thought is was some kind of pretentious feminist joke. Where I lived, in the Middle West, it was considered derogatory and something to be laughed at. And, if you were fifteen and used it, you didn’t get any dates. A number of crude street terms became associated with it. Of course, the folks in the Middle West are backward, as anyone on the East Coast or the West Coast will tell you. But, there a lot of us, and our English is considered standard American English.

      “Ms.” I like that.

    • Robin -  November 12, 2014 - 8:18 am

      I think it is disgusting in todays society that you get a snap shot into a woman’s life by the title she uses but men…nothing. Miss is used for unmarried, Mrs. Married and Ms. usually shows divorce. Mr. is used for men regardless. It is time to use Mr. and Ms. – no gender bias.

      • the wise HAM -  January 5, 2015 - 3:46 pm

        I agree with you and i am male but i feel women have always been treated differently (usally as a lesser being) which i hate and try to eliminate

      • Kay -  January 9, 2015 - 9:42 am

        Amen, Robin! Why all the titles for a woman? I do “Ms” and “Mr” for civilians, and “Ma’am” and “Sir” for my military encounters. Done!!

      • J Law -  March 21, 2015 - 4:19 pm

        Dear Mx Robin
        Where the gender, by assignment, reassignment, or public or private declaration, age, station, or official title of the recipient of my message is unknown to me, of no immediate interest, I generally prefer the completely neutral form ‘Mx’. I recommend it be pronounced ‘Mix’. as in:
        Mx Dup Too.

      • M -  April 6, 2015 - 2:05 am

        Personally, I think all these titles are outdated. Why do we have to have superiors and inferiors? Every one of us are important as the other, no matter what our position in management or age. Can’t respect just be asking what their name is and calling them by it correctly? Maybe just being respectful in speech in other ways like, I don’t know… respecting their opinion? I think, as humans we have evolved a bit beyond these petty gender and societal “superiority complexes” and titles. Let’s move on shall we? Time to grow up.

    • buttbutinthebut -  November 19, 2014 - 12:50 pm

      Jonathan, are you effing serious with this post? This was a complete wall of just text. Makes you kind of sit back and wonder what you are doing with your time.

      • MisterTee -  December 23, 2014 - 2:49 am

        Some people just like to use a lot of text because they feel they are unable to explain clearly in less words . I have also experienced people who also think that a long explanation makes them appear more knowledgable . Therefor I will terminate now to protect my appearance.

    • Deborah dean -  December 30, 2014 - 7:33 pm

      I agree with almost all that you said. Personally I prefer Madame to ma’am. Ma’am sounds so rough to my ears. It may not be intended to be disrespectful, however that’s how it hits my ears. When a person is in Europe they speak to a married or once married woman as Madame. It just sounds so much more respectful. Thank you for your words, it is nice to hear a young man still use the language that some of us grew up waiting to use the title only to have our society think it is silly. It’s called respect.

    • Cam -  October 27, 2016 - 7:49 am

      Can someone clarify for me, the pronunciation of Ms. Is it pronounced miss? If so how do you verbally differentiate between Ms and Miss?

  13. steve -  September 24, 2014 - 10:07 am

    Could it be that Mrs derives from the possessive of Mr?

    • W.J.R.Jeffrie IV -  September 29, 2014 - 12:50 am

      ‘Meister’…’Meisters’…’Mister’…’Misters’…’Mistress’… I see where you’re going.

    • 01daytongirl -  October 16, 2014 - 11:29 am

      Oho! That’s interesting…. I could see that.

    • Soren Cicchini -  October 27, 2014 - 8:19 pm

      Definitely worth a thought, given that our wedding ceremonies consist of the groom taking “ownership” of the bride from her father.

    • Pamela Schneider -  June 7, 2015 - 6:05 am

      steve, that is what I thought too with all of this obsession about possession!

  14. valerie g. -  September 19, 2014 - 6:30 pm

    I feel strongly that these prefixes should be put out to pasture. I’m for modernizing our speech. Just names are sufficient. While we’re at it, lets give up silent letters and strangely spelled words.How about middle names too?

    • AJH -  September 28, 2014 - 1:32 pm

      No, thank you. I prefer using those titles and for people I don’t know or in formal settings to use Ms when addressing me. (Most etiquette writers and protocol experts agree that “In the United States Ms. is the accepted/default form for women in business.” (See the widely Used “Honor & Respect, The Official Guide to Names, Titles and Forms of Address,” by Robert Hickey, Deputy Director, The Protocol School of Washington) The titles convey respect, and serve to make useful distinctions between close friends/family and strangers/older people/people you know through a business relationship/people who merit respect via their station in life. Don’t mean to sound snobby here, but these are, in fact, real distinctions in life. Why go out of your way to insult people over an honorific?

    • W.J.R.Jeffrie IV -  September 29, 2014 - 12:45 am

      As in first names or are we keeping last names?
      That’s jolly well liable to offend all our friends with three middle names and good long suffixes and prefixes, marm!
      Give up silent letters? Impossible; we’d all have to use the phonetic alphabet or accented letters to get our meanings across, because there are so many words that are spelled virtually the same that differ only in pronunciation.

    • the wise HAM -  January 5, 2015 - 3:54 pm

      well i agree with you on all of it except for your middle name your middle name was there to describe a little about you and/or your parents

  15. Chana -  September 7, 2014 - 3:59 pm

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  16. DW -  August 20, 2014 - 1:06 pm

    In my (North American) culture, we used Mr. and Mrs. (and the Ms.of late) as a way of showing respect to persons you did not know personally. And first names would be share when and if they became friends so to speak. This especially applied to people older than yourself, children for example would automatically address adults as Mr. or Mrs. So and So, unless they were offered otherwise by the adult (usually that would be – if the greeter was no longer a child – but a young adult greeting another like kind, or an older adult, and definitely if it was done in a business to customer relationship.

    We were never allowed in an employment setting to address a customer by their first name, and that even went for a nurse towards a patient, or a Doctor towards a patient.

    Today its is an assumed automatic that you can address someone by their first name as if already friends on a first name basis. And although it some cases it may be ok, if they are dealing with you as a customer and with your personal information I don’t believe it shows much respect and creates an unlevel playing field, since they don’t usually want to give their last name for security / safety sake.

    There is something not right with this, and I am not sure how it got started, except that if a company or corporation does not allow a better point of reference (by allowing a Surname, bad and negligent service cannot be traced back to anyone specific.

    When someone does not give their full name, if very hard if almost impossible to hold them accountable, especially if it is a large corporation. Therefore by addressing strangers (because if your a friend you already know and address someone by their first name) by their first name is really most of time a guise for being friendly when they offending party really does not want to give their Surname.

    Oh yes, were all on a friendly first name basis until you ask them for their Surname.

    In a lot of cases they already have access to your full name, address and personal information. Well then maybe they should use it to treat you with respect and maybe a little humility wouldn’t hurt either..

    And by the way if they don’t want to give their Surname, give a point of reference customer number automatically, don’t make people have to pull teeth to get it. Ok, Susie and Jack.

    Thank you,


    Ms. Jones

    • W.J.R.Jeffrie IV -  September 29, 2014 - 12:48 am

      By Jingo, let’s just make ourselves much more separate ‘formal’ and ‘informal’ language modes like the Germans have got, why don’t we? I say, that’d save us a lot of work!

      • john -  October 13, 2014 - 7:09 am

        Sure! Then we could use phrases such as “have got”.
        Man, there is already an informal version of English. Just watch a little TV or walk down a city street. You will hear a whole new set of words, and puzzle over them.

        • A.ALBRIGHT -  October 23, 2014 - 9:08 am

          So true! “Have got” and other such doubly-implied statements are the collective bane of our American society/language!

    • km -  July 28, 2015 - 6:15 am

      I’m with you Ms. Jones.

      I find it jarring when a complete stranger addresses me by my first name. As it happens, I married a man with a tough to pronounce last name, so I let it slide, so they don’t have to attempt it, but I still find it annoying. My maiden name was easy, so people used to call me Miss or Mrs, if they didn’t know me, but now, it’s always by my first name, and I’m a lot older now. I’d like to have some respect, but I’ll never get it with this last name.

  17. Annette -  August 14, 2014 - 2:26 pm

    You did not include the plural honorific Mssrs, which I believe come from the French and applies to more than gentleman. I used this quite a bit working for a lawyer who had many gay couples as clients. However, I’m wondering how you would address two women?

    • Pommy -  August 21, 2014 - 11:31 am

      I believe the female equivalent of Messrs. (several gentlemen) is Mesdames (several ladies), however I’m not sure of the abbreviation of that term.

      • Serebro -  September 3, 2014 - 11:20 pm

        I believe that Mesdames is Mmes.
        Likewise, Mademoiselles is Mlles.

        This should cover both post- and pre-nuptial situations. Enjoy!

        • AJH -  September 28, 2014 - 12:02 pm

          Derebro – Correct!

      • AJH -  September 28, 2014 - 12:10 pm

        I was taught by a prestigious international, NY-based law firm I once worked for to always use Messrs. and Mmes., as appropriate, in correspondence to a group of people. I believe that continues to be the rule in formal correspondence, though obviously not in speech (unless one happened to be in France).

        • Luna -  April 4, 2015 - 6:40 am

          Serebro and AJH Being from the UK and having gone to quite a prestigious school, we were taught that this was the correct usage.

  18. dgf -  August 11, 2014 - 1:58 pm

    What is an appropriate form of address to use in a letter to one’s parent? Galileo’s daughter used “Most respected and beloved Lord Father, Sire.” I suggested to my son that he might use this when he writes to me, but he didn’t take up the idea. Any other suggestions?

    • Shannon -  September 4, 2014 - 4:00 pm

      LOL why in the world would you actually suggest that your son use that address? Of all the ridiculous things I’ve heard in my life, at least this one made me laugh!

      • Rebecca -  September 20, 2014 - 11:33 am

        I do believe, Shannon, he meant it tongue in cheek. I thought that was obvious.

      • Pali Putsi -  October 13, 2014 - 6:58 am

        And what were all the other ridiculous things you’ve heard in your life that did not make you laugh? Please share!

    • Kryss -  September 21, 2014 - 1:57 pm

      My Mum was a very proper British lady who was very clear on the correct forms of address to various people; when writing her a letter, I would head it “Dear Mum”.

      In your case, I believe “Dear Dad” (or “Papa” or “Pop” or whatever form your son uses to address you) would be perfectly correct, and also appropriate.

      Honestly, though, these days, if he’s writing to you at all you’re already ahead of the game, however he addresses it.

    • Nana -  January 25, 2015 - 3:17 am

      Dear Dad,
      For mother I would have used “Dear Mother” because that was the title she preferred.

  19. Haley Street -  July 19, 2014 - 10:32 pm

    Not only was the term Mr. sometimes used to distinguish the eldest son of the household…also, Ms. was used to distinguish the eldest daughter, while Miss would distinguish the second-eldest. Of course, Mrs. or ‘Lady’ was only used for the married women, the female heads of household.

    • Sebastian -  August 9, 2014 - 7:40 am

      I have read a good portion of the comments to this article, and there seems to be a very common misconception concerning the use of titles and the showing of respect for one’s opposite.

      I went to university in Germany, for example, where it is customary for students to adress a lecturer or professor as Herr/Frau LastName. (German does have a seperate term for unmarried women but it is never used, except by older people. I’d say the term “Fräulein” is archaic by now).
      I thought this policy was quite liberal since I had assumed you would have to call them “Herr/Frau Professor LastName” or “Herr/Frau Doktor LastName” but while it is necessary to use these academic titles in correspondence it is preferred by all but the most traditional of professors (and a select few younger female staff members who, probably out of some form of belated feminism, feel they are due the same reverence as their male collegues) to leave it out in Emails and conversation.
      Up until then I thought that all that was to do with showing my respect for the teaching staff, or my elders in general.
      Going to Finnland for two semesters showed me how wrong I was, though.
      In Finnland professors are on a first name basis with their students, and this is also required of visiting academic personnel. And here comes: Nowhere have I found an atmosphere so thoroughly conducive to cooperation and learning as at the University of Jyväskylä.
      At the same time, not one of the professors there was regarded, much less treated, with less respect than at my home university.

      Being polite and respectful is much less about adressing a person than we generally think, unless the adress makes up half the conversation, as in “Sir, you forgot your monocle!” or “Madam, your whalebone corsett has come off at the seams. Let me send for my niece right away. She’s a veritable legerdemainist with a needle and thread!” or “Yo, tits-mcgee, when is yo fine ass free tonight?” ;-)

      • Chaz DeSimone -  September 20, 2014 - 10:25 pm

        “Walt” would immediately correct anyone who tried to call him Mr. Disney. No wonder he was regarded and treated with respect throughout his organization. Everyone was equal.

        Your last line made me laugh, Sir Sebastian!

  20. Amy Kay -  July 16, 2014 - 11:52 am

    I do think that Mr. Ms. Mrs. and such should be used in only business matters, for the elderly, kind, smart, and other such people.
    I believe it should be used for people who have earned respect. If you some potty-ass-mouth-girl who dresses like a slut, I’m not gonna call you a young miss or call you a lady. However, if you were kinda and sweet and gentle, then I think you’d have been honorable enough to be called something like lady or miss. Because for me, those are still for high born people. Not necessarily money wise, but in how you act. I’m not going to call a womanizing-dbag-dude a gentleman or mister.
    I’m only 20, but I believe the way you act is more important in how you should be treated.
    Now unless some old person was being a fucker to me or others without us doing something to deserve it, then I will act respectful around them. And treat them accordingly.

    I believe that people, to this day, should be treated on how they act. Don’t give respect to those who haven’t earned it. aka, slut dressing girl and dbag boys.

    P.S. Master doesn’t mean anything other then being the boss of something. Like blacksmiths are masters in their craft. A prostitute says it in her name PRO (means to be the boss of something, i.e. professor, promote, etc. Pro meaning to be good at/towards and anti to mean against), she’s a pro at sex, and she sells her craft and she’s a master at it (only don’t like pimping and woman with kids who pro-out, but other then that; their body, their life, stfu about it). Anyways, master isn’t a bad word, it’s just been used like that in some cases. The word has no power. How it is applied; used or said, is what matters. Like how I was discussing with my friends; it isn’t so much the word as it is the contents of which it’s said in. We were talking about how tinkerbell says “jingles” like she’s saying “fuck”, “darn”, or “shit”. And how it doesn’t matter that “jingles” isn’t in the dictionary as a curse word, but that is how it is used, so a “curse” is how it should be taken. And we were discussing that parents are dumb for not telling their kids this, among other things. Me and my friends call each other names that most think are rude, but it’s our form of endearment. And since that’s how we say it and mean it, that’s how we take it; with open arms.

    • Seriously? -  July 17, 2014 - 7:03 am

      Amy Kay … lmao … the article is about the terminology, not your poor usage in every day life.

      Just one quote from your little rant “Now unless some old person was being a fucker to me or others without us doing something to deserve it, then I will act respectful around them. And treat them accordingly.” … if this is the way you speak to people, especially your elders, you likely deserved any ill will you received.

    • Danielle -  August 1, 2014 - 8:20 am

      Amy – What about if you are a girl who dresses like a slut but is also kind, sweet, and gentle? Also, how can you tell how much “honor” someone has based on what they are wearing? That’s slut-shaming, and it certainly doesn’t agree with your later statement that you believe that people should be treated on how they act.

    • Terry -  August 1, 2014 - 10:13 am

      Amy Kay,

      Great comment! You are wise beyond your 20 years of age. :)

      I agree with you. Any type of honorific or term of courtesy should be used for people who behave honorably and with courtesy toward others.

      In my personal opinion, it is wholly inappropriate to ascribe such terms to people who behave toward others in a manner that directly contradicts the spirit of the term.

    • Jenny -  October 5, 2014 - 5:31 pm

      Wow, I don’t know how you managed to include all that other stuff in a response to a dictionary.com article about the use of honorifics. In agreement with a previous comment, slut shaming is unacceptable. How a girl is dressed tells you nothing about how she should be treated. In many parts of the world, you’re attire could get you stoned. In other parts of the world, women walk around bare breasted without stigma. These ideas are subjective and you’re reinforcing sexism when you say that ‘slut dressing girls’ don’t deserve respect.

      Also, a ‘pro prostitute’ is an abbreviation for ‘professional’. That is their line of work and their motherhood status is morally inconsequential. It can be a good source of income with flexible hours for many sex workers that enter the field willingly. Sex work may be the best option for many mothers and they should not be disparaged for not taking a low paying job with long hours that keeps them away from their children.

      • Mili -  October 14, 2014 - 8:38 am

        I don’t condemn Amy kay. She is merely jus making a point and at least she’s being honest. It’s a known fact that you are disrespected more by the way you act. Everyone DO treat others the way THEY feel that person should b treated. It’s in the way you see. Such as some people share the same point of view, some do not. Speaking for Amy “I respect your point of view please DON’T condemn me for mine.” And I may also add that for a young lady in her 20′s she is very intelligent.

  21. Larry Chappell -  May 21, 2014 - 4:54 am

    I don’t know why people are complaining about not blushing or laughing. The title reads “the answer MAY make you blush or at least laugh” I prefer the title “your dudeship”

    • Bo -  June 25, 2014 - 4:39 pm

      Sorry if this is a bit off-topic or even a bit academic even for a site that is purportedly dedicated to the meaning of words, but what I find most interesting is that this thread has been going on with very little change in the dominate positions for now over 3 years – a drop in the bucket of time if you take into consideration the entire history of this and related deliberations.

      Looking beyond the specifics of the word or words in question, to me it seems to raise a different type of question, one that deals with whether such persistently indecisive crowd-sourced deliberations, including this very thread (if one were willing to elevate it to that status), simply support the position that meaning can, and might always be subjective with respect to the perspective of the speaker/writer, the listener/reader; time, geography, culture, or situation; whether they simply highlight a common problem faced by lexicographers or anyone that attempts, or expects it is possible to, give explicit and static meaning to a term or symbol; if there is there is something much more fundamental at play which makes some concepts simply resistant to being reduced to a single expressive form; or is it that one or more of these potentials being at play is what keep people buzzing around for all this time like bees drawn to a copy of a picture of what, at a given point in time, and under certain lighting conditions, someone might see as a flower?

      • Cj -  July 15, 2014 - 10:18 pm

        Bo, you don’t get out much, do you?

      • oztru -  July 20, 2014 - 7:18 pm

        Please try to remember that full stops (periods) are also a legitimate punctuation tool.

        • Serebro -  September 3, 2014 - 11:30 pm

          While periods (full stops) ARE a legitimate punctuation tool, that sentence, though rather long and unwieldy by modern standards, is perfectly correctly punctuated by Oxford standards and would not seem at all out of place in a scholarly text published at any point since the early nineteenth century. I submit that perhaps you should read something which hasn’t been diluted with the late 20th and early 21st century’s tendency towards smaller vocabularies and shorter, simpler sentences.

      • literary icon -  September 20, 2014 - 8:42 pm

        Roflcopter bo, very astutely intuitive observation sir.

    • Mike Scarborough -  July 17, 2014 - 6:06 am

      The word “mistress” only makes people blush if they get caught having one.

      • Chaz DeSimone -  September 20, 2014 - 10:34 pm

        Ha–good point! (Sure wish I had something to blush about.)

  22. kate -  May 20, 2014 - 10:05 am

    I just read through this whole thread. So happy. Faith in humanity restored.
    I am Ms. or Mrs., was once Miss. (I lived in the south for a year). Out in the west coast, we usually use first and sometimes first and last names. My daughter started school and calls her teacher Mrs., so it got me thinking about what I am since I kept my “maiden” name. Respect by way of these titles, is a good thing, I think – helps with boundaries, maybe? Mr. … hm. Don’t hear it used very much, but then I’m not in the professional world very much either.

    • Amy Kay -  July 16, 2014 - 12:04 pm

      I’ve little faith in humanity still. I mean, Miley Cyrus is an idol still, wtf and ftw.
      Anyways, I call my teachers by their first names. Accept my science professor, he’s so smart and sweet and easy going. But I feel calling him anything less would be an insult. But most of my teachers are my friends.
      I think people should be called by how they act, don’t you?
      But Mister, Miss, Misses and such are used often in the professional way, like in business and such.

  23. Shela -  May 1, 2014 - 2:28 am

    I don’t create a leave a response, however I browsed a few responses here What is “Mrs.” short for?

    The answer may make you blush (or at least laugh) | Dictionary.com Blog.
    I do have a couple of questions for you if it’s
    allright. Could it be only me or do some of these comments come across like they are coming from brain
    dead individuals? :-P And, if you are writing at additional social sites, I would like to follow anything fresh you have to post.
    Could you make a list of the complete urls of all your social networking sites like your twitter feed, Facebook page or linkedin

    • alex -  June 16, 2014 - 3:16 pm

      Yeah, how was this going to make anyone blush?

      • somya -  October 9, 2014 - 6:08 am

        Of course, if you ponder upon the fact that Mrs. Was the diminutive for a keep (woman kept by a married man) ,and today we unknowingly use it every now and then for ladies.
        So I think ms. would be the right word.

    • Amy Kay -  July 16, 2014 - 12:20 pm

      really? the-gay-tube? woooooow.

  24. [。 -  April 22, 2014 - 8:31 pm

    So meaningful to me. 亖過宀小妻子鴕網迎接凹凸不

  25. Ganyav -  April 3, 2014 - 12:27 pm


    While I agree that text speak is annoying, I’m pretty sure it has never claimed to be a language. It is a form of shorthand really, and those have always existed. If you think about it, a lot of English as we know it now is shorthand of old English.

    As for future written communication, I think we’re all still safe. I’d venture to say that most people do still remember how to write out words fully, they are just choosing not to in a casual setting. It is important to remember the difference between a text or comment and an essay, but it is on you to understand that the letter ‘u’ alone is not generally pronounced ‘ooh’ in English.

    Also, all our words were made up sometime in the past… Many of them within the last 500 years and many will continue to emerge as need arises. Writing ‘u’ is not making up a word, again, it is shorthand.

    Loving language is one thing, being a brat about it is quite another. Even though I knew some of this information previously, and also did not actually blush reading it, the article was still well written and informative. You cannot assume that everyone is as informed as you *clearly* are yourself.

    • Lela -  July 9, 2014 - 6:59 pm

      IDK what leaving your website would do for you, Shela. Maybe you’re interested in intelligent conversation. Maybe you’re interested in gathering personal information. Or maybe you’re just looking for attention. Whichever you are, try to remember to stay moral.

  26. shornlake@sbcglobal.net -  February 25, 2014 - 5:57 pm

    RE: Mr. Mrs. Ms. Miss, Dictionary Information, etc., All the questions and answers were very good.

    Would like to digress to a question for which I’ve never found a good answer – as to what a substitute word would be good to use regarding the following question. When a male writes a letter – especially a business letter, not always, but usually the salutation states — Dear Mr. (usually a last name). However the word “DEAR” from a male to another male in a Business, Relative or Whomever letter — Just does not sound – or seem to be right. It’s great for writing to a woman. But for male to male >>> Does anyone want to throw in a few words that would eliminate the “DEAR” word and put in (hopefully) an appropriate word for a male to male letter salutation that will catch on and become as familiar, and used as much, as the “DEAR” word.
    Would appreciate “NO NEGATIVE FEEDBACK” As it seems most readers now days just always want to respond with some negativities as to what people write. Thx in advance.
    RE: Mr. Mrs. Ms. Miss, Dictionary Information, etc., All the questions and answers were very good.

    Would like to digress to a question that I’ve never found a good answer – as to what a substitute word would be good to use regarding the following question. When a male writes a letter – especially a business letter, not always, but usually the salutation states — Dear Mr. (usually a last name). However the word “DEAR” from a male to another male in a Business, Relative or Whomever letter — Just does not sound – or seem to be right. It’s great for writing to a woman. But for male to male >>> Does anyone want to throw in a few words that would eliminate the “DEAR” word and put in (hopefully) an appropriate word for a male to male letter salutation that will catch on and become as familiar, and used as much, as the “DEAR” word.
    Would appreciate “NO NEGATIVE FEEDBACK” As it seems most readers now days just always want to respond with some negativities as to what people write. Thx in advance.

    • Lucy -  April 3, 2014 - 5:41 pm

      So much sexism, wow

      • Mili -  October 14, 2014 - 8:51 am

        Lol tru Lucy. I think a lot of us IS sexist-minded. Besides we all came from 2 people that had sex ;)

    • DJ Acrey -  April 10, 2014 - 9:12 pm

      In regards to the male to male correspondence I feel the term “Greetings” in the place of “Dear” would be appropriate,

    • Donna -  April 30, 2014 - 7:51 pm

      I think ‘Dear’ is appropriate for anyone. It has been in use for so long that people don’t think about the actual meaning of the word. It’s just a signal meaning “Hey, Mr. So-and-So, I’m talking to you.” Most people – especially business people – would not assume that you hold them dear, and would just focus on the content of the message. I think if you’re writing to business people, you might want to stick with the traditional and not take chances with your image or your livelihood. But writing to friends and family, “Hey, what’s up?” or something of the sort is usually what I do. Or maybe, “Greetings” might catch on again. Not to be negative, but your concern with this smacks of homophobia. You might want to examine this possibility.

    • wejiharfuisnd -  June 8, 2014 - 8:12 pm

      DEAR male,
      You are so incredibly SEXIST!!! Seriously! You need to STOP. You probably think that men are supposed to lead and woman are supposed to stay at home and their only job is to have kids and make food. How many women have you raped? Also, like Donna cleverly pointed out, you appear to be slightly homophobic. Did you know that if you are homophobic and against homosexuals, you actually are slight gay yourself? It’s because you’re trying to fight a part of you. So think about yourself….think.

      • Ben -  June 15, 2014 - 4:02 am

        @wejiharfuisnd – Really? “How many women have you raped?” – As if that is something men do as easily as brushing our teeth.

        You’re using the word “sexist” in all caps, then – without knowing who the person is, or what that person thinks – you accuse him of being a rapist.

        Why? Because he’s male. I can’t see ANY other reason for you to be so venomous. The dude asked a question about GRAMMAR.

        What he didn’t do was ask you for sexual favours, demean you or talk down to you. It’s an interesting question that was posed, and when I read it I thought “Yeah, dude has a point”.

        I take it that you don’t mind sexism if it’s AGAINST MEN!!!

        Seeing as that is what 100% of your ranting message is about. Tell you one thing though, wejiharfuisnd. With a militant attitude like yours it’s unlikely you’ll ever get laid, let alone raped. I think you’re safe. I don’t know ANY man on earth that wants a militant, ignorant feminist in his life, let alone his bed.

        I love women. I love women in all their forms, and their beauty is something to behold, even in the ‘ugly’ ones. I have never once in my life forced myself upon a woman. I have never failed to stop when told “I’m not comfortable”, and I’m in a loving relationship with a woman I love deeply.

        I love and respect and admire women. But that doesn’t mean I think men and women are the same. We ARE different. You have a socket – we have a plug. That’s a dead giveaway in the “We’re not the same” stakes. Women have incredible strengths and abilities where men are weak. Similarly, men excel at certain things women can’t do. It’s not sexist, it’s FACT. People like you are the cause of sexism, not the cure. You might want to remember that. It’s the militant, judgemental, angry feminists like you that cause the sexism. The more we hear ranting mad-woman throwing her pads out of the cot about some perceived slight “He brushed my shoulder without permission – I’ll SUEEEEE”, the more we just decide that women DO need to chill out, and that breeds resentment, which breeds more sexism.

        Try being a WOMAN, instead of a crusader. Try EMBRACING your femininity instead of trying to reject it. Try getting through a day without getting angry about a man. Practice makes perfect, but if you learn to love yourself for who you are and what you are, then others will love you too. Just some friendly advice from someone who knows. Have a peaceful day, beware of the hormones.. :) :) :)

        • Dee -  July 8, 2014 - 6:39 am

          Very well worded and written.

      • Adam -  July 4, 2014 - 9:59 pm

        Fascinating… you automatically assume that the person who posed the question is male, even though there is nothing in the post that says so. There is nothing about the question that precludes it from being posed by a woman.

        There are endless possibilities for who wrote the question and why, which makes your inflammatory response infinitely more sexist and insensitive than the question possibly could be.

        • Michael -  July 11, 2014 - 11:23 am

          Whether the author was right or wrong about the person being female is irrelevant, he is absolutely correct in all his other statements. Being easily offended is childish, immature, and is why no one respects the easily offended liberals and feminists and their agenda. Extreme feminism may have succeeded in achieving a minimal amount of equality but only in exchange for also making sexism worse and the complete destruction of chivalry and solid family structure which has contributed immensely to the weakening of the American economy. Leave it to the left to take a completely innocent discussion about the PROPER and respectful way of addressing men and women and turning it into something it isn’t, like sexist. I say again, Being easily offended is childish, immature, and is why no one respects the easily offended liberals and feminists and their agenda. It’s time to act like adults and stop getting upset so easily by things that weren’t even meant that way in the first place. Sometimes intentions don’t matter, but sometimes they do. Sometimes the intention is just fine, it’s the perception that needs to change.

          • Michelle R -  August 31, 2015 - 11:16 am

            Wow!!! How did this turn into a political debate? You use the word “liberal” as a derogatory term, I recommend you check out the definition of liberal on a well-respected site like dictionary.com. Of the 15 definitions I chose this one:
            7. free from prejudice or bigotry; tolerant: a liberal attitude toward foreigners.
            Please look at all of the definitions and synonyms. Synonyms 1. progressive. 7. broad-minded, unprejudiced. 9. beneficent, charitable, openhanded, munificent, unstinting, lavish. See generous. 10. See ample.
            Antonyms 1. reactionary. 8. intolerant.

    • Adam -  July 4, 2014 - 9:51 pm

      For business communication, “Dear Sir” has always been the appropriate way to address a letter written to a male recipient. Such a salutation does not imply, nor should it be inferred, that any affection for the recipient is being conveyed. If a male is more comfortable writing “Dear” to a female than to another male, that implies that there IS some affection for the female recipient, and such sentiment has no place in business writing.

      In business writing, it should be irrelevant whether the sender is male or female, as well as whether the recipient is male or female. Only the highest level of professionalism belongs in any manner of business conduct. To assume anything less, or to behave in any other manner, is disrespectful to both parties.

      • Felicia -  July 10, 2014 - 6:37 pm

        Well worded and respectful, unlike many of the comments here

    • Leah -  October 4, 2014 - 8:50 am

      For hundreds and hundreds of years, the terms “dear” or “dearest” have been used in communication between all genders. People still use it today because it is valid. It was common for men to address other men in this way and many other ways that would now be considered “feminine”, because there wasn’t such a stigma on things that are feminine. I mean, what’s wrong with using that word? Women can use masculine terms, why is it not okay for men to use feminine terms? The idea that things that are feminine are “bad”, “inappropriate”, or not as useful is a very recent, very patriarchal creation, that men and women are both subject to. It’s quite unfortunate, since a lot of great things in our society are “feminine”.

      Long story short, keep using dear.

      • Alan -  October 22, 2014 - 12:50 pm

        “Dear” does not indicate romantic attraction. Historically it meant that something was valuable. People used to say that they couldn’t by something because the cost was too dear.

        “Dear Mr. X,” regardless of the gender of the speaker, indicates that the speaker values the person, or their relationship witht that person, not that they find them adorable, charming or sexually enticing.

        • DeGriffe -  January 4, 2015 - 12:12 pm

          What a breath of fresh air – an intelligent, and informed answer. Thank you, Alan. Intelligence is indeed dear these days.

    • Michelle R -  August 31, 2015 - 11:27 am

      I would agree that in business or more formal writing (in the US) the term Dear is perfectly acceptable, as it is simply a salutation. Although I, personally, find it sounds too informal for either gender and prefer to use Greetings.

  27. Martin -  December 3, 2013 - 5:39 pm

    I TOTALLY agree with Sarah. U says uh people.

    Are uh crazy?

    I put the “uh” to show you how it sounds when you say it in proper English. If you’re in Fake English Land, it you say it as the letter “u”.

    I hope people correct this mistake in the future.

  28. Marc -  November 20, 2013 - 8:35 am

    I use Boris and Doris, no problems, saves getting all excited about using honorifics, so in my case it’ll be Yo Doris or Yo boris.

  29. sarah -  October 29, 2013 - 5:11 am

    Wow, just took a glance at the comments and as per usual, people are off-topic and yelling at each other. I am pretty disappointed with this article though, I didn’t blush or laugh.

    When leaving a brief comment that is not a text, people? SPELL OUT Y-O-U! I see “u” and I think “ooh”. “Texting language” is not a language at all & if we continue just making up words we will eventually no longer be able to communicate with each other in any written form. We have spelling and grammar rules so that we can know what is being said and communicate. It doesn’t make one a “grammar Nazi” (a terrible word, by the way!) to hope people will use the English language correctly.

    • Max -  June 18, 2014 - 9:56 am

      I agree – especially on a dictionary site!

    • Elizabeth -  August 22, 2014 - 5:08 am

      I disagree; Language is constantly morphing and changing as shown by the original article. “Texting language” is on border between old forms and new forms. Language works because we agree that each letter and word mean something. Therefore ‘u’ can be used as you, because as the reader we can understand that it means y-o-u.

      Just as titles before names are becoming outdated, (in my view) so may words like you become shortened to ‘u’. The written language would become very stale if it was disallowed from changing, as the discrepancy between the ever morphing spoken language and the written language would become a wide gulf. Yet it is also natural to resist change and the resistance helps question the new ways and evaluate whether they are worth keeping.

      BTW I’m 15.

      • Annie -  September 7, 2014 - 6:48 am

        I so agree with you, Elizabeth Dear. Very well said from a 15 y.o. young lady.
        I presume any one is clever enough to read ‘U’ either as ‘ooh’ or the letter ‘U.’
        Moreover, I disagree with Sarah for excluding Texting language as a language since 1 of the definitions of Language is: “any set or system of such symbols as used in a more or less uniform fashion by a number of people, who are thus enabled to communicate intelligibly with one another.”
        I can’t formally confirm but I believe there are hundreds of, if not a million, people who use Testing language every single day since the late 90′s. And not only through mobile but also through linux (irc / skype), messengers and other chat sites, and not to mention emails.
        Let me write few examples, for sure Sarah and others who despise such communication (don’t exclude me) would be able to understand but would rather dismiss since it’s quite informal enough for them.

        1 – 2day s a gr8 day f only U wz hir.
        2 – R U xpecting sum1 2mrw?
        3 – TY, ’twas such a luvly p.m. 2 b w. d Tchers hu r lykwyz Drs.
        4 – Y do ppl nid 2 wryt lyk dis? cos sum chatboxs hs 160 karactrs only n
        8s quikr 2 typ tho.
        5 – U cn bet $4K on dat wyt Lotus T cld giv U a calming Efect.

        In this age & time, any form of writing is possible in order to communicate faster. Although, am not an avid supporter of the above type of language. However, it is necessary to understand that kind of language for survival ’cause somehow it’s still a trend like in Twitter world.


        • Jerry -  September 9, 2014 - 4:19 pm

          I couldn’t read any of those examples, and I’m 16 myself. I like to type out my messages in full, only typing something like “u” or “ty” when I’m in a rush, which often will not be the case because I don’t like texting if I’m hurried, unless it’s something uber important.

          I’m not your average teenager, however. I am a writer, budding historian, and avid user and studier of words and parts of the English language which have long since fallen into disuse. I make an effort not to shorten words as “text language” does, which in my honest opinion butchers the finery of the language as a whole. Can you imagine what it’d be like if people started using text language like “lololololololololol” in everyday speech?

  30. BLOCKED -  October 28, 2013 - 1:18 pm

    I think it’s a proper way to address someone. It is definitely better than saying Yo, or Whas up to an older person. When speaking to your parents, mother, father, mom, dad, mommy, papa, or daddy is fine. Once you get older, sir, Mrs. , Mr. , and mam’ should be used.

  31. kgfp cj c -  October 26, 2013 - 12:37 pm

    ;ugejbfc, hbljnf;m

  32. Janet -  October 25, 2013 - 1:17 pm

    I think making others feel liked and respected is wonderful. Language can be a tool for unifying family, friends, cultures and the world. so I purpose we adopt the honorific san from Japanese. This title is used for both men and women and doesn’t designate anything other than respect.

  33. Ann -  October 14, 2013 - 3:52 am

    well as for (MISS) I prefer to be addressed as MISS not MRS. Even though I am over the age of 18. I have always been this way. Maybe because then Our Title is OUR OWN and Independent women. Maybe its just me …..

    • Larissa -  June 12, 2014 - 4:43 am

      Ann, I agree. Miss I think is for just the person’s own name. I am below 18 years old and in the future if I don’t get married or get married I would like to be called Miss Larissa and if they use Mrs. I would prefer Mrs. (My surname)

    • Ruth -  July 8, 2014 - 1:56 pm

      I don’t know why I need to declare my marital staus. I am older, and I use my original last name. To be fully integrated, I prefer not to use an honorific, at all, but if I must, Ms. is neutral. Only women were expected to declare their marital status in the society I grew up in–never men. That seems stranger than anything, to me. It makes no difference whether or not I am married, any more than it makes any difference whether or not a man is.

      I’m not weird about it, but I don’t like to be called either Mrs. or Miss. Just call me Ruth or Ms. Smithjones.

  34. Angalyssa -  October 9, 2013 - 9:55 am

    Damnn Gurl (: Chill! Out.

  35. Sidra -  October 7, 2013 - 8:02 pm

    To add to it, if you’re married and called yourself Ms instead of Mrs, you should be forcefully demoted to ‘Miss’ like a child. Because only children are indecisive on life decisions, adults stick by their choices and are proud of who they’ve become! I hope the Husbands have sense to tell these Wives, to grow up.

    Woah, really “Happy being a wife”? Maybe you should re-check yourself. There are other reasons to pick Ms. over Mrs. other than “being indecisive”. A honorific isn’t some sort of “personal achievement” it’s a mode of addressing a person for who they are.

    If a woman decides to keep her maiden name, it would be awkward to call her a Missus (maiden name) because that would imply that she married someone with that name. And there are plenty of valid reasons for a woman to keep, legally, her maiden name that aren’t about “being indecisive”. You sound like you really need to just keep your nose out of other’s business. Just because you haven’t had to weigh the pros vs cons for legally keeping your maiden name, doesn’t mean everyone walks your life path. Grow up.

    • Lucy -  April 3, 2014 - 5:44 pm

      Wow you’re a misogynist

  36. Sidra -  October 7, 2013 - 7:46 pm

    This is how I’ve always treated them.

    Mr. – (Miss-ter) regardless of marital status for 18+ males

    Mrs. – (Miss-us) for those married ladies who have taken their husband’s last names.

    Ms. – (“MIZ” – like “Les Mis”) regardless of marital status for 18+ females.

    Miss – (miss) 17 and under females.

    I will always default to Ms. (miz) for any 18+ woman. I didn’t take my husband’s last name legally, so I don’t feel right being called “Mrs (my last name)” because it makes me feel like I’ve married someone who has my same last name. I rather be “Ms (my last name)”. Socially, however, I do use his last name to make things easier and “Mrs (his last name)” to me, would be correct and I would not object.

    • Max -  June 18, 2014 - 10:00 am

      I use ‘Miss’ on its own for teachers, but ‘Mrs’ with surname

  37. Mrs. Hunter -  October 5, 2013 - 2:08 am

    I grew up in Florida and was taught to refer to adult men as Mr. and adult women as Miss or Mrs., depending upon marital status. Only after being given permission to call an adult by their first name (that is two adults addressing one another) would one speak to Linda as Linda and not as Mrs. Hunter. A child would be addressed by his or her first name.

    As a child I looked forward to being “Mrs.”. However, by the time we married in 1964, society (and marketing) had decided we should ALL call one another by our first names. BAH HUMBUG! It is just one of the many ways that have changed to make our society today such a mishmash of dumbing down. No one seems to know or care to know grammar any longer. Politeness has gone out the window. Almost no one is taught to spell or pronounce words properly. Even “educated” people, such as teachers, do not speak, spell, or write correctly. So sad.

    • Ms.Hunter -  January 19, 2015 - 2:51 pm

      I agree with the mishmash of dumbing down that descends from shorthand. When short-hand bit the common tongue, we started to lose all sight of someone’s peripheral identity; the respect to defer knowing someone’s name until understanding their character and forming a relationship with them.

      We find nuance goes astray in the social world by this oversight.

  38. BtA -  October 1, 2013 - 4:15 pm

    Good heavens, bitter young feminists, whatever shall we do? How odd to call for social civility and end with such a comment. Sadly, most people who self-identify as feminists are no longer young, because the next generations of young ladies have been swayed by the very effective political tactic of painting the entire group in the colors of the most extreme. However, I sincerely look up to my feminist elders strident and otherwise for being the sole reason I am able to own my own house and bank account without having to find some distant male relative to sign for me – and young ladies may not realize that’s a development from the 1970′s, not 1900. I am indeed a feminist, because I am a humanist, and feminism is necessarily a part of that as is defense of the dignity and civility due to people in general. To belabor the point of the Master derivation is a red herring from either the side of the feminist or the non-feminist; it is and should remain irrelevant to our modern use of the term. (At last I bring it round to the linguistic concern once more. >.^ )

  39. nina -  September 30, 2013 - 11:51 am

    we could just call people by their names…

  40. Angalyssa -  September 30, 2013 - 9:45 am

    Ew. I Hate When My Boyfriend Calls Me Miss(: And He Most Likely Does It On Purpose!! ^>^)// Love HIm <33 Hate That Word. One Mister? That's Wierd…..

  41. Jayne Jupp -  September 26, 2013 - 6:52 am

    I am a happily married lady who flatly refuses to be referred to a ‘Mrs’ at work. I work in an environment where being friendly and helpful is paramount and hence use my name only to help achieve the result. Definately no title. I am ME! Not the wife of an unknown person!

    • patrick -  September 23, 2014 - 9:46 am

      So you’re not proud of the person you are married to?
      Logic makes sense

  42. simone hoekstra -  September 23, 2013 - 2:37 pm

    cool!!!!! i always wondered that! But how come you can specifficly say mrs. and ms. but there is only mr. ?

  43. scott -  September 19, 2013 - 10:56 am

    soooooooooooooooooooooooooo funny

  44. Bill Jones Esq. -  September 17, 2013 - 4:56 am

    Things change over time, none more so than with words, However, from the British English point of view, I was brought up (b.1949) to never address ladies of a ‘certain age’ by their Christian name, unless they offered it, and always by either Miss [Miss] or Missus [Mrs]. though Missus would be used if known they were married or widowed. Gentlemen would always be Mister [Mr]. It’s only from the early 1970s that first names have apparently become more the norm for both genders. When working in a department store during that period, all ladies were known (if over 21) by the title Mrs, married or not. Certainly, though, I would never have dreamt of calling my parents by their first name, even though some older people than I always did. Working in the customer industry, I salute men with either Mr to begin with then follow on with or Sir. It’s such a pity that the modern British English language, for all its richness, doesn’t offer a one-for-all title for ladies. If I know a lady is titled as Mrs then I will use that accordingly, though if just the first name is known then (especially over the ‘phone) I tend to use a cross between Miss and Missus (an elongated Miss). I do not like the spoken term Ms, though I will use it in writing, and again by ‘phone, I have been strongly told that ‘my name is MIZZ (Smith)’. For me, Ms implies a single lady, or one who prefers, for whaterever reason, to indicate that she is unmarried. Fair enough, as there is no distinction between a bachelor Mr or a married Mr. The term of Ma’am for a woman is far too formal (used as it is mostly for The Queen) and the use of Missus without a surname is just not used openly except perhaps in slang or as an insult.
    An interesting topic though, which could run and run.

    • Ruth -  July 8, 2014 - 2:42 pm

      Again, I feel no compunction to announce my marital status. Ms. is neutral, the equivalent of Mr. I am older, so I am often addressed as Mrs. for some silly reason, but I have kept my original name throughout my life, so I am not Mrs. Myfather.

      I just don’t see what the big deal is with losing the extremely old-fashioned custom of women publicly announcing their marital status to everyone everywhere. Why does anyone care?

      I don’t need an honorific, and seldom use one for anyone else, except in international business where we honor the customs of the country the other person is in. I do like the Japanese tradition of “Name-san,” which attaches an honorific that does not designate marriage, or even gender. Maybe English speakers could come up with something like that!

      Within a company we often put (Mr.) or (Ms.) after a name that is so unfamiliar in another country, that you don’t know whether to use “her” or “him” in further discusson. “The best person to contact about this would be Cracjic Vardnthanken (Mr.).”

  45. Rose -  September 15, 2013 - 7:34 pm

    I think these titles are fine and good to use, but we need a gender-neutral one. Gender is actually a very complicated thing, and male and female are not the only two gender identities. For example, some people, including someone I know, prefer to be referred to using the singular “they,” because they do not identify as specifically male or female. So if my gender-nonconforming friend becomes say, a teacher at an elementary school where kids have to address teachers using honorifics, what will the kids call them?

    • yes -  July 22, 2014 - 12:40 am

      May they call them “Teacher”? My spouse is a teacher at an elementary school, and the title “Teacher” is the honorific, and well deserved (as in: “teacher name”). As are “Firefighter”, “Medic”, “Officer”, “Professor”, “Doctor”, and guess what? : no more “actresses’, they’re all actors. Welcome to the twenty first century, fifteen years later. Gender matters only to those that choose it, or choose to profess it, or do what ever “they” please. We now have universal marriage (where I am), and soon universal rights for “men and women” and next comes full universal constitutional rights for all human beings, period. That’s what the constitution says. Are you saying you’re a …, well… its what you say, and we are all over it.

  46. no -  September 15, 2013 - 6:15 am

    we don’t need mr. & mrs & ms anymore!! you’re all a bunch of nerds. be quiet.

    • yes -  July 21, 2014 - 11:35 pm

      Dear no, agreed, we need a universal, neutral form of address, and I do mean neutral. We have no idea “in the universe of discussion” the true identity of the person we are addressing, or their idea of self. We only know what they show us, which is the only truth as far as we can know. How a person refers to himself (doesn’t work, does it?) is what matters.

      • Jerry -  September 9, 2014 - 4:29 pm

        So, what can we say that is neutral? Most Excellent Being?
        I’m not completely disagreeing with you, it just isn’t easy to find a neutral term.

    • yes -  July 22, 2014 - 1:11 am

      We don’t need Mr., Mrs., & Ms. anymore, agreed, for the sake of argument. I agree, we must go gender absent. Do you read books?, blogs?, news? What’s your idea?

    • anonymous name -  October 1, 2014 - 9:12 pm

      Dear Mr. no, I disagree.
      Try to think of things from another point of view.
      If you’re an important or high ranking person who deserves some respect, wouldn’t you want it?
      I’m 16 and in high school, and I respect the people that deserve it. These teachers and security guards at school go through everything that comes at them, and I don’t see them acting like jerks to everyone in sight.
      A little side note about your message in general:
      “we don’t need mr. & mrs & ms anymore!! you’re all a bunch of nerds. be quiet.”
      First, lack of any capitalization.
      2nd, about the ‘sentence’ that reads “you’re all a bunch of nerds”….
      We nerds are the ones who give you computers, iphones, video games, and a language to speak in the first place.
      In any other situation, knowing HTML, CSS, JavaScript, TI-BASIC, Python, and some BASIC (also guitar, piano, and language skills) would be called an achievement, but to any person that I have met at my school, that would be a nerd and the untrue stereotype is that nerds are annoying and uncool.
      Try saying this to the people that coded your phone, computer, and internet, composed your music, wrote your books, and designed your complex and amazing language. See how popular that gets you with the world.
      You would not believe how much every single person relies on the scientists, professors, coders, writers, etc. Without them, you would have nothing at all in your world.
      If no one was a nerd then you would have no electricity, no computers, no phones, no books, no music, and no language to insult us all with.
      Thanks for getting me started, and now I have taken it this far. Think before you post, and have some respect.

  47. Doggs -  September 14, 2013 - 4:05 pm

    i barely read it, i don’t get it

  48. Dale A. Wood -  September 13, 2013 - 7:40 am

    To Matt, and others:
    Dr. Benjamin Franklin held two doctorates from British universities, and he was most certainly entitled to be addressed as “doctor”

    Those were “honorary” doctorates that were awarded to Franklin in recognition of his researches and inventions in electricity, including the lightning rod. He was also the first to recognize that electric charge flows from one “terminal” to the other for Leyden jars and other electrical devices, and that this flow of charge is electric current. Then he showed that lightning was the flow of electric charge, too.

    Franklin labeled the two terminals of a Leyden jar + and -, and he thought that positive charge flowed from the + to the -. He had a 50 percent chance of getting it right, and we know now that he guessed it the wrong way. What happens is that negative charge flows from the – to the +. It is very difficult to tell the difference. However, before Franklin, nobody had bothered to make a choice at all, and making a choice turns out to be fundamental in understanding electicity.

    Back in the 18th century, an “honorary” doctorate meant a lot. They were given out for significant achievements in the sciences. Also, ther were not many formal programs toward a doctorate in the sciences in colleges and universities.

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  50. zinganamalumakatheritoghilafi -  August 22, 2013 - 2:25 am


  51. WHAT IS THIS -  August 22, 2013 - 2:17 am


  52. random thoughts of obviousness -  August 18, 2013 - 12:35 pm

    okay so i would like to stupidly and randomly state my thoughts about this whole shebang aloud.
    Master, would have been like the head of the house, a owner of a maid, butler, footman,…etc…
    Mistress, would have been like the woman who hung around the man, unmarried, or married, but there to take up residence in the home with the man, or to live alone and be the owner of a maid, butler, footman,…etc…

    and now in the south of the U.S.A. at least, if this is the origins of all the ms. and mr.’s that we say daily if we like to show their age’s respect or even the fact that they are married or not, all i can say is :) wow, so the 18th century has been with us all along! :) and here i was looking for the answer to a question, ‘would a teacher be offended if you accidentally typed mrs., instead of ms. because you normally say, not type the respect of them knowing more and being older than you?’
    i think i am going to start calling people ‘mistress’ and ‘master’ until they get curious, or annoyed and then tell them why ^_^ thanks for the influence XD LMFAO!! ( i don’t believe in influence,because it is the person’s decision to follow the other’s actions and they just invented the word influence so they will have someone to point the blame at other than themselves, when it was their own choice to take action into that.)

  53. Danny -  August 16, 2013 - 9:41 am

    Mr. Beasley: lighten up. Actually, if I don’t know a man’s name, I might just say “sir,” as in “excuse me, sir, can you tell me how to get to the Piggly Wiggly?” If it’s a woman, I’m likely to leave the honorific out altogether: “Excuse me. Can you tell me how to get to the Piggly Wiggly?”

  54. 2.S.Q -  August 11, 2013 - 2:46 am

    “…has been spawning..” rather than “has spawned”, if you mean continuing into the present .
    Use “used” instead of “utilized”. “Utilize” is just a more complicated ‘fad’ substitute for “use”, and therefore should be nixed.

    The grammarman

  55. Richard Beasley -  August 7, 2013 - 8:27 am

    When I hear myself being addressed as Mr it’s almost always received as an insult to some degree.

    Being addressed as Mr Whatever means that this egomaniac Cop is about to make your life a living hell in the next few minutes or I am about to be in deep trouble because I made a simple human error. In the south to hear Mister is a sure sign to place your hand over your gun. I never use it when addressing another man because it’s an insult not to learn a man’s name before you have any conversation, best to be polite before being shot. Dar for when you northerners drive south “don’t fing say Mr, ask the guy for his name first and use it. Or your direction to the dinner maybe right into the swamp. Use his name and you can follow him to the dinner, or where ever you need to go

  56. Gerdeen Dyer -  August 6, 2013 - 11:00 pm

    Growing up in a small Southern town in the 1950s, I occasionally heard older women pronounce Mrs. as “mizriz.” It wasn’t the common pronunciation, but I heard it often enough to reflect on it. I got the impression even then that it was an old-fashioned form, considered more refined than “miziz.” At the time, I did not associate “mizriz” with mistress, a word I had seen in books and poems (though it was not used in those texts in the scandalous sense). Now I see the connection.

    I have no objection to Ms., but I’m glad to see that Miss and Mrs. have not vanished. Miss has actually entered several other languages because of its use in the beauty pageant culture, which has become international.

  57. WindRaven -  August 4, 2013 - 11:04 am

    “Sir” or “Ma’am” – in America anyway – is usually only appropriate in the South. Anywhere else, people consider it almost an insult. I can’t tell you how surprised I was to find this out. Most women consider it deeply insulting to be called “sir”, but a few devoted feminists I know (my mom, for one) prefer “sir” over “ma’am”. “Ma’am” is no better than “mistress”, though, since it comes from “madam” – a title originally used to refer to the leader of a brothel.

    To Miss Deborah Blansett – I understand your opinion, but in many places, “Miss” is a derogatory term. Certainly i would never want to be identified as “married” or “unmarried”. In my experience, most women prefer “ms.” anyway.

  58. Patsy Gibbs -  August 4, 2013 - 9:58 am

    In my family, it was considered rude to address an adult by their first name, without an honorific of some sort preceding the name… e.g. Miss, Mrs, Ms, Mr, Dr, Aunt, Uncle, Cousin. To this day, it grates on me to receive mail addressed to my bare first name.

    We also said “Yes or No, Ma’am” and “Yes or No, Sir”, NEVER “Yeah” or “Nope”.

    When I entered Nursing School, our name pins gave only our first initial and last name, and we were not to be addressed by our given names. Reasons for this are many, but I think it is easier to respect and obey someone who is separated by a title, such as Doctor Jones rather than “Sam”. To this day, it bothers me to have only my first name on my ID, although I am told that this is a matter of safety because giving the last name might enable stalking.

    I was also taught that preachers were to be addressed as Mr, or Brother, not the commonly used Reverend of today. A formal written address would be “The Reverend Mr. Jones”, and the spoken address would be “Mr. Jones”, not “Reverend Jones.”

    My children were also taught these niceties. Courtesy is a dying art, and that is glaringly obvious in our world today.

  59. Miss Deborah Blansett -  July 31, 2013 - 8:07 am

    I believe you are mistaken about when the term ‘ms’ came into use. I have done extensive reading and never came across that ‘title’ until the 1970′s! People in the southern part of the United States would pronounce ‘Mrs.’ as ‘Miz’, but that is entirely different. The reason ‘ms’ came about in the 1970′s is because some women didn’t think it was ‘fair’ that men weren’t identified as married or single by their title ‘mr.’ when women were by using either ‘Mrs.’ or ‘Miss’. My father thought the whole idea was silly, and made the comment that the women’s libbers didn’t know what they were, so they must think they are a ‘ms-stake’. I still quote him to this day and get quite a lot of reaction, mostly positive. I never used the ‘ms’ title and will not; I return mail addressed to me as ‘Ms. Deborah Blansett’ unopened. If people don’t care enough to find out if you are a Miss or a Mrs., then they shouldn’t put a title at all. I prefer to receive mail as Deborah Blansett.

    • Ruth -  July 8, 2014 - 2:56 pm

      I can’t understand wanting to constantly identify yourself by whether or not you are married. Strange and amazingly old-fasioned that your father thought it was the most important thing about a woman..

      I am in my 60s and still working where it is none of anyone’s business whether or not I am married. Ms. is neutral. Mr. is neutral. If I am a doctor, I should be addressed as Dr. Myname. Otherwise, just call me Ruth. If you must, call me Ms. Myname. Whether or not I am married is beside the point.

      • Another Ruth -  July 23, 2014 - 4:06 pm

        I agree with this lady who shares my first name…lol

        I would rather be addressed Ms. if I can’t just be called “Ruth.” It seems odd to me that culturally, we should care to identify a woman as married or not in her honorific…but not do so for a man. It’s just really strange.

  60. Row -  July 30, 2013 - 5:20 pm

    Looks like a lot of people are stuck in a time warp. Personally I haven’t used these titles in speech in more than 20 years. I’ve run my own business for 20 years and only use customers first names without any problems or complaints. The only time I ever uses these titles or a client’s last name is on an invoice.

  61. Zanne -  July 30, 2013 - 1:26 pm

    And actually just a little English lesson. In Middle English the word Mistress was common as was Master. Sometimes if you watch a period movie of that time you’ll hear it used. If you read Middle English Literature you will see it. Both Mrs and Ms were used as abbreviations. Master and Mister always used Mr as an abbreviation. Mistress was used both to denote age and marital status. Master for a young person became more common later and is still formally used today. “Young Master So and So.”

    There are different theories as to the evolution of Missus (Missis). Some say that it was to avoid confusion over Mistress and mistress with one being a title and the other being a derogatory term for a kept woman with no legal status such as marriage. The use of mistress persists today and we’d hardly call any married woman Mistress for fear of being slapped even though it is actually more proper than Missus which is what we now mean when we use Mrs. Over time Missus replaced Mistress for this reason.

    The second theory is that Missus was a contraction of Mistress used by uneducated folk, usually workers. The result was the same as the implications of mistress were the opposite of the title Mistress so Mistress became replaced by the term Missus and Mrs. began to denote only Missus.

    In the 1970′s not only did feminists begin to use Ms. rather than Mrs. as it worked for both and took the emphasis off marital status, but it became much more common in the workplace as the focus on discrimination in business practices became a legal problem. This is why you see when you apply for a job in the U.S. that you are asked for marital and minority status for government reporting purposes only and you need not answer if you do not wish. Also, in the office it became a legal issue if you were to press a woman but not a man to know the marital status to use the correct title (which used to be common place). Marital status, children, color, race and religion all became off limit topics in the workplace where once it was common place to ask someone in an interview if she were single, whereupon you could be prevented from getting the job on the basis that you would get married, have children and leave. This was common until about the 1980′s (I certainly heard it and was not hired because of it.) Ms. and the attendant forbidding of these questions allowed all involved to avoid that issue.

    For those who get confused, Ms. has nothing to do with marital status and can be used for single, divorced and married women. The only change is that we rarely see a distinction by age such as Miss and Master. As age references are also considered discriminatory in the workplace, it’s best to stick to Mr. and Ms. if you have to use titles, of which there really is no need. It’s much easier to offend someone in email if you think they are a Mr. and they are in fact a Ms., or vice versa. I never see people, even at the highest levels use titles any longer. There are just too many ways to offend or end up in legal trouble.

    And Ms. has nothing to do with sexual orientation nor has it ever. It has nothing to do with disrespecting a husband as Mistress was the original term for a married woman or unmarried woman. Mistress Ketchum would have been appropriate for Jane Ketchum married to George Ketchum. Ms. Ketchum would have been the same to those people as Mrs. Ketchum. Truly they would have found this debate flabbergasting.

    • Ruth -  July 8, 2014 - 3:02 pm

      Zanne! Best discussion of the issue I’ve ever read. This is the definitive post.

  62. Zanne -  July 30, 2013 - 12:59 pm

    In business you should not use courtesy titles as they are not courteous. We have too many names from too many cultures and androgynous names in our society. To try to distinguish the sex of the bearers of the names infers that there is a reason to know their sex, which then crosses the border of discrimination. The fact is that in business it should be irrelevant of what sex is a customer. Why would you even thinks such a thing and how can it be courteous? All you need to know is the information you need to do business and that isn’t part of it. Nor is their marital status. Again, this has no relevance to a transaction. If I have a joint account of any type, I can have that with anyone who qualifies regardless of our relationship or lack thereof. It has no relevance on whether the business transaction will take place nor should it.

    If I’m sending business correspondence and I choose the wrong courtesy title because I believe Harper to be a male name, then I have just been discourteous. There is no discourtesy in simply using names.

    This is also true of personal correspondence. Names are always correct but courtesy titles can offend. If you are my friend by refer to me as Mrs. Alan Bates then you have just implied that my relationship with Alan has more importance than my friendship with you. Alan has nothing to do with us. Alan is a separate person and what is more, he probably does not care about this correspondence at all. He would most likely throw it in the trash. Alan also confuses the issue. If this is an invitation sent to both me and Allan then does it infer that we can only invite each other while single people can invite a guest? Do you even know Alan well enough to invite him or is he only on the invitation because of me? If so, why does the invitation only list his name? Mr. and Mrs. Alan Bates. Last time I checked, this wasn’t my name. If you want me to come to an event, invite me and let me bring a guest. Maybe your event will bore Alan and I’ll bring Celeste instead because she loves those things. Complicated enough?

    This is why it’s best to just use people’s names and put the focus on the person you know. Using a person’s name and spelling it correctly are the polite and correct thing to do.

    • Ruth -  July 8, 2014 - 3:05 pm

      Zanne: You are the expert on this subject. All other comments, including mine, should just be deleted.

    • Sebastian -  August 9, 2014 - 6:47 am

      I agree with many of your comments, Zanne, but I’m taken aback by the notion that it matters not to know a person’s gender in correspondence, or a person’s marital status and age in personal communication.
      If we take the discussion out of the ivory tower for a moment, and think of actual encounters between actual people for a change, certainly a lot of us would choose their words differently if they knew those things.
      How many friends would not have been made, and how many people would still be single if all these topics were simply taboo, and everybody followed the rules?
      I agree with your example of a one-time, written business proposition (let’s say, an offer for a holiday in Sweden, or a vacuum cleaner) but let’s not forget that business too is about people meeting people, even if that fact is easily forgotten looking at the quarterly statistics.
      I just cannot stand the fear-mongering and the aweful fad that seems to have infected all discourse these days of declaring oneself to be offended, and then expect the other person to “do something about it”. How about we choose to adopt the habit of assuming the other person meant no offense by adressing us incorrectly, aka “growing up”?

  63. Fay -  July 27, 2013 - 2:38 pm

    How about we go completely upper class, and address men as ‘sir’ and women as ‘madam’?

    • Kaylee -  September 21, 2014 - 11:58 am

      I’m 15 and I think this is an awesomeidea. I’ve always done this without even thinking about it and I wish everyone would too.

  64. Don -  July 25, 2013 - 10:55 am

    Words, whether written or spoken, are merely symbols for representing the exchange of information between individuals. The current usage and meaning of words is all that really matters. Arguing over past meanings or different definitions are for those who have nothing better to do, or lawyers.
    As long as the person to whom one is speaking understands, what difference does it make to that person as to what the word used to mean?

  65. Don -  July 25, 2013 - 10:44 am

    Words are just symbols, audible or written, for the purpose of communicating. The current usage of a word is all that matters and what it used to mean probably has no bearing on what it means today. Arguing over the meaning of words should be left for those who have nothing better to do, and lawyers.

  66. Alexis -  July 20, 2013 - 11:44 pm

    meh. i dun really care

  67. Happy being a wife -  July 20, 2013 - 3:43 am

    Deleted my above comment- So much for free speech! Pathetic

  68. Happy being a wife -  July 19, 2013 - 4:22 am

    To add to it, if you’re married and called yourself Ms instead of Mrs, you should be forcefully demoted to ‘Miss’ like a child. Because only children are indecisive on life decisions, adults stick by their choices and are proud of who they’ve become! I hope the Husbands have sense to tell these Wives, to grow up.

  69. A. Nonny Mouse -  July 18, 2013 - 6:00 pm

    I don’t think that Ms. (mizz) was invented in the 17th century, I don’t think it was around that long ago, I think it developed in the ’70s for the women’s libbers, and the lesbians who didn’t want to be called Miss or Mrs.
    When I was a kid, I was taught that Mr. is for an adult male, and Master is for a kid. (That would be terrible for a kid who’s last name was Bates or Bater!)
    To me, Mr., Mrs., Sir, Mam, etc. is for politeness, when dealing with someone you don’t know personally, or when dealing with a client. (And “Hizzonner” is for a judge, whether he is actually honorable {or sober!} or not.)

    • Sebastian -  August 9, 2014 - 6:52 am

      But look how Mr. Kates is still in good health! You’d never think he’s pushing 60, and still with his original set of teeth!

  70. Varun -  July 16, 2013 - 11:57 pm

    It did not make me blush. maybe because it was on expected lines. But yeah, the use Mr and Mrs as a form address is, if not anything else, a courtesy that needs to be continued.

  71. Ernesto Ramires -  July 16, 2013 - 2:30 pm

    I would appreciate to retire where air conditioning is not needed, and also a dog park with benches is nearby.

  72. Amit -  July 14, 2013 - 11:19 pm

    @e9b9hoy1 ….well I think there’s a reason why we study history. Because there’s lots to learn from our past, we cannot just forget it and move on …we are “modern” today because we have an “ancient”……and we should preserve what ought to be preserved and prohibit what ought to be prohibited

    Times have changed,and so have the usage and meaning of the words we have inherited,and this change continues.We should accept the word in the form it is used today and let the rest stay in archives for historians to handle!

  73. Don -  July 14, 2013 - 10:56 pm

    I am a 55 year old Texan and as such I was raised to call adults Mr. and Mrs. Lastname. We never called adults by their first name. Most of us didn’t even know that adults had first names (joke). In the South in the ’60s we were brought up to say:
    “Yes, ma’am; No, ma’am; Thank you, ma’am, Please.”
    And the same with “Sir”.

    These are mere courtesies. Nothing more. No offense intended.

    Only adults called other adults (adults that they knew well) by their first name.

    A man never spoke to a lady without the lady speaking first. And speaking of ladies, my dad told me to treat ALL women like ladies, until they prove you wrong.

    I still hold doors open for ladies.

    Once I said to a female boss of mine, “Yes, ma’am,” and she said to me, “Don’t call me ‘Ma’am. I’m not your mother.” And I replied, “Yes, ma’am I know that. I didn’t mean to offend you. It is a mere courtesy. Please don’t take that away from me.”

    Ladies, please don’t take away from us men.

  74. Linda -  July 12, 2013 - 4:42 pm

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  75. Cucumber in Muff -  July 11, 2013 - 5:30 am

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  76. Arturo -  July 10, 2013 - 3:32 am

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  77. Debby -  July 9, 2013 - 11:10 pm

    The worst situation is being adressed as Mrs. (husband’s first name) (husband’s last name).
    Why and in what world is it considered good manners to erase a woman’s first and last name upon marriage? It’s the verbal equivelent of covering up a woman from head to toe with a veil over her face.

    • Sebastian -  August 9, 2014 - 7:02 am

      I’m flabbergasted. I didn’t even know that one was still in use.
      Though, admittedly, I am not in a position to know as I live in Germany, and our problems with gender and terminology are on a different order of magnitude entirely^^
      Do you get this kind of adress particularly from older people, or is it just rare and yet universal?
      It seems to me a relic from the time before women were generally admitted as part of the professional work force. As in “Mrs. Judge HisLastName”.

  78. e9b9hoy1 -  July 6, 2013 - 1:46 am


    The bitterness from feminists come from things like this, it is sexist, and although we are “far from the time” of Mr. being used as the meaning master, we are not at all past the time of male and female inequality. What is respectful about calling a woman mistress? Because even though many do not know what Mrs., Miss, Ms. means, everyone knows what mistress mean, it means property, property of a female, by a male.

    I also don’t think we should hold on to the past, why? The past is sexist, racist, the past is full of religious wars, genocide, monarchies, and more. We should not be worried about preserving the past when the present is already so messed up. we should be working on making the conditions better, so if that means making a stink about a couple of words, then I think that that should be done.

    Respect for elderly gentlemen, and women can be shone in better ways.

  79. Varika -  July 2, 2013 - 7:16 am

    I think that titles are very much something situational. I actually really HATE being FORCED to provide a title for correspondence, for instance. However, I wouldn’t DREAM of going without “Miss” or “Ms.” in the classroom, because it serves the purpose there of promoting my authority as a teacher. For those who mentioned needing to earn a title, here is a perfect example–I haven’t earned the right to “Doctor,” but I feel that I HAVE earned the right to “Ms.” When I have to control 20+ children with voice alone, that very audible reminder of my authority has WAY more impact than most people really grasp. Even as a school bus driver, I was “Miss Firstname,” which put me as an authority figure but subservient in level to their teachers, who were “Ms. Lastname.”

    Honorifics of this sort should remain not because of tradition, but because of hierarchy. However, I agree with the people who say there don’t need to be THREE for women and only one for men! No matter how you look at it, that isn’t fair…as a feminist, I hate that my marital status somehow takes that level of importance in my life, that it needs to be ANNOUNCED on a regular basis. (I also, btw, hate hearing that “your wedding day is the most important day of your life!” as if graduating from college or getting a good job are somehow lesser accomplishments…) From a chauvinist standpoint, it seems a bit stingy that men only get one, doesn’t it? ;-P

  80. Meg -  June 25, 2013 - 3:10 am

    I agree with Jekisa. Show respect to get respect and keep using the terms. The English language does not have a polite third form, which is used with persons you just met/don’t know for an extended period/didn’t go to school with. How would you draw a stranger’s attention on the street/park if they accidentally drop something and don’t realize it? Sir, Ma’am or Hey?

  81. Red Stiletto Heels -  June 18, 2013 - 3:42 pm

    Your site appears to be having some compatibilty problems in my opera browser.
    The content appears to be running off the page pretty bad.

    If you would like you can e-mail me at: tory_grubbs@gmail.
    com and I will shoot you over a screenshot of the problem.

  82. Jose -  June 18, 2013 - 10:35 am

    Amen to your wise and eloquent words Mistress Naomi. I agreed in every aspect you point out… Bravísima…!!!

  83. Albert Petrush -  June 18, 2013 - 8:40 am

    I was raised in a military family, so it was always “Sir” and “Mam”. How confused I was then, when I addressed my middle aged date as “Mam” only to be slapped and admonished, “Don’t you ever call me Mam!” What happened? What happened to my rearing and my America? You should have seen the fireworks when I responded, “Yes Mam.”

  84. chizzy -  June 17, 2013 - 3:32 am

    We should try and keep to it because it show courtesy.

  85. Jekisa -  June 15, 2013 - 10:42 am

    Okay, I just have to put in my two cents. This article was meant to show, perhaps with some humor, the origin of these terms. However, the meanings of words change over time, and I have no problem with being referred to as Miss, Ms., or Mrs. at all. I think our culture is becoming hypocritical; saying that individuality is so important but then balking when things aren’t perfectly the same. So often women are insisting on being equal with men, but, in reality, are making men less. I am all for equal rights, but come on, show some respect. Not all feminists are radical, not all men are chauvinistic. And to those who are, they have that right, and they can set that tone for their lives. On another note, I also feel like these titles are important especially in business. So many names are used for both genders (Taylor, Jordan) and Mr. or Ms. can help clear that up. And it is important to have a culture of professionality. It would not be appropriate for someone doing business with me to refer to me with my first name. And my final note: there needs to be a way to refer to someone who you have never met before, for example, a waiter/waitress needs a way to call you when he/she is taking your order. I’m not saying Mr. or Ms., but ma’am or sir would be appropriate and gives the respect, in essence, a respectful way to refer to someone you have never met.
    I was raised to always call those who are older than you by Mr. or Ms., even if they tell you to call them by their first name. I do believe that once you have known a person for an extended amount of time, it is fine to go by a first name basis, but it’s just a respect thing. Call me old-fashioned, but I am a young woman of this generation and I know I will raise my children to show that respect.
    P.S. To those who are so easily offended, just keep in mind, it’s okay to let things go. Don’t let one person’s mistake ruin your day, but as always, it’s your choice.

  86. Calzinho -  June 13, 2013 - 6:13 pm

    from now I demand that everyone address me as Mr. (Master) Calzinho

  87. nylon thong lines -  June 13, 2013 - 5:21 am

    I hoped a lot more publications would be as enlightening as this one.
    Do me a favor, don’t ever under no circumstances change your composing syle, I adore it! Thank you

  88. Gary -  June 9, 2013 - 6:48 am

    I am a 67 year old man, and was taught that it was only polite to call a man by Mr., and a woman by Mrs. Not knowing where all these new titles originated from, nor why…I am still in the habit, of using Mr. and Mrs.. Not trying to offend anyone, I am in agreement with those who might think that some of the younger generation, is at times…very very discourteous, when speaking to an adult, be that male or female. What I don’t get, is how it all of a sudden to introduce the title of Ms. to anyone. Never even used to be heard. I never used the title or name of the word: “feminist”. That was a very sexist title introduced during the sixties. I am a farm boy, and an old marine. Have served during wartime, and be sure the women we came into contact with, didn’t use that false, self imposed title of feminist. As a child, I was taught to speak only when spoken to, and a few key words we had to learn, and their application. Mam and sir, were the first two.Please and thank you, were next. Have we lost everything referring to politeness, and gratitude, and manners in general? You all founder me, with all the drivel of made up words. Must be getting old. Thank you all for paying attention. I love America, and feel that I can hardly recognize her anymore. I’m out of here !!

  89. unicorn -  May 29, 2013 - 12:56 pm

    Ya drivin me nuuuuuuts

  90. Alice Thompson -  May 29, 2013 - 10:50 am

    I think these titles are important in society today to keep social boundaries clear. At work or at school referring to a boss or teacher by just first or last names is not acceptable in most circumstances. Unless previously welcomed it is considered exceeding rude.

    If unfamiliar with a person, for example, after being first introduced, the use of first names can create an awkward atmosphere. I believe, and I know many will disagree, that first names should be used between family, friends and collages, not the rest of the world.
    It is a tradition, while it has been relaxed and changed since the nineteenth century, I think it should still be present in modern society as a symbol of respect.

  91. hifsah -  May 27, 2013 - 12:30 am

    i Agree with mohammed and naomi

  92. Gillian -  May 26, 2013 - 7:13 am

    I came to the US South from a much more British-influenced culture. What intrigues me in the South is this habit of calling women Miss followed by their first name – like people refer to me as “Miss Gillian” – where is the world did that come from?

  93. Amy Walker -  May 25, 2013 - 10:48 am

    The term Ma am makes me feel old and or fat. I am not from the south or in the military and do not want to be called ma am. I am not a mammy either. I am not young or married so I guess Ms. is the only correct one for me. I don’t really use one.

  94. Michael McEvoy -  May 18, 2013 - 5:08 am

    You are entirely wrong to say Ms dates from the 17th century. This is an extraordinary error. It is late 20th century. (And it doesn’t “eliminate guesswork” – it causes it!)

  95. Brian Davids -  May 17, 2013 - 10:19 pm

    The things people are getting offended by. Mr? Ms? Miss? Mrs? Seriously people, get a grip on reality. Who cares which term is used, at least people aren’t being rude at you.

  96. John Gammon -  May 17, 2013 - 6:21 am

    I use Mr and Ms only, unless a woman specifically refers to herself as Mrs. I think many people follow the same rule here in Britain, where it’s now possible to be married if you’re gay or lesbian. The fact that you’re married or not is neither here nor there.

    Incidentally, if you use “standard punctuation” after some of these honorifics, there should be no point after Ms, as it is not a short form of anything. I once wrote to the US Associated Press to ask why in their style guide a point was advised for Ms and they replied that it “looked better”…

  97. Finn -  May 15, 2013 - 11:08 pm

    Blah Blah Blah Guess what!


  98. A Person -  May 13, 2013 - 8:14 pm

    You should always call your elders something respectful. Mr, Miss, Mrs, Ms and ma’am (or madam) is the best way to do so. I am not saying I do that all the time, I’m human and mess up to, but I’ve heard kids not respecting teachers or authority at all. It is not write that they get away with these things. I know that the teachers work hard to teach them but a lot just do not care about being polite and showing respect. Naomi got somethings right.

  99. nerfbomb -  May 9, 2013 - 11:55 am

    This argument of titles being pro/anti feminist etc. is ridiculous. What matters is the vernacular use of the terms, not the just the definitions of the original words they were derived from. The original definitions become lost or “bent” over time as new words are created & old words are applied to new concepts, etc.
    So, yes mister comes from master, but it is a reference to a man being “master” (i.e. in charge of) his house/household, not the “absolute” authority associated with a “master & slave” relationship; the change from master to mister itself shows this, a “mister” is a lesser type of master. (and in fact, even the meaning of “master” as used in slavery, is itself a bastardization of the word’s original meaning & use) Mistress was used as the feminine form of mister, referring to a woman with charge over the household, especially the “mister’s” wife. Mister & mistress, despite being derived from different words were used in the same way as “lord & lady” or “duke & duchess”. Gender specific, but of equal import.

    Miss comes from mistress also, but is used to describe an unmarried woman, because a “miss” deserves the same *respect* as a “mrs.” even though she isn’t a “mrs.” because, being unmarried, she has no “mr.”.

    Other languages make these distinctions too. In German there is “frau” for a woman & a “fraulein” is an unmarried woman. In Italian you address a man as signore, a married woman as signora, & an unmarried woman as signorina.
    These “titles” are simply used to show respect to a person you are addressing formally, as opposed to an informal address like, “Hey, meathead!”. Your best buddy might like being called “meathead”, but a stranger would take offense. So mr., mrs., & miss are all just formal terms to show respect. You shouldn’t be overly serious when scrutinizing the origins of the them.

    And, oh yeah, “ma’am” is a shortened form of “madame”. Although originally a title respect (“my Dame”), in modern language a “madame” is the term for a female operator of a brothel….so….how respectful is “ma’am” really?
    Of course, “ma’am” is still a term of respect, and even madame is respectful used in the correct context, but you see how the meanings of words change over time.
    That is what makes English a “living” language, rather than a “dead” language such as Latin. A “dead” language can still be taught & used, but isn’t in a steady process of change & progression like a “living” language. Latin is used in sciences like biology for the very reason that the meanings of it’s words will not change.

    • Hendrickson -  October 6, 2015 - 8:14 am

      Many contemporary women prefer Ms. because it does not denote if we are married especially when applying for a job. In the past when a woman applied for a job using Mrs. employers did not want to hire her as they told my grandmother, a widow that needed to earn a living, they did not hire women that had been married. Married women were treated like used material. Many women do not ware a wedding ring because it is not anyone’s business if they are married especially in a job interview. Mrs. tells an employer that a woman has a house to take care of, a husband that expects her time, and maybe children and she can not devote the time expected as a man can because she has all these other jobs. Most husbands feel they come first not their wife’s job. You may not know that in an interview an employer cannot ask if you are married, have children, no personal questions, only questions that have to do with your ability to do the job you are applying for, it is illegal. If a man is married that is okay because he has a wife to raise the kids, clean the house, and be his emotional support. If a woman uses Mrs.John Smith the only part of that is the(s) on Mrs. she gives up everything that identifies her as a person. The company I worked for did not use Mrs.after 1965, it was considered out of date and who cares if someone is married or not and when writing a program the space for Mr.an Ms. are the same requiring only two characters. Note, men only have Mr. that does not tell any one if they are married, but women have Mrs. to tell a man that they are married and Miss to tell them they are not married, and Ms. that many people think is for a divorced woman only which is not true. I tend to be more formal and address everyone, even children Mr./Ms./ma’am or sir, as a sign of respect.I know very few married women that use Mrs. even in social settings.

  100. Tori -  April 30, 2013 - 9:36 pm

    I say ma’am. Miss/Ms. just doesn’t seem respectful to me enough, and thus i stick with ma’am. besides, I like being called ma’am more than miss personally.

  101. totalepicness -  April 30, 2013 - 6:52 pm

    NEITHER DO I! What was laughable or blushable? LOL get a life and quit arguing about titles of people, guys!

  102. Mrs Mallo -  April 29, 2013 - 2:55 pm

    Having “Mr.” refer to a husband is just right. A man protects and governs his household on many levels. Likewise, as a wife, I have no issue with being called “Mrs.” Often, in a public forum, I use the designation “Ms.” I also use “Ms.” in most business correspondence. Professionally, my marital status is not usually relevant, or in fact anyone’s business. Also, I am concerned about Privacy, and feel that “Ms.” is more generic and provides less personal info. It all depends. Mr. and Mrs. are, I believe, perfectly acceptable. They may originate from colorful backgrounds – but so many commonly used English words do. I doubt many people object to these titles. In fact, about 100%? of married couples use them. Ms. is also acceptable and useful. Overall, I pick my battles, and I would hardly fight over this. All the best! Mrs. M.

  103. THE Caitlyn -  April 23, 2013 - 6:53 pm

    What was there to laugh or blush about? I don’t get it!

  104. Carmen -  April 23, 2013 - 11:33 am

    While I agree that common courtesy is becoming less and less common, and I try not to contribute to that trend, I think taking things in the manner they are intended is the key. I usually address customers by their first and last name and introduce myself the same way. If they respond to me using an honorific and my last name, I respond to them in kind. Some are less formal and call me by my first name, so I also respond in kind. Some people are easily offended, so I find this to be a simple solution. Generally speaking, we need to give each other a break and not get our backs up even if they don’t use your preferred vocabulary to express themselves.

  105. Ice cream -  April 23, 2013 - 6:02 am

    I agree with Kyle. How does that make me blush??????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  106. Jay -  April 16, 2013 - 3:07 am

    @ Ben on June 7, 2011 at 5:41 pm
    Naomi –
    Everybody has the right to be shown appreciation. You mention the elderly as if to imply they deserve more than anybody else. Why? What makes the elderly more deserving?
    I don’t particularly like the idea that we have different titles for different people based on our relationship to them. I find the titles to be a pretentious practice. Those who cling to these titles seem to prefer the separation, the distinction; I don’t. I don’t because the honorific implicitly states that you need to treat me (or I need to treat you) with a specific level of respect, and any less would not be satisfactory. For me, that’s a little too, I’m-better-than-you/You’re-better-than-me. This is the modern United States, not 15th century China.
    Perhaps it is time to find some sort of replacement titles that don’t derive from such a potentially sordid place? Perhaps it is time to find some sort of replacement titles that don’t imply one person or party is somehow *better* than another person or party?
    I have no doubt, that if we put our minds to it, a better system could be created. The problem is that our current system is not so terribly broken that it needs to be replaced. We’ll probably keep doing it over and over for generations, until it becomes a tradition for the sake of tradition. Then, like Naomi’s birthday cake, the argument will be to do it because we’ve always done it.
    Tradition alone isn’t reason enough, unless perhaps you’re a bitter old conservative.

    I think you’ve got several points,
    1) respect is earned
    2) “our current system is not so terribly broken enough to be replaced”,
    3) Tradition for tradition sake – as what Brandon says below…
    However, mentioning 15th Century China? Don’t want to open another can of worms on racism… Perhaps “This is the modern United States, not the 15th century…” should suffice…

    @ Brandon June 7, 2011 at 7:07 pm
    “argumentum ad antiquitatem” Just because something is traditional or historical does not mean it is good, and just because something always has been a certain way does not mean that it *should* be. – Well said…

  107. Freya -  April 12, 2013 - 2:07 am

    It didn’t make me laugh or blush…
    It’s basically a matter of fact I really don’t see the laughing of blushing side about it?! -.-

  108. alba -  April 11, 2013 - 5:54 am

    mr as used today is basically an admiralty law appellation which implies
    a default corporate status__if you answer to such ,you verbally agree, to terms and conditions under the law society/admiralty and void your common
    law rights. If you want to know the real meanings of your english then get yourself a copy of black’s law dictionary and be amazed at the difference between the common vernacular and the king’s english….the difference could mean that you stay out of jail!!

  109. The DH -  April 10, 2013 - 7:53 am

    I’m married, but have kept my maiden name. Am I a Miss? Ms? Mrs? I’ve been addressed as all three. None of them sounds quite right to me, but generally I don’t care. Where it gets tricky is what I want kids to call me. I teach my children to address adults as Mr/Mrs, and many of my friends do the same. Many of them have kept their maiden names, and have just told children to call them by their first name to avoid confusion. I completely understand this solution, but it does make me sad to see this little formality (of using titles) disappearing. (For now, I’ve settled on having kids call me Mrs. Husbandslastname, since that is also my children’s last name.)

  110. tarawesome -  April 4, 2013 - 4:12 pm

    this page is long

  111. A Directioner 5 Ever -  March 28, 2013 - 8:04 pm

    O.o WHAT did I just read? SOOOO MANY COMMENTS. I had to add one! ;D

  112. A person -  March 28, 2013 - 7:57 pm


  113. Marissa -  March 27, 2013 - 11:35 am

    I think (as a southern belle like me would put it) U should call a lady miss and a man sir. That’s how I was raised. I’m only 14 but I get called miss by my own younger sister. Yall who disagree are obviously not very respectful people.

  114. Chloe -  March 27, 2013 - 10:57 am

    I prefer to be addressed as “Miss” or “Ma’am” by strangers, and I address men whom I do not know as “sir.” Although I am American, I am not extremely proud of that because they enjoy defacing the English language, and I prefer to use British spellings. I think that traditional forms of address should be kept in tact, and “Mr” “Mrs” “Miss” should not disappear. And personally, I find “Ms” rather clumsy and unpleasant to the tongue; “Miz so-and-so.” The whole idea is rather silly, and I think “Miss” sounds much nicer and myself prefer it.

  115. Richard -  March 26, 2013 - 6:26 pm

    Why the full-stop (“period”!) at the end of Mrs and Mr?
    Quite simply becuse Americans are desperately stupid, coule with thir desire to ‘be different’ from the people that gave them the language. They don’t get it that “periods” are to be used to REPLACE missing letters. The “periods” at the end of Mr and Mrs AND Dr replace nothing, therefore they are superfluous.
    Then you have the ridiculous, gratuitous changing of the language in such words like that substituting for petrol (“gas” or “gasoline”). These people are so utterly stupid that they don’t seem to realise (yes, realise with an ‘s’) that because they decided they had to be different, now they have to preface REAL gas with the word ‘natural’ every time they say it, to avoid confusion.
    Fools. Utter, complete, arrogant retards….

  116. Maryann -  March 26, 2013 - 9:41 am

    I’m not bothered as much by the misuse of titles or honorifics such as Mr., Mrs., and Ms. as I am by the misuse of common, everyday words. Naomi, please do not take this is any sense but the one intended (which I believe is the reason most of us have added this dictionary to our tool bars in the first place) and that is a better vocabulary and a more accurate use of our words. In that vein, the text in your comment should have been “to run amok” rather than “to run a muck.” Enjoy your day!

  117. molly -  March 26, 2013 - 9:33 am

    I am a late 50′s Aussie .. I was taught at school that you addressed young boys/teenagers (mostly in the written form) as Master .. an adult male you referred to as Mr. I really don’t understand all the hoo hah about all this. I refer to people as Mr or Mrs unless requested to call them by another title or their name. As far as I am concerned the world is much worse off without good manners. I also believe that if you are making comments in a public forum there is absolutely no need to be disrespectful or abusive about any one else’s comments. And “surferdude” I think you hit the nail on the head!!! :)

  118. Mr Messrs -  March 25, 2013 - 2:21 pm

    Another similar derivation from French is
    Messrs is the plural of Mr.

    Good traditions of the history must be respected and followed.


  119. Margret Rosenberg -  March 25, 2013 - 2:30 am

    Personally, I like Ms.. What bothered me a lot was when I was middle-aged and would go into a restaurant, wearing a wedding ring no less, and the server would address me as “Miss.” I think he thought it was archaic, and therefore polite. I wanted to tell him that in Victorian times, to address any fully adult woman you didn’t know as “Miss” was actually an insult. It meant “You’re so horrible that no one could possibly have married you.”

    I do occasionally address children as “ma’am” or “sir.” When a girl hold a door open for me, for instance, I’ll say “Thank you, Ma’am.” It costs me nothing, and it makes the child feel good.


  120. Marilyn -  March 22, 2013 - 11:24 am

    I agree with those who wish to keep the tradition. I think it’s a good policy if one is working with people who have paid for their services to find out how they wish to be addressed. Everyone is different and, as the French say, “Vive la difference!”

  121. Marilyn -  March 20, 2013 - 8:04 am

    For Ben: I am 69 years old. Over the years, I have come to have a deep respect for the elderly, because they have survived whatever. They been through it all and are still going. I started noticing many years ago that the elderly, the old people got no respect from people, even their own families. They were just in the way. I did not have an easy life and still don’t. I made my own mistakes and lived through them. Old people have lived through rearing their children, wars, illnesses, every societal change, and if they reach a really old age, they usually have not done drugs, not smoked, not become alcoholics, not become a burden on society. The young could learn much from the elderly, if they would just sit down by them, show an interest, and start a conversation.

    Somewhere along the way, I recall “Master” as the term used for a child; and, somewhere along the way, I recall “Ms” began being used for an adult single female, whether never been married or divorced.

    My youngest child, a man, 44 years old, still honors anyone he perceives to be older than himself with “Sir” or Ma’am.” I still do, too. They are terms of respect.

  122. wooow -  March 18, 2013 - 1:00 pm

    this is funny reading comments people are raging about wether you call someone ms. or mrs. and what it means if you call someone one or the other… people who decide to get in fights over small things like this need a life check. i do agree with some things but i dont think its worth writing a 2 page reply to someone who probably doesnt care

  123. Kevin -  March 14, 2013 - 12:12 pm

    I was taught when addressing women, “when in doubt, use ‘Miss’.” I have kept to that. Maybe it’s because I now live in the South, but while pleasantly corrected from time to time, I don’t think I’ve offended anyone.

    I am also of the opinion that if I am the customer at a store, I should be addressed using Mister, or at least sir. Enterprise car rental uses mister, and they continue to get my business. (I have told them about my liking the title–after they used it.) Children should also use titles of some kind before their elders. (One friend of the family was “Aunt Dolly” when I was growing up. When I saw her again after I had graduated from college I still called her that. She told my mother how much she liked that.)

  124. le chatton~mistressyui -  March 13, 2013 - 4:04 pm

    >200 feuilles de papier s’imprimé

  125. Booster -  March 12, 2013 - 9:08 am


  126. surferdude -  March 7, 2013 - 7:47 am

    I must add that I appreciate the dual titles for women since it indicates whether they’re still in the chase or not – nothing more nor less. Wasn’t that really the intent originally?

  127. Lulu -  March 6, 2013 - 9:53 pm

    I enjoyed reading all the comments, however, in reality think about situations where you do NOT know the person’s name. You are in a store and need a sales clerk to help you are you going to say “HEY YOU” or would you say “Sir” or “Miss” or “Ma’am”? Seriously…think about how to address complete strangers that you need their attention but have no idea what their name is. Is it archaic then? Or is it okay to sound like an uneducated offensive fool.
    I’ve had young people say “hey you”..young people! This is not acceptable.

  128. Anonymous -  March 5, 2013 - 9:16 pm

    Calling a woman you don’t know anything but “miss” would just sound rude

  129. ASIAN 1st -  March 3, 2013 - 10:30 am


  130. Rendell Powers -  February 27, 2013 - 3:55 am

    One thing that’s annoying (Bush started it, and Obama continues it) is belittling someone of some position by not referring to him as “Senator Smith” or “Corporal Brady” but as “Jimmy” or “Rick.” This is violative of the standards everyone used to go by. Bush used to put down reporters at press conferences by calling on them by their first names, and sometimes even by insulting nicknames he had made up for then. “Stretch” for instance. This was designed not only to show his contempt for the press and for the First Amendment, but also to shock them a bit to stop them from asking any unwanted tough question. And it often worked. Recently Obama awarded a man the Medal of Honor, and repeatedly referred to him by his first name only. Insulting. His rank and last name, his rank and last name! That is the right way. Obama usually does this when he nominates a man to the cabinet also. He sometimes DOESN’T do this to women. It is crazy that our press and TV talking heads NEVER criticize this stupid practice. As David Letterman says, this is why the World hates us. Lack of respect for others.

  131. Kevin Farrell -  February 25, 2013 - 3:00 am

    Other languages have wonderful ways of dealing with this issue. The Thai language is one. They have one common honorific term “khun”. It doesn’t require any judgement about gender, marital status, or social status. While the language does have many other specific terms used on special occasions for people of particular relative positions (children, parents, grandparents, monks…), in general usage everyone is khun.
    Thai also leaves it to the individual to announce their gender through terms of politeness – “ka” if one identifies at the feminine end of the spectrum and “krup” or more commonly “kup” if one identifies at the masculine end.
    The Thai rarely bat an eye when a woman uses “kup”, and in translations will refer to the woman as he or him, and conversely (actually very commonly) when a man uses “ka” he will be referred to as “she” in English.
    Their words for the self are also used to announce one’s own gender “chan” for feminine and “phom” for masculine.
    I firmly believe that the Thai tolerance and acceptance of individual gender ambiguity and expression has its roots in the language’s non-judgemental structure.
    The Thai do have another method of showing politeness – the “mai” (hands pressed together, head bowed). Western culture also had gestures for this purpose – bows of various types, curtsies, tipping hats, salutes. We still do, actually, you can see people physically display all sorts of subtle acknowledgements and courtesies when people interact.
    If it can be done in one language, it is possible in another. The use of Ms was a positive step, but English really could use a single polite term that requires no judgement of gender, marital status or social status. Using “they” or “their” just doesn’t cut it. They’re plural terms for a start, and too impersonal to be polite.
    Does anyone want to have a crack at an English equivalent to “khun”?

  132. The Warped Vinyl Junkie -  February 23, 2013 - 1:04 pm

    Did I misread this, or did the author miswrite?

    “By the early 17th century, Mr., Mrs. Ms. and Miss became part of English vernacular….”

    According to Etymonline, as cited at http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/ms , the abbreviation “Ms.” as honorific for a female of any marital status did not appear till 1949, hardly “the early 17th century.”

    I remember a short piece of doggerel from roughly the 1970s, which I may be misquoting in part, but the sentiment is still intact:

    In writing “Ms.” for “Mrs.”,
    I fear your pen has slipped.
    I am a wife and mother,
    And not a manuscript.

  133. Mea Gain -  February 22, 2013 - 7:35 am

    What gets me is that whenever I have to fill a form or give my name for any reason, I always get asked: “Is it Miss or Mrs?” Do they ever ask a man if he is Mr or Mstr ?
    In no other country one finds this problem: it is either Monsieur or Madame – Senor or Senora – Herr or Frau. They never classify a woman by being or not being married.
    It’s about time this country joined the 21st century and treated women as equal. Mr for a man Ms for a woman without having to specify whether or not one wears a ring on one’s finger!
    I also would like to know definitely: if “Mr” is Mister, is “Ms” Missus or Mistress? AMEN

  134. jozefo fulmo -  February 20, 2013 - 8:08 am

    My children’s spouses also call us by our first names. They feel funny about calling us “mom” or “dad”. but I’ve never heard of in-law children addressing their spouses’ parents by Mr or Mrs.

  135. Anil Pais -  February 13, 2013 - 4:29 am

    The history is very enlightening!

  136. Carolyn -  February 7, 2013 - 1:46 pm

    Me either, Chilled!

  137. Timothy -  February 7, 2013 - 8:25 am

    I had a seventh grade English teacher who at the time was recently divorced, had reverted to her maiden surname and had wished to to be formally addressed as Ms. for distinction purposes. She stated that prior to her marriage she was a Miss, after her vows she’d became a Mrs. So & so by taking her ex-husband’s surname. Growing up, learning the formalities of being more formal and professional sounding, any male adult was addressed with Mr. (Mister whether married or single), as for the boys who were still of the minor (under the legal age of adulthood by law) were addressed by our elders as Mr. (Master) as the lower societal status. The shared similarity went with Mrs. and Miss for the women and girls respectively to the titles.

  138. Bryan -  February 7, 2013 - 8:13 am

    Suddenly, after reading most of the submissions, I have a new found respect for Mr. Potato Head and perhaps a little less for plain ol’ Barbie….

  139. ChilledEnderman -  February 5, 2013 - 10:59 pm

    Didnt make me blush nor laugh. Nice try Dictionary.com :|

  140. Chuck Barnard -  February 5, 2013 - 7:36 pm

    Really? Ms. as an honorific in the 17th century?
    The usual meaning for Ms. pre-1960′s was ‘manuscript.’
    Or so I thought. Like to know an example of the other use in the 1600′s!

    Titles and their use vary in importance by culture.

    Americans tend to be frustratingly informal for many outside the country, using or not using titles more or less at whim, and often with little thought.

    Perhaps it is due to our wide streak of anarchy and a political-social system which at least on the surface is egalitarian and ‘class neutral.’

  141. can't tell my name -  February 5, 2013 - 4:05 pm


  142. Jose Chavez -  February 5, 2013 - 2:23 pm

    It’s a rare to ever hear these words. I believe in formality and I try to keep things like these going. I also have to get used to hand shaking everyone I meet though.

  143. demond briggs -  February 5, 2013 - 11:37 am

    extremely wierd and confusing…that is not what i have expected to here thats probably the reason why my six grade teacher was so upset when ever we asked here whichto call her

  144. Akia -  February 3, 2013 - 2:01 am

    I like mistress as an equivalent to master, rather than having it treated as a bad thing.

  145. Here's a thought -  January 31, 2013 - 9:22 pm

    So here’s something I though of that from what I’ve read (and searched) hasn’t been mentioned regarding the whole “specifying the woman’s marital status” thing:
    There was a time when people attempted to know people, families, and related matters. In formal engagements, part of the respect angle (and a conversation starter) would be referring to the other’s family. If one were to refer to me as “Mr. Smith” I might be asked if I were “of the Smiths?” or perhaps “‘s oldest?” Now if an unmarried woman were to be referred to as “Miss Smith” they might ask her similar questions. Whereas a married woman “Mrs. Smith” would be assumed married to a Smith, and thus the attempt to impress or engage in conversation based on family inquiries would go that route. I know Ms. came later, but it doesn’t mean something undesirable, it simply provides a respectful way greeting a lady without suggesting marital status.

    In today’s society where population is immense and no one knows serious details of ANY family other than their own, these are admittedly no longer useful in that regard. I see how the thought immediately jumps to “they just want to know if the woman is married,” but let’s not discount our ancestors as mere sexists. Personally, I feel it is about respect and there’s nothing wrong with tradition. And respect doesn’t HAVE to mean stature. I read things along the lines of “I don’t get why I need to refer to someone with respect as if their better than me.” Where’d that come from? Why can’t it just be respect for any person? You don’t need land or money or anything to deserve respect. I get the impression from some responses that respect is shameful. Everyone deserves respect.

    I am an old-fashioned 29 year old male. I am happily married to my Mrs, and I appreciate the respect (or tradition) when people refer to us by our titles. Personally, I refer to everyone as Sir and Ma’am, I’ve even referred to children as such, though I don’t make a habit of it. I would refer to everyone from a prestigious honoree to a humble homeless person as Sir and Ma’am, because I respect all human beings. I don’t know a single family name other than my own in my sub-division no less the state, yet I would refer to someone as Mr. or Ms. if I knew their name and felt I needed to specify it to address their attention, and I would combine it with their first name if I didn’t know their last. I do this everywhere but casual settings. In casual settings I feel that first names have come to show friendship, which can be just as powerful as respect in the right atmosphere.

    My suggestion is that we continue to show respect, and I see no need to create new words and traditions when our old ones do the trick. As far as the past goes, learn from it. Treat women with respect and as equals, treat all people that way for that matter, even if they don’t deserve it. It does one no harm to treat another with respect and equality.

  146. taylor -  January 30, 2013 - 5:15 pm

    i dont get why u guys are arguing about something so little. i just say mr and ms. no mrs unless i am absolutely sure they re married

  147. Anon -  January 28, 2013 - 11:17 am

    First, I would like to make a comment at those who ask why the elderly should be treated with more respect in the application of titles and prefixes than others. Do you not respect and honor the knowledge these people have gained? Do you think so little of these people that you would insult them by denying them the proper conduct they were raised to adhere to? Think of this not from your point of view but by theirs. Many of today’s elders were raised in a society that placed great significance on what title one was addressed by. A Dr. of any sort was a highly educated man or woman whose knowledge in a particular subject was to be respected. A Mr. whether it was to mean Mister or Master, was a way of showing that you respected the one you spoke to. Of course, as in all things spoken, the tone one uses can change the meaning behind the use of a word.

    While I personally have no opinion on whether to call a woman Ms. or Miss or Mrs, I do believe that we should not think of what we want to call them but of what they want to be called. So, if a woman tells me that she is Mrs. Webster I will call her so. Or if she wishes to be called Miss I will do so. Or even just by her name. What I refer to someone by is entirely dependent on what they want to be called.

    I personally find it to be unsettling when a stranger refers to me by my name alone. I would much prefer being called Miss, although Ms would also be acceptable since I am old enough for it to apply. On the other hand I also prefer that my friends use my given name. It is a matter of degree.

    As a side note, I would like to point out that I do like the way the Japanese handle this subject. ONLY very close friends EVER refer to each other by name alone. To the Japanese this is simple courtesy. They consider it to be highly disrespectful to use ones given name without express permission. -San is used for men and women, whether married or unmarried, over a certain age. -Chan is for children under the age of 15 or so, and -Kun is used for friends. These are simply the most common ones, and in this forum I don’t think it would be wise to get into the more formal suffixes the Japanese use.


  148. PC -  January 27, 2013 - 5:22 pm


  149. sadie -  January 27, 2013 - 5:10 am

    They’re courtesy not over the top formality

  150. Rory -  January 25, 2013 - 9:30 pm

    I disagree with Alva. In any manner,I despise being called Mr. That isn’t my name.Address me by my given first name and there won’t be a problem.

  151. SHHpam -  January 20, 2013 - 11:41 pm

    if u r the saurus not dictionary y u come here?

    but actually I wan’t to say why the heck is ENGLISH so PARADOXIAL???? eet is driving me CRAZY!!!

    if we had a language that would never be, it would be english.

  152. thesaurusnotdictionary -  January 20, 2013 - 11:37 pm

    how many people read hotword per minute???

  153. thesaurusnotdictionary -  January 20, 2013 - 11:36 pm

    I don’t one to be a loller being last to comment, but =? some times you find an interesting WORD and you start reading and the sheer amount of WORDS out there will klonk you on the head an (worst case scenario) knock you out and you end up sprawled on the floor surrounded by WORDS. You sh00d go look 4 mor funny WORDS lik dose w ‘W’ as vowel an wai peepel spell starf wrong dilibereightlee like me.
    Whatever word you find, leave as comment!
    I’ll send an epic pro one back

  154. Sophie -  January 20, 2013 - 8:28 pm

    I find it rather amusing that so many people seem to think addressing “elders” with honorifics is somehow indicative of respect and, in fact, makes the addressee more respected. i feel that, if you think you need to be addressed as mr. jones or ms. banks to feel respected, then by all means enforce that. but i have so much more respect for the teachers i had in high school, all of whom i called by their given names, than i do the teachers and other adults in my life who tried to make me feel inferior just because they were given the opportunity.

    i think we have reached a point in our culture in which there are avenues for innovation and new ways of thinking, but there are some who are so incredibly set in their ways and convinced that their way is the ONLY way that it is a major setback to the progress and improvement of our culture. i believe that if everyone actually treated each other with respect, we could do away with this nonsense altogether, because it would no longer serve a purpose. right now, it acts as a mask to cover up indignation and defiance with a see-through coating of “propriety” just to humor those who cannot wrap their minds around the concept that maybe they don’t understand the golden rule as much as they thought they did.

  155. Pia Söderberg -  January 15, 2013 - 11:29 pm

    With great interest i read about your titles.. Here in Sweden we use the
    you -word used to friends and family and call all by their first name, (except the queen and king)..even in hospitals, to dentists, lawyers, teachers, etc…..

  156. amhf -  January 15, 2013 - 6:28 pm


  157. amhf -  January 15, 2013 - 6:28 pm


  158. amhf -  January 15, 2013 - 6:26 pm

    nah :)

  159. maadeha -  January 13, 2013 - 12:56 am


  160. foopdog -  January 12, 2013 - 9:08 am

    nvm im dumb

  161. foopdog -  January 12, 2013 - 9:07 am


  162. lolo -  January 12, 2013 - 4:20 am

    Just call people : Mr. and Ms
    even if there married or not

  163. Lynne Scott -  January 11, 2013 - 8:10 am

    Young people “kill” me talking about “elderly” people! haha One thing for sure, none of you are getting any younger. Before you know it, some kid will be addressing YOU as maam or sir or Ms. or Miss, or Mr. and YOU WON’T LIKE IT! haha. Personally, as an old fart, I expect to be addressed as Mrs. or Ms. until you know me better. It not only bespeaks respect for me, it tells me that you have respect for yourself. To the young man who eschews all titles, you sound a bit arrogant to me. Black children are taught to call their elders “miss” or “mr.” as a term of respect and endearment. My young friends refer to me as Miss Lynne. It is not formal, it is personal, and yet it still shows respect. Being very old school, if a kid calls me Lynne, he is going to get an earful. His mama will too.

  164. Treflet -  January 9, 2013 - 2:57 am

    Sorry, what is the Emily Post Institute and what entitles it to tell us what is “correct”. Ms is a silly made up title combining, of course, Mrs and Miss. I do understand why some women feel that their marital status is irrelevant to, for example, business correspondence but others – my wife included – loathe being address as Ms.

  165. None -  January 7, 2013 - 6:51 pm


  166. Jodi -  January 6, 2013 - 12:08 pm

    Just as it is respectful to use such titles as “Doctor”, “Mother”, “Sister”, etc. when applicable, it is equally respectful to use such titles as “Mrs.”, “Mr.”, and yes, “MS.” At 34 years old I don’t need to be called “Miss”, but yet I am not a “Mrs.”. Using “Ms.” as a title is appropriate, respectful, and applicable.

  167. rebecca -  December 27, 2012 - 5:15 am

    well, before ladies had rites (1987), they ‘missed’ equality (a good aspect in the globe today which ladies and gentlemen enjoy fruitfully) theirfore the term ‘missus’ was coined (“She’s my missus!”) and MRS IS THE ABBREVIATION THANK YOU FOR YOIR Thyme PEACE AND LOVE TO YOU ALL FUK

  168. Bora -  December 26, 2012 - 4:22 am

    These titles were intended to show respect – and I think respect is an undisputably important part of human interaction that should continue to exist and be displayed. If we omit respectful address, it would be like omitting ‘please’ and ‘thank you’…

    Someone asked why should the elderly be respected… I think they should be respected, if anything, for their life experience, which has (for most of them, anyway) undoubtedly taught them more than their younger interlocutors. Also, the elderly are more fragile, and they crave being shown respect, recognition and affection.

    As concerns Mrs. and Ms., I think the reason why there are two versions is purely for informative purposes; information on a woman’s marital status serves to clarify the woman’s surname which most women change and/or add to their existing last name when married. Men usually do not change their last name – though I have, in fact, met a couple who took on both their last names, so both partners (and their kids) shared the same two-name surname, which I found very cool :)

  169. Kris R. -  December 21, 2012 - 2:18 pm

    Yes, it is weird how people say ma’am or miss. But it is not always possible to know the martial status of someone. Male or Female. We had problems in the family because of which term would be used to identify each person.

  170. Kat. -  December 21, 2012 - 6:56 am

    This is cool and all but why would it make us blush or laugh? I didn’t laugh or blush. Maybe I am just too innocent minded but I really don’t understand what was so bad. Apart from that it was a really nice fact.
    1177 comment.

  171. kevin -  December 20, 2012 - 5:57 pm

    this is cool

  172. Verbie -  December 20, 2012 - 6:56 am

    In comments about words…

    Naomi used the phrase “run a muck” — but the correct phrase is “run amok.”

    Mohammed likes that a period follows Mr. and Dr. because it reminds him these are “acronyms.” These are not acronyms, but rather “abbreviations.”

  173. maisha nafisa -  December 19, 2012 - 5:58 pm

    i did not understand any thing becaue i am only 11

  174. Madison -  December 18, 2012 - 8:26 pm

    I just have a question. How do you pronounce Ms.? Is it the same as Mrs.? Or is it the same as Miss? Or is it pronounced with a Z on the end like Miz? I have always been confused about this and if someone could clear this up for me I would greatly appreciate it!

    I will refrain from mentioning my personal opinions on the titles because I am far to timid a person to risk angering either party. :)

  175. cody -  December 13, 2012 - 4:03 pm

    i dont get it

  176. Hello Haters -  December 12, 2012 - 2:49 pm

    Anyways, I think we should only keep Ms as it gets confusing, and no one wants to insult someone by accident. And Mrs sounds old and may be insulting to some people.

  177. rachel -  December 2, 2012 - 6:27 pm

    ummm…. why pie?

    these comments do not make sense.

    this discussion about Mrs. did not make me blush… but it is interesting..

    boring but interesting

  178. LarryAt27N -  November 30, 2012 - 7:32 pm

    As I taught my students at the college, Mister is a common English corruption of the French monsieur, which generally translates as “My Lord,” an universal expression of respect for aristocrats.

  179. Point of Sale Technology -  November 26, 2012 - 7:33 pm

    Every weekend i used to go to see this site, as i wish for enjoyment,
    for the reason that this this web page conations actually good funny data

  180. Heather -  November 26, 2012 - 5:28 pm

    I think its funny that people are so ignorant about the word “feminist”. Just because someone uses the word to describe their beliefs does not mean they are ignorant, hateful, mean, etc…. A feminist (yes, man or woman) is a person who understands the inequalities that women and girls face in our modern society, plenty of which have NOTHING to do with sexuality, but mainly being able to live ones life how they see fit, to not have their life determined for them on the basis of their gender.

  181. yourmomsface -  November 23, 2012 - 10:57 am


  182. tiffanydw2 -  November 23, 2012 - 2:23 am

    Dear Dictionary.com,
    Thank you for the false advertising. I thought this was supposed to be interesting and make me blush. However, I do suffer from a rare form of insomnia. Thank you for helping me to get a decent rest. *yawn* Perhaps the author of this page should be reprimanded for being so unbelievably boring. Even the comments are lame. *yawn* Except for mine, of course. But I’m half way asleep. What’s everyone else’s excuse?
    Valued Customer

  183. tiffanydw2 -  November 23, 2012 - 2:14 am

    I love etymology. But one must know the difference between the origin, past uses, and current uses of a word or words. In the case of Mr. and Ms. and Miss and Mrs., they are all use to show *respect*. That is all it is. Anyone who makes a big deal about the original or past uses of those words needs to get over it and realize that we are still a progressive society. That includes our language. Language is not static, it grows and reforms constantly. Political correctness has gone way too far. People need to just calm down and use words for what they were intended for: to pass along a meaning that is understood by both the speaker and her/his audience. I am 40 years old, and use the aforementioned terms out of respect. I am shocked by people that are too easily offended by such things as this. People that, unfortunately, seem to live in the Middle Ages and not current era. If you respect someone, you address that as such. Would you prefer to be addressed as “dude!” or “chick!” by someone that does not know you? Be grateful that some people still use respectful terms, and stop whining about the old history of previous meanings and usages.

  184. samantha -  November 19, 2012 - 1:55 pm

    you suck ben

  185. nicholle -  November 19, 2012 - 1:36 pm

    why so many comments? ow0

  186. nicholle -  November 19, 2012 - 1:33 pm

    im 16 but i guess im a bitter young feminist….AND PROUD!!! this didn’t make much sense to me anyway i just felt like a good laugh but it wasn’t very funny. >:(

  187. ass pervert -  November 19, 2012 - 5:37 am

    i loved that i just learned this rule, “If the abbreviation includes both the first and last letter of the abbreviated word, as in ‘mister’ and ‘doctor’, a full stop is not used.”

    btw why do so many people comment on here? crazy

  188. Peter Trott -  November 18, 2012 - 8:37 pm

    Everyone’s missings the point!
    Or should be… WHY do you Americans insist on breaking the rules, and tampering with the ENGLISH language?

    THE RULE: If the abbreviated word ends with the same letter as the full word, there is NO full-stop.

    IE: Mr Mrs Miss etc…
    It looks incredibly amateurinsh to write Mr. Mrs. Miss. etc.
    A full-stop means the end of a sentence, and is followed by a capital letter of the next sentence.

  189. Vivian -  November 18, 2012 - 7:18 pm

    ["Besides, with so many people having gender ambiguous names these days, Mr and Ms still have an important role to play. They can save no end of embarrassment when you’re stuck trying to work out if a new contact is a man or woman!"]

    But *why* does knowing a stranger’s gender even relevant to you in the first place? What reason does one have for wanting to know whether a new contact is a woman or a man (or neither, or inter-sex)? I certainly don’t see any racial honorifics going around — for instance, using “Wh.” for Whites or “As.” for Asians. If we don’t feel that denoting a stranger’s race upon meeting them is important, then why do we as a society still place a premium on distinguishing between the genders when such a distinction is completely irrelevant?

    That’s the problem I have: *not* with the hierarchical and status-quo-preserving history of the honorifics we have in use today, but rather that we still see a need to publicly distinguish the genders via the use of these honorifics.

    Also, the honorifics of “Mrs.” and “Miss” arose and existed in the absence of any male counterpart denoting marital status, because patriarchal ideology posited women solely as sexual or reproductive objects, whose legal existence was only in relation to their husband. This is why men have had no such marital distinctions placed upon them: because they were privileged with full personhood under the law, whereas women only had a truncated personhood defined by their relationships, which is why society found it important to know women’s marital status (because they were only seen as relational objects whose “worth” depended on their sexual/reproductive availability — and so important was this feature to the patriarchal system that the corresponding denotive markers manifested in our language).

  190. addisynn -  November 15, 2012 - 5:56 pm

    honestly, who cares c:
    y’all are crackkkkkin me up. calm your frikken pantaloons, ‘mistress’ was once respectful and I believe it still should be now.

  191. kayla -  November 15, 2012 - 2:27 pm

    did you all see the post that that-be-my-name put you gotta admit they are pretty funny

  192. nancy -  November 15, 2012 - 10:21 am


  193. Rachel -  November 15, 2012 - 9:07 am

    Well i think its ok to call someone miss or mr. it doesn’t matter now… right now its just a title you call someone to be polite. feminists don’t get your panties in a bunch..

  194. NoelleL -  November 14, 2012 - 11:08 am

    Was the article supposed to be funny? It was the comments that made me laugh!!! Funny how people think that arguing online will change people’s minds. Tell me… how many times has a online debate changed anyone’s mind?

  195. that-be-my-name -  November 13, 2012 - 2:25 pm

    like my post there might be more probably not but keep an eye out for THAT-BE-MY-NAME

  196. that-be-my-name -  November 13, 2012 - 2:23 pm


  197. that-be-my-name -  November 13, 2012 - 2:21 pm

    WOW i did not read it but i think it is good so

  198. T-Wu -  November 13, 2012 - 10:14 am

    that was NOT NOT NOT funny.

  199. Gandra -  November 13, 2012 - 3:29 am

    I’m not a feminist but I AM a female (and young, for that matter), but all I want to say is that I don’t believe that guys are better than girls. We all know that males are rather less limited than females usually, but we ALSO know that it’s virtually impossible for mankind to survive without women.

    That doesn’t mean I’m agreeing with those girls that think they’re so much better than guys. Saying that a female is better than a male is no better than vice versa. It just makes you look stupid and arrogant. Women and men are equal in their own ways, and neither can survive without the other.

    It’s just the truth that we all should know, so I just thought I’d throw it out there.

  200. Gabbie -  November 12, 2012 - 8:18 am

    Whoa…this is KINDA confusing. But I get it now. Mistress? Really?

  201. Safiyah -  November 12, 2012 - 6:41 am

    lol Here, if they want to use formalities, they call the dudes “sir” and the dudettes “madam”. Mr. and Mrs/Ms. are almost never used. I’m just “beta” XD.

  202. zaynab -  November 10, 2012 - 8:41 am

    this is very confusing and it makes me feel dumb

  203. uzma -  November 10, 2012 - 5:58 am

    I don’t get what you are trying to say ?????????????

  204. Kees -  November 9, 2012 - 4:56 am

    Titles have always been a way to introduce a person while adding some useful information about them. That’s all. Not respect.

    This Is Mrs Baker. We can determine 3 things, 1. this person is female 2. this female is married and 3. She may very well be married to a Baker.

    Why Is this useful?
    We know we cannot woo her. Befriending her might get us cheaper bread.

    See now? Of course this has all become quite irrelevant nowadays.
    I’d prefer to refer to someone by their current purpose, without using any names eg: Good day Stranger/ Butcher/ Gardener/ Musician/ Associate/ Doctor / Intrusive-charity-fund-raising-person-at-my-front-door… So much simpler :D

  205. ntombi -  November 9, 2012 - 12:58 am

    regardless of title, regardless of age and status i believe that everyone deserves respect so whatever you wanna call but p.s dont swear please!!!!

  206. fastcat -  November 8, 2012 - 3:45 pm

    i agree with pikey shy

  207. mary69 -  November 8, 2012 - 9:28 am

    i’m not agree w/ this title. women have more respect than this
    e carefull gentlemen or we may not even speak with all of u !!!!

  208. miz_mdk -  November 8, 2012 - 12:51 am

    As far as the period or full stop after Mr or Mrs goes, I have learned in the process of genealogy research that there was really no weight given to spelling until the end of the 19th century. Industrialization, cheap paper, typewriters, large bureaucracies with standardized forms, standardized school curriculums – for whatever reason, spelling started to crystallize at that time. Looking at older handwritten documents, you see a lot of abbreviations that made sense to save time, ink, and expensive paper when everything was hand-written. One that was common was to put a dot under the last letter of the word, something you can’t do with a typewriter. So Mister might have been written M.r, except with the dot under the r. So both Mr and Mr. are adaptations of the handwritten abbreviation to modern technology.

  209. miz_mdk -  November 8, 2012 - 12:32 am

    Interesting, except I think it’s incorrect to say that the term “Ms” was introduced in the 17th century. I am in my 60s and grew up in the Pacific Northwest – I never saw this used in the US until the women’s lib movement of the 1970′s/80′s started advocating for a marital-status-neutral term equivalent to Mr, and I didn’t hear people start to actually start to SAY “Mizz” until the last 10 years or so. However, we had neighbors from Texas/upland Tennessee whose mother (my grandparents’ generation) was referred to as “Miz W______”, as opposed to “Mrs W______” for her daughter, in my mother’s generation. This was the only person I ever heard of referred to in that way when I was growing up, and my mother had to specifically inform me that this was a Southern custom and the proper form of address for her. Kind of like the Queen Mother vs. the Queen.

    Most adults we addressed as “Mr” or “Mrs so-and-so”, except for close friends or family. We didn’t know very many adults that weren’t married then – I don’t remember addressing anyone as “Miss so-and-so”.The formal/honorific term used by a younger person for someone older than you, whose name you didn’t know, was Sir or Ma’am. I remember feeling really deflated the first time a teenager addressed me as Ma’am!

  210. Madeleine -  November 7, 2012 - 6:07 pm


  211. manny -  November 7, 2012 - 5:50 pm

    what the Heck
    I don”t get it buddy

  212. Shayes -  November 6, 2012 - 9:44 am

    Love reading every ones comments on all these articles. LOL :)

  213. AjaOliver -  November 5, 2012 - 1:47 pm

    im not impressed by the story

  214. AjaOliver -  November 5, 2012 - 1:45 pm

    I’v never been so tired after reading this im not impressed be the story but im sure its true

  215. _________ -  November 4, 2012 - 3:51 pm

    I think men should be called dudes and women called ladies

  216. Pinkey Shy -  November 4, 2012 - 11:16 am

    That article was so boring, I only got one paragragh in before I gave up.

  217. melie -  November 2, 2012 - 1:05 am

    only 9 so very confused.

  218. Emily Turner -  November 1, 2012 - 10:16 pm

    well in my house we call everyone yo. we say “yo my friend help meh out here” or we say “yo you get your lazy butt over here” we also address others as “sister or brother” for example i might say to my teacher…”hey yo sister” thats just the way i was raised.

  219. Tori :) -  November 1, 2012 - 4:35 pm

    It said ot would make you laugh or blush But I dont see how???? Their sould be one name for women and one for men

  220. L. Reed -  November 1, 2012 - 10:15 am

    A very obvious error jumped out at me and caused me to stop reading:

    “By the early 17th century, Mr., Mrs. Ms. and Miss became part of English vernacular”

    Excuse me, but ‘Ms.’ was created in the late 20th Century. I’m not ancient, but even I remember that!

  221. jeremy -  November 1, 2012 - 10:10 am

    as a fifteen year old. i observe that many mannerisims that are meer a show of respect are now replace by crude vulgarities such as the popular word b___h ( also meaning a female dog) and many other vulgarisms of otherwise perfectly good words.my mother grew up in the south learning these things as common respect. and also. a lot of grown adults have lost the meaning of respect behind these words and are often if only slightly insulted by the thought that i could be implying that they are not youthful, but are wizened and elderly. I am fifteen and i still respect my elders and peers.

  222. andrew -  November 1, 2012 - 6:48 am

    yo what good my bro

  223. Josey -  October 30, 2012 - 10:25 pm

    I’ve found this with a lot of these word stories, you didn’t actually tell us anything interesting about what it meant. You just basically said mistress. You said it would make me blush or laugh, but it didn’t make me do either of those things. I found this with one earlier today about ghouls and ghosts and things. It was just telling us the origins of those words. Uh, pointless much?

  224. Alexis -  October 29, 2012 - 4:45 pm

    Just sayin’

  225. Alexis -  October 29, 2012 - 4:41 pm

    Well, I am only 14, so I was confused by this…I will just say Mrs., which is what I was brought up doing/saying. I don’t want this to cause an outrage but LONG LIVE THE OLD WAYS! :)

  226. nancy -  October 29, 2012 - 10:41 am

    am confused here!!

  227. Christopher -  October 28, 2012 - 8:29 am

    The honorifics of Mr. and Ms. should not be dropped; nor should they be required. Their value is in the option to use them.

    Whether the meaning be “master” or “governor,” use of titles is a sign of humility from the speaker. I compare this to the honorific O sometimes used before God. To cry out, “O God!” does not grant more control to one believed to be in complete control already. Instead, the use of the honorific allows the crier to express his/her own thoughts and feelings. That is, the honorific is for the benefit of the speaker, not the honored.

    Mr. & Ms. Blog Reader, please understand that I feel quite differently about the use of Miss and Mrs. If someone is to honor a woman with a title, it ought to be simply because of her personhood, not her marital status.

  228. Emily -  October 27, 2012 - 7:25 pm

    Did you know the Latin word for ‘penis’ means ‘penis’
    and that the Latin word ‘vagina’ means ‘scabbard’… and if you don’t know what that is, it’s a sheath for a sword, something you put a sword into…

    We have very sexist vocabulary, we don’t know it, its been hidden, but it has subconsciously affected us. We should be aware of that. Thanks for posting the article.

  229. dude -  October 27, 2012 - 3:16 pm

    longest thing ever

  230. Amanda -  October 26, 2012 - 2:55 pm

    Ma’am or Miss.

  231. Pat -  October 25, 2012 - 11:17 am

    This is another of those old, useless vestiges of a time when people were even using their brain less. You don’t get respect from a title, before or after your name. In fact you can be totally disrespected while someone uses your title.
    Titles don’t make you younger, smarter or braver, so if you are lacking in your self-image you need to look elsewhere for the answer.
    This is foolishness; did you notice the person who wrote the article wasn’t even clear on this? How are we supposed to teach it to another generation if we don’t know what we are talking about. Well, that hasn’t stopped us before.
    Why would anyone think it important to distinguish between married and unmarried with titles?
    I hope some day we can put such foolishness behind us.

  232. SAY WHAT? -  October 24, 2012 - 3:50 pm

    Actually ya i agree with everybody that says it didnt make them laugh or blush. Ya doesnt really make sence….. just saying. But this was really convient causse i found it be researching women in old times and used this info for my SS project.

  233. Ella -  October 24, 2012 - 2:11 pm

    Who in the world would have known tht!!!
    “So here’s my # so call me missy” (missy franklin)

  234. Mrs. IDON'TGETHIS -  October 24, 2012 - 7:22 am

    Mrs. IDON’TGETHIS would be grateful if someone could explain what the passage is about, (well, I kind of got it……..)

  235. Mrs. IDON'TGETHIS -  October 24, 2012 - 7:20 am

    Oh well………..

  236. Mrs. IDON'TGETHIS -  October 24, 2012 - 6:58 am

    Don’t get it, why does it make you laugh?

  237. Ke'Asia -  October 23, 2012 - 4:59 pm

    wow that’s crazy

  238. Lucas -  October 23, 2012 - 1:42 pm


  239. SHayes -  October 22, 2012 - 9:53 am

    I’m married at 17 and I’d prefer to be called miss. Miss just makes a woman sound younger that’s why we like it so much. :)

  240. estaeheli -  October 21, 2012 - 12:54 pm

    AJ–I can’t believe you dislike internet debates. If you did, you would have stayed out of it.
    Anyway–I live in the NW and find that–in general–usually if I am spoken to politely (specifically referring to the Miss, Ma’am, etc.) it is by a black person and not a white person. Admittedly, it makes me feel good to be addressed politely. It’s all in how you train your children. People from the South and black people apparently take the time to train their children to speak with respect to elders, women, and people in general. For me, it is a sad day when we feel no need or obligation to treat each other with respect.

  241. AJ -  October 19, 2012 - 11:57 pm

    Girls, (or should I say children?) I have been glancing down the comments and all I see since the “Naomi” comment, is offended young feminist whining about How they don’t like being referred to as “Bitter.” Well if you don’t think your bitter, be mature and stop acting horridly offended. The best thing you can do to put out the fire is to stop throwing sticks in the stove. To ALL beautiful, one of a kind, courageous Women out there (feminist or otherwise) We are the Daughters, Wives, and Mothers, WE of all people have the hugest influence in our world!!!!! WE are the people that our Men look to for strength and support. Lets stop talking about how the newer generations ought to be more mannerly and get busy being there for our children and being an example for them!!!! Says I (an independent 16 year old who loves life and really dislikes internet debates:)

  242. Karen -  October 19, 2012 - 4:26 pm

    Wow, I came to this article to learn some “fun facts” about the original of English honorifics and I get the added bonus of reading some deep-hearted bigotry from Naomi. As a young feminist, I find it pretty obnoxious to have false stereotypes thrown at me before I even have a chance to state my opinion.

    I don’t have a problem with Mr. or Mrs. as titles. They don’t mean to us what they used to, and even though it is a bit of an arbitrary formality, I don’t mind. If I refer to a woman as Mrs. and she has a problem, I will stop immediately, of course, but otherwise, I think it’s fine.

  243. Cooler than you -  October 18, 2012 - 6:35 pm

    Im nine not making me blush but i thought the paragraph is pretty cool
    Guess what? i know someone who one day wants to be a chicken nugget!?!

  244. Steph Hayes -  October 18, 2012 - 11:33 am

    Men, word of advice, call a woman miss, if she corrects you go by that. For those who are stubborn, well do whatever. :) welcome

  245. SHayes -  October 18, 2012 - 11:26 am

    Well today is my bday I’m 18 and married at 17, but I’d rather be called by Miss. Just because I’m young and I know a lot of older women who prefer Miss over Ma’am. But whatever suites you is fine. :)

  246. Swagger -  October 18, 2012 - 8:12 am

    this didnt make me laugh either…but so totally right :) LOL :p

  247. Lisa -  October 17, 2012 - 3:43 pm

    I have pondered over the comments and really feel bad that I am not accustomed to using Mr, Mrs, Dr, et…except with teachers and people that introduce themselves or are introduced to me in that way.

    In thinking about it, a lot of my distaste for such titles comes from the disrespect of one person specifically that I grew up around who would use these titles relentlessly even when asked to do otherwise (sort of an Eddie Haskell if you are up on your Leave it to Beaver series).

    Another is my love for people. I do not really feel as if I know someone unless I am able to remember(that is the hardest thing for me) and use their first and last names.

    Also, the change in culture and lack of trust. A lot of companies do not want their employees giving out their last name. Being in a sales role I try to be very sensitive to what my customers want to be called. Most of the time I am not even given a last name but have to specifically ask for it and explain it is for my records. I assume these customers would rather be called by their first name.

    Lastly, my own personal feelings. If someone continues to call me Mrs. even though they know my first name, I feel they must not like me very well.

    Do any of these things make sense or do I need to learn more about how other feel about respect (by the way – there are also times when I use Sir or Ma’am but I also use these sparingly, when I feel it is appropriate).

    I would appreciate some genuine feedback since I would never want anyone to think I do not have respect them.

  248. Transfan1997 -  October 16, 2012 - 9:15 am

    this didn’t make me laugh or blush. maybe this should be labeled “interesting Article”

    just saying. ‘~’

  249. Diego -  October 15, 2012 - 12:00 pm

    that is so fake it dosen’t even make sence and im 16

  250. zachary -  October 15, 2012 - 9:14 am

    didnt get it; didnt make me laugh, giggle, or blush. I don’t even see the humor in this

  251. Brightle -  October 14, 2012 - 12:27 pm

    Regarding the discussion about how Miss/Ms/Mrs defines a woman’s marital status while Mr does not do the same for a man:
    Some people think that’s unfair– I’ve never thought of it that way before, but I can see your point.
    A possible solution is simply using Sir & Ma’am, which, as far as I aware, is martial-neutral.

  252. Katie -  October 13, 2012 - 12:16 pm

    in Germany, ladies are always “frau” now, regardless of age or marital status. “fraulein” is no longer politically correct. i guess no woman there wants to be considered young/naive/innocent anymore.

    but if we did that here, every woman would be “Mrs.” and that doesn’t seem right, really.

    i’m happy with the way it is now.

  253. Nell -  October 13, 2012 - 2:28 am

    I have to take issue withe this article that from the C14th the term mistress only applied to a kept woman. It was certainly used to denote a woman who had authority at least in the first half of the twentieth century in much of the English speaking world. When households had servants the lady of the house was known as the mistress and the man as the master and well into the second half of the C20th teachers in some schools were described as masters or mistresses. They certainly were at schools I attended and later taught at. It only started to change when the gender of the person holding a position became to be no longer considered relevant so for example positions of senior master or mistress in charge changed to the generic head teacher in charge which was somewhere in the 1970-80s.

  254. Christie -  October 12, 2012 - 11:22 pm

    I’m with Naomi. What’s the difference anyway? ‘Mrs’ just sounds more formal, I guess.

  255. Bob (Beto) Hanson -  October 12, 2012 - 1:27 pm

    Dearest Homines Sapientes;

    It has been interesting, to read all these opinions, as to the proper means to address one another. These titles should simply be used to differentiate between Ladies and Gentlemen, Lassies and Laddies period, with no ulterior motives.

    Truly Yours,

  256. Jason -  October 12, 2012 - 11:26 am

    So, after all this, am I to suppose that it is still correct to refer to a mistress as such if she truly is “a kept woman of a married man?”

  257. Rose -  October 11, 2012 - 2:32 pm

    the only interesting thing about this article is the title that’s it. the article is stupid i dont get get it!! soory for rude comment but true though!!

  258. Cres -  October 11, 2012 - 1:58 pm

    I grow up in a small community. The culture is : We respect all. For older people like ages of grandparents we call them grandma or grandpa , age group if my parents we call them auntie or uncle, anyone who are older me are called Manang or manong. It is a given. To this day is has never changed. It has never changed. It is still being practiced. I hope it will never change. Calling someone’s first name when someone is speaking to an older person
    Is considered rude.The Catholic young children kisses the hand of older people. Some are still doing it. This is changing with the new generation. Some do hugs in place of the Mano, the kissing hands,that is showing respect to the older people as u arrive at someone house.
    In a school setting the principal and administrators are called sir or ma’am. The parents call the teachers ma’am or sir in school or outside. It is a given. That’s always been the culture. It hasn’t changed. When I first taught n California , I’ve addressed my superiors sir or ma’am. I felt funny addressing their first names. Once in a while I called their first name. I am now retired . I.still call them Mr or Mrs once in a while when I run into them. It’s courtesy. I was brought up that way. Cres

  259. Clifton Palmer McLendon -  October 11, 2012 - 8:27 am

    Emily Post is wrong.

    “Ms.” is a neologism dating from about 1972.

    Since there is no governing body for the English language (as L’Académie Française is for French), no one has the authority to change it — the language is greater than its speakers.

    If a woman has an academic, military, or religious title, that should be used — otherwise, it’s “Miss” for an unmarried woman and “Mrs.” for a married one.

  260. .... -  October 11, 2012 - 6:38 am

    i don’t think its funny at all…

  261. may -  October 8, 2012 - 5:39 pm

    i completly agree with naomi on how “young feminist” is not a very proper or polite way of adressing a girl that is not of age yet . It is vey contredictial in many ways, and not at all rightess to young girls. Everyone deserves a proper heading, Not just men.

  262. Ran -  October 6, 2012 - 2:46 pm

    Every word with 2 letters in a row are so much cooler XD
    - Mistress
    - Shoppe
    - Marionette (2 R’s or 1? O ^ O)

  263. Rene -  October 4, 2012 - 10:08 pm

    A few years ago I read that “Master” is now the appropriate termonology for addressing boys, just as “Miss” is for girls. “Mr” and “Ms” would be appropriate for adults. As for the “full stop” period after the abbreviation, I suspect most periods after abbreviations will become extinct within the next decade, due to texting and other electronic media.

    Etymology is fascinating. However, language and culture are ever-changing. The origin of a word should not necessarily color it’s modern usuage. Mr(.), Miss, Mistress, Ms(.), Mrs(.), etc all signify respect. There is so little respect in our world today, we should graciously accept it whenever it is offered.

  264. Mikki -  October 3, 2012 - 3:40 pm

    Let it be, it’s fine the way it is!

  265. Jennifer -  October 3, 2012 - 3:27 pm

    this didnt make me laugh. or blush.


  266. BungoBill -  October 3, 2012 - 4:19 am

    Sorry, people, but I’m going to throw the cat among the pigeons by saying that being a Lancastrian of Liverpool birth, we in the land of scouse tend to call women who we don’t know by the term ‘luv’ – As in: “Hello, luv.” How are you, luv.” and so on. This could be seen as too familiar to most people, but we are a familiar bunch in the Pool of Life – Liverpool.

  267. Darcey -  October 2, 2012 - 5:08 pm

    “Ms” was favored by mid-1900′s feminists because it was an honorific for a female that did not reference her relationship with a man–not, as is often stated, merely one to be used when one was unaware of a woman’s marital status, but one which accorded to any woman the equal respect given a man: the status of being regarded as an individual in one’s own right.
    I think that titles in general have fallen into disuse is not so much a sign of the demise of courtesy and respect, but a recognition that originally titles were used as a way of emphasizing and perpetuating class distinctions; rather than having been devised as a way of according respect, they were used to “keep folks in their places”. The eschewing of titles is simply an encouraging sign of a more egalitarian society. I am a member of an anonymous self-help group, where in the interest of preserving anonymity only first names are used, and I have found in the meetings of this fellowship the most inspiring attitude of authentic respect I have ever encountered. The abandonment of so-called “honorifics” means that no individual is accorded higher status than another; as a result, each is treated with the dignity that is his or her birthright as a human being.
    I do not necessarily advocate that all titles be abandoned, nor do I suggest that they are not often used as a genuine attempt to convey courtesy and respect. I merely suggest that one must listen with one’s inner ear to the spirit behind the title, and avoid making unwarranted assumptions based upon adherence–or lack thereof– to this particular social convention. How often was the slave’s “Massa” an expression of respect, and how often one of hatred and fear?

  268. ugene -  October 2, 2012 - 10:52 am

    i would call a young woman miss and an older woman ma’am. it is almost disrespectful of a woman’s position in life to call her Ms if she is older than maybe 28. I have never referred to my friends parents by mr. or mrs. so and so. It is so informal. i would just avoid having to call them by any name if possible. it is awkward for me because if i am around my friends parents it is usually an informal event. they are not in a position of authority over me so i will not call them mr or mrs. it is weird. i will avoid having to address them if possible and then i would use first name.

  269. Rosalyn -  October 1, 2012 - 3:41 pm

    I think you should address people who are older that you as “Ms.”, “Mrs.”, or “Mr.”. However, I usually only do it to people older than 18 even though I am younger than 18. In other words, I’m not going to call a 16 year old “Ms.” (or Mrs., you never know! XD) even if they’re older than me. It’s a bit confusing….

  270. Jim -  October 1, 2012 - 6:38 am

    Interesting article, up to the sentence, “By the early 17th century, Mr., Mrs. Ms. and Miss became part of English vernacular,…”

    Every indication I ever recall is that “Ms” is a construct of mid-late 20th century women’s liberationists who wanted to avoid demeaning women by calling them either Mrs or Miss. Further, they constructed its pronuciation of “Miz” to avoid the aural suggestion of insult, *and* I thought it was specified that “Ms” not have a “.” since it was not really an abbreviation.

    This was a major point of socio-grammatical discussion in the 60s/70 and even 80s, and I find it lame that this article did not address it, even in passing.
    The cited Emily Post policy is certain well past this discussion, and a comparison of Emily Post ca 1950 and this would be noteworthy.

  271. sharmane -  September 30, 2012 - 11:16 pm

    Nice to see the majority agree that irrespective of hidden meanings and misinterpretations the general idea of the respect that goes with the titles are upheld and respected even in this day and time. I totally agree and follow it too. In fact, even when people insist that I can let it go and they are elderly, I hold on to it :)
    ps: Joan. ha ha on your pun. and yes I agree with you totally!

  272. Laughing Out Loud -  September 30, 2012 - 6:50 pm

    It’s amusing to see how many people get up in arms simply by the HISTORY of the honorific, not even by the use in modern day society (Germaine Greer, is that you?). Miss, Mrs., Ms. … please, call me anything you want. Except Maybe.

  273. lydia -  September 30, 2012 - 8:52 am

    awesome ;) :) :) :) :) :)

  274. Bob -  September 30, 2012 - 6:47 am

    I didn’t laugh or blush

  275. Husain -  September 28, 2012 - 8:51 pm

    I don’t get it.


  276. Jan -  September 28, 2012 - 3:14 pm

    At 58 years old I’m far from young and bitter yet I dislike the titles Mr. & Mrs because it is too formal, antiqueted and stuffy. Ish. Call me by my name.

  277. The Doctor -  September 27, 2012 - 3:26 pm

    There won’t be any word that will please everyone…

  278. Vedapushpa -  September 26, 2012 - 8:30 pm

    Mister /Mr …. is ‘authority loaded’ and Missus Mrs/Ms …is ‘Misuse/absuse hinted’..
    Mister ought to have Madam as its counter part….

    If Madam could mean My Dame …. It could been generally usedby young folks as mockingly meaning “my girl’…..’ just for not being ‘too formal ?

  279. Amy -  September 26, 2012 - 4:54 pm

    I was always taught to respect anyone who’s an adult or authority figure by referring to them by their title first, and their name second. In my household its considered basic manners to do this to ‘strangers’, new found acquaintances, as well as customer service representatives in retail/service occupations. The idea is that respect is never a right, it is earned. Showing respect through addressing others by their proper title is a way of showing respect for them, whether or not you receive it back.

    This is why teacher ask that students call them ‘Mr.’, ‘Mrs.’, or ‘Ms.’ This usage of a title is an attempt to prepare students for society as well as the professional world. (I should also add that I was taught that the title of Mz. was reserved for women who decided that her martial status was no one’s concern.)

  280. Hv'n -  September 26, 2012 - 1:04 pm

    Look, this is what I gotta say. I now think that Mr. and Mrs. is over rated. The ONLY time you’ll ever catch me saying that anymore is when i’m talking to someone elderly, or me teacher.
    peace out!!

  281. Rachel -  September 25, 2012 - 7:24 am

    I used to work on a holiday campsite and the Manageress would insist on being called Mrs Jones, or Mrs J, and take offense at being called anything else, especially her first name. However she would only ever call the other employees by their first name, or avoid using it at all.

    One day, she called me Rach.

    That really upset me, because she wasn’t my friend, and only my friends shorten my name as a point of familiarity. I never broke the Mrs rule with her, and was very conscious of everything else including my Ps and Qs, but I expected to be treated with the same level of respect.

    Using the address of Sir, Madam, Mr or Ms is quite commonplace, particularly in a professional environment. I hate getting cold calls who call you by name, or people who use it by reading your name badge. I personally consider that rude.

  282. Theresa -  September 24, 2012 - 7:07 pm

    so interesting

  283. Theresa -  September 24, 2012 - 7:05 pm

    thats so cool :)

  284. Eli -  September 24, 2012 - 6:00 pm

    dumb it down sorry not sumb it down

  285. Eli -  September 24, 2012 - 5:58 pm

    I dont get it I am in Honors… well every thing since 6th grade and I didn’t understand the explanation could some one sort of sumb it down for me I am kind of confused :(

  286. Savannah Davis -  September 24, 2012 - 2:46 pm

    I never new that and i am most of the time interested in facts such as this. However this did make me blush. Although this fact is no longer true because there are more singal ladies and men then there has ever been. Since i am in school i ask myself a lot of questions and this one never popped up till now.

    Thank you for this Fact!!!!!!!1

    Savannah the Student

  287. Alex -  September 24, 2012 - 6:51 am

    Nice, even though I knew!

  288. Marissa -  September 23, 2012 - 6:57 pm

    Given your response, I don’t think you actually know what a feminist is, Naomi.

  289. Peggy11 -  September 23, 2012 - 5:51 pm

    this was a cool article

  290. bronwyn -  September 23, 2012 - 11:04 am


  291. MidnightSunshine -  September 23, 2012 - 6:50 am

    It does not take long for anyone to learn that everyone who “Misses,” “Mams,” and “Misters” another is not issuing respect. Some people do what they must do to get a job or get along with people.
    There is not one thing wrong with these titles if people do not feel pressured to use them when they are belittles.

    If you add a title to the names of the famous, stately, or rich; but you do not not think that it is appropriate to apply to the maid, ditch digger, or baggage boy, you have a problem. No one will require me to address them with a title of respect without returning it, yet, I know that neither person may respect each other by saying it. No one will rank me outright. You respect people because it is a decent thing to do for anyone, not because they require it. Those who require it are least respected. When it is earned, the address of respect is likely genuine.

    I would address a king, President, queen, prince, princess, and the like with proper titles because it is quite appropriate. To say “Queen Safronia” is like saying a persons name; it is a definite identity and very specific. “Mrs. Wyman” is more general. I would address any female by a title, even young girls. Are they less than adults? No.

    If there is no respect in the addresser’s heart, the title is not given in respect, but to identify.

  292. John -  September 20, 2012 - 8:24 am

    I’m still trying to figure out what Naomi meant by “run a muck”. Surely she meant “amok”.
    I enjoy the articles and comments, especially if they’re well considered, or better yet, humorous, but I’m thrown by typos, grammar errors, and “made-up” phrases like that one. Too easily distracted, I suppose.

  293. Louis -  September 19, 2012 - 8:37 pm

    While I like the terms, if you use them all the time automaticly out of “respect” I feel it devalues them. They become empty gestures nothing more.

    Anyone that gets upset for being called by their name and no Mr xyx or Ms yyy needs to get over themselves I feel. Its social convention, force of habit. That is all.

  294. Sylvia Sun -  September 18, 2012 - 10:25 am

    I agree with Suki when she says “Why is it so important to know the marriage status of a woman, but it is only “Mr.” for men?”. Nowadays it’s not important to know your marital status, but it’s true that in certain situations you need to introduce people in a formal way. That’s why I prefer to use “Mr.” and “Miss”, it doesn´t matter if the woman is young or not. Only if she asks to be called “Mrs.” I do it. I think honorifics are important and must be used in order to take care of the language.

  295. Jerry -  September 16, 2012 - 10:10 pm

    Why do we have any titles at all? I hate when a form online won’t go through until I have checked “Mr., Mrs.,or Ms.”; that’s just not me!

  296. Anti-Gramscian -  September 15, 2012 - 4:39 pm

    Miss Jean on April 24, 2012 at 9:19 am

    “I am incensed when a telemarketer calls and addresses me by Jean. We haven’t met…give me a little respect, please. Some say they are told to do that because it denotes familiarity. I don’t want to be familiar with someone I haven’t met, thank you very much.” Amen! German and French (and even Spanish) have “Sie, vous and usted,” in addition to various titles: those very polite forms of “you” allow one to show respect and/or to hold someone at arm’s length. In the old days (before the total marxification of Western society), you would use those forms with people you just met, or with elders, or with people above you in rank. I myself (an American living in the US, but whose mother was born in Europe) still refuse to call my former American boss (with whom I became good friends) by his first name, even though I love him like an uncle or older brother—-even though he has told me to just call him *Bob.* I simply can’t. Something in me cringes at calling him anything other than “Mr. ___,” because I have huge respect for him; using his first name would in my eyes be debasing toward him, it would make him nothing more than a “comrade,” a “chum,” and he is so much more in my eyes than that.

    M on June 11, 2012 at 11:29 am

    “I am tired of being addressed as baby, sweetie or any other names that should be reserved for those that I have an intimate relationship with.” {thumbsup} Or how about “honey”? I’ve gotten that more than once from Mexican males working in restaurants. (But of course you can’t call them on it, because that would be “racism.” {rolling eyes}) Then there’re the young clerks in dept. stores, grocery stores, etc. who’ve been trained to call me “Miss,” rather than “Ma’am.” I’m 57, and though I’ve never married, I resent being called Miss (unless it’s kids who call me Miss + my first name, as a sign of affectionate respect). “Ma’am” is the contraction of “madame,” which an above commenter rightly pointed out means “my lady.” (The connotation of a brothel owner only came later.) I’ll take “Ma’am” any day over the ridiculous juvenilisation inherent in “Miss” when used on a woman over 30. As for “Ms.,” I’m not a manuscript. :(

    DR JC on June 27, 2012 at 4:21 pm
    “…we have become a casual, lose, disrespectful society. I have progressively watched a generation grow that is almost completely devoid of any moral standing, has little concept of authority, and lacks respect for others, particularly those who refuse to conform to their liberal ideas, and now are fighting to get rid of any ‘title’ of respect.” WORD!
    jane does on May 14, 2012 at 11:16 am
    “it is time for people to live beyond male and female…it’s the 21st century, whether or not one is a male or female doesn’t matter, so why even acknowledge it?” UGH! I am not a bizarre neuter; my being female is part of the essence of who I am; it’s not simply some sort of patina or snippable skin tag or an infected appendix, to be extracted and tossed. Equality (in the sense of just treatment before the law) is one thing; sameness, on the other hand, is nothing more than a Bed of Procrustes.

  297. BeezerJoy -  September 15, 2012 - 9:36 am

    Google “Meet Your Strawman” and see why you fill in Mr or Mrs or Ms

  298. MistressLiliana -  September 14, 2012 - 5:33 am

    I guess I am all set then.

  299. Ish -  September 14, 2012 - 1:25 am

    I randomly feel like adding my anonymous comment.

    My main problem with honorifics is that the females are based of their married status where males do not need such defining. To be Mrs is to be married, to be Miss is to be young and ‘eligible’ while being Ms means spinster (as I often hear) or ‘contrary feminist’ who wants to defy the norms (another common rason I have heard).

    I will be a Ms for as long as I can or feel like it because as far as I am concerned, it is no ones business if I am married or single so I will take neutral and ‘contrary’ please.

    Mr is covered by all males with no defining factor.

    It also irritates me the old way of referring to a female as Mrs John Smith. I do not mind Mrs Smith but adding the husbands name really does imply ownership. I am a person in my own right, and I have my own first name, and it isn’t his.

    Having said that, I do believe that they are important in official circumstances and also working in a multicultural area, sometimes a god send to identify unknown name origins to help subtly indicate a persons gender so you know your talking to the right person. Especially if you are only game to try pronouncing 1 name =)

    As for blushing… I am in my 20′s and have known what a mistress was for a long time. Mistress is the nicest way I hear to them referred usually XD

  300. Steve -  September 13, 2012 - 7:50 am

    Many of commonly used terms continue to place women in a secondary status in many cultures. In English language cultures, for example, many official documents and even our language traditions use “him” to mean both genders, obviously with the female gender suppressed.
    More and more repulsive today is the use of the title “Mrs”. Vestiges of the day when wives were considered property are recalled when one considers the question, “Why should a women be identified as married (Mrs. Smith) when referenced, and her husband (Mr. Smith) is not.

  301. WTF -  September 11, 2012 - 11:41 pm

    I really don’t get what is funny about this.

  302. Bob -  September 11, 2012 - 2:29 pm

    Me either

  303. Jacquline -  September 10, 2012 - 6:24 pm

    As long as men are respectful and polite, does it matter what Mr. or Ms. once refered to?

  304. Natalie -  September 10, 2012 - 8:24 am

    i don’t get why its funny…

  305. Bill Cordts -  September 9, 2012 - 11:04 pm

    david on June 8, 2011 at 1:09 pm
    While I do agree that these titles are harmless, I’m not sure that Naomi’s sentiment is entirely accurate: I don’t know why one might think that titles are the last piece of common ground between generations, political parties, or cultures, but I’m fairly certain that’s not the case.
    I think it behooves us to remember the classism, sexism, and racism that lie beneath words we use every day. I’m not sure tradition for tradition’s sake is particularly sane in an objective sense, but it’s certainly better to indulge the linguistic whims of tradition after becoming well-informed than it is to use them thoughtlessly.

    ——————————- Not a bad argument, but I’d say that the broadened use of Mr. and Mrs. has marked the uplifting of repressed classes and races. Blacks in the Jim Crow south were almost never called Mr. or Mrs.; servants and the poor of both races were in a similar boat. Over time, words once reserved for nobility were extended to the middle classes and finally to all members of society. While I agree that classism, sexism, and racism are problems, I believe the broadened use of honorifics over the decades and centuries has coincided with positive advancements toward class and race equality.

  306. Unknowen -  September 9, 2012 - 9:25 am

    Um I dont get it! I didnt blush or laugh.I would blush if my crush noticed me or did something cute or laugh if I see something funny! This not close to not one of those!

  307. Terah -  September 8, 2012 - 1:57 pm

    Reading some of the comments, I’m happy to be Dutch.
    Even if our ‘meneer’, ‘mevrouw’ (married) and ‘juffrouw’ (unmarried, also used for female teachers in our pre-adult educational system) come from a similar past, no one really cares.

    Would you like to be addressed with ‘hey you!’, or Mr., Mrs., Ms.? Even if you take offense to the Mrs., consider the likelihood of the person addressing you knowing it’s history ^^.

    In the end, let’s respect eachother enough to not assume that people are ok with being addressed informally every time/all the time and be happy that we live in the part of the world where we have the luxury of squabbling over something so trivial.

  308. limmerick -  September 7, 2012 - 11:41 am

    She frowned and called him Mister
    Because for fun he kissed her.
    And so in spite
    That very night
    This Mr. Kr. Sr.

  309. winona -  September 7, 2012 - 9:27 am

    You should pay attention to other things!…

  310. winona -  September 7, 2012 - 9:26 am

    Wierd how so many peolpe write things and you dont need to..

  311. Harris -  September 7, 2012 - 8:41 am

    @Katy (on June 7, 2011 at 6:40 pm)

    Hey now, I’m 21 years old- born and raised in the South and lived here all my life: chivalry is NOT dead, it’s just hard to find. If a girl has an issue with me holding the door for them, then *maybe* they don’t deserve a good guy. Let me know how that “cool kid” or “bad boy” works out for you.

    Just appreciate the fact that some guys still hold chivalric beliefs.
    I know I will hold mine ’til the day I die.

  312. Erin -  September 7, 2012 - 8:09 am

    I want to preface my comment that I love traditions and old language that actually is premised on respect.

    However, the very clear reason that there are different forms of address for married women and unmarried women is that they used to have different legal status. This wasn’t that long ago, and women (called “suffragists” before and “feminists” now) had to fight desperately to attain the most basic of rights afforded to men: the right to own property, control money, vote, enter into contracts. And of course, dear to my own heart, practice a profession, such as medicine or law.

    Any rights that a woman had prior to marriage (if not owned by her father or brother) were transferred to her husband, so the change from Ms to Mrs would inform everyone of her status, and who controlled her, literally.

    In 1873 the first woman to graduate from law school in D.C., Belva Lockwood, was denied a degree. She only obtained one after petitioning the President, Ulysses Grant. When she tried to argue before the courts in DC, she was told by some judges that her husband needed to control her better, and the she had no standing before them, despite being a lawyer and member of the bar, because she didn’t even have the legal right to contract, being a married woman. Despite all of these obstacles, this feminist was able to successfully argue before the Supreme Court in 1880!

    These rights that women had to fight for were the exact same ones already granted to freed slaves by the civil rights acts in the 1860′s.

    So there was a very important reason for the different term, and “respect” is a thinly veiled excuse. “Protection” and “respect” are often used to deny rights to women, even to this day (look at the U.S.military) and are only condescending. Let’s look at what is done to woman who suffer abuse and disrespect in the most strict of religious communities: they are punished for allowing their fathers, brothers, or husbands to be disrespected because those men are the “holders of their honor.” How awful and incredible.

    So please, keep all of this history in mind as well, and not just that found in the article, because it only shows a little of the linguistic history, and not all of the reasons behind it.

    Finally, I personally do not mind being called by either title, because I know it is not generally intended to carry all of that weight of background. But I have been insulted, intentionally, by older men calling me “miss” when belittling me professionally (luckily only rarely!) and really think its well past the time when we have one honorific for men, and one for women. Or even better, one for all people despite their age, race, gender, marital status, etc.

    (By the way, I love that we have all entered into this great discussion!)

  313. Antonio Santos do Nascimento -  September 7, 2012 - 6:57 am

    In Portuguese we have for the word Mister/Senhor. God means Senhor/Father. It means Mister had all power about who calling Mister/Senhor, like it means Lord.

  314. Marianne -  September 6, 2012 - 12:28 pm

    I agree that we should keep them, as a way to show respect to others. We should definitely show respect not only to our elders, but also to everyone we meet. Everyone deserves that much! It truly saddens me to see how respect and manners seem to be disappearing. If there is anyway to show any respect or manners in this world, then I say keep it. It certainly does no harm to keep things the way they are, as we all know, not everyone will use them anyway.

    Also, before my son recently turned 20, the mail he received from certain places, even a government agency, was addressed “Master”. That also happened to my older children many years ago, I’ve always thought of that as being normal.

    Also, what I took Naomi’s statement to mean must be different from the way that most of you understood it . I took it to mean that she realizes that there are many young feminists in this world and that she hoped that it wouldn’t cause some of them to become “bitter” over the fact that “Mr” had been derived from the word “Master”. I do not know Naomi personally, so maybe I misunderstood her intentions when she posted her comment … I certainly hope not; otherwise, the rest of you would be correct in your assumptions and Naomi’s post could be considered offensive, especially towards the young feminists in this world. Personally, I find some people tend to take things too far as that last part of Naomi’s post was actually unnecessary, she had already made her point. I’m not saying this is what Naomi did, but some people post things like this so that they can get noticed and therefore, become the topic of conversation. Some adults act like little children seeking their parents’ attention … even negative attention is better than no attention at all.

  315. Blair -  September 6, 2012 - 10:15 am

    As an addendum to my comment, no invitation, no letter or card of sympathy, no notice in writing of congratulations, nothing written should ever be addressed without the use of Mr. , Mrs. or Ms. When I mail anything to a child under 11 yrs old, I still use the term Master J Bob and Missus J. Bob. It is not only correct , it allows the child to have their own “title” as it were.

  316. Blair -  September 6, 2012 - 10:10 am

    Thank-you so much for sharing the background on the terms Mister and Missus. I found this very interesting and informative. Actually I am in agreement with Naomi and feel these are courtesies and signs of respect and just plain good manners. There is absolutely nothing wrong with either good manners, respect of others or general courtesies extended be they in writing or face-to-face. Actually the term honorifics is one I had forgotten and it does sound stuffy, however, titles such as these as well as others are exactly that, honorifics. One writer expressed confusion when seeing an honorific title of Doctor and I feel he is right. Individuals with a PhD. use the term Doctor denoting a level of education in specialty. Others are given the title as an Honorary Doctor, in which the title Dr should not be used when addressing that person. Then there is a Medical Doctor denoting a Doctor of Medicine. When I see the use of Dr. J Bob, MD, I presume that person has a PhD as well as being a Medical Doctor. It can be confusing , however, as a person matures and their stature in the community changes, these extended courtesies become more important and are certainly a sign of being brought up properly or a sign of good self-teaching.

  317. George -  September 5, 2012 - 10:58 am

    Anyone who is offended by or wouldn’t do business with someone who doesn’t address them properly is a mistress. I don’t want your inflated narcissistic ego near me anyways. See ya.

  318. JJ -  September 4, 2012 - 7:24 pm

    I really dont get it!!!

  319. Joshua -  September 3, 2012 - 9:29 am

    i knew it!

  320. da don -  August 29, 2012 - 10:59 am

    i dont understand anything that the reading is telling me

  321. Master John J. McHugh III -  August 29, 2012 - 2:28 am

    Das a good wan, Das!

    I see what you did there, did you see what I did there?

    I put my name as it was written on birthday cards addressed to me by great aunts and grandmothers. I think even my mother did that then. It was told to me that it meant an Unmarried Man, so that was the equivalent of Miss, back in the mid 1900′s being born in 1961, I can attest to that, and my family was of old English and Irish decent. On both sides I have lineage back to the 1650′s on Shelter Island NY and Long Island’s Orient Point. They were Swordfish hunters. Not fishermen, mind you. I have headstone prints/etchings that say Here lay Sylvester a fine swordfish hunter. Kind of off the topic but I was told by Claudio of the famous Claudio’s Rest. of Greenport NY (LI not the crappy upstate town with the same name) that the reason they were called hunters was because they used harpoons, with record size Swordfish. If you never had it, you’re missing out on the most delicious fish ever. It was the only fish I’d eat as a kid, besides tuna salad, cause I was told it was steak first. Which was also true. You call it a swordfish steak, and cook it on a fire grill. If your landlocked, as I am currently in upstate NY (Hudson River doesn’t count, as the only saltwater fish to come up the Hudson is Striped Bass, and they suck-plus the Hudson is polluted. I think I’ll transfer this to the word “swordfish hunter”. As I’m completely off topic and on a new Adult ADD-Pi medicine that has worn off apparently.

  322. das -  August 28, 2012 - 2:57 pm

    People commenting on this site are so stupid and arrogant.

  323. roberto -  August 27, 2012 - 7:29 pm

    whoa :) B)

  324. Laar -  August 14, 2012 - 10:27 pm

    The phrase “bitter young feminists” would have once been considered an appropriate way to refer to the people who insisted that you are not property. The patriarchal structure in our society is such that it is ingrained even in things so simple as abbreviations. I am not saying that everyone who continues to address people as “Mr.” are evil, only that these terms show us that there are traces of the subjugation of women that was present in that time period (and still is present in many parts of the world).

  325. Brennan-san? -  August 14, 2012 - 12:59 am

    I think one could argue that by limiting our options to only Mr. and Ms., we refuse to address real social and perceptual differences which affect our way of interacting with one another. If we ignore these real differences and homogenize all titles to Mr. and Ms., then by what standard can we truly maintain real gender difference? Why not homogenize Mr. and Ms. to, say, the Japanese’s gender neutral suffix -san at the end of a name?

    I think our current system of propriety, which is unfortunately going by the wayside, is a more rich, personal, and expressive system of social interaction. It is a collection of mores that we should cherish and which we should reflect on its inherent psychological truths. I’d rather have color, animation, romance, expression, and personality behind my social encounters than just neutral, vapid uniformity.

  326. Mr. Brennan -  August 14, 2012 - 12:25 am

    Keep it the way it is. Mr. is proper for addressing a man with authority over you by his name. Mr. is also proper to use when doing business with a man. Mrs. and Ms. are key to addressing a woman under these same circumstances. Mrs. is useful for a woman to prefer when she wants to make it clear that she is not available, especially in a social or business setting. Ms. still retains the same due respect, regardless of marriage.

    Miss, Ms., and Ms. Suname are used to properly address a young woman who is unmarried. In the social setting, “Young Lady” and “Young Man” should be used to properly address young ones. Mrs. Surname or Ms. are proper for addressing a young married woman. Mr. Surname or “Young Man” is still appropriate for a young (~ age 17-22) married man. Miss is useful for young, single, honorable men to use to, in a proper manner, either flatter or initiate wooing in the social setting, depending on the context and tone; this is why Sir has no counterpart to miss, besides traditional gender roles. “Young Lady” may also be used for a relatively older person to properly address (when by name isn’t necessary) a young miss or Mrs. in a more casual social setting; this is especially useful for a Sir addressing a Miss to denote no perverted motives for initiating conversation. The man should always be respectful and honorable, which will keep young unmarried women from being unsettled when called Miss or Ms.; Ms. being less likely to unsettle the Miss. However, it can be quite romantic for a young unmarried man suitor to address the young unmarried lady as Miss; this shows regard and respect for her, honor, propriety, and said in an endearing tone, an interest to court. A young unmarried man can be addressed as Sir by the Miss for the same reason. However, I feel it is most proper to address relatively older men with Sir. Sir should be used to address a man who has authority as well, despite his relation to your age. In the proper social setting, a man or woman who is young but not a “Young Man” or “Young Lady” (i.e. he’s about 22) should be called Sir or Miss or Ms. Ma’am should be used under the same circumstances as Sir; Madam may be used too, but I personally think it is too formal for general usage. Sir, Ma’am, “Young Lady” or Miss or Ms. (without surname following), and “Young Man” should be used when addressing by name isn’t necessary given the present circumstances in the social or business setting. Young men should be addressed Mr. Surname by Sirs or Ma’ams who expect much from the young man (e.g. future parents-in-law, teachers, figures of authority). Women should be called ma’am or M(r)s. Surname in this cirucmstance. Depending on the age of the young man or young lady and the tone of voice used, “Young Man” or “Young Lady” may be an isult or a compliment. For instance, it may imply to a 17 or 18 year old that (s)he is finally approaching (wo)manhood with honor, and to a 23 year old, it may imply that more self-cultivation is sought from him/her, else they would be addressed Mr. Surname, Sir, M(r)s. Surname, Ms., or Miss.

    It should be noted that whenever one is being served, they should be addressed by Mr. or M(r)s. Surname regardless of age.

    Also, Ms. without the surname should be pronounced Misz (like Miss with a subtle but discernible z sound at the end); Ms. with the surname should be pronounced Mizz (with a more distinct and drawn-out z sound). This is to stress or denote the youth of the Ms. (surname not following) regardless of marital status. The Ms. (surname not following) is honored properly by this address while the older Ms. Surname is honored properly by Ma’am or Madam.

    Additionally, in the social setting, mature women who are not yet elders yet not relatively older than the one addressing them may be called Madam when addressing by name isn’t necessary; the tone with which this title is spoken may also assume a romantic element when employed by Sirs seeking to court the mature Ms. Surname.

    Outside of business (unless one feels it nobly necessary), dishonorable men and women should be addressed as Mr. or M(r)s. Surname and not Ma’am, Sir, etc.; Mr. or M(r)s. may be omitted and replaced by their first name when speaking of them and they are not present, though gossip is improper. Unwanted men or women suitors should also be addressed this way and not as Sir, Madam, or Miss. In romantic relations, one may graduate from the use of Sir, Madam, or Miss and instead call their partner by their first name to create a greater sense of intimacy and closeness; this should be done once steady/committed dating between enamored partners has duly begun. During casual dates between prospective partners, the first name should be used sparingly and with a frank tone when addressing is proper by a partner who is vocalizing his/her romantic disinterest; the man may and should more properly call the woman Ms. (surname not following) instead of Miss in this same frank tone as well. In a casual setting between more uncultivated youths of the current generation, you’ll find the disinterested young lady addressing her male suitor as “dude” or “man” or even “bro” in a casually frank tone. These serve to establish that the date is not a success romantically and that friendly disposition is more appropriate. Often, you’ll find the romantically disinterested partner who does not even seek friendly disposition and is rather regretful of the date not even addressing the other when proper, creating an uncomfortable silence.

    Friends should call each other by their first names, or a preferred nickname. The following are highly informal and used by modern youth: “Bro” and “Sis” may be reserved as titles of approval for future/potential brothers-in-law or sisters-in-law; they are also, more often, used to address good friends, especially those who are either understanding or genially down-to-earth. “Man” and “dude” are general and casual ways to address a young man of the current generation, often but not exclusively one of a bro-like nature. Women tend to call each other by their first names, but will use the foregoing addresses for men.

  327. James Cartner-Young -  August 13, 2012 - 3:27 am

    I do think that every opportunity to express respect should be grasped with both hands. Whether it’s the formal titles, shaking hands, bowing or tipping one’s hat.

    Hardly any men nowadays, IMHO, could be said to be ‘masters’, since they’re pretty much all in debt to someone and without land, estates and staff. The government has seen to it that real masters are thin on the ground, similarly with real mistresses or teachers – Many are bound to a company code of practice and not allowed to be master of themselves or their own lives, working – as they are – for another’s profit.

    When did displaying respect and honour become a sign of weakness?

    I do shake my friend’s hands and I do call them mister and even sir. I’ve even been known to bow my head to my closest friends. My son’s title, to me, will be Master until he is 18.

    Make a point of displaying respect by taking a second to do something ‘for’ the other person, such as bowing, shaking hands or using a linguistic title.

    Though, I also believe that a title or display of respect should be earnt by the respectee and bestowed, when felt appropriate, by the respector. I don’t think I could EVER call a ‘chav’ mister.

    Maybe the problem with youths nowadays is the lack of feeling people, along with themselves, deserve any respect.

    Respect and honour is earnt, not by going along with the crowd, but by showing honour, respect and decency to others, both in deed and language.

    I do think that titles nowadays are used to denote influence and wealth more than anything real.

    And to all those who said ‘Boring’… The words you choose to use show a lot about your character. lol

    Also, anyone who is fussy about how they are respected (which title, last name, etc) should probably think themselves lucky that they feel they can choose… Be happy that someone has shown you respect and kindness, after all, they didn’t have to.

    Without respect and understanding, we’d still be throwing poo at each other.

  328. Reverend John R. Parton, Retired -  August 12, 2012 - 8:23 pm

    I am a 39 year old man. I am also a retired Minister / Pastor.

    My humble opinions on the subject are as follows:

    I refer to a man as Sir, unless using his surname, I would use Mr. Smith.
    Yes Sir. Pardon me, Sir. Good afternoon, Mr. Smith.

    I refer to a group of men as Gentlemen.
    Good afternoon, gentlemen. Excuse me, gentlemen.

    I refer to women as Ma’am, unless using her surname, I would use Ms. or Mrs. Smith, if I know their marital status, if their marital status is unknown, I typically use Mrs. Smith.
    Yes Ma’am. Excuse me Ma’am. Hello, Ms/Mrs. Smith.

    I refer to a group of women as Ladies.
    Good afternoon, ladies. Excuse me, ladies.

    I address a group of mixed genders as Ladies & Gentlemen regardless of familiarity with them, being on a first name basis or not knowing them at all.
    Good evening, Ladies & Gentlemen.

    If someone holds a Ph.D in ANY field, I refer to them as Dr. Smith. If they spent the money and the time earning the degree, they deserve the title.
    Hello Dr. or in the case of my personal Dr. I refer to him as Dr. Mac which is a contraction of his surname.

    I refer to older Church members as Brother or Sister, as we are Brothers and Sisters in Christ. I always address Deacons of the Church as Brother Bob, or Brother Carl out of respect for being an Ordained man. Church members my age or younger, I typically refer to by their given name.

    As an Ordained Minister I preferred the members of the Church I was Pastoring to refer to me as Brother John, Pastor and happily accepted Preacher… in addressing correspondence to any clergy, I believe Reverend is appropriate. I refer to the Minister of the Church I am attending as Brother Al or Pastor. I address Catholic Priests as Father, Jewish Leaders as Rabbi, etc.

    I address children as young man or young lady or by their given name.

    If someone asks me to refer to them in any manner different than my standard titles or honorifics I use, I will acquiesce to their preference and address them in their preferred manner.

    Even though I am handicapped, have trouble standing for more than a few minutes and must walk with at least a cane, sometimes a walker, I will offer my seat to a female regardless of age (from a little girl to an elderly woman) when there are no other seats available. If I could get out of my wheelchair when I have to use it, I would offer it to a female that had to stand when I am seated. I always hold doors for females of all ages if they are within 20-30 feet of a door as I am going through it and will typically hold a door for a man if he is within 2-3 steps of the door.

    It is simply polite and a(n) (un)common courtesy to use a title or honorific when addressing someone else other than people you are on a first name basis with.

    If all of this is old fashioned or outdated, then so be it. I will show respect to anyone, until they prove they are not worthy of it.

  329. Susannah Marshall -  August 12, 2012 - 10:16 am

    You can call me Betty, Betty when you call me you can call me Al. Lol. Geez people. Have you pulled the lint out of your belly buttons today. I mean come on. Miss MS Mrs Mr Son Master Mister Missus Missy Mistress; the fact of the matter is that most women take their husbands last name when they get married. Thus the need for extra title. The man never takes on the womans name and if that were the case men would have more titles. Getting rid of Mrs is going a bit overboard dont you think. Should people stop marrying too since the woman will be treated differently than an unmarried woman. If banning differentiating titles so as not to treat anyone with more or less respect than others would improve the fact that on average a woma makes 70 cents to every dollar a man makes for the same work, then I’m all for it.

  330. Mr Donnelly -  August 11, 2012 - 4:59 am

    I’ve been ‘Mr’ since I was 13 so I think that’s the age the title should be applied to young men.

  331. JD Kebix -  August 10, 2012 - 2:40 pm

    I find these words very courteous, thus necessary for the world of today. The day that these words fade off into the mist is the day the word “class” loses a very significant piece of its meaning.

  332. Manoj Sharma -  August 9, 2012 - 2:36 am

    Mr. and Ms. is good enough mostly used in written communication to address .


    Manoj Sharma

  333. Trevor Ricketts -  August 8, 2012 - 11:45 am

    Mrs is actually missing the apostrophe…Mr’s….meaning owned by Mr.

  334. Lauren -  August 8, 2012 - 10:56 am

    Honorifics are tied to culture, and it is difficult to understand them without first understanding the culture that defined them. I prefer Ms. instead of Mrs. or Miss, largely because my mom is a doctor and she grew up having to deal with a lot of gender-based prejudice. I use Ms. because I don’t like being defined by my marital status and I don’t like anyone else to make presumptions about how old I am, or whether I am married. I don’t like being called “Miss” because I grew up in New Jersey and no one used it there. I interpret being called “Miss” as being talked down to, and that has everything to do with the context of the culture I grew up with. However, when I lived in Boston, “Miss” was an honorific term and none of the young women I knew took offense at it. I’ve now lived in Austin for 12 years, and I know that women in Texas (regardless of age) prefer to be called ma’am. If you call a younger woman ma’am in New Jersey or New York, it’s derogatory.

    So, @Naomi, I think morals are a very small part of using honorifics — if you want to show respect, understand a person’s culture before you choose what to call them.

  335. Henry Payne -  August 8, 2012 - 12:05 am

    Wow what a big documentary of something as simple as two to three letters. They could have just said Mrs is for ladies that are married, Ms is for ladies that aren’t married and Mr is for Men

  336. Farooq Malik -  August 6, 2012 - 11:53 am

    Both (the pair) Mr & Mrs are weird.

  337. lisa -  August 4, 2012 - 5:05 pm

    just commenting to say, to “ben”, who wonders why we should respect our elders … ugh! Kids these days.

  338. sujin -  August 4, 2012 - 6:27 am

    LOL interesting :)

  339. jack -  August 2, 2012 - 11:15 pm

    I strongly agree with the wise Naomi. There are a lllllllllllooooooooooooooooooooooot of comments, by the way. I read most of them.

  340. Tayler -  August 2, 2012 - 4:08 pm

    wow! very interesting! I knew about Mr. being master and I’m sure i could’ve guessed the mistress thing for Mrs or Ms, but cool! I never really thought about it before! But I guess every word has to come from somewhere.

  341. Mo -  August 1, 2012 - 6:34 pm

    In elementary school I always used Mr, Mrs, and Miss followed by their last name when talking to a teacher
    However, my High School has a trend that everybody calls teachers “Sir” or “Miss” (regardless of marital status) and they rarely use a last name.
    I don’t know if this is becoming more popular in general now or if it’s because I went from a public school to a Catholic one or what. I do quite like it though, the way that it is used by most students actually sounds very respectful, possibly actually more so than the previous way.

  342. hi im cool -  July 31, 2012 - 8:38 pm

    am the only 9 yr old who read this? cuz you guys sound like adults except for riley. and naomi? i dont know what stupid kids youve met, but i can assure you, all of my friends are not calling british people like you, bitter! i get your point, but dude, you were way off! and no using the excuse “that was a typo”

  343. hey it is me -  July 31, 2012 - 8:12 pm

    WOW who new!!!!!!!

  344. it -  July 31, 2012 - 3:40 pm

    I’m a boy scout so naturally I think Mr. Ms. and sir should be used to address anyone older than you

  345. Joe -  July 31, 2012 - 2:07 pm

    Hey Ben,
    “bitter old conservative” OLD? Dude, I’m 16 years old. Using my Dad’s email address because he wanted me to address this story. Dude, and I say “Dude” because your obviously don’t wanna be called anything else. Why are you so angry towards conservatives. What? Don’t feel like following the golden rule? Wanna make your own rules? Go ahead. I’ll follow the golden rule and respect people in general until they show me that they don’t deserve that respect. Maybe we should start calling each other “male” and “female” that would really indicate respect. Dude

  346. Mikaela -  July 31, 2012 - 8:05 am

    courtesies are important for example calling a male boss sir. But simple and overrated ones are not important. When i was in year six i went over my friends house and called her mum and dad by their first names and they did not like it and asked me to call them mr and mrs ‘last name’

  347. April -  July 29, 2012 - 8:14 pm

    There’s no reason to get rid of the honorifics Mr, Mrs, Ms, and Miss. The others, however, are foolish and wastes. Miss should be for girls, Ms for unmarried women, Mrs for married women, and Mr for married men. Boys can be Ma and unmarried men Mas or something. Or, like Naomi said, just keep the honorifics as is and stop crying about the differences between men and women. Women’s sexuality is more sacred then men’s own. Eg, people gasp quicker if a woman is raped than a man. Don’t like that fact? Too bad! Enjoy being a whore or whorish? That’s on you, but don’t drag the rest of us down with you! It’s evil to do so.

  348. Graeme -  July 29, 2012 - 11:43 am

    I am not in favour of “Ms” as for some it has caused confusion by adding a 3rd form of address for one sex and people don’t really understand its use or even sometimes how to pronounce it.

    The best solution by far would be to drop “Miss” for anyone but young girls, ie under about 13. Children basically never need formal terms of address but on occasions they could be addressed as either Master or Miss.

    Thus all adults would be addressed as Mr or Mrs, as a mark of respect when the situation requires. This is similar to the way that in France, you would not address a middle-aged unmarried woman as Mademoiselle, but as Madame.

    It could be asked why not just give someone their name? Really this is logical but culturally there is a desire to express some sort of formalised courtesy to people in some situations.

    And this also is something that seems to be missing in this discussion thread – that the use of formal terms of address vary between written and verbal communication, and also vary according to levels of respect between the parties, formality of the situation and social status of the parties.

  349. Philip Spencer -  July 28, 2012 - 1:16 pm

    Oddly, Naomi and others are unfamiliar with “Ms.” It’s only been around since 1970–42 years.

  350. L______________ -  July 27, 2012 - 11:07 pm


  351. Rachel -  July 27, 2012 - 5:42 am

    @Christian: Really? Is Jesus going to come down here and yell at us? LOL

  352. A boy -  July 26, 2012 - 6:02 pm

    I didn’t read it. }-]

  353. SkyDoc -  July 23, 2012 - 9:22 pm

    Wow, for an article that appeared to be a put forward as a bit of trivia, it certainly evoked a lot of emotional responses. As other(s) have mentioned in their way, language is dynamic. The only thing we can be certain of is that it will change (ain’t that so?). I hold a doctorate. I choose to introduce myself as Dr. in settings where the title seems relevant. Sometimes I choose to introduce myself by my first name. Sometimes people call me Mrs. and, for whatever reason, I’m not especially fond of that, so if the occassion warrants, I might ask to be addressed differently; however if it seems to matter to others, I don’t make a big deal of it. It just isn’t that important at the individual level (or mine anyway). At places, say…certain coffee establishments, that ask for my name, I can choose to give whatever name I want, Dr., Mrs., Ms., my first name, or heck, even like the female police lieutenant in a TV show…she wants to be addressed as Sir. If I am specifically asked for my first name and I choose not to use that form of address, I’ll say “please call me…” whatever it is I choose.

    I try to give that same courtesy to others. I will refer to them using the language they used to introduce themselves (e.g., some of our clients give only first names, some say Mrs. Jones or Mr. Smith). When in doubt, I ask “how would you prefer to be addressed?”.

    In grad school, when in the psychiatry department individuals with M.D.s or Ph.D.s were **always** referred to as Doctor So-and-so, but in the neuroscience department all the docs preferred to be addressed by their first names. Once I attained my Ph.D. status, I asked colleagues, especially my bosses, how they preferred to be addressed. Almost without exception, each said when in a formal situation call them doctor, informally call them by their first name. In some cases that took getting used to (the informal address). A few were outliers, some wanted formal only, some wanted informal only.

    I’ve had grad students, employees, friends, and others that just could not bring themselves to call me by my first name. Many compromised by using Dr. and my first name. Employees tended to prefer Dr. and my last name, even in informal situations.

    Regardless of how I’ve been addressed, I don’t take one form or another as more or less respectful. Tone of voice, facial expression, body language…that tells me much more about respect or disrespect.

    The bottom line is, I try to respect each individual’s preference and when I have a preference I say so, respectfully.

    Different regions, different upbringing, different cultures, or religions…it’s impossible to apply a blanket rule of proper respect to all cases and I prefer not to. I rather like “when in Rome…” and “do unto others…”

    I also like the basic premise of our United States democracy (to paraphrase), freedom of speech, religion, and pursuit of happiness. We’re entitled to all of these as long as we don’t harm others. We are each entitled to our opinions. What a boring world if we were all in agreement about everything…stagnant. But, a healthy debate without recriminations and name calling would be much more productive I think.

    All in all, attempting to respect others’, and my own, dignity and needs, and doing what I can to help or accommodate within my means, makes my life simpler and the people I interact with happier. I’m not flawless or perfect at it, but I do try.

    I think that’s all I can ask of anybody else…just try to walk in that person’s shoes and respect their needs and point of view.

  354. Craig -  July 23, 2012 - 7:56 am

    Re mistress, despite its second meaning as kept woman, mistress has always had a respectable meaning as well, as any reader of Shakespeare and even later English literature will recognize. (Mistress could mean the owner of an inn, an equal when addressed with humor by a man or an unmarried female head of household when addressed by her servants.) So, it’s really not so shocking or amusing.

    The French are going through a similar debate. Mademoiselle, meaning “my miss” is falling out of favor as a mode of address for unmarried women over 21. Official practice (everything is either official in France, or it’s not.) is to discontinue using the form for women over 21, but, of course, some traditionalists will continue to address any unmarried woman, no matter the age, as mademoiselle. One reason to avoid that term, however, is the obvious impossibiltily of knowing whether a woman is married or not.

    The French very properly in my view maintain the habit of addressing people they don’t know quite well as Monsieur or Madame. You will score points if you address a shop owner as soon as you step in the door by saying “Bonjour, monsieur or madame”, or, when there are both male and female staff “Bonjour monsieurdame”, which I really love. You will invariably be addressed in kind.

  355. ropat -  July 23, 2012 - 3:16 am

    Interesting article and at times a somewhat curious set of comments. I have no concerns about Mr (or Mr.), Mrs., Miss or Ms.- whichever the individual prefers. What I would like to go is the retention of armed forces titles such as “Captain”, “Colonel” when the person has retired. It no longer has any relevance- and retired NCOs and private soldiers no longer use their ranks. It is just egotism. Horrible.

  356. sasha -  July 22, 2012 - 8:11 pm

    Whoa what alot of meaning for just one small everyday word.

  357. Bob Richmond -  July 22, 2012 - 5:58 pm

    Of course you don’t get it, yo…….it ain’t ebonics, Dozy broad!

  358. Holly McCance -  July 20, 2012 - 9:31 pm

    I agree that the meanings don’t hold to the archaic expressions they once did, but…now I haven’t gotten through all the responses, but please think of the questions I am posing as if these people were yourselves.
    Teacher’s in school?-While it is difficult with the different versions per marital status, I do believe kids have more respect using honorary titles for their teachers, then not.
    I have to admit, I am 35, I like the feeling of respect from gentlemen(I like the example someone gave of holding a door open for a woman or girl) While I know our society changes, there are still some niceties that are appreciated and I think our children deserve that same respect. I have twin daughters that are 17 and an 8 year old. I want them to be able to feel that same respect.
    Military, elders(both in church and age-wise), doctors and many of your professionals have some form of title, representing all the years they have put into getting where they are. Respect or honorific?
    I agree, also, with the comment someone said about making it easier in call centers with prefixes on names, when cold-calling, been there, done thatLOL-Feel for you
    We have women’s rights and are proud to have them too, but is it so bad to be able to show respect to each other in general with these titles?
    One per each would be easier thoughLOL-Example-Mr.(man-married or not), Miss.(for women either married or not) I know we have came along way from the expressions they used to mean
    Let’s do create a new era, with the same respect. Titles are good, and subconsciously help us respect other’s more. In this day and age, that could go over really well. How many of you see a drastic change in children and the respect they once had for their elder’s? Don’t you think this little subconscious change could make a major difference for us? Just an idea.

  359. Steve -  July 20, 2012 - 5:32 pm

    Absolutely: “The perfect bit of courtesy.”

  360. Megan -  July 20, 2012 - 2:01 pm

    Interesting! I didn’t know that :)

  361. Mami -  July 19, 2012 - 12:33 pm

    I really think we’re missing a key point in all the commotion around the feminists. I didn’t read anyone who was actually scandalized by the article, even women. I’m going to take a huge leap into assuming that such lack of offense means that most of us are familiar with, and invested in the work that goes on in the bedroom. Let’s not forget that sexual satisfaction was one of the cornerstones of the feminists movement. Today it is surprising to find a couple that does not take for granted the assumption that sex is for the pleasure of both parties. Even the female masochists (I’m sorry, non-feminists) generally seek this right. Perhaps Naomi and supporters didn’t realize the feminists of yesterday have contributed so much to the pleasures of today… of perhaps that revolution hasn’t reached every bedroom across the country. If there is anyone who, in her zeal to negate the feminists around them, has rejected this aspect of their work, I strongly suggest you give it a try.

  362. Liz -  July 19, 2012 - 11:52 am

    So many comments have been left, I doubt mine will be read, but I would like to point out that Miss, Mrs., and Ms. were not always used to point out a woman’s marital status, and there *were* two honourifics for men, just as there used to be two for women.

    Master was used to refer to young men, and Mister became the honourific once a man reached adulthood (typically when he had land and a family).

    Miss was used to refer to young women, and Mistress (or Mrs.) became the honourific once she reached adulthood. As most women married by the time they were twenty, most women who were called “Mrs.” were already married. It snuck itself into our culture that way. So, no “bitter young feminists” need be bitter–we can always go back to the way it was. :-) I’m a high school teacher, and will oftentimes call my male students “Master so-and-so.” They get a kick out of it.

    Also, a side note: to whomever said women used to call their husbands “lord,” I don’t believe that was common practice, unless he had a high social standing (in which case, others would call him by that title, as well). If you were married to the local famer or innkeeper, I doubt you’d call him that. The funny thing about history of gender relations is, modern day perceptions often have it wrong about how our ancestors treated women. There are some truths to what they say, but many times, people take what the Victorians thought and espoused about women and apply it to every other preceeding generation.

  363. Riley -  July 17, 2012 - 6:31 pm


  364. OceanLaura -  July 17, 2012 - 4:48 pm

    Just like every man is a Mr., every woman is a Ms.
    It’s that simple.

  365. sara singer -  July 17, 2012 - 3:27 pm

    so funny!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  366. rachel -  July 16, 2012 - 1:49 pm


  367. rachel -  July 16, 2012 - 1:47 pm

    u guys r not suppose to chat and flirt around! SHEESH! PEOPLE R OUT OF THE’RE MIND THESE DAYS

  368. Scott S. -  July 15, 2012 - 9:37 am

    Naomi said it so well. I could not agree more.

  369. Emily Wrenn -  July 14, 2012 - 6:09 pm

    Ms. and Mr. are sufficient. Having additional titles to qualify only women’s and not men’s marital status is a double standard. I would like to see one title for all: if the title is meant to show respect, it should not matter if the recipient if female or male. We can thank patriarchy for this silliness.

  370. pz -  July 13, 2012 - 11:19 pm

    Jakob: ma’am, a contraction of Madam, an anglicization of the French “Madame”, which literally means ‘my lady’

  371. mia -  July 13, 2012 - 5:25 am


  372. Miguel Morales -  July 11, 2012 - 11:39 pm

    I was born in Puerto Rico and raised in New York City. RESPECT is the single most important aspect of how we communicate with each other. We are raised informal. Those who are older then you (20 or 30 years) will always be called Don. Don Juan, Don Miguel Donna Juana, etc. We rarely use last names opting to call each other on a first name basis if we are around the same age group. If the person is your boss and younger I will use the term Mr. unless they prefer to be called by their first name. This is usually the case.With women, married or not, I use Senorita. Usually they well me to call them by their first name. So I think we need to look at culture and I personally would be interested in learning how other cultures deal with this.

    Gracias, Don Miguel (I am 63 years old).

  373. Miguel Morales -  July 11, 2012 - 11:38 pm

    I was born in Puerto Rico and raised in New York City. RESPECT is the single most important aspect of how we communicate with each other. We are raised informal. Those who are older then you (20 or 30 years) will always be called Don. Don Juan, Don Miguel Donna Juana, etc. We rarely use last names opting to call each other on a first name basis if we are around the same age group. If the person is your boss and younger I will use the term Mr. unless they prefer to be called by their first name. This is usually the case.With women, married or not, I use Senorita. Usually they well me to call them by their first name. So I think we need to look at culture and I personally would be interested in learning how other cultures deal with this.
    Gracias, Don Miguel (I am 63 years old).

  374. Tom Borden -  July 10, 2012 - 10:46 am

    I’m all for honorifics… when they’re useful.

    You can use “Mr.” or “Sir” or Miss” or M’am” simply to cue the other party to the fact that you wish to have a conversation. Since we’re initiating the contact, it’s only fitting we acknowledge we don’t know them but would appreciate their engagement.

    The convention continues until such time as the parties agree formalities are no longer necessary. A customer service representative might keep evoking the salutation upon occasion, signifying that though they do not know you personally they continue to recognize the validity of your inquiry no matter who you are.

    “Miss” and “Mrs.” do strike me as unnecessary since “Ms.” will suffice for either. Marital status is not somebody else’s business.

  375. sammy -  July 10, 2012 - 9:05 am

    y is the world so sad these days :’(

  376. Anana -  July 10, 2012 - 6:51 am

    Anana – I think we should stick with them. Standards are necessary and these are simple ones. Genuine curtsey dose not offend!

  377. Im Awesome -  July 9, 2012 - 6:32 pm

    I’m a girl and i don’t like being called Ms. i’d rather be called dude. u wanna know y? cuz im a tomboy! 8) if you’re readin this comment then if you’re a real tomboy you’d want exactly what i said! C’ya Dudes!

  378. Venusbabe -  July 4, 2012 - 9:58 pm

    I take everyone’s comments on board, some like using titles, some don’t for a variety of reasons. Fair’s fair.

    However, what I don’t like, as a female, is being referred to as ‘Madam’ in shops or when doing business by the service industry staff. It drives me nuts! I feel like replying with “Sorry, but I don’t own a brothel – please don’t call me Madam!” Because, in this day and age, that’s what a Madam is!

    I don’t like an automatic ‘Mrs’ either – it’s completely presumptuous and unnecessary.

    Those in the service industries don’t really need to use anything… just an ‘How can I help you?’ or ‘Thank you’ is fine, or my first name (if they have it is preferrable).

  379. rja -  July 4, 2012 - 7:39 am

    Why should we toss out honorifics and common courtesy because of what words _used_ to mean? Language changes; as do customs. When I grew up Mr. was used for men, Mrs. for married women, Master for young men (boys), and Miss. for unmarried women. Prior to my youth all boys all wore short pants, even to church. That changed; so why not words, meanings, and honorifics?

    Today Master for young men has become archaic, leaving Mr. for all men, Miss for young women (girls, younger than around 12-16), and Ms. for all grown women has become the proper modern usage. Over time the age distinction for women will also go by the wayside; as it should.

    Someday we will develop gender neutral first and second person pronouns and honorifics in the English language. Some others already have neutral pronouns. Maybe he/she-she/he will become hs, sh, hse, hes, or seh; him/her-her/him will become hr, rh, hir, hem, or him(oops); and so on. I am sure there are some out there who can come up with a consistent and much better set of ideas about new pronouns than I have in these couple minutes.

    In short:
    Everyone should learn and use more Common Courtesy.
    It requires little effort; and the world would be a better place for everyone.

    DR JC (27 June 2012)
    Your “Part of the problem as I see it, is we have become a casual, loose, disrespectful society. I have progressively watched a generation grow that is almost completely devoid of any moral standing, has little concept of authority, and lacks respect for others, … What really is wrong with society showing honor and respect to another?” and your emphasizing “showing RESPECT” is right on target (or, as another way words change – it is spot on).
    And I think your “adopt just “M—plus last name”” idea is a great one.

    M A.

  380. Tamsin -  July 4, 2012 - 1:05 am

    I agree on using Ms for all females as Mr is used for all males. If there’s one thing I can’t stand it’s being called Madam, I find it quite derogatory. Ma’am is so much more pleasant sounding.

  381. rabina -  July 1, 2012 - 1:25 am

    I had a habit of saying Mrs to all. But i belive this article and now I am going to address Ms to all. thanks………

  382. hailey -  June 30, 2012 - 8:15 pm

    A showing of respect should definitely stay in our vernacular implemented with Mr. and Mrs. My problem lies in the variation for women in the Ms. I’ve felt this way since I was about 8 years old. Call me a feminist if you want but you can not deny the obvious double standard for women in our culture that has even permeated our language.

  383. fabgirl -  June 29, 2012 - 1:13 pm

    I believe there is no need for terms like Mrs.,because why is it essential to indicate whether a female is married? Mr. and Ms. work just fine. Also, I am all for posting your opinions on this site, but can you please just respectfully
    disagree with Naomi? I cannot find her comment, so I did not read it, but”you’re an idiot”? Really?

  384. Adam -  June 27, 2012 - 10:00 am

    If they had not included the words “blush” and/or “laugh” in the title of this article, a great many people would not have bothered to read it. It is my opinion that it was posted less of a desire to educate people, rather than a desire to incite argument among the commentors, and at that it has proven quite successful.

    The prefixes Mr, Mrs, Ms, Mister, Miss, Mistress, Master, and any others you might care to include, already have certain connotations, based on your locality and how you were taught them as a child. So pointing out their seemingly controversial history – which may or may not even be accurate – serves no useful purpose, but only serves to trigger an often heated discussion.

    Many of you have said people should use these prefixes out of respect, but too many people today have not been taught respect. They have not been taught that everyone starts out deserving it, that some people stop deserving it, and other people earn more; and they have not been taught either how to accept it or to show it. All of the arguing and name-calling in these comments are evidence of that. So there’s not much point in telling such people to use these prefixes to show respect, because they simply do not understand what the word means. Before they can show respect, they have to learn what it really means, and that is what is lacking in much of today’s society.

  385. Ed -  June 27, 2012 - 7:10 am

    Upon matriculation at St. John’s College, Santa Fe, NM. All students in Seminar address each other as well as the Tutors’ by their last name, preceeded by Mr. or Ms. as appropriate. This is also the practice at the College’s other campus in Annapolis, MD.

  386. ILIVEINORLANDO -  June 26, 2012 - 7:26 pm

    btw, my facebook is:::::: Benita Ng. PLZ COMMENT ON MY FACEBOOK PG!!! ADD ME!!!!!!!!!!!

  387. ILIVEINORLANDO -  June 26, 2012 - 7:25 pm

    HEY EVERYONE;; ME IS MEHICO!!!! HAHA ADD ME Benita Ng on fb. I am da small lil girl who is asian and chinese :P:P kk bye

  388. doll -  June 24, 2012 - 9:48 am

    ha ha ha by the way which part is funny. I am unable to get.

  389. Daniel 'The King' Mcking -  June 22, 2012 - 1:59 pm

    All of you are stupid, do u even look at the text at the top, if not, fix up and get some glasses. (muppets) i mean the only people who talk sense on this page is me and Naomi. you know what, you waste my time.

    See you later, dummies

  390. leslie -  June 21, 2012 - 9:57 am

    In the South, every woman of any race or marital status you meet is ordinarily Miss Sally, Miss Susan, etc. after that, she may become “Mrs. Brown,” depending on whether the relationship is a little more formal, a business relationship, or if the relationship is between obiously disparate social or power ranks. “Miss” is considered extremely courterous and it is a serious faux pas not to use either Miss or Mrs. when speaking to or a referring to a woman. Every man is Mr. Bob or Mr. Brown, again depending on the relationship and setting. (And you better say “yes, sir.” To address either a man or woman of a certain age by his or first name without the preliminary introductions,”May I call you Bill?” is a serious blunder and always noticed, though perhaps not commented on. I was once waiting in a reception line and a man asked for Elaine, a fiftyish woman. The woman answered, “You will not find an Elaine here but I am Mrs. Jackson.” Some call our social code outdated or antiquated–who cares–but we know that everyone feels respected and we like it that way! Note: I still do not use the term Ms; it has no meaning to me and I think our part of the country has picked it up reluctantly, although in writing, Ms. is still pronounced “Miss.”

  391. Rolland -  June 21, 2012 - 8:38 am

    I think today in 21st century American English the correct forms of address are: Mister; Misses; Miss & Miz i.e. Mr., Mrs., Miss., & Ms. to be used at one’s discreation.

  392. Christian -  June 20, 2012 - 12:20 pm

    Guys, what would Jesus think about your comments? Be careful what you say! Thanks a lot, dictionary. com! :)

  393. Henry Solomons -  June 20, 2012 - 1:59 am

    I dont think it really matters how we address people these days as long as they are comfortable with what we call them. at my school the new teacher puts their name up on te board with either Ms, Mrs or Miss and we usually just abide by it. I dont prefer either one i still address them as what their comfortable with and just move on.

  394. Tim R -  June 17, 2012 - 8:59 pm

    It’s strange how people (or women) are still asked these days if they prefer to be addressed as Miss, Mrs, or Ms. Because it’s actually illegal to discriminate against a woman based on her marital status. And refering to a woman as Miss or Mrs clearly identifies her as married or single, while Mr does not confirm if a male is married or not. The terms waitress & actress are now becoming obsolete. Whenever I’m collecting data I don’t ask… I just record all females as “Ms”

  395. Ella -  June 17, 2012 - 6:14 pm

    Whoa i nevr knew they meant that much and that these terms were around for that long

  396. Joe -  June 16, 2012 - 10:02 am

    I have never heard an official story of the selection of the term Ms. to denote a woman without distinguishing marital status. The need for such a term stemmed from the Feminist movement of the 70′s, but where did Ms. come from? Having lived in the time before the general use of Ms., I have a hypothesis. In elementary school we always adressed female teachers as Mrs. or Miss depending on their marital status. In addressing a female whose name was known but whose marital status was unknown, it was natural to slur the two prefixes together and pronounce it like Mizz, slightly drawn out to make it unclear whether it was one syllable or two. I believe that this common practice led to the official adaptation of the prefix Ms. Does anyone know if there is any truth to this?

    • Another Ruth -  July 23, 2014 - 7:06 pm


      Joe, you made me laugh :) I am Canadian, but lived in the southern U.S. for a few months and quickly adopted the practice of addressing people as “Mr. Firstname” and “Mizz Firstname” once I realized that this is the form politeness takes in that part of the world.

      I did the same thing, slurring Miss and Mrs to become Mizz because I wasn’t sure which to use…it seemed to cover all bases.

      I’ve always heard “Ms.” pronounced as “Mizz” as well, and also wondered whether there is a connection.

  397. Mrs. Cindy? -  June 16, 2012 - 8:17 am

    There is a trend now in the American south for children (ages 6-12 or so) to call adults who are their teachers or caregivers Mr. or Mrs. (and then to follow it with their first names) — For example: “Mrs. Cindy” (first name) — instead of “Mrs. Hunter” (last name). I realize that many adults think this is a good compromise because it uses the honorific to imply respect and at the same time implies familiarity between the child and the adult. Is this a good solution in a child / teacher dynamic?

  398. Bob -  June 15, 2012 - 8:54 pm

    Terms used to denote status of individuals are utilized by all cultures and each language has its’ own. We use these terms signify ones status, this is done not to demean, but rather to associate. Mrs Miss are labels use to indicate the marital status of a woman, Ms being used to hide the status.
    Dr. Professor and other titles given are used to indicate job profession,
    though some people may misuse the title’s in belief it gives status boost.
    People have always tried to utilize words to create social positions and a
    ” I better than you.” class. There will always be some one who can find reason to change terms, titles or create new words for the language we use. Remember words meanings change with each generations use.

  399. David Harm, Sr -  June 15, 2012 - 1:32 pm

    At least during the last two centuries, and certainly when I was a youth, the title ‘Master’ was given to adolescent males. It was often used in envelope addresses. Old books also used ‘master’ when an adult addressed an adolescent male.

  400. The Eternal Satyr -  June 15, 2012 - 9:28 am

    I think old woman Alva needs to lighten up a bit. Though, if I had a first name like “Alva”, I probably wouldn’t want to hear it too much either.

    I think this whole honorific mentality has long been obsolete. Times change and language changes with it. What was “cool” and “radical” in the 80s is now “dope” and “stupid”. To hold onto these “proper” manners of address are nothing more than quaint. The generation born today will hopefully let all this “properness” die out.

  401. hi -  June 15, 2012 - 2:39 am

    HI :) :( :) :( :) :( :) :( :) :( :) :0

  402. hi -  June 15, 2012 - 2:38 am

    hi:) :( :) :( :) :( :)

  403. fairyhaj -  June 14, 2012 - 11:41 pm

    for mister it is Mr. this is for an adult or even a junior master.. uhmm.. an unmarried woman or girl will be Miss. or Ms. and married one will be Mrs.

  404. fairyhaj -  June 14, 2012 - 11:39 pm

    whoa!! never knew that.. well, so you sure we are not gonna get penalized if we use Ms. for a woman of any marital status.. because there will be some discomfort to use mrs. or miss. henceforth..

  405. Gene -  June 14, 2012 - 7:54 am

    I too was raised in the south and taught to use Ma’am in answering an adult woman, but never to address them that way. In answering I would say “Yes/No Ma’am”. In addressing that same person I would use Mrs/Miss. Most woman today do not like to be called Ma’am as it denotes old or matronly and I believe it is also a contraction of Madam. To me, using Miss means that you know she is married. Ms. seems the most logical choice to me but I’ve noticed that some women don’t like that either!

  406. Hello -  June 14, 2012 - 7:36 am

    @Naomi stfu…..

  407. Coffeetimegal -  June 13, 2012 - 11:21 am

    What an interesting article!! I prefer to use the title “Ms”. Since I am no longer a youngster; but, a widow instead, I think Ms is proper. Emily Post said it is not proper to use the title Mrs. John Doe, if your husband is deceased. Likewise, you should not use your first name, Mrs. Jane Doe, since you can not be married to yourself. Hence, Ms. Jane Doe is proper.
    Food For Thought,
    Ms. “Coffeetimegal”

  408. First and last timer -  June 12, 2012 - 7:13 pm

    First time on this ‘hotword’ site… Are articles normally this bland? I am neither blushing nor laughing. The whole drawn out experience could have been condensed to one small, succinct paragraph.

    And the responses: most people are repeating other people’s flames against the first poster.

    Wow. Just… wow. This is definitely the first and last time I visit this particularly odd site.

  409. RuneScape -  June 12, 2012 - 7:02 pm

    OK in america no one really cares anymore long live The U.S.A.

  410. Derpina -  June 12, 2012 - 4:18 pm

    That didn’t make me laugh or blush at all :/

  411. Someone -  June 12, 2012 - 2:42 am

    My cheeks are uncolored, I’m not laughing, hows that funny, embarrassing or anything you hoped it to be.
    There are though, some interesting points. I’m fascinated!
    Sot of…
    P.s: Call me Master! :)

  412. M -  June 11, 2012 - 11:29 am

    Our society has moved so far away from courtesy even when you are being served (no matter what level of service, waiter, banker,customer service, clerk, cold callers, unknown neighbors, etc.) you should never address anyone by their first name without permission. We have become very common; using the title of Mr., Mrs. and Miss again will assist us to learn respect and honor again. I am tired of being addressed as baby, sweetie or any other names that should be reserved for those that I have an intimate relationship with. I am a woman over 50 and do not appreciate people taking liberty and imposing their rebelliousness against authority or the elderly. I address my elders and those that I work with that I am not on first basis with the title Mr., Mrs. Dr, etc. not because they earned it, but because I desire to be a part of a society that waits to receive permission before I impose my preference. By not using the above proper address is another way of showing insecurity with self.

  413. Noob -  June 10, 2012 - 6:56 am


  414. Raine -  June 10, 2012 - 12:39 am

    I always thought “sir” and “miss” were what you called teachers and those older than you out of courtesy. I have never referred to anyone as “Mrs” because I don’t feel I have the right to make that presumption. I have however often chased aften an elderly man yelling “sir!” because he’s dropped something.

    I think maybe its a case of what you’re used to and what you are comfortable with. My mum always taught me to be polite and respectful, and opposed to some teenagers I know, who don’t appear to have been taught much of anything at all.

    To me “Mrs” is a prefix to a name that means the woman is married, but other than that it means very little. Especially today when there is no pressing requirement to be married or get married, and men no longer “own” the woman they’re married to.

  415. Tony -  June 9, 2012 - 8:50 pm

    Times have certainly changed. Everyone seems to be just known by their first name now, and sometimes even in business it is difficult to find out a person’s last name. When I call to speak to Peter or Elizabeth, I’d like to have the last name to go with it even if I don’t use the Mr, Mrs, or Miss titles.

    I was taught that Mr was for all men, Mrs was for married women, and Miss for unmarried women. Then along came Ms for all women especially if unsure of their marital status.

    I’ve seen the evolution from Mr and Mrs John Smith, to John and Mary Smith, to Mary and John Smith (woman’s name first). Now it is way more common for John Smith and Mary Brown to live together without becoming Mr and Mrs through marriage. Alternatively they get married but she keeps her name and does NOT become Mrs Smith. Also if divorce come in, Mrs Smith (or Mary Smith) is insisting on changing back to Mary Brown, even though they may have a few children carrying the last name of Smith.

    If we’re not close friends or similar in age, I still prefer to use Mr Smith or Miss Brown. (Mrs Smith if she’s married to Mr Smith)

  416. anonymous -  June 7, 2012 - 5:33 pm

    I agree with Adrian Daddow!

  417. anonymous -  June 7, 2012 - 5:30 pm

    Wow. The first comment for this page was written one year ago. HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!! =D