Dictionary.com

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.

AMANDA B. SORRELL ESCAPE FROM CUSTODY OF CORRECTIONS

US Fed News Service, Including US State News February 6, 2006 The Vermont State Police issued the following news release:

TROOPER(S): Det. Sgt. James Whitcomb DATE:2-6-2006 LOCATION: Burlington District Court ACCUSED: Amanda B. Sorrell AGE: 25 ADDRESS: Vermont Dept. of Corrections DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF INCIDENT: go to website brown hair color

On 2-6-2006 at approximately 1620hrs, Amanda B. Sorrell escaped from the custody of corrections as she was being escorted from the Burlington District Court House. Sorrell may be in the company of Allen H. Gokey a 31 year old male of Essex Vermont. Subject may be traveling through southern Vermont. Possible vehicle involved, tan colored Oldsmobile. this web site brown hair color

Sorrell’s description follows:

Eye Color: Brown Hair color: Brown Height: 5’01 Weight: 130 Complexion: Fair Race: White Clothing: Green coat, jeans, white sneakers Please use caution with Sorrell as she is an escapee. If located do not approach the subject. Contact your local police agency.

1,331 Comments

  1. [。 -  April 22, 2014 - 8:31 pm

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

    Reply
  2. Ganyav -  April 3, 2014 - 12:27 pm

    @Sarah

    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.

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

    2/24/2014
    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.

    Reply
    • Lucy -  April 3, 2014 - 5:41 pm

      So much sexism, wow

      Reply
    • 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,

      Reply
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