Miss, Mrs. and Ms.

 Mmmmm-for those wondering about all those “M” titles, here’s a quick overview –

“Ms.” is a respectful generic designation when a lady’s marital status is either unknown or irrelevant when addressing or writing to her. We shouldn’t forget “Madam”, which is a polite French expression used by many English speaking people for “my lady”.  A shorter version ,”Ma’am”, originally meant the mistress of a house but now represents any older lady.

 

“Mrs.” signifies a married woman as does the French “Madame”, which often, like Ma’am, is a favorite expression of sales clerks when addressing more “mature” women.

“Miss” in today’s common usage is the title for an unmarried (or younger)lady.

Of course, if an incorrect title is used, do as Ms. K did in her comment on the May 24, 2008 post or simply say with a smile, “Oh, it’s Miss or Mrs.– whichever applies. Do know, however that “Ms.” is always correct, safe and unassuming in most situations. 🙂

One Response to Miss, Mrs. and Ms.

  • Valerie says:

    So sorry to be so slow in responding to this! Just wondering whether this rule was in effect before feminism made “Ms.” the universal generic appellation for women of all stations. The Gloria Steinem factor has long made me shy away from it!

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