Mrs conceived from the honorary Mistress title was the general title used to address married and unmarried women. The ms vs mrs vs miss division began in the 17th century, with the usage of ms repressed until the 20th century. Mrs, used by married women and widows who retained their married names even after their husbands’ passing.
Now the mrs or ms title is an issue encountered when trying to address a woman by her social status. Some women feel insulted or downgraded when you address them with the wrong titles due to their marital status. This then begs the question when do you use ms mrs or miss?
Retrospective Look At Mrs And Ms Origin
In most languages, the titles used to address married women are direct female equal to the male titles, i.e Senora/Senor, Signora/Signor etc. As a result, the mrs title was the general term instead of the ms vs mrs clash.
In the 20th century, the ms title became more accepted as people got enlightened. Another reason for this compromise was because women began building careers and the confusion posed by the ms vs mrs vs miss title heightened.
Ms, along with the miss and mrs titles, are derivatives of the mistress word in the 17th century. It was popular until the 20th century when it gained ground. In 1949, a historical linguist named Mario Pei wrote in his book ‘The Story of Language’ that feminists, who objected to the distinction between mrs and miss, proposed that both titles should merge into one. The ms vs mrs vs miss title was often skipped in favor of the ms title because it was marital neutral.
Erickson’s search into the forms of female addressing was from her study of women’s employment in 1801. What she found in registers, records, and archives made her take a second look at existing notions and follow the transitions that had taken place in the history of titles.
In some fields, the ms vs mrs vs miss conflict is waning and recognition of ms. is gaining ground. The New York Times did not announce that it would accept the use of ms. as the title along miss and mrs until the year 1986.
What Is The Difference Between Mrs And Ms?
So, the difference between Mrs and Ms is as follows:
- Mrs is the traditional title of a married woman or a widow and divorcee who wishes to keep her married name.
- Ms pronounced as “mizz” is marital neutral and can address all women, regardless of her status.
When you want to plan a wedding, you have to be careful when penning down names on your invites. This is for you not to offend your guests. The ms vs mrs vs miss would pose a challenge here. Hence, if you are sure a female guest is married, use the mrs title. If she is single, use the miss title. How to address a woman if you are unsure of her marital status? Use the ms title. In general, this title is the safest bet for even those in the business and corporate world.
When To Use Mrs
With the many titles affiliated to the female gender, the question ‘what is the title for a married female?’ always come up.
The mrs. title is to address the married, widowed or divorced woman who wishes to keep her living, deceased or ex-spouse’ name. It is not conclusive to say all women who use Mrs. have spouses in their lives, but it is safe to say that they are or were once married. i.e.
- It’s been 10years since Mrs. Adams husband died
- Mr. John bought a bunch of roses for his wife, Mrs. John
- Mrs. Gregory divorced her ex-husband on grounds of infidelity
When To Use Ms
For proper use of the ms. title, one has to understand that it is the female equal of the male title mr.
Ms. can be for ‘mizz’ or ‘mez’. It is a marital neutral title to address all women. It is also necessary to know that there is a huge difference between the ms. and the miss title as the latter is only used when addressing a maiden. The ms. title must go with the persons’ last name. i.e.
- When Ms. Kevin – Adams Beatrice married, she didn’t drop her maiden name but hyphenated it
- Ms. Jacob Graces’ boyfriend is a handy-man
- Ms. Benjamin Alice became widowed in the summer
- The parcel of land purchased by Ms. Raymond Patty was through her agent
- Hurray! Ms. Lloyd Amy is twenty-two years today
Tricks To Keep In Mind The Mrs And Ms Difference
One of the questions often asked is the “should I use Mrs or Ms question”. This is an easytask if you are sure of the woman’s social status or she prefers a certain title given to her.
However, a trick to keep in mind when differentiating the mrs and ms title is the word marriage. Mrs and marriage both contain the letter R. This will always remind you that mrs stands for marriage. Thus, you will always remember that it refers to a woman who is married. While the ms. title applies to any female, whether married or not.
Other Female Titles In English And Around The World
Ms. vs mrs. vs miss are not the only female titles. There are so many other female titles in English and around the world to address females such as;
- Ma’am also known as a madam. This is a sign of respect to address an older woman,
- Dr. a contracted form of Doctor. This is a professional title for those who have doctorate degrees or for those who are certified medical practitioners.
- Academic degree is an award for those who completed a course of study in the university. The titles include:
Barristers, Engineers, Journalists, Thespians, Physicists, Chemists, Biologists, Dermatologists, Vocalists, Technicians, etc.
- Title of command emphasizes the rank of a person or duties in an organization. It goes in conjunction with the person’s proper name. i.e
President, Mayor, Senator, Governor, Prime minister, Senate president or Counselor etc.
In conjunction with the persons, proper name is a title of command which emphasizes a person’s rank or duties in an organization.
- Frau/Fraulein: This is the German female equal of the male term ‘Herr’. Frau is for addressing a married woman and Fraulein for an unmarried woman.
- Madame/mademoiselle: This is the French female equal of the title ‘monsieur’. Madame is for addressing a married woman and mademoiselle for an unmarried woman.
- Srimati/Susri: This is the Hindi female equal of the title ‘Sri’. Srimati is for addressing a married woman and Susri for an unmarried woman.
- Aristocratic titles for women include;
Viscountess, Countess, Baroness, Duchess, Empress, Queen, Princess, Lady etc.
Word On Men Title
Unlike the females who have the ms. vs mrs. vs miss debates ongoing, the male titles are very simple and straightforward. The only difference in their title is the age grouping. So, the way to address a man differs from how to address a boy.
In particular, master used when addressing boys and not adults. There are exceptions though, which is when master can be a professional title like form-master or housemaster.
Mr. or Mister unlike the ms. vs mrs. is used to address adult males. It is independent like the ms. title and can address men regardless of their marital status.
The title of mr. pronounced as mister is best abbreviated as such. i.e.
- Master Sylvester will be 4years by December (regular usage for boys)
- The form-master made sure that all the students in his class went to boot camp (professional title usage) for an adult)
- Mr. (Mister) Louis got his Ph.D. at the age of 34 (Adult usage)
- Master Thomas took his first steps yesterday
- The headmaster of the school will retire soon
- The housemaster of the boys hostel, relaxed curfew
In conclusion, we have been able to establish the history of the mrs or ms title, and show how they have changed through history. In addition, we are more familiar with the difference between the ms vs mrs vs miss titles.
We are sure this article is able to give you a better insight into when and how you should use these female titles. It will also help clear the confusion on how best people can use these titles because the terms and usage aremore familiar now.