Miss vs. Ms

The titles Miss and Ms. (Ms in the UK) are both used with the last name or full name of a woman. The difference is that Miss is used generally by unmarried women, whereas Ms can be used by women regardless of their marital status.

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Definition Miss is a title used generally by unmarried women. Ms. is a title used by women regardless of their marital status.
Usage Miss is used to address young or unmarried women. In some countries, it is also used to address teachers. Ms. has now become a default for women in business circles and official contexts.
Pronunciation Miss is pronounced /ˈmɪs/ Ms. is usually pronounced /ˈmɪz/, but also appears variously as /mɨz/, /məz/, or /məs/ when unstressed.
Plural Misses Mss. or Mses.
Origin Miss is derived from the word Mistress. Ms. originated as an alternative to Miss or Mrs. to avoid referring to the marital status of women.

edit Origin of Miss and Ms.

The word Miss is a short form that originated from the word Mistress in the 1600s. Ms (used in UK) or Ms. (used in North America and Ireland) is a title used with the last name or full name of women. The usage of this title began early, at the same time when “Miss” came into usage but gained popularity only by the 20th century. The Emily Post Institute defines it as the title used for women regardless of their marital status.

edit Differences in Usage

The word Miss is used both as a title for unmarried women and was traditionally used to address young women in general (those below eighteen years) especially those who belonged to upper class households. The word Miss is also used to address teachers in school by students in British and Australian culture. Another use of this word is in beauty pageants like Miss World or Miss Universe. The use of the word Miss became problematic when married women using their husband’s surname were also referred to as Miss.

The revival if the title Ms. was suggested by many writing associations and some feminist groups who felt a need for a title for businesswomen and women in politics that did not bear any references to their marital status. Their contention was that the title "Mr." for men did not indicate whether the man was married, unmarried or divorced. They wanted to have a similar convention for women's names.

After due debate, the US Government Printing Office finally approved the usage of this title for official documents in 1972. The advantage of using this word is obvious and becoming default in business circles both in North America and Britain and preferred by women who are unmarried, married, or divorced.

The American Heritage Book of English Usage states that: "Using Ms. obviates the need for the guesswork involved in figuring out whether to address someone as Mrs. or Miss: you can’t go wrong with Ms. Whether the woman you are addressing is married or unmarried, has changed her name or not, Ms. is always correct."

In business, "Ms." is the standard default title for women until or unless an individual makes another preference known, and this default is also becoming more common socially.

edit Plural forms for Ms. and Miss

Misses is used as a plural form of the word Miss. Mss. or Mses can be used as a plural for the word Ms.

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Comments: Miss vs Ms

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Anonymous comments (4)

November 21, 2013, 12:38pm

We don't need a non-gender specific title; just address someone by their name without using Mr Mrs Ms Miss.

— 166.✗.✗.18

June 25, 2013, 11:32pm

By Eve Kay
The Guardian,
"...the whole point of the word was to give women a title that makes their autonomy central, not to highlight their relationship or absence of relationship, to a man. Choose Mrs and be condemned as some guy's chattel. Choose Ms and you become an adult woman in charge of your whole life."

Like Mr., Ms. does not denote martial status. The term promotes gender equality.

— 8.✗.✗.212

June 5, 2012, 3:47am

Why do we need a non-gender specific title?

— 75.✗.✗.156

October 27, 2013, 11:40am

Titles definitely need reviewing in this age. I would suggest a couple like
Mg - Gay male
Ml - Lesbian

— 114.✗.✗.210


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American vs. British English