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Form of Address: Name Titles - Courtesy/Social Titles

Published Saturday, March 17, 2007

A courtesy title is a personal title, form of address, that is used to address somebody out of politeness or as a social convention. As such, it is a title used for politeness’ sake. Not being knowledgeable or sensitive to its proper use can cause offense so, as to prevent this, the etiquette concerning courtesy titles (Mr., Sir, Mrs., Miss, Ms., Madam) are given below. All these titles are used before someone's name.

Name Titles - Courtesy Titles

Sir (pronounced sur) - term of address for a man also used as an honorific before the given name or the full name of baronets and knights.

Madam - Used as a form of polite address for a woman. It means "my lady" and is the equivalent of Mrs. or Ms. It is also used before the name of a woman's official position as a term of address. Two examples are: Madam President and Madam Speaker.

Mr or Mr. (mister) - is used for men. Used as a courtesy title before the surname or full name of a man. Mister is an etymological variant of master.

Mrs or Mrs. (misis or misiz) - is used for women who are married. Used as a courtesy title for a married, widowed, or divorced woman before her own surname or full name of her husband.

Miss (pronounced mis ) - is used for girls or for women who are not married. It is a title typically used for an unmarried woman. It is a contraction of mistress which is an old form of address for a woman.

Ms or Ms. (pronounced Miz) - is used for women and does not show if a woman is married. Many women prefer to use this title to Miss or Mrs. Used as a courtesy title before the surname or full name of a woman or girl.

Note Summary:
  • A courtesy (social) title is dropped if another title such as Jr. or Sr. or an academic or professional title, is used. These titles precede a name if there are no professional titles. The suffixes Junior (Jr.) and Senior (Sr.) follow a name.
  • When addressing someone that you do not know their last name, then it is polite to use the title “sir” or “madam.”
  • Title of address for men: Mr or Mr. and Sir.
  • Title of address for women: Miss, Mrs., Ms., Madam.
  • Omit use of Mr., Mrs., Miss or Ms. when using first and last names.
Related Articles:
Collective Nouns of People
Animal Gender: Names of Male and Female Animals

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At 3:14 PM, Anonymous zina said...

Delete the "Miss" from all your entries~~it kept women oppressed for centuries before Ms. magazine set the record straight for women's preferences. That was 1974. How about joining the 21st century? What did women march for?

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