‘Ms’ in 1901!

Mr Jender has passed on to me the fascinating fact that ‘Ms’ goes back to at least 1901.

On page 4 of the Springfield (Mass.) Sunday Republican of November 10, 1901, under the heading “Men, Women and Affairs,” is [an item] in which the writer suggests that “a void in the English language” may be filled by Ms., pronounced as “Mizz,” as an alternative to Miss or Mrs.

For more, see here.

2 thoughts on “‘Ms’ in 1901!

  1. I don’t know if others have experienced this, but I’ve found that whenever this comes up in my feminist philosophy classes, at least a third (sometimes more than half) of my students say that they thought that “Ms.” indicated that a woman was divorced! Some even said that they learned this in elementary school from their teachers: Miss means you’re unmarried, Mrs. means you’re married, and Ms. means you’re divorced! It kind of defeats the purpsoe having one title for all women (like “Mr.” applies to all men).

  2. My students here (UK) are totally confused about ‘Ms’. I used to be shocked that in a good year 3 out of 40 women students used ‘Ms’ as their title, but I no longer am. I even understand their choice now. ‘Ms’ is supposed to be a title that gives no marital information, and instead (here, anyway) it’s a title that gives false marital information. And why would you want to do that? My impression has been that ‘Ms’ is more used and better understood in the US. Is that right?

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