What “Mrs.” is Short For

by Christopher Paul on May 28, 2012

The abbreviation “Mrs.” was originally short for mistress.

“At the time, “mistress” didn’t popularly have the negative connotation as it often does today, namely referring to a woman other than a man’s wife who he has an affair with. Instead, back then “mistress”, deriving from the Old French “maistresse” (female master), was just the feminine form of “mister/master”. “Mistress” itself first popped up in English around the 14th century, originally meaning “female teacher, governess”.”

During the 17th to 19th centuries, Mrs.’ preferred pronunciation changed from mistress to “missus” or “missis” as the term mistress was used to describe a woman involved with a married man.

Be sure to read the bonus facts at Today I Found Out because they’re pretty interesting too. Oh… and one of them is telling you how to properly spell the plural abbreviation of Mr. which is Messrs. I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t know that until I was in college and started reading the Wall Street Journal where it’s used frequently.

Previous post:

Next post: