"Mr.", "Mrs.", "Ms."

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Juuitchan:
Do I have this right?
- "Mr." (pronounced "Mister") came from "Master".
- "Mrs." (pronounced "Misses") came from "Mistress". - "Ms." (pronounced "Mizz") stands for nothing and came from nothing.

And also please check this one:
- The modern abbreviation for "Mistress" is "Mss." (Don't ask me where I saw this one used.)
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Areff:
[nq:1]Do I have this right? - "Mr." (pronounced "Mister") came from "Master". - "Mrs." (pronounced "Misses") came from "Mistress". - "Ms." (pronounced "Mizz") stands for nothing and came from nothing.[/nq]
You basically have that right. Note that in some Southern US dialects "Mrs." is supposedly pronounced "Miz" (like StandAmE "Ms."). Note too that some BrE speakers claim to pronounce "Ms." as "Muzz" or perhaps "M'zz" (which for them is different from "muzz"). In AmE "Ms." definitely takes the /I/ vowel ("Mizz"). Also, I have observed that many people pronounce "Ms." as though it were "Miss", though I can't prove this beyond making the statement.
It's true that "Ms." stands for nothing, but it's not entirely accurate to say that it came from nothing. It was patterned after the existing marital-status-indicating titles "Mrs." and "Miss", and it contains that which is common to those titles. So I think you can say that it came from them.
[nq:1]And also please check this one: - The modern abbreviation for "Mistress" is "Mss." (Don't ask me where I saw this one used.)[/nq]
I don't think there is any modern usage of "Mistress" as a title, so it follows that there's no modern abbreviation.

Steny '08!
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Juuitchan:
[nq:2]And also please check this one: - The modern abbreviation for "Mistress" is "Mss." (Don't ask mewhere I saw this one used.)[/nq]
[nq:1]I don't think there is any modern usage of "Mistress" as a title, soit follows that there's no modern abbreviation.[/nq]
I wouldn't DARE say that to any woman who takes the title "Mistress".
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Don Phillipson:
[nq:1]- "Ms." (pronounced "Mizz") stands for nothing and came from nothing.[/nq]
Not quite. As a formal term of address, Miss and Mrs. differentiate between unmarried and married women, which the form Mr. does not among the men to whom it is applied. So certain reformers wanted 35 years ago a form of address for women that did not specify their (irrelevant) marital status, and proposed Ms. I.e. it is a synthetic term but has a very specific function.
Don Phillipson
Carlsbad Springs
(Ottawa, Canada)
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Areff:
[nq:2]- "Ms." (pronounced "Mizz") stands for nothing and came from nothing.[/nq]
[nq:1]Not quite. As a formal term of address, Miss and Mrs. differentiate between unmarried and married women, which the form ... 35 years ago a form of address for women that did not specify their (irrelevant) marital status, and proposed Ms.[/nq]
Which had already been in some use since the early postwar era in, for example, the bulk mailing domain.
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raymond o'hara:
[nq:2]- "Ms." (pronounced "Mizz") stands for nothing and came from nothing.[/nq]
[nq:1]Not quite. As a formal term of address, Miss and Mrs. differentiate between unmarried and married women, which the form ... Ms. I.e. it is a synthetic term but has a very specific function. Don Phillipson Carlsbad Springs (Ottawa, Canada)[/nq]
Despite the ridicule MS. got when first coined it has become established, there is even a MS. magazine.
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Ben Zimmer:
[nq:2]Not quite. As a formal term of address, Miss and ... did not specify their (irrelevant) marital status, and proposed Ms.[/nq]
[nq:1]Which had already been in some use since the early postwar era in, for example, the bulk mailing domain.[/nq]
There's now some evidence that "Ms." dates back all the way to the turn of the 20th century. On the Newspaperarchive database, I found the following citation:
1901 Humeston (Iowa) New Era 4 Dec. 7/4 As a word to be used in placeof "Miss" or "Mrs.," when the addresser is ignorant of the state of the person addressed, the Springfield Republican suggests a word of which "Ms." is the abbreviation, with a pronunciation something like "Mizz." But the Republican does not tell what the new word is or how it is to be spelled.
(Note that the complaint made by the OP that "Ms." is an abbreviation without an expansion was already being made back then.)

Previously, the earliest known cites for "Ms." had been the following:

(1932 N.Y. Times 29 May III. 2/8 In addressing by letter a woman whose marital status is in doubt, should one write 'M's' or 'Miss'?)
1949 M. PEI Story of Lang. I. viii. 79 Feminists..have often proposedthat the two present-day titles be merged into..'Miss' (to be written 'Ms.'), with a plural 'Misses' (written 'Mss.').
See also the discussion here:
http://listserv.linguistlist.org/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind9905D&L=ads-l&P=R337

As noted by Denis Baron in Grammar and Gender , the 1932 New York Times letter to the editor suggests that "Ms." (or "M's") was initially a stopgap title for a woman with unknown marital status, rather than a feminist innovation. The 1901 cite accords with this, but gives the more typical spelling of "Ms."
Also, Mario Pei implied that the early pronuncation of "Ms." was /mIs/. The 1901 cite is proof that "Ms." was indeed intended to be pronounced as /mIz/.
Dennis Baron is currently trying to track down the original article in the Springfield Republican .
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Donna Richoux:
[nq:2]Not quite. As a formal term of address, Miss and ... is a synthetic term but has a very specific function.[/nq]
[nq:1]Despite the ridicule MS. got when first coined it has become established, there is even a MS. magazine.[/nq]
That's rather an odd way of putting the sequence of events, in my opinion. MS. Magazine has been around since 1972, which is exactly the same time as women began being using the title in a big way in their names and atttracting ridicule even though it dates back to at least 1949. Some say it had earlier use as well, though I don't find any firm citations.
Wikipedia, "Ms":
Although it is usually believed to be a creation of modern feminism, Ms. was sporadically used as an
abbreviation for the title "Mistress" (just like
Mrs.) as early as the 1700s, and the pronunciation mizz for Mrs. was colloquial in the American South and other areas. Indeed "Mistress" originally did
not bear reference to marital status either, until the title separated into the diminutive "Miss" and abbreviation "Mrs." in the Victorian era.
http://members.aol.com/gulfhigh2/words1.html
An earlier use of Ms. is on a 1767 tombstone in
Plymouth, Massachusetts: "HERE LIES INTERRD (sic)
THE BODY OF MS. SARAH SPOONER." However, it is
considered a likely mistake by the engraver of the tombstone.

Best - Donna Richoux
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Raymond S. Wise:
[nq:1]Do I have this right? - "Mr." (pronounced "Mister") came from "Master". - "Mrs." (pronounced "Misses") came from "Mistress". - ... check this one: - The modern abbreviation for "Mistress" is "Mss." (Don't ask me where I saw this one used.)[/nq]
It is certainly not true that "Ms." "came from nothing." "Mr.," "Mrs.," "Miss," and "Ms." all trace back to the same Latin source.

It's also makes little sense to say that "Ms." "stands for nothing," unless you are equally prepared to say that "Mr." and "Mrs." "stand for nothing," because "Mr." certainly does not stand for "master," nor does "Mrs." stand for "mistress." The abbreviation "Mr." was used for Middle English "maister," and I question whether it can really be considered an abbreviation of "Mister." There are uses of the word "mister," but they seem all to be derived from the abbreviation, not the other way around. Similarly, there are uses of the word "missus" or "missis," but one of those meanings, "mistress," seems to be obsolete or dialectal while the other, "wife," seems, like "mister" for "husband," to be derived from the abbreviation.

Raymond S. Wise
Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
E-mail: mplsray @ yahoo . com
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