Use of Miss

Is Anyone a ‘Miss’ Anymore?

When should I use “Ms.” and “Mrs.” today?
Is anyone a “Miss” anymore?
—————————– – AKWP, Storm Lake, Iowa

Dear AKWP in Iowa:
Ms. is an honorific for a woman that does not specify marital status. It is now almost always used in the United States in the business arena regardless of what the woman chooses to call herself in her private life. Mrs. is sometimes used in business environments, but only when it is known to be the preference of the bearer.

Miss in the US is less frequently used among professional women. It is certainly used as an address for young girls, say, under 12 years of age. Once girls reach, say 13, most people today are addressing envelopes to young women as Ms. (name).

In professional environments outside the United States Ms. is not so ubiquitous: Mrs. (woman’s name) and Miss (name) are common, especially in Commonwealth countries. In many countries Mrs. (woman’s name) is used by working women without any implication of their marital status.

—————————–— Robert Hickey   Use of Miss

Dear Robert,
Having read your post I couldn’t help but send you an email to let you know that you do indeed know several women who prefer Miss over Ms! I am one but also you may remember Bunny Murdock who was Deputy Chief of Protocol at the end of the Reagan administration. Though there are certainly many more, I thought you might appreciate being aware of at least two from your acquaintance. Also, for what it is worth mine is the voice that encouraged Ambassador Mary Mel French to include Miss when she was addressing the issue in her book. Like you, she was not aware of that still being a preference for some.

—————————–– L.L., Washington, DC


Robert Hickey author of “Honor & Respect”

Dear L.L.:
You are absolutely right. Since I’ve been speaking on the topic I have had two women come up to say they also prefer Miss: One was a young attorney here in New York and the other was a fairly young (younger than I am at least) school principal in Ohio.

Of course, there were certainly others who prefer who Miss who didn’t bother to come up and tell me. I don’t observe it to be the preference of a huge percentage of the adult professional population, but I am careful to include Miss now since a basic courtesy when addressing someone is to follow their preference.

—————————–— Robert Hickey   Use of Miss

Dear Robert,
I suspect there may be some regional differences as well as I suspect Miss might be common — even among teenagers — down South.

As long as beauty pageants continue to anoint Miss Virginia, Southern families will refer to certain relatives as Miss (Given Name), and children call their unmarried teachers Miss Smith, it is very likely that some little girls will grow up to wear the title quite comfortably.

—————————–– L.L., Washington, DC

Related Forms of Address:
—-Couples: Military
—-Couples: Private Citizens
—-Couples: U.S. Officials
—-Couple, Same Sex
—-First Names
Man or Woman, Social
—-Woman, Married
Mrs. vs. Ms.
Spouse of an Official


Robert Hickey author of “Honor & Respect”

When Should You Use the Forms on this Page?

You can use these forms of address for any mode of communication: addressing a letter, invitation, card or Email. (If there are differences between the official and social forms of address, I will have mentioned the different forms.)  The form noted in the salutation is the same form you say when you say their name in conversation or when you greet them.
___What I don’t cover on this site are many things I do cover in my book: all the rules of forms of address, about names, international titles, precedence, complimentary closes, details on invitations, place cards, all sorts of introductions, etc. I hope you’ll get a copy of the book if you’d like the further detail.

Not Finding Your Answer?

—-#1)  At right on desktops, at the bottom of every page on tablets and phones, is a list of all the offices, officials & topics covered on the site.

—-#2)  If you don’t see the official you seek included or your question answered send me an e-mail. I am pretty fast at sending a reply: usually the next day or so (unless I am traveling.)  Note: I don’t have mailing or Email addresses for any of the officials and I don’t keep track of offices that exist only in history books.

—-#3)  If I think your question is of interest to others, Sometimes I post the question  – but always change all the specifics.

— Robert Hickey 


Robert Hickey author of “Honor & Respect”