What are ‘Mrs’ and ‘Ms’ short for? The abbreviations Mr and Mrs are in common use, and are straightforward to pronounce when we see them written down: an approximation would be ‘mister’ and ‘missus’.
But what are they abbreviations of? We seldom, if ever, write them out in full – and most of us probably never stop to think what the full versions of these words are. It may come as a surprise that ‘Mr’ and ‘Mrs’ aren’t actually short for mister and missus – they were originally abbreviations of master and mistress. ‘Mistress’ used to be the title prefixed to the name of a married woman, a usage dating back to the 15th century, as these early examples in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) show:
What's Your Reaction? (Preferences: Gerund and Infinitive) Fifteen London | Welcome page for the flagship London restaurant | Jamie Oliver (UK) Participles in boxes « A Muse Amuses. Yesterday I was standing in for a colleague who’s gone to Disney with her kids, and so I was teaching an Upper Intermediate 2 class (they’re preparing for FCE in december).
The previous class they’d read a text about Pompeii and the other teacher had left me with the remit of continuing on into the language focus that followed on from the reading – participle clauses! While I can imagine some of you might think participle clauses aren’t for the faint hearted, I was actually quite excited at the prospect, since it gave me the opportunity to try out a game I designed for the IHWO Games Bank, which I’ve never actually had the chance to use in a class before.
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