First names Ms. and Miss

Joanne M. Despres jdespres at MERRIAM-WEBSTER.COM
Fri Apr 12 20:31:52 UTC 2002

I think it's true that a lot of women would object to "Ms.," and it's
my impression is that some people use the default "Mrs." when
they aren't sure about a woman's marital status in order to avoid
giving offense.  (I'm pretty sure Fred Mish called me "Mrs.
Despres" when he called me for my job interview ten years ago,
before he knew better.)   I tend to see it as a holdover from the
days when not being married was considered an embarrassment
for a woman.   It's an annoying presumption to be sure, but some
folks might actually be taking the interocutor's feelings into


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