Name change is complicated, and can make introducing or addressing a new acquaintance tricky. When do you use Miss, Ms. or Mrs.? Don’t worry, as name-change experts we are happy to share the proper use of Miss, Ms. and Mrs. with you!
Historically, Mistress was the feminine version of Mister. Obviously today’s use of that term makes it completely inappropriate to introduce any woman as a mistress. Save yourself a faux pas and skip the use of mistress completely.
Mistress was eventually divided into Miss and Mrs. Miss indicated an unmarried woman, and Mrs. indicated a married woman. Over time, Miss began to be associated with young women, and calling an older unmarried woman Miss was confusing. Thus the title Ms. was created.
Technically, Ms. is a title referring to an adult unmarried woman, not a young unmarried girl, or teenager. But, just to make thinks difficult, Ms. can be used by any adult woman who is married or unmarried. The use of Ms. started in the 1950’s and really took off in the 1970’s in the midst of feminism and equality conversations.
So here’s the modern day breakdown on when to use Miss, Ms. and Mrs.:
When introducing a young unmarried woman, use Miss.
When introducing a married woman who has previously introduced herself as a Mrs., use Mrs.
When introducing an adult women of unknown marriage status or a woman who has called herself Ms., use Ms.