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Miss (pronounced //) is an English language honorific traditionally used only for an unmarried woman (not using another title such as "Doctor" or "Dame"). Originating in the 17th century, it is a contraction of mistress, which was used for all women. Its counterparts are Mrs., usually used only for married women, and Ms., which can be used for married or unmarried women.
The plural Misses may be used, such as in The Misses Doe. The traditional French "Mademoiselle" (abbreviation "Mlle") may also be used as the plural in English language conversation or correspondence. In Australian, British, and Irish schools the term 'miss' is often used by pupils in addressing any female teacher.
Use alone as a form of address
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Miss is an honorific for addressing a woman who is not married, and is known by her maiden name. It is a shortened form of mistress, and departed from misses/missus which became used to signify marital attachment in the 18th and 19th centuries. It does not imply age, though youth corresponds (as marriage implies adulthood).
Those seeking to diminish the importance of marriage status to a woman's social identity began to appropriate the office expedience of Ms. (unpunctuated in the UK) in the early 1970s, when it rose 700%. In formal correspondence as women entered the workforce, Ms. pronounced "mizz," served/serves some conservative social functions in avoiding unpleasantness where a woman might keep a marriage name after a divorce, or where the interpersonal gaffe of failing to acknowledge the important marriage event might cause offense (or indicate junior authorship of correspondence).
- Fräulein (German-language term for Miss, gained popularity due to the Fräuleinwunder, lit. Miracle of the Miss)[dubious ]