The Non-Expert

Ladies First

Experts answer what they know. The Non-Expert answers anything. This week we solve the origins of “Mrs.,” and present a new nomenclature to fill the gender gap, once and for all.

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Question: If Mrs. is an abbreviation, what the hell does it abbreviate? Thanks, Nikita S.

Answer: Unbeknownst to those whose mothers are doctors or whose parents never married (it’s hard to squeeze in dating on top of medical school), “Mrs.” is used in front of a married woman’s name in most English-speaking countries. It is pronounced “Missus,” but it is actually an abbreviation for “Marsha.” Back in the olden days, 95 percent of women were named Marsha, so folks probably figured it was just easier to cut out a few of the letters and call it a day.

As for the origins of the abbreviation, “Mrs.” is an extension of “Mr.”, which is pronounced “Mister” and is an abbreviation for “Marsh,” a very common name for men in the olden days. You notice how “Mrs.” is simply “Mr.” with an “s” on the end? No one is quite sure why that is, but some scholars argue it’s because the female’s body type is curvier and hotter than the male’s. Others proffer that, in the olden days, because women were lazy and didn’t work, they were given the extra letter to write in order to take up more of their time, mitigating their nonstop complaints about how bored they were. There are even some historians who claim the “s” stands for “sex,” which was the primary reason for women back then. Now, I have a sneaking suspicion these theories might be objectifying or degrading to the ladies, so I’m going to play devil’s advocate.

Since the dawning of time, does it not seem that the female of any given species has always been treated as an extension of the male—a Marsh’s Marsha; a lion’s lioness; a cigar’s cigarette? Indeed, the Bible tells us that God fashioned the first woman, Eve, from Adam’s rib only after first creating Adam and then the animals. So basically women were created because men were bored and God wanted to keep them away from the sheep. Does that seem like a fair shake for women? Uh, no.

Here is what I propose: Every relative term for a male and female version of any given thing must now be based on the female version. As an example: If a woman of the cloth is a “priestess,” then a man of the cloth we’ll call a “preistesser.” And, of course, it will no longer be “male/female,” but “female/femalenian.” How do like that, guys?

I don’t expect everyone to start using my new monikers immediately, but a revolution begins with a single step, and I am just the femalenian to take that step. Also, I think this might help get me laid.

Here, then, are your new titles.

Woman Womanan
Women Womanen
Mrs. Mrst.
Lady Lady-lump
Maiden Maidenhaste
Girl Girlock
Grrrl Grrrrrrrrrrrl
Mother Other
Sister Sister Christian
She Sheik
Her Herm
Ma Man
Gal Galileo
Chick Chuck
Broad Broadway Joe
Mademoiselle Mademoisieur
Fraulein Receding Fraulein
Waitress Waitressodajerk
Duchess Dukakis
Heiress Mooch
Doe Doebuck
Heifer Heifbull
Salesgirl Missed Connection
Stewardess Stuartess
Vagina Vangelis
Vixen Vixenerd
Señora Señoradude
Señorita Señoritaduderama
Mare Nightmare
Ewe Eeeeewwwe
Policewoman Officer Chippendale
Ma’am Ma’a’am