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  5. "Frau" or "Fräulein"


"Frau" or "Fräulein"

I'm just wondering which one would be better for an unmarried woman. I know "Fräulein" means "miss", but I have heard that it is rude and not used anymore. So would "Frau" be more appropriate?

Also when did "Fräulein" stop being used?


September 20, 2017



I may be wrong, but I think I heard it's no longer used because it was seen as sexist because it basically means "little maiden woman".

Can someone verify?


yeah, that's it.

And I concur; why have a different word for unmarried women if you don't have one for unmarried man? What has any-one's status of marriage to do with how you speak to them? It shouldn't be of interest to any-one but the woman herself.

It ties into the feminist movement and fighting for women's rights in Germany.

Afaik, (and I'm not sure about that, since I was born later and lived in East-Germany) until the sixties and into the seventies, in (West-)Germany, employability depended on your legal status. (Also, one woman once told me she couldn't buy a washing machine in 1974 without the consent of her husband.)


Ok. I guess it's just a culture thing that's dying out then. Easier on the learner :D


In English, its:

Mr. = Mister/ Mrs. = Misses (married)/ Ms. = Miss (unmarried)

I guarantee this stems from a historically cultural aspect. Generally speaking, women are often the pursued by the men and everyone seemed to be infatuated with "their good name" and what not so knowing the status of a woman was fairly important, I'm sure, for the time. Yes, you could probably just ask the lady if she was married but I bet that infringed upon some form of etiquette and simply saying "This is Mrs. or Ms. Doe." was the signal that she is either taken or single. Also, it was probably seen as irrelevant to have a title for an unmarried man since it was most likely seen as taboo for a woman to pursue a man. I'm too lazy to do the research right now, but I bet much of what I am saying is in the ballpark. Take it for what its worth.


I don't think Ms. equals Miss:


But maybe a native speaker can tell what is used most commonly today?


That is an interesting piece. You are correct it would appear, but myself, and I am sure many other Americans included, use Miss and Ms. interchangeably. Since they are both pronounced the same (essentially, I simply though mizz was just stressing they were unmarried). People usually don't write Miss ..., from what I can tell. Usually, they will write one of the three I listed previously.

Thanks for showing this.


I actually never realized that Ms. and Miss weren't interchangeable. Maybe because Miss isn't really used in modern written English much (at least in the USA). Maybe the distinction is more pronounced in England?


Ms. (pronounced "miz") and Miss are not interchangeable. Miss is equivalent to what Fraeulein was in German. Now, Ms. is equivalent to what "Frau" is nowadays in German. So basically you say Ms. if you don't know/don't care about the marital status of the woman, or if she introduces herself with Ms. then she doesn't wish to tell her marital status.

Miss also has no abbreviation. It's just spelled out.

So in English there's Miss (for unmarried women), Mrs. (pronounced "missus," for married women), and Ms. (pronounced "miz," and is neutral).

  • 1350

If you live in the southeast portion of the States, I found out that "Miss" was used for married as well as not married. If you didn't call someone "Miss Jones" you could be considered being rude. So you start out by saying "Miss...." and some people will say "Oh please just call me Susan". Also in the south saying "Yes, Ma'am" or "no Ma'am" was expected from strangers. A saying that I heard more than a hundred times was that if someone didn't use Ma'am "well they just weren't brought up right".

I moved to South Carolina to work in a hospital there, and the nurse in charge of keeping the RN employees up to date on their immunizations, mask fittings etc. let me know (she was some years younger than I and I was in my 40's) that she was called "Miss" and then her first name; she was married. It was hit or miss (no pun intended) if someone preferred to be called Miss first name, Miss last name, or just by their given name.

It was very important when I worked with patients or their families. I have a Midwestern accent and Southerns tend not to trust "Yankees"; I got used to calling all my female patients "Miss ...". I got in trouble a few times just because my mannerisms were not "southern". Somehow I managed to "embarrass" them. But I should save these stories for a book. ;-)


See, I still say yes/no ma'am and yes/no sir. I grew up mostly in the south, primarily Arkansas and more so in Virginia. My family is originally from out west so I really don't have a southern accent, but I have picked up many southern expressions and words in my everyday conversation such as "y'all."

You're right, now that I think about it, a lot of women, that I know, prefer to be called "Miss (first name)." I've never actually thought about it because I've never really distinguished the prefix from the first name because, saying "Miss Jane" was more of what their actual first name is to me; I've never called then by anything else.

It seems, to me, to be a polite way to acknowledge she enjoys the "Miss" because it has youthful connotations, or simply since a lot of "Mr. & Mrs. + (surname)" is common, especially in the South, they may prefer keeping the first name while also keeping the true to proper etiquette and addressing them by the prefix.

This is probably also why I was confused with the Miss and Ms. thing. They have as felt one and the same to me for the longest time. That's an interesting point you bring up because I know countless "Miss -" and never thought about why they use that.


Titles were once used to indicate marital status or essentially to indicate one's availability, by females. Miss (unmarried/available), Ms (vague, undisclosed), and Mrs (married/unavailable). Fräulein vs Frau vs Mädchen was probably very similar convention. Originally, I was taught that these titles had some wiggle room amongst them - you chose a title keeping age in mind, when you didn't know their marital status.


No-one is called "Fräulein" any more. The last Fräulein I met was a my school in the early nineties. It was commented on as highly unusual )and we were all cautioned to use the title "Fräulein" for her if we didn't want to feel her wrath...)

I think it started to die out in the seventies.


I do believe Frau is more appropriate. Fräulein is a diminutive of Frau.

I don't know when Fräulein stopped being used.

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