Sunday, April 21, 2013

Etymology with Goose: "Mrs."

I saw this on tumblr today: "...a woman only has status if she's married. Think about it. Add an apostrophe to Mrs = Mr's. *Think about it* and then go throw up."

:facepalm:

Welcome to Etymology with Goose!

The contraction (repeat: *contraction*) "Mrs." Derives from "Missus," which was a vernacular way to say "Mistress," as in a capital-L Lady who owned and controlled land (originally just like everyone else, but then only as a widow during the "rise of mainstream chauvinism"). It is not a term of ownership. However, it is a term of status. Very high, very independent status.

I scorn the person who originally came up with the thought of "Mr's" and ask them to do research before proselytizing false conclusions. They essentially turned a powerful, independent person into an object.

tl;dr: "Mrs." derives from "Mistress," a term of power and prestige; not from a sense of male ownership.