General Question

Bluefreedom's avatar

Would the word "lady" be a proper term for a woman as the word "gentleman" might be for a man? Is there even any distinction between the two or does it not matter at all really?

Asked by Bluefreedom (22546 points ) January 27th, 2009

I thought up this question while driving to work today. I know it isn’t of any earth shattering significance but I was just wondering what kind of usages people prefer.

(I know I could have consulted a dictionary on this but I prefer the thoughts and opinions of Flutherites as opposed to what I could have learned from dry, impersonal reference materials.)

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19 Answers

aprilsimnel's avatar

They are equivalent, it’s just that “lady” has been taken into common usage as a synonym for “woman,” where “gentleman” has not.

I blame Jerry Lewis.

scamp's avatar

Any female is a woman, but it takes one with class and poise to be a lady. Same goes for the opposite sex. Any male is a man, but it takes good manners and style to be a gentleman. or something like that. At least that’s what my mama told me.

Bluefreedom's avatar

@scamp. I think your mama was wiser than her years. That’s a really good answer, in my opinion. Thanks for submitting that.

An answer like yours is indicative of why I like to hear them from people here rather than something I could find through a Google search or dictionary, for instance.

btko's avatar

Or if you go back further it would have been “Lords and Ladies”. A lady was a female member of the royal court.

Fieryspoon's avatar

Lady is the equivalent of Lord. They’re the female and male words for someone who has property rights.

asmonet's avatar

In everyday conversation I think it’s fine provided you don’t add a ‘that’ in front of lady and emphasize it. Then it gets a bit aggravating.

THAT lady over there…

I’ve never heard it followed by something nice. But the word itself when used without sarcasm or anything I think is acceptable and a kind of sweet.

cyndyh's avatar

I think it’s fine to refer to a woman or a lady as long as the equivalent term is being used for the men or gentlemen. It’s irritating to see restroom signs that say “Ladies” and “Men”. If you’re using “Ladies” then the other sign should be “Gentlemen”. If you’re using “Women” the other sign should be “Men”.

Or worse yet, don’t use “Men” and “Girls”. Now if you’re joking around with everyone and say “boys and girls” that’s not as annoying. It’s the setting a double-standard that’s grating.

Divalicious's avatar

@scamp Lurve to you. I agree with what mama told you.

I call my inmates Ladies and Gentlemen. Most of them haven’t been spoken to with any respect in their entire lives, so I try to give them something to strive for. Plus it increases my chances of being treated with respect in turn.

It has to affect you be constantly referred to as a bitch, ho, playa, or thug.

Jack79's avatar

I think that at least in the UK and Australia, both terms can be used to mean more or less equivalent things. Though they are in fact becoming outdated. Other than an announcer saying “ladies and gentlemen” or the “gents’ room” for example, I don’t think that I’d want anyone to call me “gentleman”, and I’m sure most women would feel weird with “lady”. I’d rather be called a “geeza”

asmonet's avatar

I like it when people call me lady, darling, sweetheart and all those other older forms of address. I think they’re adorable when they’re sincere.

aprilsimnel's avatar

@Jack79 – In the US, a “geezer” is an elderly man.

When The Streets tried to blow up here, no one understood a word he said, especially “geeza.”

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

Well, a favorite fantasy writer always used ‘gentle fem’ and gente homo’ in some of her works. For some reason, I’m kind of glad that didn’t catch on. I can’t imagine calling some burly guy a gentle homo and not getting my ass kicked.

90s_kid's avatar

I would say “ma’am”. But I avoid “Sir” and “Ma’am” because overall, they are just big signs that tell the person I am talking to “You are a stranger whom I could give a crap about, but only concerned about one thing.” I just say “Excuse me, Is this yours?” or something. Lady has always been rude, somehow. “Watch it Lady!” Vs. “She was a pretty lady.” Then it isn’t. Gentlemen is fine….just a bit old fashioned in my opinion.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

@asmonet, funny thing, I can’t remember her name. She wrote DragonRiders of Pern I think. She wrote a lot of dragon fantasy stuff. I read that stuff back in the late 70’s and 80’s, back when fantasy was good.

cyndyh's avatar

That’d be Anne McCaffrey.

asmonet's avatar

Oh, I loved her when I was a kid. Especially the Pern series. :)
I’d forgotten all about her, thanks. :)

running4ever5's avatar

i think they are interchangable

sohamthe2nd's avatar

Very simply,a gentlemen is a man who makes a woman feel like a lady.

Personally, I loathe titles. I think they’re completely un-necessary. If you’re really that important, then people would know who you are without a title being added to the front of your name.

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