General Question

flo's avatar

What is the female equivalent of Sir, since Ma'am seems not to sound right?

Asked by flo (11446points) August 15th, 2018

As asked.

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30 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

You are talking about British Knighthood, right?

flo's avatar

@ragingloli No I’m not.

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

Sir and Ma’am are equivalent in my mind.

In fact today the woman in front of me at the grocery store walked away without her wallet and I grabbed it and followed her with, “Ma’am, ma’am, excuse me you left this!”

I would have said, “Sir, sir, excuse me you left this!” if it was a man.

Patty_Melt's avatar

It is ma’am. Seeming awkward or wrong is just a personal take.

JLeslie's avatar

It’s Ma’am, but also one could argue it’s Miss in some parts of America.

MrGrimm888's avatar

I’m in the ma’am camp.

rojo's avatar

Ah dohn’t know whur yur frum but Ma’am is raht dahn heauh.

rojo's avatar

@LadyMarissa Is it Madam or Madame?

kritiper's avatar

Madam might be politically correct, somewhat, but may come off as sarcastic. I think Ma’am would be a better fit.

ucme's avatar

You would address a letter/email thus…Dear Sir/Madam”
Assuming of course they are unknown to you at time of writing.

MrGrimm888's avatar

^How is it in rhetoric, across the pond? Ma’am?

JLeslie's avatar

Yes, Madam when writing. In America we rarely use Madam verbally.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I’ve got ripped twice for using ma’am, once by someone from Florida and once here just the other day. They think I’m being a jerk and I’m actually being respectful.

So I’d go with Madam.

JLeslie's avatar

^^It’s Miss in those places.

ucme's avatar

Ma’am is what lambs call their mothers.

MollyMcGuire's avatar

But it is right. Yes, ma’am. Madam is not incorrect but refers to the manager of prostitutes and I would not care to be called Madam.

Where you would say yes or no sir to a man, say yes or no ma’am to a woman. Where you would write Dear Sir, write Dear Madam.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@JLeslie Miss, to me, in my culture, implies a familiarity or respect, which I can’t give if unearned.

Like if I knew you: How are you doing today Miss J? Grin, hug, etc….
At church: Okay, say goodbye to Miss J kids!

If I didn’t know you: How are you today, ma’am? (if I didn’t know their last name)
Or May I get the door for you ma’am?

Anyhoo, just my take.

joab's avatar

maybe miss. sir ? would you like your eggs scrambled ? no thank you, miss.

flo's avatar

In official/professional context though “sir” is flawless. I mean no one is going to think sex worker place manager, or too old, etc.. Ma’am Madam, Miss not even close, right?

JLeslie's avatar

@KNOWITALL Yes, I know, basically southern culture is just as you stated.

Up north, and parts of Florida, Miss is used in lieu of Ma’am. Miss Susan (name picked at random) is something completely different.

Think about it, you wouldn’t say Ma’am Susan, but you would say Miss Susan. Up north they would say Susan or Ms. Smith.

In the South and other parts of the Bible Belt, Ma’am is used when addressing someone when you don’t know her name. An example would be: “excuse me ma’am.”

You also probably use it when answering a question or following an order, even if you know her name, “yes ma’am.”

Miss is used when trying to get someone’s attention, “excuse me miss?”

In your example you would just say, “hi, how are you doing today?” It doesn’t need a ma’am. If you know my name then, “how are you doing today J?” I’m not Miss J, not in my mind.

You won’t hear the word Miss responding to a question or command. So, you won’t hear “yes miss,” like you do “yes ma’am.”

I think Miss is the default in the northeast, because Ma’am assumes the female is sexually actively. Like using woman instead lady. That’s the old reason I think, how it evolved.

Anyway, if you say ma’am, and the person “corrects” you, they are just letting you know ma’am makes them uncomfortable, they aren’t angry or anything. Just call them how they ask. If they say, “just call me Susan,” then respect the request and use Susan, not Miss Susan. If they ask not to be called ma’am, then don’t do it. That’s my advice anyway. I know it’s a difficult habit to break, I understand even with all good intentions a ma’am might slip out accidently you’re so accustomed to it.

Where I live now it’s a little bit of a mix. I hear ma’am sometimes, I hear miss sometimes, but I never hear Miss J.

LadyMarissa's avatar

@rojo In this case it would be Madam (polite form to address a woman). Madame is the French word for a married woman. Since Sir is the polite form to address a man, Madam should be the polite form to address a woman. In many cases you won’t know whether or not the woman is married so I would choose Madam over Madame!!!

I’m also going by my past experiences of letter writing where the norm was Dear Sir/Madam. The rules may have changed since then; but, to me, Ma’am doesn’t flow properly…NO pun intended!!! ;)

KNOWITALL's avatar

@JLeslie I’m not changing, people can dig it or not. :)

TBH, I was offended when the jelly said I call her Professor or Doctor….ummmmm, nope.
Obviously my ‘respect’ was misplaced, lesson learned.

JLeslie's avatar

@KNOWITALL Not trying to change you :).

KNOWITALL's avatar

@JLeslie I knew you wouldn’t sista!!! (that’s affection, not sarcasm btw!!!)

I am so done with offending people that I have become absolutely free of caring! woohoo!

MrGrimm888's avatar

Fucks given = 0!

JLeslie's avatar

@KNOWITALL I don’t think they find it offensive, just a little jarring.

Although, we were raised to respect the request of the person themselves. However they want to be called. I don’t see why that doesn’t make sense to Southerners. Isn’t that respectful?

KNOWITALL's avatar

@JLeslie The two I mentioned found it offensive for sure.

And yes, I can respect their wishes, but when they’re aholes about it, I won’t call them anything anymore. Their choice, my choice.

JLeslie's avatar

They shouldn’t be asses about it, I agree with you there.

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