Origin of Ms.

I just read in an article of one of our local alternative papers that “Ms.” as in Miss originally stood for (and to this day may still stand for) Marxist Sister.

True or False?

False. I’ve never even heard that one before.

Ms. is very simply a way to address a woman without regard to marital status. It was originally suggest in the early 1950s as a convenience in writing business letters. (See The American Heritage Book of English Usage entry on the topic here). The first publications to suggest using Ms. were the Bulletin of the American Business Writing Association (1951) and The Simplified Letter, issued by the National Office Management Association(1952), hardly bastions of communism. The OED give the etymology of Ms. as:

Pretty straight foward.

From Miss Manners’ Guide for the Turn of the Millenium:

“Miss Manners recognizes that the use of a husband’s name by a wife is slowly becoming obsolete, as is the cumbersome use of separate abbreviations (“Miss” and “Mrs.”) of the ancient respectable title of “Mistress,” rather than one, “Ms.” (which has been documented as far back as the seventeenth century), for all ladies to use with their own full names.”

“…documented as far back as the seventeenth century…”

Modern, ha!

Let’s not forget that Jerry Falwell (or one of them) says that Ms stands for “miserable.” Jerk.

That should answer your question right there. Keep in mind that in a large number (but by no means all) of the alternative newspapers, especially the small, local ones, the majority of “facts” are B.S. propoganda. Unless they carry The Straight Dope, of course, in which case, they have at least half a page of undisputable facts. Other than OVC (Our Venerable Cecil), take everything they say with a large grain of salt. They’re “alternative” for a reason. Real journalism focuses on research.