Are we still in the 1950′s? Time to get rid of the word ma’am. Don’t you agree?

Why do we American women dislike the word “ma’am?”

I hear that ear-piercing word each time I go to the grocery store. A young bagger or cashier says, “thank you ma’am.”  My husband does not understand why I return home in a bad mood.

It is a huge faux pas to call any American women “ma’am.”  We will not say anything hateful back to you, if called that evil word.  However, our thoughts scream, “I am not old enough to be called “ma’am.”  We also think to ourselves, “do I look that bad?”

Miss = single
Mrs. = married
Ma’am = Erase from your memory of words, please (thank you, kindly)

“Ma’am” should be removed from the English language.

What are your thoughts on the subject?

Is the word “ma’am” used in your country? If so, is it thought of as a positive or negative word?



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  1. To save repeating a couple of essays I’ve included a couple of links on what to call women.

    In terms of Ma’am, in the UK it tends to be a term of respect for senior career women, eg forces, police, MI5 (qv James Bond films with Judi Dench) so I’m more than happy when someone calls me ma’am which happens rarely and usually joking from – men who have been in the forces :D

    Regarding bag-packing, people are more likely to call you ‘love’. ‘Do you want a hand with that, love?’ Here in Gib, the common word is ‘darling’ and in Spain it is often ‘hija’ Different words for different countries.

    I’m guessing, although I don’t know or understand your culture at all, that the main idea is to suggest respect.

    I read the wiki entry differently to you (I think it is ambiguous). I think it is saying that ma’am is used because to automatically assume someone is married based on age and call them Mrs is patronising. Not the use of ma’am.

    Anyway – here are my views on titles……




    • To be called “Love” would be wonderful. American women would smile all day if we were addressed as “love.” It is a good thing that ma’am is a word of high respect in your country.

      I am going to ask my husband to address me as “love.” Wonder if he would go for that suggestion? Doubt it.

      I am astonished at the cultural differences.

  2. I am pretty positive that, even at age 60, I will hate being called ma’am – it sounds so jarring and old-fashioned and assumes a marital status which is nobody’s business.
    When I lived in England, I used to love being called “love” by cabbies or just older men in general – if someone did it here in the States, though, I would bristle…Funny how cultural trappings and locations influence us

    • Ma’am is not a word I ever want to here. The U.S. should adopt the “love” word. I wonder what everyone would do here in the U.S. if I just started saying, “hi love.”

      They would probably call the cops on me for harassment! LoL


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