Misters or Messers?

by Meryl K Evans | Category: Meryl's Notes Blog 25 comments

Kranz On Copy made me think about titles and pronouns. I always pronounce “Messers” in my head as “mess-ers.” Thankfully, I never need to say this word out loud. I embarrass myself enough times mispronouncing things.

Recently, I emailed an editor of a newsletter about the Ms., Mr., and Mrs. issue. Some situations call for formally addressing a person, but it’s risky because today so many names could be female or male. Sean (Young) and Michael (Learned), for example. I work with NYU’s online masters program that has many international students in the program. It has happened a few times when I thought someone was female then later learned the person was male and vice versa.

That’s why I struggled with naming my middle child. I liked a name, but wondered if people would think he was a girl. It worked out and it has not been a problem. My name… I get letters addressed to Mr. Meryl Evans at least once a month. The male variation is Merrill.

The he / she situation is also frustrating. I typically do what I can to avoid using either without substituting “their” when it’s referring to ONE person. But when it is not possible to avoid he or she, then I pick one. Can we have a word to represent both genders in singular form?!?! Can we use M. to represent all titles (Mr., Mrs., Ms., and Miss)?

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25 comments

  • Posted by Neeraj on September 16th, 2006, 2:22 PM

    when we write ‘M/s XYZ Ltd’, is it same as writing ‘Messers XYZ Ltd’?

  • Posted by Meryl on September 16th, 2006, 2:30 PM

    I don’t think so based on reading Reference.com, TVWiki (I know, odd place) and Answers.

  • Posted by mememe on December 16th, 2006, 7:43 PM

    what does messers actualy mean?

  • Posted by Ben on January 18th, 2007, 4:02 PM

    Messers is the plural of Mister (Misters). So instead of saying Mr Smith, Mr Jones and Mr Wilson, you can say Messers Smith Johnes and Wilson.

    The plural or Miss incidentaly is Misses (pronounced the same as Mrs which should be pronounced Mistress as in a female Mister). The plural or Mrs is Misses’ and pronounced i gather a very uncomfortable Misseses. Perhaps Mistresses sounds more flowing.

  • Posted by Ben on January 18th, 2007, 4:04 PM

    Sorry there were some grammer errors in all that

  • Posted by Amanda on February 13th, 2007, 9:15 AM

    Do you use a period after Messers?
    Example: Dear Messers. Perin & Rahm.

  • Posted by Meryl on February 13th, 2007, 9:17 AM

    Amanda — no period is needed. So it would be “Dear Messers Perin and Rahm.”

  • Posted by Lorraine on March 14th, 2007, 6:45 AM

    what about if two of the women you were writing to were Mrs and one was Miss?

    Or if two was Mrs and one was Ms?

    How would you write those?

    Also the trackback doesn’t appear to work

  • Posted by Ken Dempster on May 6th, 2007, 1:38 AM

    Hi Meryl,
    So, how do you pronounce Messers? “Misters?”

    Thank you,

    Ken

  • Posted by Meryl on May 6th, 2007, 9:03 AM

    According to Grammar Hotline, Mssrs and Messrs are both correct. It also says, “In formal English writing we use the abbreviation ‘messrs’ for the plural of ‘mister.’ It’s actually from the French ‘messieurs.’ (plural of monsieur)”

    So it looks like I was wrong about messers and it should be mssrs or messrs. No second e.

    I am sure we’d say “Misters Jones, Johnson and Smith.”

  • Posted by Valeria Export on May 22nd, 2007, 2:14 AM

    Hi Guys! I used to start my emails writing “messers”, but… you know what? Today a customer asked what this word means, and so I went to check the exact explanation on a dictionary. SURPRISE! The word “messers” does not exist. The correct form is “messrs” (awful!). I wonder if this “messers” is an American form, or if it really does not exist at all. It’s so unfair, I like it so much!

  • Posted by Jason Reddish on September 17th, 2007, 1:50 PM

    Don’t forget the title “Master”, which is used to indicate a minor male. I believe Masters can be used to address multiple minor males.

  • Posted by Dorian Gray on October 17th, 2007, 3:02 PM

    First of all, I think the correct spelling is Messrs, not Messers. Also, since Messrs is an abreviation of Messieurs, just like any other abbreviation, it should end with a period.

    So correct way of writing: Messrs.

    Please let me know if I off my rocks, and I will go fly a kite. But please do teach me.

    Thanks
    Dorian Gray
    Attic

  • Posted by Jimmy on January 10th, 2008, 7:41 AM

    What if I should say in concluding:

    (1) I am, dear messers, yours most sincerely,
    Jimmy

    OR should I write:
    (2) I am, dear sirs, yours most sincerely
    Jimmy

    Which of (1) or (2) is more correct?

  • Posted by Shawn on March 12th, 2008, 4:50 PM

    Captain Grammar (Ben),

    Try to avoid talking about Flowing Mistresses.

  • Posted by David on March 31st, 2008, 7:26 PM

    Sorry, but messers are people who make a mess. Messrs. is plural for Mr.

    refer to: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/messrs

  • Posted by leka sunder on April 11th, 2008, 2:39 AM

    What is appropriate if the letter is addressed the both males and females? Can I still use messrs?

  • Posted by Meryl on April 11th, 2008, 9:23 AM

    I recommend using a different approach such as “Dear Medical Staff” or “Dear IT Professionals.” Here’s more info on addressing letters from OWL.

    I have not been able to find a word that represents both men and women. Messrs is strictly men.

  • Posted by David L on July 1st, 2008, 3:52 AM

    When addressing a formal letter to both men and women from various professions is it correct to say “Dear Messrs. and Mssrs.”? It looks and sounds a bit strange to me. Maybe “Dear Ladies and Gentlemen” would be more appropriate?

  • Posted by Massiah on August 18th, 2008, 1:09 PM

    Hope it’s not too late, but here is my advice.

    The plural of Mr. is Messrs. (i.e. Messrs. Black and Blue). The plural of Mrs. is Mmes or Mmes. (with or without the period). When addressing both, in plural, try Messrs. X, Y, Z and Mmes. V & W.

  • Posted by Barry MacDonnell on October 30th, 2008, 7:00 AM

    ‘Messers is the plural of Mister (Misters). So instead of saying Mr Smith, Mr Jones and Mr Wilson, you can say Messers Smith Johnes and Wilson.’

    It’s the old French-Normand legacy: nowadays in French you’d say ‘Mes Sires’ (pronounced: ‘may seer’) to address kings and emperors.

  • Posted by Leon McGarry on June 17th, 2009, 10:02 AM

    When addressing a formal letter to a group of men and women perhaps use:

    Dear Messrs and Mesdames,

    Mesdames is a plural of Madam, which can be either a Miss or a Mrs.

  • Posted by Alexei on July 22nd, 2009, 3:50 AM

    Assume I’m addressing the Company with its personal.
    Can I use
    Att. of Messrs [Name of the Company]
    or
    Att of Mesdames and Messrs [Name of the Company]
    Yet in fax transmission I noticed only Messer
    Why?

  • Posted by Robert on September 25th, 2010, 7:15 AM

    The plurals for the courtesy titles of Mr., Mrs., Miss, and Ms. are as follows:

    Mr. – Messrs.

    Mrs. – Mesdames

    Miss – Misses

    Ms. – Mses. or Mss.

  • Posted by Amber on January 20th, 2012, 9:11 AM

    To confuse the issue, I was always taught that the ‘man’ of the house was “Mister”, and that the sons were “Master”.
    And that’s why Alfred calls Batman “Master Wayne”. Not because he’s a ‘learned expert’ , but because he’s the son of the household.
    ?

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