Difference Wiki

Mrs. vs. Ms.: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 11, 2023
"Mrs." refers to a married woman, while "Ms." is a neutral title that does not indicate marital status, used regardless of whether a woman is married or not.

Key Differences

"Mrs." is a formal title used to address a married woman. It traditionally indicates that a woman has adopted her husband's surname after marriage. Historically, "Mrs." has been a conventional title that demarcates a woman’s marital status prominently. "Ms.," on the other hand, serves as a more contemporary title which is not associated with marital status, keeping a woman’s personal status unspecified and private.
The title "Mrs." often precedes a woman’s married name or her husband’s full name. It tends to symbolize a connection to her marital status and has been historically used to exemplify a woman’s role as a wife. In contrast, "Ms." can precede either a woman's maiden or married name, embodying a sense of independence and autonomy regarding a woman's chosen name and societal role.
The usage of "Ms." became more popular during the rise of the feminist movement, as women sought a title that did not define them by their relationship to a man. Whereas "Mrs." was and still is, deeply embedded in societal norms that traditionally valued women by their marital connections.
Pronunciation also distinguishes "Mrs." and "Ms." The former is pronounced “missiz,” indicative of its roots, whereas the latter is pronounced “miz,” which was chosen deliberately to be distinctive and to not allude to marital status.
It is pivotal to choose "Mrs." or "Ms." appropriately in correspondence and address, respecting individual preferences and the context of interaction. While "Mrs." may be apt in formal or traditional settings where marital status is known, "Ms." is widely appreciated for its neutrality and applicability in various contexts.

Comparison Chart


Marital status
Does not indicate marital status

Traditional Usage

For married women
For all women, regardless of marital status




Historically linked with husband’s name
No specific association with a man’s name


Emerged prominently with the feminist movement

Mrs. and Ms. Definitions


"Mrs." has a pronunciation that audibly reflects its relation to marriage: “missiz.”
Mrs. Thompson was appreciated for her charitable activities.


"Ms." became widely utilized with the progression of the feminist movement.
Ms. Anderson pioneered the establishment of the non-profit organization.


"Mrs." is often utilized in formal and conventional settings, especially where marital status is emphasized.
Mrs. Johnson was welcomed warmly at her husband’s corporate event.


"Ms." does not reveal any specifics about a woman’s personal or marital life.
Ms. Davis has been appointed as the new project manager.


"Mrs." is a title used before the surname or full name of a married woman.
Mrs. Smith will be joining us for dinner.


"Ms." is a neutral title for women regardless of their marital status.
Ms. Johnson will be leading today's seminar.


"Mrs." traditionally indicates that a woman is married and often accompanies her husband's name.
Mrs. John Doe organized the event meticulously.


"Ms." is pronounced as “miz,” differentiating it from “miss” or “missiz.”
Ms. Taylor recently published a book on astrophysics.


"Mrs." can imply a woman’s identity is somewhat linked with her marital status or husband.
Mrs. Parker, Mr. Parker’s wife, is a renowned chef.


"Ms." is applicable to all women irrespective of whether they are married, single, divorced, or widowed.
Please welcome Ms. Brown, our guest speaker.


What does "Mrs." stand for?

"Mrs." is a title used before the surname of a married woman.

Is it appropriate to use "Ms." in a formal setting?

Yes, "Ms." is appropriate in both formal and informal contexts.

How is "Mrs." pronounced?

"Mrs." is pronounced as “missiz.”

Can "Ms." be used for a divorced woman?

Yes, "Ms." is suitable for a woman regardless of marital status.

Do "Mrs." and "Ms." have different origins?

Yes, "Mrs." has more traditional roots while "Ms." originated as a neutral, modern alternative.

Is "Ms." only used for single women?

No, "Ms." can be used for women regardless of their marital status.

Should "Mrs." always be followed by the husband's name?

Not necessarily. It's common but not mandatory.

Is "Mrs." suitable for use with a first name?

This is uncommon and generally considered informal or incorrect.

Can "Ms." be used for a widow?

Yes, "Ms." is appropriate for widows as well.

Is it mandatory to use "Mrs." for married women?

No, personal preference should guide the use of "Mrs." or "Ms."

Is "Mrs." used globally?

"Mrs." is used widely, but its usage may vary significantly between cultures.

Is "Ms." ever used for men?

No, "Ms." is exclusively used for women.

Can "Mrs." be used with a woman's maiden name?

Traditionally, no— "Mrs." is followed by a woman's married name or husband’s name.

Can "Ms." be used in business correspondence?

Absolutely, "Ms." is commonly used in professional settings.

Is "Ms." a modern term?

Yes, "Ms." gained widespread use in the 20th century, especially with the feminist movement.

How is "Ms." pronounced?

"Ms." is pronounced as “miz.”

Is "Ms." acceptable to use in all cultures?

While widely used, cultural nuances may influence the acceptance of "Ms."

Can "Ms." be used for a woman of any age?

Yes, "Ms." can be used for women of all ages.

What is the plural form of "Mrs."?

The plural form of "Mrs." is "Mesdames" (Mmes.).

When unsure of marital status, which title should be used?

"Ms." is a safe choice when marital status is unknown or irrelevant.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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