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Mr

The meaning of «mr»

Mister, usually written in its abbreviated form Mr. (US) or Mr (UK), is a commonly used English honorific for men under the rank of knighthood. The title 'Mr' derived from earlier forms of master, as the equivalent female titles Mrs, Miss, and Ms all derived from earlier forms of mistress. Master is sometimes still used as an honorific for boys and young men, but its use is increasingly uncommon.[citation needed]

The modern plural form is Misters, although its usual formal abbreviation Messrs(.)[note 1] derives from use of the French title messieurs in the 18th century.[1][4] Messieurs is the plural of monsieur (originally mon sieur, "my lord"), formed by declining both of its constituent parts separately.[4]

Historically, mister was applied only to those above one's own status if they had no higher title such as Sir or my lord in the English class system. That understanding is now obsolete, as it was gradually expanded as a mark of respect to those of equal status and then to all men without a higher style.

In the 19th century and earlier in Britain, two gradations of "gentleman" were recognised; the higher was entitled to use "esquire" (usually abbreviated to Esq, which followed the name), and the lower employed "Mr" before the name. Today, on post from Buckingham Palace, a man who is a UK citizen is addressed as "Esq", and a man of foreign nationality is addressed as "Mr".

In past centuries, Mr was used with a first name to distinguish among family members who might otherwise be confused in conversation: Mr Doe would be the eldest present; younger brothers or cousins were then referred to as Mr Richard Doe and Mr William Doe and so on. Such usage survived longer in family-owned business or when domestic workers were referring to adult male family members with the same surname: "Mr Robert and Mr Richard will be out this evening, but Mr Edward is dining in." In other circumstances, similar usage to indicate respect combined with familiarity is common in most anglophone cultures, including that of the southern United States.

Mr is sometimes combined with certain titles (Mr President, Mr Speaker, Mr Justice, Mr Dean). The feminine equivalent is usually Madam although Mrs is also used in some contexts. All of these except Mr Justice are used in direct address and without the name. In certain professional contexts in different regions, Mr has specific meanings; the following are some examples.

In the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland and in some Commonwealth countries (such as South Africa, New Zealand and some states of Australia), many surgeons use the title Mr (or Miss, Ms, Mrs, as appropriate), rather than Dr (Doctor). Until the 19th century, earning a medical degree was not required to become a qualified surgeon. Hence, the modern practice of reverting from Dr to Mr after successfully completing qualifying exams in surgery (e.g., Membership of the Royal College of Surgeons or the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons) is a historical reference to the origins of surgery in the United Kingdom as non-medically qualified barber surgeons.[5]

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