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messieurs See monsieur

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messieurs m|p
  1. Plural of monsieur

Extensive Definition

Mr (UK) or Mr. (USA) is an English honorific used for a man too old to be addressed as Master, under the rank of knighthood, and, supposedly, though not really in practice, above some undefined level of social status (see below). In Britain, though not in the United States, the title also excludes those who have the title Dr. It is an abbreviation of Mister, though it is almost never spelt out in normal usage. The plural of Mr is Messrs (IPA pronunciation: ['mesə(r)z]), an abbreviation for the French messieurs.
In the United States, a period almost always follows the abbreviated form of mister, in line with the standard practice of American English. However, in most Commonwealth countries and in Ireland, the abbreviation is usually spelt "Mr", without a period (that is, a full stop), in keeping with the standard practice of those countries.
Mister is an alteration of Master; the equivalent female titles, Mrs, Miss, and Ms, are variants of Mistress. After the development of the word Mister for adult males, the title Master was retained and used for boys and young men.
When addressing someone directly, Mr is usually used with the last name only ("May I help you, Mr Ericson?"). In other circumstances, it can be used with either the last name or the full name ("This is Mr James Ericson."; "Would you please help Mr Ericson?"). On envelopes, it is usually used with the full name, or with initials and surname.
The title of Mr, like any other title, is a term of respect, and failure to use it where it might be expected may be interpreted as a sign of (perhaps deliberate) disrespect, though it is commonly not used among close friends or in other familiar settings.
The title "Mr" is sometimes used informally by itself in direct address ("Are you all right, Mr?"). In formal usage, the title sir is used ("May I help you, sir?)".


Historically, Mr, like Sir, once indicated an ill-defined social status only applied to gentlemen or persons above one's own station as a mark of respect. This understanding is all but obsolete today.

United States usages

In the Southern United States, Mr. is sometimes used with only the first name to indicate a mixture of familiarity and respect. Children are frequently encouraged to use this locution when referring to and addressing adult friends of the family.
In past centuries, Mr. was used with a first name to distinguish among family members who might otherwise be confused in conversation: Mr. Smith would be the eldest present; younger brothers or cousins were then referred to as Mr. James Smith and Mr. Robert Smith and so on. Such usage survives in family-owned business or when domestic servants are 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. Such usage is rare.

Professional titles

"Mr" can be combined with certain titles (Mr President, Mr Speaker, Mr Justice, Mr Dean). The female equivalent is Madam. All of these except Mr Justice are used in direct address and without the name. The title Mr Justice Krever is not used in direct address. In certain professional contexts in different regions, "Mr" has specific meanings; the following are some examples.


In the United States Supreme Court, instead of Mr. or Madam Justice, the current practice is simply to use Justice. However, the Chief Justice of the United States may be referred to as either "Mr. Chief Justice" or "Chief Justice Roberts." In writing, such as law reports, titles are often abbreviated to a "J" placed after the name (e.g. Breyer, J. would be substituted for Justice Breyer). However, the current practice of the Supreme Court is to use "Justice X" in their opinions, but "X, J." in the syllabi preceding. Multiple Justices would be referred to as "X, Y, and Z, JJ." while the Chief Justice would be noted as "X, C.J." The style "The Honorable" can be used in writing or indirect address, though is used without "Justice" (e.g. The Honorable John Paul Stevens). However, "Your Honor" is appropriate in direct address. In non-legal settings, the term Dr is also appropriate, except for the rare exceptions that do not have a J.D., S.J.D., or other doctoral degree.
In the Courts of England and Wales, Judges of the High Court are called, for example Mr Justice Crane (unless they are entitled to be addressed as Lord Justice). Where a forename is necessary to avoid ambiguity it is always used, for example Mr Justice Robert Goff to distinguish from a predecessor Mr Justice Goff. The female equivalent is Mrs Justice Hallett, not Madam Justice Hallett. In court, they are addressed as My Lord or My Lady. When more than one judge is sitting and one needs to be specific, one would refer to My Lord, Mr Justice Crane. High Court Judges are entitled to be styled with the prefix The Honourable while holding office: e.g. the Honourable Mr Justice Robert Goff. In writing, such as in the law reports, the titles "Mr Justice" or "Mrs Justice" are both abbreviated to a "J" placed after the name. For example, Crane J would be substituted for Mr Justice Crane.


In the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland and Australia, medical practitioners who have been admitted to any of the Royal Surgical Colleges discontinue use of the "Doctor" title and revert to using "Mr", "Miss" or "Mrs". This system (which applies only to surgeons, not physicians) has its origins in the 16th century, when surgeons were barber-surgeons and did not have a degree (or indeed any formal qualification), unlike physicians, who held a university medical degree. Veterinary surgeons in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland adopt the titles "Mr", "Mrs" or "Miss".

Roman Catholic clerics

Among Roman Catholic clergy, "Mr" is the correct title and form of address for seminarians and other students for the priesthood and was once the proper title for all secular and parish priests, the use of the title "Father" being reserved to religious clergy only. This is still the case on the continent of Europe but the use of the title "Father" for parish clergy became customary around the 1820s. Another form of usage was "your Reverence", also used of other, non-priestly, clergy. In Medieval and Renaissance times, a priest was addressed by the title "Sir" like a knight e.g. "Sir Christopher Urswick" in Shakespeare's play, Richard III.
A diocesan seminarian is correctly addressed as "Mr", and once ordained a deacon, is addressed in formal correspondence (though almost never verbally) as Reverend Mister (or "Rev Mr" for correspondence). In clerical religious orders (orders which include or are primarily made up of priests), Mr is the title given to scholastics. For instance, in the Jesuits, or Society of Jesus, a man preparing for priesthood who has completed the novitiate but who is not yet ordained is properly, "Mr John Smith, SJ" and is addressed verbally as "Mister Smith" -- this is to distinguish him from Jesuit brothers (who take vows, but who never become priests), and priests (who have received the sacrament of Holy Orders), although, before the 1820s, many Jesuit priests were also called "Mr". Orders founded before the 16th century do not, as a rule, follow this practice: a Franciscan or Dominican, for instance, becomes a friar after novitiate and so is properly titled "Brother", or, if a cleric, "Father", and a Benedictine, for instance, becomes a monk, and is again properly titled "Brother", or, if ordained to Major Orders (Subdeacon, Deacon or Priest) he used to be called "Father". Nowadays, priests tend generally to be called "Father" and other clergy, even if religious, are often not so termed. This is not traditional but is, nonetheless, now commonplace.
In the Catholic Church permanent deacons (that is, deacons who are not preparing for ordination to priesthood) are styled "Reverend Mr" in correspondence, although it has also become customary to address them simply as "Deacon John Jones". In fact, in former times, and still in the Eastern churches, all deacons were styled "Father Deacon Jones". The idea that permanent deacons are somehow "different" from other deacons is simply fallacious. Permanent deacons have existed for a long time in various forms. The Holy Roman Emperor, since the time of Emperor Charles V was always, at his coronation, ordained a permanent deacon by the Pope.
The idea that the title "Father" was always used only and exclusively by priests is simply ahistorical. St Francis of Assisi was called "Father" by his brethren although he was a deacon not a priest and St Benedict, likewise was called "Father" by his brethren, albeit he was not even in Major Orders. In the Middle Ages many abbots were not priests but were still called "Father" by their brethren.

Marital status

Since the term Mr does not indicate whether a man is married or not, many feminists believed that a woman's title should not indicate marital status either. Ambrose Bierce once satirically proposed that, as a parallel to Miss, the title of unmarried men should be Mush. seealso Mrs

Language equivalents

Other equivalents of Mr include:

Other uses

  • "Mister" can also be used in combination with another word to refer to someone who is regarded as the personification of, or master of, a particular field or subject, especially in the fields of popular entertainment and sports, as Gordie Howe is referred to as "Mr. Hockey" or Reggie Jackson is known as "Mr. October."


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