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What is female Sir title?

There are a few different ways to address women formally and respectfully in English. The traditional options are Ms., Mrs., and Miss, but some women prefer gender-neutral titles like Mx. There is no direct equivalent to the masculine ‘Sir’ title for women.

Ms., Mrs., and Miss

Ms., Mrs., and Miss have long been the standard formal titles used before a woman’s surname. Here is a brief overview of each:

  • Ms. – The title Ms. is used regardless of a woman’s marital status. It is a safe default option when you do not know if a woman is married or not.
  • Mrs. – The title Mrs. is used for married women. It stands for ‘Missus’ and originated as a contraction of ‘Mistress’.
  • Miss – Miss is used for unmarried women. Traditionally it was the standard title for unmarried, young women.

While these titles were once crucial for denoting a woman’s marital status, many women now prefer the egalitarian Ms. Some view Mrs. and Miss as old-fashioned or even sexist.

Gender-Neutral Options

In recent years, gender-neutral titles have emerged as an alternative for women who do not wish to use the gendered Ms., Mrs., or Miss.

Mx. (pronounced “mix” or “mux”) is now widely used as a gender-neutral option. It does not indicate gender or marital status. Some government organizations and businesses have adopted Mx. as an official title.

Using only the surname, without a title like Ms. or Mr., is also increasingly common. For example, referring to someone simply as “Smith” in formal correspondence.

Is There a Female Equivalent to ‘Sir’?

There is no exact female equivalent to the masculine title ‘Sir’ used in English speaking countries. Sir is a formal and respectful title used for men, particularly knights and baronets, as well as addressing male judges, government officials, and royalty.

Some key reasons there is no female version of ‘Sir’ include:

  • The word ‘Sir’ derives from the Old French word ‘Sire’ and was originally used as a respectful address to nobility and persons of rank. Women could not hold knightly titles or positions of nobility when the term was introduced.
  • There is no feminine linguistic equivalent to ‘Sir’ in English. Creating a hypothetical term like “Madame” or “Dame” as a direct counterpart to “Sir” has not caught on.
  • The few female titles that historically conveyed nobility in British society, like Dame and Lady, already have other uses and meanings.
  • Existing titles like Ms., Mrs., and Miss became widely adopted as standard formal titles for all women, negating the need for a separate term conveying prestige or rank.

Some international equivalents to ‘Sir’ also lack direct female versions:

Male Title Female Title
Sir (British) No equivalent
Monsieur (French) Madame
Signore (Italian) Signora
Señor (Spanish) Señora

As shown, many languages use different titles split by gender, but only the masculine terms like Sir, Monsieur, and Signore bear connotations of nobility or prestige.

The Origins and Uses of ‘Sir’

The word ‘Sir’ has a long history of denoting respect and high rank. Here is a more in-depth overview of its origins and specific uses:

  • Middle Ages – Sir emerged as a title for knights and other high nobility, derived from the French ‘Sire’. It conveyed deference to those of superior rank.
  • Chivalric Orders – Knights in chivalric orders like the Knights Templar used Sir as a title. It became part of formal titles like “Sir John Smith” granted to knights.
  • Baronets – King James I introduced the hereditary title of baronet in 1611. Baronets could use Sir before their names. Their wives could use Lady.
  • Judges & Officials – Sir became used for male judges and officials like city mayors as a sign of office and dignity. Clergy may also be addressed as Sir.
  • Royalty – Male royalty are addressed with ceremonial titles like Your Majesty or Your Royal Highness. Sir remains in some formal titles like “His Royal Highness Prince Charles” shortened to “Sir”.
  • Common Usage – In everyday usage, Sir is used as a polite and formal address for unknown men, similar to saying Mister or Mr. It conveys respect.

So in summary, Sir originated as a noble title but is now used more widely in formal, polite address, while retaining its connotations of high rank and respect.

Has There Been Any Push for A Female Equivalent?

There have been occasional discussions and attempts to introduce a female version of ‘Sir’, but none have gained widespread, mainstream acceptance.

Reasons that proposed equivalents have not caught on include:

  • Neologisms feel convoluted – Terms like “Dame” or “Madame” for women feel convoluted, especially when longtime conventions like Ms./Mrs./Miss exist.
  • Already have noble female titles – There are already established noble titles for women in the UK like Dame and Lady which fulfill a similar purpose.
  • Lacks linguistic consistency – A new term lacks the linguistic consistency and legacy of a well-established term like ‘Sir’.
  • Risk of inauthentic adoption – Some feel artificially trying to create a female counterpart to ‘Sir’ could come across as inauthentic if people do not embrace its usage naturally.
  • Connection to patriarchy – Since ‘Sir’ has origins in patriarchal structures excluding women, some see intentionally creating a ‘female version’ as problematic or unnecessary.

The Wake Forest University School of Medicine was one organization that, in 2007, enabled female faculty members to adopt the title “Sir.” However, it remains extremely uncommon.

Using Sir for a woman would certainly go against hundreds of years of linguistic and cultural norms. Many argue that gender-neutral titles like Mx. are a more natural evolution of formal titles in English as traditional gendered honorifics decline.

How are Knights’ Wives Addressed?

The wives of knights do not have ‘Lady’ as an official equivalent title to ‘Sir’. However, there are traditional conventions for how the wives of knights are addressed and titled:

  • Wives of knights use Lady rather than Sir. The wife of “Sir John Smith” would be “Lady Smith”.
  • Lady is also used by female recipients of other noble titles like Damehood.
  • The husband of a Dame is not called Sir. There is some asymmetry due to lack of a direct female equivalent to Sir.
  • In formal greetings, the wife of a knighted man is introduced and addressed using her husband’s full name and title. For example, “Lady Smith” rather than simply using her first name informally.
  • If a female Royal is married to a knight, their precedence remains unchanged. For example, Princess Anne married Sir Timothy Laurence, but she retained use of “Her Royal Highness”

In summary, the title conventions around knights and dames lack perfect symmetry between masculine and feminine forms. Married knights use Sir and their wives use Lady, although the titles have somewhat different implications. The everyday standard titles Ms., Mrs., or Miss remain common as well.

Should There Be a Female Equivalent to ‘Sir’?

There are reasonable arguments on both sides of this issue:

Arguments for creating a female equivalent:

  • Promotes gender equality – A female equivalent would uphold formal gender equality between men and women.
  • Acknowledges changing attitudes – Creating a feminine version of Sir could reflect modern attitudes toward women deserving equal prestige and respect.
  • Allows consistency in honors – A female version of “Sir” would allow honors like damehood or judicial appointments to confer a similar title for women.

Arguments against a female equivalent:

  • Traditions have worked so far – Ms., Mrs., and Miss have effectively served as formal titles for women for a long time without any major issues arising from lack of a Sir equivalent.
  • Could be seen as artificial – Attempting to consciously engineer a female counterpart to Sir could come across as artificial or forced.
  • Unclear demand – There does not appear to be strong demand from women for creating a female equivalent to Sir, weakening the case for introducing one proactively.
  • Gender-neutral alternatives preferred – Many advocate gender-neutral titles like Mx. rather than creating new gendered titles like a hypothetical female Sir.

There are good-faith reasons on both sides of the debate regarding whether a female equivalent to ‘Sir’ would be desirable or not. Introducing a new title almost always faces an uphill battle, given cultural inertia and the slow pace of linguistic change. Gender-inclusive alternatives like Ms., Mx., or avoiding titles altogether may ultimately provide more agreeable solutions.


In conclusion, there is currently no direct female equivalent to the masculine title ‘Sir’ in English. Women have traditionally used titles like Ms., Mrs., and Miss instead as formal titles, although some alternative gender-neutral options like Mx. are now gaining popularity. While the idea of creating a feminine version of ‘Sir’ has been occasionally discussed, it has yet to gain widespread support or adoption. The origins of ‘Sir’ in patriarchal social structures help explain why no exact female counterpart emerged historically, although some argue modern egalitarian attitudes call for reevaluating this issue. Overall, introducing new linguistic conventions is always a challenging process, but existing options like ‘Ms.’ and ‘Mx.’ provide women with formal, respectful titles without needing a new ‘female Sir’ term.