Ever wondered why the title, “Mrs” is pronounced as “Missus” but seems to contain an irrelevant “r” in the abbreviation? In fact, the full version written out seems weird and strangely casual “Missus”. Except for when men use it playfully to refer to their wives, the word “missus” is almost never spelt out.
That alone is a mystery without having to spell it out and then discover that the word lacks the “r” that’s so visible and sitting smugly in the middle of the title, Mrs.
You may have been wondering if the “r” is to be pronounced or just Why is there an “r” in the title Mrs?
If you haven’t ever wondered, are you wondering now? Well, quit pondering on it as I’m about to reveal just why that seemingly irrelevant letter is stuck there.
Well, this is the mystery.
The title Mrs was actually short for the word ‘Mistress’, the counterpart of ‘Master’ that Mr was short for.
Although the connotation of this word today can scarcely be described as honorific, it used to be a word describing a woman from the upper social class or a woman in charge of affairs in the house or the entire household. It was a respectful title for a woman of importance in a household or the official title before a married woman’s name. Gradually, the pronunciation of the word changed due to a Colloquial shortening of the word that was common amongst household servants and as a result of the dialect of the lower class population.
By the end of the 18th century, it took a contracted form without the ‘r’ and the original meaning of the word had by then meant something totally opposite – which could not, in any way, befit the actual title. So, the word missus became the official way of pronouncing Mrs but writing it out would have made the informality painfully obvious unlike its counterpart ‘Mister’ (the new form of master) as ‘Mister’ had already been in use before its adaptation. Mister was used to address a man with a skill or profession. Perhaps because of the history of the full meaning, the title ‘Mrs’ now seems like a word of its own instead of just an abbreviation.