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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Ma'am vs Miss

This question is for those in the service industry. I absolutely HATE being called ma'am yet everyone in restaurants and stores address me as such. Now I realize that I'm not that young at 33 but I know I don't look my age (more mid 20s). I also live in NYC where being in your 30s is still considered young. Why do the staff at these places call me ma'am? I literally cringe when I hear that word (and follow it with the most subtle dirty look I can muster). They have to realize that women hate being called ma'am (based on an informal focus group of my female friends). If I were 50, I would still love to be called miss. Wouldn't you want to flatter women to get larger tips or bring in more business? I've always wondered if there is a standard greeting that they have to use? :con
 

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Interesting...I always thought ma'am was more of a Southern thing. I live in the Northeast, too, and people say Miss in my neck of the woods. Very surprising for NY...
 

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Over here in Australia, the titles of Ma'am, Miss and Sir aren't used like they seem to be in the US...my education only comes from watching the occasional episode of Judge Judy etc., lol, but I've noticed 'Yes, Ma'am' and 'Yes, Sir' get used alot more frequently overseas....and sons responding to their fathers, you hear 'Yes, Sir' quite a bit in the US, well in the movies anyway :) You'd go a long way to hear an Australian guy answering his Dad with 'Yes, Sir'. Just my observations...

Having said that, I would absolutely hate being called Ma'am over Miss...and much prefer my kids' friends to call me by my first name than by Mrs whatever...but first name basis is common over here, even between young and older people. Wasn't that way when I was a kid, though, it was always Mrs and Mr when referring to your elders.
 

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I don't mind being called ma'am at all. I used it sometimes when I was a cashier. I would only call someone obviously under like 15 Miss. I don't really know why.

Now I'm worried I offended someone.
 

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In the south saying ma'am and miss is nearly a must except in very casual situations. They're interchangeable here but normally a female significantly older than you would be a ma'am and a female of the same age or younger would be a miss. I would consider you a miss and a female say 40+ to be a ma'am. I've heard young females be called ma'am though. I don't think they mean anything by it.
 

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Over here in Australia, the titles of Ma'am, Miss and Sir aren't used like they seem to be in the US...my education only comes from watching the occasional episode of Judge Judy etc., lol, but I've noticed 'Yes, Ma'am' and 'Yes, Sir' get used alot more frequently overseas....and sons responding to their fathers, you hear 'Yes, Sir' quite a bit in the US, well in the movies anyway :) You'd go a long way to hear an Australian guy answering his Dad with 'Yes, Sir'. Just my observations...

Having said that, I would absolutely hate being called Ma'am over Miss...and much prefer my kids' friends to call me by my first name than by Mrs whatever...but first name basis is common over here, even between young and older people. Wasn't that way when I was a kid, though, it was always Mrs and Mr when referring to your elders.
Well in court I guess they are more formal and don't believe everything you see in movies. I've never seen any kid call their dad sir.
 

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I have to say that when I was younger, I wish someone would call me m'am or madam so I could feel more mature, but after turning 18, it annoyed me. I wanted to be called miss.
I feel so old when someone calls me m'am or madam and I'm not sure why.
I guess because in my family, you call a lady over the age of 40 m'am or madam and everyone under that age, miss. And sir is used for any male over the age of 40.
 

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Ma'am is the shortened version of Madame, a word used to address a married woman. Since most women of your age are married (or have been been) it is assumed that you are a Ma'am. Miss is generally used to address schoolgirls.

When addressing men it would be Sir and Master. Sir for an adult and Master when addressing a boy.
 

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I love being called Ma'am, luckily these days I get called it more and more.
 

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Well, personally I dislike being called Miss cos to me it sounds kind of diminutive, like I'm just a little girl. I know this is kind of irrational on my part - I'd never be rude to someone just because they addressed me as Miss.

Fairyxo, but you live in Scotland! How can this be? No-one ever addresses me as Ma'am, it would be Madam if someone's being really formal, I guess...
 

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I was called ma'am starting as a teen, I think they're just using that in general now. Its kind of annoying. But I have bigger problems than "miss/ma'am," so I just brush it off.
 

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Yeah, I feel weird when people call me "ma'am". I guess a lot of people see it as the default respectful greeting for an adult woman. Especially in the South, "Miss" may be reserved just for teenage girls.
 

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It's just the standard term of addressing people in a professional way hence Sir or Ma'am.

Also employers ecourage you to address customers/clients by these terms so yes in a round about way it is a standard greeting.
 
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