But it’s a delicate subject. You may not have known it, but the French word mademoiselle, that we are all taught at school to mean “miss”, is rather offensive to some. Adding insult to injury, the word mademoiselle actually comes from the term ‘oiselle’, which can also mean ‘virgin’.
What is the male version of Mademoiselle?
Its male equivalent — Monsieur — does not distinguish marital status. Mademoiselle also carries connotations of youth and immaturity, making it potentially problematic for unmarried women after a certain age, and confers a lesser status.
David Nilsen is the former editor of Fourth & Sycamore. He is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. You can find more of his writing on his website at davidnilsenwriter.com and follow him on Twitter as @NilsenDavid.