Vocablet of the Day: Deferential

To show respect toward a man, you can call him “sir.”  But to show the same respect to a woman, which word should you use?

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Sometimes it can be tricky to be respectful, especially when cultural norms cause mixed messages.

In the southern United States, calling a woman of any age “ma’am” is considered the polite thing to do.  In other parts of the country, however, “ma’am” is reserved for older women, and “miss” is used to be deferential towards younger women.  So when you’re trying to be polite to a woman of indeterminate age (outside of the American South), it’s probably a good idea to stick to “miss.”

What words do you use to be deferential to women where you live?

Study ‘deferential‘!
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