Online Encyclopedia

MISTRESS

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V18, Page 617 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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MISTRESS (adapted from O. Fr. maistresse, mod. maitresse, the feminine of maistre, maitre, master), a woman who has authority, particularly over a household. As a form of address or term of courtesy the word is used in the same sense as " madam." It was formerly used indifferently of married or unmarried women, but now, written in the abbreviated form " Mrs " (pronounced " missis "), it is practically confined to married women and prefixed to the surname; it is frequently retained, however, in the case of spinster cooks or housekeepers, as a title of dignity; as the female equivalent of " master " the word is used in other senses by analogy, e.g. of Rome as " the mistress of the world," Venice " the mistress of the Adriatic," &c. From the common use of " master " as a teacher, " mistress " is similarly used. The old usage of the word for a lady-love or sweetheart has degenerated into that of paramour. " Miss " a shortened form of " mistress," is the term of address for a girl or unmarried woman; it is prefixed to the surname in the case of the eldest or only daughter of a family, and to the Christian names in the case of the younger daughters.
End of Article: MISTRESS
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FREDERIC MISTRAL (183o– )
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MITAU (Russian, Mitava; Lettish, Yelgava)

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