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Peter Sokolowski, Editor at Large
Plural form of "Mr." and "Mrs."
Wednesday June 24th 2009
Question
Plural form of "Mr." and "Mrs."
Answer

It's odd, but there is no common plural form for the titles Mr. and Mrs. in English.

 

Other titles easily become count nouns:

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor/Three of the justices recused themselves.

Professor Harold Bloom/Ask your professors if you can have extra help.

Captain Richard Sharpe/The regiment's captains all gathered for dinner.

==

 

But for Mr. and Mrs. there is no common plural form. The plural forms for these titles are only used in formal, official, or otherwise self-conscious writing. They are almost always used when naming people who have already been identified.

The plural for Mr.: Messrs. 

The plural for Mrs.: Mesdames

 

For example:

Messrs. Smith and Jones were named to the company's board at the last general meeting.

Bush's foreign policy would have been better off examining [...] the informal Republican meetings on Capitol Hill in the late 1990s (in which Messrs. Cheney and Rumsfeld were key participants).

 

 

==

 

Self-conscious use of these titles tends to be mock-serious and for a gently comic effect. This is because the titles in plural form seem a bit formal and old-fashioned. This is almost the only way Mesdames is used in English. Here are examples:

 

[The following sentence is from an article about fashion and draws attention to the names Dolce & Gabbana, which is the name of a fashion brand.]

The artist's fame inspired Messrs. Dolce and Gabbana to invite Ms. McGrath, with whom they have worked for years, to interpret their ideas.

[The following sentence is from an article about male ballet dancers pretending to be ballerinas.]

It was danced by Mesdames Proboskovna, Sakitumi and Sonia Leftova, in her quiet way one of the company's most interesting performers.

 

Learn more about words related to this entry: 

 

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