little lady masculine equivalent

viajero_canjeado

Senior Member
English - Southeastern USA
I'm aware that some women may find this term belittling, but I think when said in a certain spirit it doesn't have to be offensive, but can rather be affectionate. I think of a cowboy tipping his hat and greeting a damsel with the words "Well good evening there, little lady."
Anyway, my question is, in today's context, how would a girl respond with an equivalent masculine term? I don't mean the damsel in the Western film, but a girl who wants to express the same sort of feeling that comes with "little lady". I think an integral part of the feeling I'm referring to hinges upon the fact that the phrase is somewhat antiquated, and therefore a bit special and out of the ordinary. I guess the atmosphere of the context could be described as warm and amiable, even flirtatious.
The only ideas that came to mind were "young man" and "dear sir", but neither of them seem to really capture what it is that I'm seeking. Does anyone have any better suggestions?
 
  • viajero_canjeado

    Senior Member
    English - Southeastern USA
    Well, those, especially the second, do have an even warmer tone, but are pretty similar to the ideas I already had. I guess that confirms what I was thinking, which is that there's not an exact equivalent, since it would almost certainly be deemed condescending to call someone "little gentleman", or worse yet, "little man". I reckon I was just thinking that there's some term hiding in a corner of my brain that refuses to be found..
     

    Nunty

    Senior Member
    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    Girls are children. I assume you mean women.

    "Little lady" is condscending, no matter what the setting. It might be playful within the context of a given relationship, but not in general terms. There is no similar term referring to males because society has traditionally treated men with more respect than that.

    [/rant]
     

    viajero_canjeado

    Senior Member
    English - Southeastern USA
    I see your point, Nunty. The sense which I used "girl" in was more a figurative one, much like the opposite when applied to men, such as "boys in blue" or "good old boys".
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    How about good sir? [I think any man (no matter how gentlemanly) who addressed a woman (however ladylike) as little lady in the UK, would receive a black eye.]
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    [I may be misremembering, but I think that in movies ~ which I assume are your source ~ cowboys address girls as "little ladies", not adult women. ]
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I guess that confirms what I was thinking, which is that there's not an exact equivalent, since it would almost certainly be deemed condescending to call someone "little gentleman", or worse yet, "little man".
    I agree that "little man" would usually be seen as condescending.

    I think it's a pretty close equivalent to "little lady".

    [I think any man (no matter how gentlemanly) who addressed a woman (however ladylike) as little lady in the UK, would receive a black eye.]
    At minimum, ewbles...
     

    viajero_canjeado

    Senior Member
    English - Southeastern USA
    I think any man (no matter how gentlemanly) who addressed a woman (however ladylike) as little lady in the UK, would receive a black eye.

    Yikes!

    I guess I think of the phrase differently, like as a term of endearment, an affectionate diminutive. Even so, I definitely see how "little lady" isn't suitable for introductions to complete strangers. In a more familiar environment, though, it still doesn't seem so out of place to me.

    Cagey, it could easily be I who is misremembering.

    Thanks for the good comments.
     
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