mail carrier vs postman/postwoman

Discussion in 'English Only' started by quietdandelion, Apr 23, 2007.

  1. quietdandelion

    quietdandelion Banned

    A mail carrier is someone who delivers and packages.

    I presume a mail carrier is a postman, but is it an EnE or AmE?
    Does a mail distributor make sense to you?
  2. GreenWhiteBlue

    GreenWhiteBlue Senior Member

    The City of New York
    USA - English
    In AmE, the traditional term was "mailman", but since so many are now female, the official job title has been changed to letter carrier.

    Official title or not, in my house the question is still phrased as "was the mailman here yet?"

    "Postman" would certainly be readily understood in the US, but I think it is regarded as either an old-fashioned or a British usage, and not the current AmE usage.
  3. tomandjerryfan

    tomandjerryfan Senior Member

    English (Canada)
    I don't think mail carrier is restricted to any particular country. I believe it's the official name for the profession, since avoiding gender-specific nouns (mailman/postman) is usually recommended.

    However, mailman is more widely used outside professional circles.
  4. "Postman" is OK for BE. Mail distributor sounds weird however.
  5. Karen123456 Senior Member

    Malaysia English
    Do native speakers refer to a mail carrier as a 'postman' or 'postwoman'?

    I'm aware that we call firemen and their female counterparts firefighters. Does the same apply to 'postman'?

    Thanks in advance.
  6. owlman5

    owlman5 Senior Member

    I think I read "mail carrier" more than either of the other two in text about mail carriers. Many people still use "mailman" or "mail lady" for their local carriers. Those terms sound informal and conversational.
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2010
  7. Bevj

    Bevj Allegra Moderata

    Girona, Spain
    English (U.K.)
    I have never heard the term 'mail carrier'.
    The postman or postwoman/post lady used to deliver my post.
    I always thought of the mailman delivering mail as American terminology. :)
    'It's coming by carrier' suggests to me a package sent by a delivery service such as UPS.
  8. Hermione Golightly

    Hermione Golightly Senior Member

    British English
    Postman or postwoman. British English, by the way, because it is the variety spoken in the UK by Welsh, Irish, and Scottish people as well as the English.


  9. Spira Banned

    South of France
    UK English
    It is simple to identify, because the Brits call the POST what the Americans call the MAIL.
    As in "I'll mail it to you" (US) = "I'll post it to you (GB).
    In the UK therefore the term mailman/woman/carrier would not be used.

    Although the national post office is called the Royal Mail (oh dear !!)
  10. Uriel-

    Uriel- Senior Member

    New Mexico, US
    American English
    And we take our mail to the U.S Post Office, if we don't want to trust the mailman with it. If we have to pay them by check for our postage, we make it out to the Postmaster General. And I'm sure you've heard what happens when our federal employees in knee socks lose it at work -- that's right; they go postal.

    Nobody says mail carrier in normal conversation, and nobody says mail distributor, period. It's mailman or mail lady, if your particular civil servant is a woman.
  11. entangledbank

    entangledbank Senior Member

    English - South-East England
    The Royal Mail has one of the least friendly websites I've ever seen, but eventually I found that their official titles for the UK people are postman and postwoman. I was pretty sure I'd never heard any sex-neutral terms or euphemisms here.
  12. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima (English Only)

    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Yes, postman is the normal term here. (I haven't seen a postwoman here!)

    Isn't there an old American film called The Postman Always Rings Twice? So no American would say postman now?
  13. Brioche

    Brioche Senior Member

    Australia English
    That is also the name of the original novel, written by an American, James M. Cain, in 1934.

    They are Postal Delivery Officers at Australia Post.
    However, Australia Post uses the abbreviation "posties" - a common colloquialism - in their job advertisements.
  14. Spira Banned

    South of France
    UK English
    You Aussies !!!! :D For years I wondered why you guys linked a doll to a barbecue! I thought it had something to do with the girlfriends. Then I got it !!!:D
  15. Susan612 Member

    New Jersey, USA
    American English
    I agree with you about mail distributor, but I say mail carrier in normal conversation. I may say mailman if the carrier is indeed a man, but I don't think I've ever said mail lady, despite the fact that when I was a kid, our mail carrier was a woman. Besides, mail lady sounds like an oxymoron.
  16. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima (English Only)

    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I believe postie was originally Scottish? There is a Scottish country dance called 'Postie's Jig'.
  17. Brioche

    Brioche Senior Member

    Australia English
    Abbreviations ending in -ie are very common here.

    Barbie - barbecue
    Chalkie - teacher
    Chippie - carpenter
    Tradie - tradesman/woman
  18. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima (English Only)

    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    My favourite: u-ey for a u-turn. :)

    The Australian music co-ordinator in my church also talks about musos (for musicians).

    So a chippie in Australia is not someone who sells fish and chips?
  19. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English
    Generalizations like "Nobody" are very hazardous, particularly in a country as large and diverse as the U.S.

    Around here, "carrier" is quite common and "mailman" has almost disappeared.

    I never heard of "mail lady" until Uriel posted it. Moreover, in speech, it's an obvious oxymoron.
  20. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima (English Only)

    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Yes, and there's also the Motown song by the Marvelletes 'Please, Mr Postman' (... please Mr Postman, look and see, is there a letter, a letter for me?). Is it possible that postman has disappeared completely from AmE since the 1960s?

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