Women introduce themselves using husband's name and surname

Discussion in 'English Only' started by dihydrogen monoxide, Feb 6, 2010.

  1. dihydrogen monoxide Senior Member

    Slovene, Serbo-Croat
    Does any woman nowadays introduce oneself as I'm mrs. George Washington, ie. I'm plus surname/name of the husband? To me it sounds old fashioned. Is it still in use in English speaking countries?
  2. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    It is old-fashioned and no longer in use (with very rare exceptions) in American English.
    It was still used, but not very much, about fifty years ago. It was probably common in AE in the 1930s.
  3. dihydrogen monoxide Senior Member

    Slovene, Serbo-Croat
    Would I expect to hear that kind of phrasing from a woman in a retirement home? In old movies, I hear a lot of the mentioned construction.
    And I suppose origin of that construction is unknown or maybe not?
  4. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    You might hear it from a woman of eighty or more years.
  5. Cypherpunk Senior Member

    Springdale, AR
    US, English
    I wouldn't say that first names are used, in this way, but spouses are still introduced during certain types of speeches. For instance, at a benefit, major donors might be thanked (i.e. "We'd like to thank Mr. and Mrs. Walton for their generous contributions. We'd like to thank Dr. and Mrs. [or Dr. and Mr., to be a bit more modern] Albritton for their time and effort to organize donors and seek out community support for this facility.") I have heard the full name used on rare occasions, during this type of speech, but it always sounds odd.
    As cuchu said, it is quite old-fashioned to refer to a woman by her husband's full name (Mrs. George Washington), and I suppose you might hear it in a retirement home.
    The reason that women were traditionally referred to by their husband's (or father's) name is quite simple, though. The man of the house traditionally had legal and financial responsibility for the house and its affairs. Women have been able to vote in the US for less than a century, and oftentimes legal affairs were tied to property ownership, and only men could own property in certain states. Though laws vary by district, state, province, and country, my understanding is that laws were somewhat similar in nature throughout most English-speaking countries.
  6. Jam on toast

    Jam on toast Senior Member

    British English
    It's not something I hear in the UK. I do recall seeing it used on letters when I was a child (70's and 80's) on the envelope above the address, e.g. "To Mr. & Mrs. Frederick Bloggs". I do very occasionally still see it on letters now.
  7. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English
    I fully concur with the good folks above.... but just recently, we received a wedding invitation addressed to "Mr. and Mrs. ..." It seemed rather odd, but it was from a non-English-speaking country.

    In addition, I have, on occasiion, encountered women who introduce themselves with their husband's name in a attempt to transfer the status of their husbands to themselves. (Not my kind of people).
  8. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    I can't imagine any situation in which I would refer to myself - assuming I was married to a George Washington - as Mrs George Washington. I
    would also find it very peculiar if someone addressed me as Mrs George Washington.

    I would find it only slightly strange to receive an envelope addressed to my husband and myself as Mr and Mrs George Washington;

    I would not find it at all strange to receive an envelope addressed to Mr and Mrs G B Washington. That's the form of address I use myself when I'm writing to couples where the wife and husband have the same surname.

    I am not over 80, though sometimes I feel like it...:);)
  9. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I have never heard a woman introduce herself as Mrs George Washington (or her equivalent).
    It was, however, the formula of address I was taught and it was the norm in addressing letters way back when I was a child. It was remarkable to me because my mother, being a widow, was an exception. She was addressed using her own forename/initial.

    (We all know that Loob is only 23.)
  10. Brioche

    Brioche Senior Member

    Australia English
    Actually, your mother was not an exception.

    Under the old rules of etiquette, a married woman, while her husband was alive, was known as Mrs George Washington.

    Once she was a widow, she was called Mrs Martha Washington.
  11. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    English (England)
    In formal situations I've heard his usage, both spoken and written, used by both women and men. I wouldn't consider it old-fashioned - just very very formal. I would equate it with someone calling themselves John Smith Esquire, as opposed to Mr John Smith, for example.

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