“Sir” and “madam” are shorter versions of what older, fancier terms?

Let’s say you want to get the attention of a male clerk in the produce section of the grocery store. Would you say, “Excuse me sire, but could you please explain the difference between a yam and a sweet potato?”

(For the answer to that question, read this.)

Addressing a stranger as “sire” might raise an eyebrow. But if you said it, you wouldn’t necessarily be wrong.

The word “sir,” which is a respectful term used to address a man, derives from the word “sire.” When written with a capital “S,” it is used as the distinctive title of a knight or baronet.

The word “sire” is now considered archaic. But it was once used to refer to an authority or a person of general importance.

The history of the word “madam” is similar to “sir.” The word derives from “my dame.” While the word “dame” is now usually considered offensive slang, it was once used to address a married woman or one in a position of authority. The traditional term of address for a single woman is “Miss.” The story of Miss, Mrs., and Ms. deserves its own blog post.

The origin of dame is the Latin domina, which is the feminine form of dominus, meaning “lord or master.”

If you enjoy the uncommon history of common words, you’ll love the meaning behind “gosh,” “golly,” and “gee.” Learn their quite serious background, here.


US Fed News Service, Including US State News January 21, 2009 The California Franchise Tax Board issued the following press release:

The Franchise Tax Board (FTB) today announced tax law changes and free tax services available for California taxpayers’ filing their 2008 state personal income tax returns.

Delay of Refunds Due to the state’s persistent cash and budget problems, the State Controller announced that he may have to delay refunds for 30 days starting February 1, 2009, for both personal and business taxpayers. FTB is still processing returns as normal. However, it is likely this delay will affect state refunds for most early filers. Returns that have not completed processing before February 1, may have their refunds held for 30 days.

Law Changes Mortgage relief New state law for 2007 and 2008 provides relief for people who have been through foreclosure or had their home mortgage modified. Usually, taxes are paid on debt that a lender forgave or cancelled. Now this amount may be excluded from taxable income. California and federal limits differ.

Net operating losses suspended for 2008 and 2009 for taxpayers with net business income of $500,000 or more The time limit to carry forward losses increases from 10 to 20 years. Starting in 2011, taxpayers can carry back losses for two years. Carry backs are limited to 50 percent of losses for tax year 2011, 75 percent for 2012, and 100 percent in 2013.

Business tax credits For taxpayers with net business income of $500,000 or more, business tax credits are limited to 50 percent of the net tax for 2008 and 2009. Be sure to review our tax forms instructions for specific details. estimatedtaxpaymentsnow.com estimated tax payments

Same-sex marriages Couples wedded on June 16, 2008, and before November 5, 2008, must file as married. However, the California Supreme Court has agreed to review the challenges to the passage of Proposition 8, which eliminated the right of same-sex couples to marry. The California Attorney General has stated he believes these marriages are valid and will defend them in the court action. Affected taxpayers should follow the court action since the decision may impact their marital status. FTB will provide updates following the Supreme Court decision on its website.

Charitable contributions Taxpayers can contribute to any of 15 charities listed on the tax return. Contributions will reduce refunds or increase taxes owed. Those who itemize their deductions may take a charitable contribution deduction on next year’s return. New this year are the:

* California Ovarian Cancer Research Fund * Municipal Shelter Spay-Neuter Fund * California Cancer Research Fund * ALS/Lou Gehrig’s Disease Research Fund Standard deduction The standard deduction for single or married filing separately is increased from $3,516 to $3,692. For joint, surviving spouse, or head of household filers, it increased from $7,032 to $7,384.

Personal exemption credit The personal exemption amount for single, married filing separately, and head of household filers jumps from $94 to $99. For joint or surviving spouses, it increases from $188 to $198. The dependent exemption credit changes from $294 to $309 per dependent.

Estimated tax payments Starting in 2009, estimated tax payments for the first and second quarters increase from 25 to 30 percent. The percentage drops to 20 percent for the third and fourth quarters. Also new, fewer people will be required to make estimated tax payments. Now, they are required only when the tax owed after timely tax payments and credits is expected to be $500 or more ($250 for married/RDP filing separately). The prior threshold was $200. To avoid penalties, the estimated payments for taxpayers with adjusted gross income of $1 million or more must be at least 90 percent of the taxes owed.

Electronic payment requirement New law requires that individuals who make a 2009 estimated tax or extension payment larger than $20,000, or with total 2009 tax liabilities of more than $80,000, must make all future payments electronically.

Free e-file Services ReadyReturn is FTB’s completed tax return program where FTB completes the tax return for the taxpayer. It is based on information already collected from employers such as W-2s. ReadyReturn has been expanded to include more people this year. Nearly 1.9 million taxpayers who last year earned wages from a single employer, filed either as single or head of household, only took the standard deduction, claimed no more than five dependents, were renters, or can be claimed as a dependent are eligible. see here estimated tax payments

CalFile is FTB’s no-cost, direct to FTB, online filing program. It is available in both English and Spanish to more than 6.5 million taxpayers on FTB’s website. CalFile accepts income of up to $326,379, itemized deductions, and some tax credits.

Check your My FTB Account Check your My FTB Account on our website to get information such as your estimated tax payments, any balances due, state W-2 information, or FTB issued 1099 forms. Claiming the wrong amount of estimated tax payments is the top error made on returns.

Other Changes Designate a contact person on your tax form You can now designate a third party contact person, such as your tax preparer or family member, by checking a box. This feature gives FTB permission to contact your designee to get information if needed to process your return, discuss math errors and offsets, or provide the status of your refunds. It does not authorize the designee to receive any refund checks, or bind the taxpayers to anything.

Bright lights, good deed

Post-Tribune (IN) December 21, 2006 | Michelle L. Quinn, Post-Tribune correspondent THIS ELECTRONIC VERSION MAY DIFFER SLIGHTLY FROM PRINTED VERSION Eric and Nicole Carlson with their children Alex and C.J. watch as the lights are turned on in front of their Schererville home Wednesday evening. Cousin Jeff Levin (right) wanted to help brighten the holiday for Alex, 3, who is recovering from recent surgery.(PHOTO) (JEFFREY D. NICHOLLS/POST-TRIBUNE) Christmas for an on-the-mend little boy and his family got a little brighter Wednesday, thanks to his cousin and a group of guys who wanted to spread some Christmas cheer. Alex Carlson, 3, braved the drizzle with his parents, Nicole and Eric, and little brother C.J. as Darrin Selking waited for the right moment to flip the switch on the decorations he, his employees and family friends put up at his grandparents’ house. Though their efforts didn’t turn out exactly like Clark Griswold’s, Barb and Don Housley’s house was the one to look at, with its snowflakes and tightly wound trees of green and red. in our site arnold chiari malformation here arnold chiari malformation

The outcome thrilled the crowd, which launched into a rendition of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” led by Alex in anticipation of a surprise visit from the man in red, who came bearing gifts for the little boys.

A year ago, the holidays were filled with dread as Alex was diagnosed with Arnold-Chiari malformation, a rare and painful but not fatal condition in which the part of the brain that controls movement grows wrong.

After undergoing his first operation to correct the Chiari in March, fluid started leaking out of Alex’s incision. Patching that up revealed a second bizarre diagnosis: pseudotumor cerebri, a condition where the body produces more spinal fluid than it absorbs.

Alex spent several months at the University of Chicago’s Comer Children’s Hospital as doctors tried to get the leaking under control.

“He missed his first Easter,” Nicole Carlson said. “The hospital and the Ronald McDonald House (where the Carlsons stayed while Alex recuperated) were wonderful, but we really wanted him to have a holiday at home.” Michelle L. Quinn, Post-Tribune correspondent


  1. K. C. Jain Kumud -  August 24, 2016 - 5:18 pm

    My request to everyone reading this message expressing the feelings straightly which is an honest effort to refrain using the word by every individual’s…

    “You call everybody by title ‘Sir’” in day to day communication, unknowingly expressing your gratitude and respect to the person you addressing.

    But do you know what are you saying….in confirmation…

    One should know what is the word ‘Sir’.. meant

    ‘Slave I Remain (SIR)’

    The British during their rule wanted all Indians to address them as ‘Sir’

    Even after 69 -70 years of independence

    • Astrodmx -  September 4, 2016 - 11:26 am

      K.C. Jain Kumud if there was an Olympics for idiots, you would have scored GOLD for our country.

  2. K. C. Jain Kumud -  August 24, 2016 - 5:13 pm

    My request

  3. Skyfox -  October 1, 2013 - 9:06 am

    Mademoiselle — Madam-oiselle – “The Little Bird Lady”

    (Ancient Wisdom de basses fréquences …)

    Mahalo to the Quiet Birdman of CA!!!

    Obviously “Lady Bird” had no idea of the deeper connotations, but some other little bird was paying attention …

    Contributed by a Quiet Whirly Girl of CA and HI(gh)!! Charlie Que-Bec!!

    If you learned it, it was from a quiet little bird with tight lips who taught you about it. Gulf Hotels were a result of misplaced AGression!

    Common cents are not so common after all. The Dollar is illusory.
    OISEL – Old French

    • Hunter -  January 31, 2015 - 5:46 am

      The “Bird Lady” is the Goddess of “Pigeons” (Doves) who is Ishtar, and all her other derivatives. She changes the “bird” into a rabbit. An Ishtar – Rabbit.

    • Flower -  April 13, 2016 - 9:21 am

      Really polite

    • Flower -  April 13, 2016 - 9:24 am

      Super cool/awesome

  4. Francis -  April 13, 2011 - 12:18 pm

    very good.Keep it up hotword……….. :)

  5. anonymous -  January 28, 2011 - 9:10 am

    I always figured that ”sir” and ”ma’am” were shortened versions of the Freanch words “monseir”, and “madam”.I never knew they originated from old English.-Sorry. “Ye Olde English”.

    • Hunter -  January 31, 2015 - 6:07 am

      It is not ma – dam, it is mad – am. Mad (matu) = death/fate and am into ma= is the feminine. The fateful woman. The BoJo woman of the magic bowl (Edda). The ancients used “cup marks” and mad/matu was “000″ these are your three fates…. The three Mary’s. And Shakespeare’s three witches.

      • Comte de Saint-Efficace -  February 16, 2015 - 8:18 am

        Arrête Grasset, on t’a reconnu.

      • Flower -  April 13, 2016 - 9:23 am

        Super cool

  6. Mr. Raymond Kenneth Petry -  January 18, 2011 - 10:20 pm

    More probably from the French, ma dame (Eng. my lady) … cf mademoiselle (my demi bird, cf ‘my little chickadee’ – W.C.Fields).

  7. Jen -  January 18, 2011 - 1:00 pm

    Isn’t it great, Mustafa? I just love all of this seemingly useless knowledge!! I’m with Wrasfish, you never know what you might need to know someday.

  8. Catricedowns27 -  January 18, 2011 - 9:59 am

    This was extremely helpful, I am an etiquette instructor in Annapolis, my main focus is to empower and enlighten those in diverse communities to practice effective and positive etiquette in their otherwise underprivileged neighborhoods.

  9. amazing -  January 18, 2011 - 6:29 am

    That’s so interesting & helpful.


    • Flower -  April 13, 2016 - 9:23 am


  10. Wrasfish -  January 17, 2011 - 8:28 am

    Mustafa, are you so prescient, or in such a rut, that you can predict what information you may someday need to know? Where is it written that all facts worth knowing must be immediately utilitarian?

  11. David -  January 17, 2011 - 5:57 am

    I think that many European laguages have these kind of titles in common because so much of the medieval nobility of Europe was intermarried, so they had to figure out what to call each other consistanly. Germanic languages (northern Europe mostly, from which English is originally derived)and Romantic Languages(rooted in Latin, which English has liberally borrowed mostly through France since they both have traded leaders / arrows *See Brittay and Norman Conquest) have these similar term. The German for lady or woman is “dame” pronounced “dah-meh” (more or less depending onyour dialect). In animal breeding the terms “sire” and “dame” refer to the father and mother of the offspring.
    Bah, bah, black sheep, have you any wool?
    Yes sir, yes sir. Three bags full.
    One for my master, one for my dame,
    one for the little boy who lives down the lane.

  12. The French Connection -  January 17, 2011 - 1:21 am

    Must say I’m a bit disappointed in this one. It’s unclear why the one-line etymology of “madam” within the dictionary.com definition (“1250–1300; ME madame < OF, orig. ma dame – my lady") mentions Old French while the seven-paragraph blog post does not. As Ian pointed out, the proof of this is in the plural, "mesdames", which (with a space) is French for "my ladies".

    One of the reasons it's important to point out the French connection here is that the English term "my lady" has itself evolved into a different modern English word; to wit, "milady".

    • Hunter -  January 31, 2015 - 5:55 am

      The origin does not lie in Latin. The key is found in Sanskirt.

  13. Avinash -  January 16, 2011 - 7:50 pm

    reading this all is so very interesting…

  14. sonia -  January 16, 2011 - 5:28 pm

    Thank you, hot word.

  15. Peyton -  January 16, 2011 - 1:46 pm

    Sire/My Dame, I’m very pleased to know this! Although it’s kinda annoying when you link words to other webpages. Can you please cut that down, Sire?

  16. Don Paco -  January 16, 2011 - 9:58 am

    The examples use the words Spiritual and Spirituel interchangably. They are not, they are separate words and have different meanings.

  17. DIVVIE -  January 16, 2011 - 6:36 am

    The clinical manager of the clinic where I once worked seemed to always call the few male employees, “Sire.” I always found it patronizing and the few hairs on my head stood in horror.

  18. Emma -  January 15, 2011 - 11:31 pm

    I love to expand my vocabulary. Most kids in fifth grade don’t talk like this and I use words like platitudinous and they confusedly reply “wha?”

  19. Mustafa -  January 15, 2011 - 11:20 pm

    More pointless information that we do not need to know…

  20. KARTHI -  January 15, 2011 - 11:15 pm

    Realy usefull input, thanks!

  21. Khushalee -  January 15, 2011 - 11:14 pm

    Thank u,Sire/My dame….really wonderful to know the archaic words….:)

  22. Nazir Habib -  January 15, 2011 - 10:53 pm

    AriesWarlock and Ernest, sirs, this blogger is in complete agreement with you. Indeed a very informative and illuminating description.

    Thank you and Salams (peace) for 2011 and ever.

  23. KATIE -  January 15, 2011 - 10:32 pm

    I was a secretary during the 60′s and 70′s when women were joining the workforce in droves. Many were reaching positions where the people they were contacting for business had secretaries. When we sent business letters addressed to a woman, we would have to call her office and inquire if the lady was a Miss or Mrs. for her address. When the feminists started coining the term Ms., it was freeing us from the extra phone call. I think that is why it is still used today. I’ll be interested in reading your research on the subject.

    It’s really a shame. Now it is just David and Linda. Some of the respect we had for each other has gone out of fashion.

  24. Gargi -  January 15, 2011 - 9:38 pm

    Great article!
    Thank you…:)

  25. posse -  January 15, 2011 - 9:01 pm

    “Milady” is what one of twins protagonists utters out loud out of his car at the red light to a car next to his of a couple of young chics in L.A.
    The movie Stuck on you is about the Siamese twins. The older brother picks up women by addressing to them with a milady: the other one has to go with it whether he likes it or not.

  26. Jacks brother -  January 15, 2011 - 8:31 pm

    Jack you know you shouldn’t put comments on this website…..do not do this again….

  27. Jack -  January 15, 2011 - 8:24 pm

    I agree with you AriesWarlock, hmmmmmmmmm…….. fergggssssssss……!!!

  28. Ian -  January 15, 2011 - 8:18 pm

    So is this why the plural is “Sirs & Mesdames”?

  29. Roy Morien -  January 15, 2011 - 8:17 pm

    I agree that ‘sire’ is archaic, in this context and usage, but of course it is a noun that is not archaic, and means to ‘father’ (be the father of) offspring. I actually wonder if thos usage is relevant to the archaic word ‘sire’.

  30. Pinki -  January 15, 2011 - 8:09 pm

    That is quite amazing. Thanks!

  31. Gwen -  January 15, 2011 - 6:48 pm

    Madam could also be from the French derivative madame. The article ma in French means my, and is used before feminine words. Mon is used for masculine. I assume that dame is lady, so in French “ma dame” means my lady. Over the years, it was most likely blended together.

  32. 15bubbles -  January 15, 2011 - 6:37 pm

    Hmm… I thought “madam” was short for “madamoiselle”. We learn new things every day!

  33. The Baron -  January 15, 2011 - 6:11 pm

    I would be interested to hear the story of how “Madame” became “My dame”. “Madame”, now the French equivalent of “Mrs.”, had the meaning “my lady” during the ancien regime (pre-French Revolution). “Dame” is still used in United Kingdom as a title — the female equivalent of “Sir” for those women honoured with chivalric orders (e.g. — Dame Barbara, equivalent of Sir Edward). “Lady” is reserved for wives of peers, peeresses in their own right, daughters of dukes, marquesses, and earls, and wives of baronets, knights, Scottish feudal barons, lairds, and clan chiefs.

  34. William -  January 15, 2011 - 6:09 pm

    “Dame” is still a title of respect in the U.K., where it is the title given to women who are awarded the Order of the British Empire by the Queen. (For example, Dame Judi Dench) The title given to men is “Sir.”

  35. Cyberquill -  January 15, 2011 - 6:05 pm

    My dame … madame … my sire … messiah?

  36. shreekant Malagi -  January 15, 2011 - 5:42 pm

    How interesting! Please keep it up. But !sire! didn!t mean father?

  37. cutiepup12 -  January 15, 2011 - 5:23 pm

    Same here ernest!

  38. Marco A. Cruz -  January 15, 2011 - 5:13 pm

    I always thought that “Sire” came from french “sieur” and this from latin “senior” meaning “elder”.
    Also, I thought “madam” came from french “madame” or “ma dame” meaning “my lady”.
    Am I wrong? Tell me, please.

  39. minaminaminaminaahhhhh -  January 15, 2011 - 4:45 pm

    i knew the sire part but i thought my dame was my lady. good stuff.

  40. Meica Manzano -  January 15, 2011 - 4:28 pm

    Cool! Nice to learn about the origin of “sir” and “ma’am”

  41. jipeng -  January 15, 2011 - 3:28 pm

    that answered my confusion.

  42. izzy -  January 15, 2011 - 3:08 pm

    i love this

  43. Jamus -  January 15, 2011 - 2:39 pm

    Ah, thanks sire / my name for enlightening us!

  44. JacuzziSplot -  January 15, 2011 - 1:49 pm

    I guess the English started using Sire because of the French who used the same word. I wonder, though, if “sire” is a contracted form of “seigneur” (lord), which gave monseigneur, which turned to monsieur.

  45. Rezio -  January 15, 2011 - 1:25 pm

    May you ( whomever you may be) keep up the amazing job! I look forward to each and every blog.

  46. Quark the Ferengi -  January 15, 2011 - 1:14 pm

    Rule of Acquisition #198:

    “Employees are the rungs on your ladder to success – don’t hesitate to step on them.”

    Another AWESOME and INFORMATIVE article from Hotword! Keep’em comin, and thank you!

  47. Norah -  January 15, 2011 - 1:11 pm

    Actually, “ma dame” is the French for “my dame” so it seems more likely it came from there.

  48. Joan -  January 15, 2011 - 1:05 pm

    This is very informative. I think I’ll stay with the term “Madame” since in these days “my dame” might be considered very offensive. Although I think I’ll change sir to sire now.

  49. Ernest -  January 15, 2011 - 12:16 pm

    I always us “sir” and “ma’am”, but I really like “sire” and “my dame”. I think I’m going to adopt these titles in my vocabulary. Love it!

  50. AriesWarlock -  January 15, 2011 - 12:08 pm

    How interesting. Thank you.


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