Ninja'd by Nerys Myk, but I'm not gonna just dump this. According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ms.#Historical_development_and_revival_of_the_term: Historical development and revival of the term "Ms." (or at least the pronunciation associated with this spelling) began to be used as early as the 17th century, along with "Miss" and "Mrs.", as a title derived from the then formal "Mistress", which, like Mister, did not originally indicate marital status. "Ms." in whatever form, however, fell into disuse in favor of the other two titles and was not revived until the 20th century. The earliest known proposal for the modern revival of "Ms." as a title appeared in The Republican of Springfield, Massachusetts on November 10, 1901: There is a void in the English language which, with some diffidence, we undertake to fill. Every one has been put in an embarrassing position by ignorance of the status of some woman. To call a maiden Mrs is only a shade worse than to insult a matron with the inferior title Miss. Yet it is not always easy to know the facts... Now, clearly, what is needed is a more comprehensive term which does homage to the sex without expressing any views as to their domestic situation, and what could be simpler or more logical than the retention of what the two doubtful terms have in common. The abbreviation "Ms" is simple, it is easy to write, and the person concerned can translate it properly according to circumstances. For oral use it might be rendered as "Mizz," which would be a close parallel to the practice long universal in many bucolic regions, where a slurred Mis' does duty for Miss and Mrs alike. The term was again suggested as a convenience to writers of business letters by such publications as the Bulletin of the American Business Writing Association (1951) and The Simplified Letter, issued by the National Office Management Association (1952). In 1961, Sheila Michaels attempted to put the term into use when she saw what she thought was a typographical error on the address label of a copy of News & Letters sent to her roommate. Michaels "was looking for a title for a woman who did not 'belong' to a man." She knew the separation of the now common terms Miss and Mrs. had derived from "Mistress", but one could not suggest that women use the original title with its now louche connotations. Her efforts to promote use of a new honorific were at first ignored. Around 1971, in a lull during a WBAI-radio interview with The Feminists group, Michaels suggested the use of Ms. A friend of Gloria Steinem heard the interview and suggested it as a title for her new magazine. Ms. magazine's popularity finally allowed the term to enjoy widespread usage. In February 1972, the US Government Printing Office approved using "Ms." in official government documents. [...] 4. ^ a b Zimmer, Ben (2009-06-23). "Hunting the Elusive First 'Ms.'". Word Routes. The Visual Thesaurus. Retrieved 2009-06-23. 5. ^ Spender, Dale (1981). Man Made Language. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. ISBN 978-0-7100-0675-2. 6. ^ Stannard, Una (1977). Mrs Man. San Francisco: Germainbooks. ISBN 978-0-914142-02-7. 7. ^ [dead link] 8. ^ Martin, Judith. Miss Manners' Guide for the Turn of the Millennium, p.10. Simon & Schuster, New York, New York. ISBN 0-671-72228-X. 9. ^ "Ms.". The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. Houghton Mifflin Company. 2009. 10. ^ Jeffs, Angela (November 5, 2000). "Missing piece of puzzle in story of 'Ms.'". The Japan Times Online. 11. ^ Michaels, Sheila (March–April 2008). "Forty Years of Defying the Odds". Solidarity Webzine. Solidarity. Retrieved November 9, 2009. 12. ^ Kay, Eve (28 June 2007). "Call Me Ms". The Guardian (accessed August 20, 2007) 13. ^ Fishko, Sara (June 28, 2012). "Fishko Files: Ms.". WNYC. Retrieved 2013-03-12. 14. ^ Zimmer, Ben (2009-10-25). "On Language: Ms.". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-11-16. 15. ^ Frum, David (2000). How We Got Here: The '70s. New York, New York: Basic Books. p. 246. ISBN 0-465-04195-7. 16. ^ Safire, William. "On Language: Goodbye Sex, Hello Gender", The New York Times, August 5, 1984, Section 6 p. 8. I'm not an expert on this, so I'm not claiming that this text is either factual or complete. However, it at least appears to be fairly well-referenced, and it doesn't seem implausible. I won't go the extra mile to sort this all out, but I will go an extra foot. According to Merriam-Webster: Merriam-Webster has the reputation of being an expert on American English, and what it says there is perfectly consistent with the Wikipedia article. Surely, if anyone wishes to deny the veracity of the Wikipedia article with the force of an opinion backed by evidence, they could provide references of their own. That said, it looks like Ms. was indeed indeed revolutionary in the 1950's, whereas of course it isn't so much today. Additionally, it looks like Ms. was at least as much of an idea whose time had come as it was something disseminated from New York to the rest of the precious Heartland. I don't know what else to make of this, except that it seems that the iguana has spoken truth.