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If I were speaking of three sisters, young girls, whose family name was "Holmsworth", I might say The Misses Holmsworth.

But if I were speaking collectively of Donald Trump's three wives, the present one and the two previous ones, how would I adopt a similar style? Would it be The Mesdames Trump?

Another question on the site asks a general question about addressing groups of people, but it does not specifically relate to the plural of Mrs.

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Trump's two ex-wives and the current Mrs Trump, no? – Mari-Lou A Mar 3 at 20:30
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@EdwinAshworth: I was referring to this sentence in the linked answer: "Ms. is a bit more complicated; any of "Mses.", "Mss.", or "Mmes." (from the French "mesdames") are acceptable." It's not a duplicate because the questions are different, and in any case the linked answer unfortunately has no source for this statement. But I thought it might be useful information. (I guess the plural of "Ms." and "Mrs." is not exactly the same either--sorry if my careless wording caused any confusion.) – sumelic Mar 3 at 21:17
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You've got two questions here: What is the plural of "Mrs", and should you ever use it? The first answer is "Mesdames", the second is absolutely not. – curiousdannii Mar 4 at 0:37
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So "Misses" would be more like "He misses his grandchildren." While "Mrs." would be like "Let me get you in touch with the missez."? – MonkeyZeus Mar 4 at 16:34
up vote 50 down vote accepted

According to M-W the form used is the formal but uncommon Mesdames:

It's odd, but there is no common plural form for the titles Mr. and Mrs. in English.

  • Other titles easily become count nouns: Justice Sandra Day O'Connor/Three of the justices recused themselves. Professor Harold Bloom/Ask your professors if you can have extra help. Captain Richard Sharpe/The regiment's captains all gathered for dinner.

  • But for Mr. and Mrs. there is no common plural form. The plural forms for these titles are only used in formal, official, or otherwise self-conscious writing. They are almost always used when naming people who have already been identified.

  • The plural for Mr.: Messrs.

  • The plural for Mrs.: Mesdames

For example:

  • Messrs. Smith and Jones were named to the company's board at the last general meeting.
  • Bush's foreign policy would have been better off examining [...] the informal Republican meetings on Capitol Hill in the late 1990s (in which Messrs. Cheney and Rumsfeld were key participants).

Mesdames:

  • (formal) Used as a title to refer to more than one woman simultaneously:

    • prizes were won by Mesdames Carter and Barnes (ODO)

As shown in Ngram the usage of "Mesdames" has considerably decreased from the early 20th century.

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Almost certainly you are right. I'll just wait and see if anyone has any other ideas. – WS2 Mar 3 at 20:40
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I suspect the vast majority of people would say "the misters Smith and Jones", though they might muck around with the spelling. A few might say "the missuses Bach and Mozart", but it's not nearly as easy to say. – Hot Licks Mar 4 at 1:35
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@HotLicks: Is "missuses" supposed to be the plural of "mister" or of "missus"? I think "Messrs." would be pronounced "misters" or "messieurs," "mesdames" would be pronounced "may-DAM." – sumelic Mar 4 at 1:50
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The modern plural form of "mister" is "misters". -Wikipedia – mbomb007 Mar 4 at 15:24
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(+1) It may well be worth mentioning that Messrs. is short for "Messieurs", which helps put "Mesdames" in historical context. – Silverfish Mar 4 at 20:26

I would personally go for:

The Trump wives got together for drinks.

or

All of the Mrs. Trumps got together for drinks.

I'm sure this is wrong and might make English scholars feel the need to hit me with a ruler but I've seriously never heard Mesdames before today.

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I've heard "Mesdames" before, but only in French. It can be used by English speakers, and will be generally understood, but it will be obvious that they are using borrowed French words to sound uppity. – Darrel Hoffman Mar 4 at 16:22
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This would seem to indicate that Donald Trump is married to multiple women at the same time. – TylerH Mar 4 at 17:15
    
@TylerH That may be the implication MonkeyZeus is going for. – WBT Mar 5 at 1:26
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@Tyler - that can be addressed by "All of the past and present Mrs. Trumps got together for drinks" or something similar. – Peter Mar 6 at 1:03

The Wall Street Journal is the only place I routinely see "Messrs." And, true to form, you can dig up articles that use "Mesdames":

The "story" opens with a fast and shallow TV executive noting that a rereleased old musical comedy, starring Mesdames Reynolds, MacLaine and Collins, has become a cult hit. http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB981932429421475181

WSJ also uses the abbreviated form "Mmes.":

Mmes. Carruthers and Wanamaker found that equalizing school quality within counties would have diminished the gap by a third, to $95 vs. $114. http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2016/02/16/what-jim-crow-era-schooling-disparities-can-teach-us-about-the-racial-wage-gap/?mod=google_news_blog

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Mary Reynolds, Shirley MacLean Beaty, and Joan Collins, though all later married, each had those names from birth. – Henry Mar 5 at 0:06

In literature it may appear as missus or missis in dialogue. A variant in the works of Thomas Hardy and others is "Mis'ess", reflecting its etymology. Misses has been used but is ambiguous, as this is a commonly-used plural for Miss. The plural of Mrs is from the French: Mesdames.

Mrs. - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia https://en.wikipedia.org › wiki › Mrs.

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The titles 'Mr.' and 'Mrs.' are abbreviations of the English-language titles 'Master'/'Mister' and 'Mistress'. Hence, the plurals of each would be 'Masters'/'Misters' and 'Mistresses', but those sound very formal.

Care should be taken when using 'Mistresses' because of the connotation that 'Mistress' has in modern English usage. Usually if I am using the feminine plural title, I say 'Missuses'.

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According to Judith Martin ("Miss Manners"), a same-sex couple could be jointly addressed as "the Misses [name]." But she was expanding "Ms." rather than "Mrs.", so it's not immediately obvious to me how this generalizes. I don't like "the Missuses Trump"; it sounds awkward to me. But "the Missus Trump" could be interpreted as "Mrs. Trump", which is singular and not what OP is asking for. One could just use "the Misses Trump", I suppose, but then only in writing, since it would be pronounced (in at least some dialects) the same as "Missus." It also could be misinterpreted in any number of ways, and given Mr. Trump's penchant for suing (or threatening to sue) people who so much as breathe on him wrong, I would be reluctant to take such a risk.

So in conclusion, I'd favor "the Trump wives" or some other circumlocution.

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protected by Rathony Mar 5 at 4:53

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