Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Is there a quaint-sounding/archaic dual to address women a la "[my] [good] sir" jovially in casual conversation? I can't come up with an expression that doesn't sound like a moderately intense term of endearment (e.g. my [fair] lady). Can you even sound quaint but still be modern?

share|improve this question
1  
I don't consider lady to be as endearing as you. Perhaps madam or even woman (i.e. "my good woman")? This question may be a better fit at Writers.SE as it's open-ended and likely to lead to extended debate or discussion. –  Zairja Sep 27 '12 at 20:25
2  
"Madam" works as a female equivalent in most places where for a man you would say "sir". "Lady" is the female equivalent of "gentleman". –  Jay Sep 27 '12 at 20:31
    
The female knights I know all prefer dame as the feminine version of sir, but somehow, "my good dame" just doesn't really work. –  Marthaª Sep 28 '12 at 5:36

3 Answers 3

up vote 11 down vote accepted

How "lady" is going to be received really depends on your audience. That said, some options are:

My good lady
My lady
My good woman
Madam
Woman

A lot will depend on context, too, as well as tone.

share|improve this answer
2  
My mother-in-law reported being disgusted by a colleague from the American south addressing her as "the little lady." –  JAM Sep 27 '12 at 20:46
    
+1 for My good woman –  bib Sep 27 '12 at 21:46
    
Madam was my first thought....nice answer! –  AnotherUser Jul 4 at 13:22

My dear lady would sound quaint. It was used by Shakespeare.

share|improve this answer

Context is lacking in the question, but as woman I would generally consider it sweet, workplace excluded, for a man to address me as kind lass (or lovely lass if his intention is to flirt).

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.