Does use of the salutation

Dear Drs. Apple and Banana,

imply that Dr. Apple is married to Dr. Banana? That is, would it be better form to use:

Dear Dr. Apple and Dr. Banana,

when Dr. Apple and Dr. Banana are unrelated, but happen to both be addressed in the same letter?

  • 1
    Not sure if them being in the fruit group changes anything? – RyeɃreḁd Mar 15 '14 at 16:59

There is no implication of marital status in your first example. It's just a more compact way to say the same thing.

I could question whether two fruits could legally be married in the first place, but that would probably lead to downvotes.

  • 4
    Yes, I agree. I think the first example is fine. It just sounds wrong because they have been given such silly names. But if I wrote to a medical practice saying 'Dear Drs Wright and Jenner, Further to my earlier letter...', that sounds quite alright. – WS2 Mar 15 '14 at 17:15
  • 6
    Doubtless there are some people in America still using the dated slang fruit for homosexual, so from their benighted perspective, in some states fruits can indeed be legally married. But the state of Illinois recently refused to allow someone to marry a vegetable, so the age-old fruit/vegetable distinction may yet have legs. – FumbleFingers Mar 15 '14 at 17:15
  • 1
    @FumbleFingers Thank you for "benighted" -- "in a state of pitiful or contemptible intellectual or moral ignorance, typically owing to a lack of opportunity". A worthy component of any repertoire of insults. – Spehro Pefhany Mar 15 '14 at 17:24
  • 3
    Isn't Dr Apple a contradiction in terms? – Edwin Ashworth Mar 15 '14 at 18:51
  • 1
    @EdwinAshworth Dr. Jim Apple could be a French doctor. – Spehro Pefhany Mar 15 '14 at 18:55

It doesn't imply their marital status at all. No more so than Messrs. Jones and Wilson implies that they are in a homosexual union.

I would use the term Drs. X and Y.

But, there are certainly situations where you will need to address a married couple of doctors.

My wife and I experience this all of the time. She hasn't taken my last name, and we're both physicians.

She is Dr. N, and I am Dr. M.

I frequently get letters addressed to:

"The Doctors M" (incorrect due to her preference).

Doctors (or Drs.) M (incorrect due to her preference, again.)

Dr. and Mrs. M, (technically correct, but she finds it offensive).

Dr. and Dr. M (again incorrect based upon her preference).

Drs. M and N (Works well, no offense taken by anyone).

Dr. M and Dr. N (Also works well, no offense taken by anyone).

My personal preference is for Drs. M and N. I think it flows better. And, keeping up with the sexist traditionalism: Male first, female second. It keeps with the Mr. and Mrs. convention, and many will assume it to be so.

The other side-effect of her not having taken my name: I get called Mr. N frequently on vacation when a hotel's phone system brings the name up. Drives me batty.


My preference would be for Dear Dr. Apple and Dr. Banana, because it clarifies and does not offend.

  • That is a perfectly reasonable choice. But, in what way do you feel the other to be unclear? – David M Mar 15 '14 at 22:58
  • Both are Dr.A and Dr. B. In my case, my husband and I receive invitations for Profs D and N, but only he is a tenured prof while i'm an adjunct (and lecturer, and librarian) so - no fair - and -no flattering either, from my perspective. Does this answer your question? – edn13 Mar 17 '14 at 17:40
  • It does. But, my point was to round out your answer and explain how you felt the other unclear or offensive, etc. (It's sort of the site's standard for answers.) – David M Mar 17 '14 at 17:45
  • I found it potentially prone to erroneous interpretations: as I said, one of the spouses does not necessarily be a doctor but be covered by the first, shortened version of the salutation. Thanks for asking for clarification – edn13 Mar 31 '14 at 16:37

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