1

The president's wife is often referred to as "the first lady". What would be the wife of the vice president be called (if one had to follow the systematics here)?

  1. the first vice lady
  2. the second lady
  3. the vice first lady

Or maybe something totally different?

  • @WS2 Given what's known about her performance, I wouldn't use the term lady. And given what's know about the ways of Bill, I definitely wouldn't use the index first. :) – Konrad Viltersten Jul 6 '14 at 0:42
  • 3
    How about the vice president's wife? – curiousdannii Jul 6 '14 at 2:48
4

The "first vice lady" is either the best at vice, or a heartbeat away from becoming a lady.

The "vice first lady" is a heartbeat away from replacing the president's wife, or possibly the lady figurehead of a campaign to put vice at the top of the agenda.

These are far more interesting than "second lady" but sadly it seems like that is the clear choice as an extension of the concept of "first lady". If Michelle Obama is foremost among ladies, Jill Biden is the runner-up, or second lady.

Incidentally, thinking about what the husband of a female president might be called highlights just how old-fashioned the thinking behind this term is. It's unlikely to become an issue for a while, though, since if Bill Clinton ends up in that position he would in any case still be "President Clinton".

  • I didn't even think of the gender switch in the presidency. Shame on me. However, on a corresponding note - what if (and we're not going to see that any time soon but still) both the president and the vice president were happily married gay people? Who's the first lady there? And if the (gay) president is a man, married to a man - is the wife of the vice president still the second lady?! In a sense, she is. But at the same time she's kind of the first (and only!) lady there... Perhaps the first lady of the second lady's degree is correct? – Konrad Viltersten Jul 6 '14 at 0:50
  • Re the husband of a president: There seems to be some precedent for the title "first gentleman", which has been applied to the husband of a state's governor. (See, e.g., en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…) – PersonX Jul 7 '14 at 18:27
3

Well, there’s a somewhat madey-uppy one, per Wikipedia:

Second Lady of the United States is an informal title for the wife of the Vice President of the United States, coined in contrast to the First Lady (who is almost always the wife of the president).

The second lady’s visibility in the public sphere has been a somewhat recent development. Although the role of the First Lady as White House hostess dates from the beginning of the republic (and was typically filled by another member of the president’s family if the president was unmarried or a widower), with a few exceptions, it was generally not until the late 20th century and early 21st century that vice-presidential wives took on public roles that attracted significant media attention.

Notice that it is an “informal” title at most.

2

The spouse of the the Vice President of the United States is called "The spouse of the Vice President of the United States". For etiquette reasons, "Second Lady" is avoided in formal usage.

Nevertheless, "Second Lady" is commonly used, including on the whitehouse.gov page for Dr. Jill Biden.

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