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Is there a gender (and age) neutral alternative to "Sir" and "Ma'am" that can be used when speaking in everyday situations?

The word should be appropriate for a sentence such as, "Thank you, Sir."

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  • The students in my high school class have created a word to fill this need in the English language. Please feel free to use it. Perhaps we can get in into the dictionary to officially bring a gender-neutral “sir/ma’am” into existence. Gent’am - A respectful way to greet a man or a woman This word can be used as a substitute for “sir” or “ma’am,” and is appropriate and honorable for both the young and elderly. – A. McBroom Oct 19 '17 at 14:14
  • Possible duplicate of "Dear Sir (or Madam)" when gender unknown? – Edwin Ashworth Oct 19 '17 at 14:20
  • No; as it is not accepted by a sufficient user base, as shown by its non-inclusion in dictionaries, it's not a word. Merely a candidate. Recommending that others use it is at this moment contrary to the descriptivist leanings of ELU. – Edwin Ashworth Oct 19 '17 at 14:23
  • Actually, new words are constantly being added to dictionaries as their use, in effect, makes them real. Shakespeare created many words which you'll find in the English dictionary today. Check out what this lexicographer has to say on the subject: ted.com/talks/erin_mckean_go_ahead_make_up_new_words – A. McBroom Oct 19 '17 at 17:49
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    In effect, this question was posed to promote a nonce word. This is a thing we do not do. Stack Exchange is not designed to promote peoples' proposals, suggestions, or opinions. It is designed to capture expert correct answers. "Real questions have answers, not items or ideas or opinions." (Stack Overflow Blog) If the asker is willing to address these problems, the question could be reopened. – MetaEd Oct 19 '17 at 18:18
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The students in my high school class have created a word to fill this need in the English language. Please feel free to use it. Perhaps we can get in into the dictionary to officially bring a gender-neutral “sir/ma’am” into existence.

Gent’am - A respectful way to greet a man or a woman

This word can be used as a substitute for “sir” or “ma’am,” and is appropriate and honorable for both the young and elderly.

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  • You may also be interested in the word "gentles", which is commonly used in a formal context where "youse", "y'all", or "yinz" would be inappropriate. For example: "Thank you, gentles." It is not in general use, but is common at renaissance faires where otherwise the speaker would have to employ "ladies", "gentlemen", or "my lords and ladies". I personally have never heard "gentle" (singular), but there is really nothing stopping anyone from using it in the singular: "Thank you, gentle." "Estella, this gentle would like to see something in turquoise." – MetaEd Oct 19 '17 at 18:43
  • Actually, an example in the wild of "this gentle" in the context of medieval re-creation on this page: trimaris.org/node/103 – MetaEd Oct 19 '17 at 18:48
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Certain titles/positions are accorded honorifics which are (more-or-less) gender-neutral:
- Your Honor
- Excellency
- Your Majesty

One of these may be appropriate depending on the context of your requirements.

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  • The school setting would possibly render these inappropriate. – Edwin Ashworth Oct 19 '17 at 15:20
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    I can't imagine anyone actually using these in a setting other than in court. But yes, I would love to be addressed "Here's your change, Excellency". – MetaEd Oct 19 '17 at 18:20

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