In TV and movies (and presumably real life), people will often start advice to boys by saying "hey son..." But I've never once heard any advice to girls start with "hey daughter..." In fact, usually the usage of "daughter" is in some indirect phrase ("that's my daughter" or similar).

Why is "hey daughter" not used? And why does it sound so weird to use it this way when they should be equivalent?

  • The movie industry being dominated by males, movies about men and their sons are more likely to be made. Sep 13, 2020 at 20:06
  • 2
    "Son" is also a general term of address to any a younger male, related or not, "Daughter" is not use in a similar way for young women (except in a religious or archaic sense). "I saw a boy looking at my garden, so I called out "Hey son. have you lost something?""
    – Greybeard
    Sep 13, 2020 at 20:40
  • I wonder if it’s usually the first son who’s often so-called, as the likely one to carry on and more important than a daughter to the standing (SES) of the family. (Patriarchy and its discontents.)
    – Xanne
    Sep 13, 2020 at 21:08
  • 1
    People may be able to offer various interesting hypotheses about this, but it is unlikely that any definite answer can be given to this question, as it is generally difficult to explain why some meaningful expression is not widely used. One (perhaps not very interesting) hypothesis is that son, as a one-syllable word, fits better the tone of casual, quick communications that begin with hey than the longer daughter. 'Hey grandson' is probably as rare as 'hey daughter', which arguably suggests that the length of the word may be relevant.
    – jsw29
    Sep 13, 2020 at 21:38
  • 2
    Daughter is by no means the quickest of disyllables, and that circumstance tends to reserve it to more formal registers than comport with the hail Hey. Sep 14, 2020 at 20:33

1 Answer 1


I only see "Hey, son" used in old movies and old TV. This is usually an older man to a younger man, black or white, unlikely to be his son asking or telling some casual information in an instant confidential relationship. If this were done in the late 60s or 70s there would be a confrontation about whose son is whose. Harry Morgan is the last to use this frequently and MASH is set in the 50s.

If an older man were to ask a young lady it would be "Excuse me, miss?"

  • What justification is there for the downvote?
    – Elliot
    Sep 15, 2020 at 1:16

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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