In Boston Legal (TV series) married couples are announced as "Mr and Mrs Ivan Tiggs" or "Mr and Mrs Denny Crane" - including the husbands' first names.

Why is that?
Is it used commonly or only in this series?

2 Answers 2


From the entry Mrs in Wikipedia:

Mrs. was most often used by women when married, in conjunction with her husband's first and last names (e.g., Mrs. John Smith). A widow was and still is addressed with the same title as when she was married. Mrs. was rarely used before a woman's first name, maiden name, or before a hyphenated surname her husband was not using. For example, Mrs. Jane Miller (wife of John Smith), Mrs. Jane Smith, or Mrs. Jane Miller-Smith were considered incorrect by many etiquette writers, especially of the early 20th century.[3]

It is now less common for a woman to be addressed using her husband's first name, except when the couple is being addressed jointly, such as in Mr. and Mrs. John Smith.

  • It is maybe less common now than in the past. But when they arrive as a couple, this is how to announce them. Or maybe "Dr and Mrs Ivan Tiggs", or "Senator and Mrs Ivan Tiggs".
    – GEdgar
    Jun 1, 2012 at 14:41
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    I don't know what the convention was in the past, but it is certainly very common today to call a married woman "Mrs. Jane Smith" (assuming "Smith" is her married name). That is by far the most common address. If that was considered incorrect in the "early 20th century", it is certainly considered correct and routine since at least the late 20th century.
    – Jay
    Jun 1, 2012 at 15:18
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    @GEdgar Though it is tricky if the wife has a title. An organization I used to work for once got a letter from a woman who objected to mail being addressed to "Dr & Mrs John and Mary Jones". She said she was also a doctor, so she wanted it addressed to "Dr & Dr John and Mary Jones". I've never seen someone write "Mr & Senator ...", I'm not sure if there's a convention there.
    – Jay
    Jun 1, 2012 at 15:21
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    @GEdgar: Or "Mr. and Dr. ..." and related constructions, of course. In my business it is not uncommon to meet married couple both of whom are academics which leads to "Dr. and Dr. ..." or "Prof. and Prof. ...". If you are willing to alter the formula "The Professors John and Jane Smith" is less awkward, conveys the appropriate respect to both parties and gets in both of their first names. Jun 1, 2012 at 23:54

That introduction is in common enough use in the US that no one will be confused. However, some people (usually younger) will actually take offense. Couples my age (early twenties) frequently see the practice as being somewhat derogatory since the woman is being identified only as the wife of her husband instead of by her own name.

  • 2
    Additionally, including the husband's name like that is unusual and unnatural enough for me that I have to actually think about it for a minute every time it happens - my natural reaction is to think we're being told the wife's name.
    – Izkata
    Jun 1, 2012 at 16:39

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