AskDefine | Define signorina

Dictionary Definition

signorina n : an Italian courtesy title for an unmarried woman; equivalent to Miss with used before a name [also: signorine (pl)]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. A courtesy title for an unmarried woman of Italian origin



  1. young lady
  2. (used to address a woman) miss, young lady (ladies is used for the plural)
    Sì, signorina - Yes, miss
    No, signorine - No, ladies
  3. (used as a salutation in a letter) Madam, Miss (followed by a name) (plural Mesdames)
    Egregia Signorina - Dear Madam
    Egregia Signorina Rossi - Dear Miss Rossi
    Egregie Signorine - Dear Mesdames

See also

Extensive Definition

Miss (pronounced [mɪs]) is a title typically used for an unmarried woman (not entitled to a higher title). It is a contraction of mistress, originating during the 17th Century; however, a period (to signify the contraction) is generally not used. Its counterpart, Mrs., is used for married women. Ms. is used for women regardless of marital status.


Miss can be used in direct address to a woman, for example, May I help you, Miss? By British tradition, Miss is often used by schoolchildren to address female teachers without using their name, regardless of marital status. This is also seen in some Commonwealth nations such as India and Canada.
In some styles of etiquette, the eldest daughter of a family was addressed on paper simply as Miss Doe, with the younger daughters being addressed as Miss Jane Doe and Miss Rebecca Doe. In person, as in when making introductions, the styling would have been extended to unmarried cosed irrespective of marital status and added to a woman's first name in direct or indirect address, as Miss Ellen from Gone with the Wind or Miss Ellie from Dallas. This form was also used in upper class households in all English-speaking countries by servants to address or refer to the unmarried ladies of the household, and occasionally in family-run businesses in the same manner, though more commonly it was used to address servants if they were addressed by title at all.
Miss was formerly the default title for a businesswoman, but it has largely been replaced by Ms. in this context. It was (and to some extent remains) also a default title for celebrities, such as actresses (Miss Helen Hayes, Miss Amelia Earhart). Such default usage has also proved problematic; the poet Dorothy Parker was often referred to as Miss Parker, even though Parker was the name of her first husband and she herself preferred Mrs. Parker. Later in the century, the use of "Miss" or "Mrs" became a problem for the New York Times in referring to political candidate Geraldine Ferraro, a married woman who did not use her husband's surname, since Mrs has only been used with a woman's maiden name in limited circumstances in public life before the 1980's. (See more at Mrs.) Current American etiquette states that Ms. is preferred for a woman who has kept her maiden name after marriage and where one is not sure of how the woman wants to be addressed. While Miss is still used, it is most frequently used to refer to girls under eighteen.
The prescription that all women (regardless of marital status, profession or age) should use Ms., has been mooted. However, in actual contemporary usage, many women still prefer to be referred to as Miss, for example the American media personality, Miss Jones. An example of Miss used in a contemporary formal setting, and to address a woman considerably older than 18, is found in the 2007 film Lions for Lambs. The senator played by Tom Cruise addresses a senior journalist played by Meryl Streep. Her character, Janine Roth, is addressed as Miss Roth. 21st century etiquette typically consults a woman for her preference of title, while using Ms. if this is impractical. This is common practice in forms that provide options for title — for example, Dr, Ms, Mrs or Miss.
Another notable use of Miss is as the title of a beauty queen (given that in most pageants it is a requirement that contestants be unmarried), such as Miss America, Miss Universe, or Miss Congeniality.
Other languages, such as French, Spanish, Bulgarian, and Portuguese, have borrowed the English Miss to refer to the winner of a beauty pageant.
Miss can be used in the plural, as Misses. The usage The Misses Doe was often used in the United Kingdom to refer to unmarried sisters, but this usage is now largely obsolete.

Foreign equivalents

Rough foreign equivalents of Miss are:
  • Afrikaans Juffrou
  • Albanian Zonjusha
  • Arabic آّنسة (ānisah)
  • Azeri Xanımqız
  • Bosnian Gospođica (Gđica)
  • Bulgarian Госпожица (pronounced gospozhitsa)
  • Chinese 小姐 (xiao jie)
  • Croatian Gospođica (Gđica)
  • Czech Slečna
  • Danish Frøken (Frk.)
  • Dutch Juffrouw (Mej.)
  • Esperanto Fraŭlino (F-ino)
  • Estonian Preili (Prl.)
  • Filipino Binibini (Bb.)
  • Finnish Neiti (Nti)
  • French Mademoiselle (Mlle)
  • German Fräulein (Frl.)
  • Greek Δεσποινίς, Despoinis, pronounced the-spin-EES, abbreviation: Δις, Dis, only used for girls obviously younger than 18
  • Hebrew g'veret
  • Hungarian kisasszony
  • Icelandic Ungfrú (suffix)
  • Indonesian Nona (Nn.)
  • Irish Ógbhean(-uasal)
  • Italian Signorina (
  • Japanese 嬢, pronounced Jō
  • Korean 아가씨 (Ah Ga Ci)
  • Latvian Jaunkundze
  • Lithuanian Panelė
  • Luxemburgish Joffer
  • Macedonian Госпоѓица (Г-ѓица)
  • Malaysian Cik
  • Maltese Sinjorina
  • Mandarin Chinese 小姐 (xiáo jiě)
  • Norwegian Frøken (Frk.)
  • Persian خانم (khanoom) - دختر خانم - دوشيزه
  • Polish Panna
  • Portuguese Menina (Mna.) or Senhorita (Srta.)
  • Romanian "Domnişoara" (D-ra)
  • Russian Госпожа (gospozha)
  • Sanskrit (and Indian languages) Kumāri
  • Scots Gaelic Maighdeann(-uasal) (Mh(uas).)
  • Serbian Gospođica (Gđica)
  • Slovak Slečna
  • Slovenian Gospodična (Gdč.)
  • Spanish Señorita (Srta.)
  • Swedish Fröken (Frk.)
  • Turkish Bayan
  • Ukrainian Панні (panni)
  • Welsh Bonesig
signorina in Breton: Dimezell
signorina in Danish: Frøken
signorina in German: Fräulein
signorina in Scottish Gaelic: Maighdeann (labhair ri)
signorina in Dutch: Juffrouw
signorina in Portuguese: Miss
signorina in Quechua: Sipas
signorina in Russian: Госпожа
signorina in Albanian: Miss
signorina in Slovenian: Miss
signorina in Swedish: Fröken
signorina in Chinese: 小姐
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