Miss, Mistress, Mrs

(masteress, lady-master). Miss used to be written Mis, and is the first syllable of Mistress; Mrs. is the contraction of mistress, called Misess. Even in the reign of George II. unmarried ladies used to be styled Mrs.; as, Mrs. Lepel, Mrs. Bellenden, Mrs. Blount, all unmarried ladies. (See Pope's Letters.)

Early in Charles II.'s reign, Evelyn tells us that “lewd women began to be styled Misse;” now Mistress is more frequently applied to them. (See Lad.)

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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