missus, noun

Forms:
misses, missisShow more Also misses, missis, with initial capital, and (rarely) missuse.
Plurals:
missuses.
Origin:
English
Note:
Also found in U.S. and Indian English.
1. A common noun. Cf. madam sense 2.
a. A female employer; miesies sense 1; nonna sense 2 a; nooi sense 1 a. Cf. mies sense b.
1853 E. Rutherfoord in J. Murray In Mid-Victorian Cape Town (1953) 40We found a very nice felt hat which we gave to one of our Coolies, telling him to keep it, in remembrance of his long walk, he gallantly replied, ‘he should keep it in remembrance of the pretty young Missus’.
1861 Lady Duff-Gordon Lett. from Cape (1925) 38Abdul first bought himself, and then his wife Betsy, whose ‘missus’ generously threw in her bed-ridden mother.
1861 Lady Duff-Gordon Lett. from Cape (1925) 73He told them he was sure I was a ‘very great Missis’.
1894 E. Glanville Fair Colonist 89He wanted to see the missis. ‘The missis!’ remarked the cook, scornfully. ‘Did he expect the missis would see a black fellow like him?’
1911 Blackburn & Caddell Secret Service 69His instructions were to find out if and where the missis wrote and posted letters during the day.
1930 Star 24 Jan.What are we coloured girls..to do? The behaviour of some tram conductors is unbearable. Some of them want to know where your ‘missus’ is. If told ‘there’s no missus,’ they say, ‘You can’t get on my car.’
1943 Weekend News & Sunday Mag. 20 Mar. 4‘Well, my Missus is going to de Show Ball,’ goes on Katjie, ‘an if she is going dere, wat will I wear?’
1956 D. Jacobson Dance in Sun 146Mrs Fletcher now added..several remarks about the ingratitude of kaffirs..and of their disregard of the length of service they had had under one particular missus, or even the father of the missus.
1971 LM in Rand Daily Mail 27 July 12Whites would ‘all get along very much better without Non-Whites’ is a deliberate untruth — ask the Missus whose children are brought up by Black nannies?
1979 W. Ebersohn Lonely Place 65In their world it was normal..to possess only the worn-out bits of clothing brought home by their mothers from the home of the missis after the missis’ children had outgrown them.
1986 M. Ramgobin Waiting to Live 151You can ask the missus to buy them and I will be able to pay her at the end of the week when I get my wages.
b. Any white woman.
1861 Lady Duff-Gordon Lett. from Cape (1925) 65An ‘indulgence of talk’, from an English ‘Missus’ seemed the height of gratification, and the pride and pleasure of giving hospitality a sufficient reward.
1887 A.A. Anderson 25 Yrs in Waggon I. 18Her father wanted to sell her..to the old man, and she did not like it,..therefore she fled from the Kraal.., and she begged the ‘misses’ would let her stop and work for her.
1900 H. Blore Imp. Light Horseman 312Jafta pondered for a while..and then replied, ‘There are no baases there, only misseses’.
1942 P. Abrahams Dark Testament 113As soon as she saw it was a white person she ran, back into the house. ‘Ma! Ma! There’s a missus at the door!’
1961 T. Matshikiza Choc. for my Wife 91‘He looks cheeky, too, my baas.’ ‘Aren’t you the one there’s a complaint about from a white missus?’
1970 M. Dikobe Marabi Dance. 57You can already dress like a white missus, and Jo’burg girls dress like that.
1980 E. Joubert Long Journey of Poppie Nongena 54We bought milk from the old missus and fresh bread which she baked.
1987 Pace Aug. 4When some verkramptes can’t accept a darkie looking at a mere photograph of a white woman, what about the real affair between a missis and a darkie ou?
2. A term of address. Cf. miesies sense 2.
a. Used by servants to a female employer, often in the third person, as a sign of respect; nonna sense 2 b; nooi sense 1 b. Cf. madam sense 1 b.
1855 H. Rabone in A. Rabone Rec. of Pioneer Family (1966) 105One girl said, ‘You are drunk.’ ‘Yes Missis,’ was the reply, ‘it’s Christmas time, and I mean to be till New Year.’
1862 Lady Duff-Gordon Lett. from Cape (1925) 127The Malays have such agreeable manners...They have an affectionate way of saying ‘my missis’ when they know one, which is very nice to hear.
1878 H.A. Roche On Trek in Tvl 298It would be, ‘Would missus like the fire lighted?’ or ‘Did missus call?’ ‘Missus had better hold on, bad place coming’.
1888 Cape Punch 25 Jan. 60W.L.: Well, Jim, any news? Jim: Yah, misses, much news.
1911 P. Gibbon Margaret Harding 44She had caught from Mrs. Jakes the first rule of polite conversation...‘Sun burning plenty; how’s Missis?’ was her usual opening gambit.
1926 S.G. Millin in Voorslag Vol.1 No.3, 11I cheated missis to take from her money for things she did not want. Don’t speak to me of more payment, my missis.
1930 N. Stevenson Farmers of Lekkerbat 215The first to come out was the native, Temba;..he knew what had taken place. ‘Oh! Missus!’ he said gravely, ‘you were not able to protect Elofshuis.’
1954 A. Segal Jhb. Friday 17‘Have the shoes been polished?’ she demanded of Sixpence. ‘Yes, Missus,’ he said.
1963 A.M. Louw 20 Days 77‘It is my cousin from Swellendam, old missus,’ Katrina lied glibly.
1976 S. Cloete Canary Pie 121With Francis ill she had to run the farm. She hated the farm, she hated the natives. They said, ‘Ja, Missis...No, Missis,’ and then did exactly as they wanted.
b. Used in addressing any white woman.
1968 F.C. Metrowich Frontier Flames 229She was awakened by a rough voice shouting ‘Missus! Missus!’ She..found two men at the bedroom door. They had been sent by the chief to tell her that not a second was to be lost.
1976 J. Becker Virgins (1986) 11‘What is your name?’ ‘Yes misses.’...‘Your name. What are you called?’ Susan interpreted, and Hannah said her name was Hannah. ‘Can’t you speak English?’ ‘Yes misses.’
1980 E. Patel They Came at Dawn 9But haanetjie wants to jingle –..a dance is a dance..howsit Mister Black...I am Miss White..lets jingle jangle...‘norr missuse’ ’y-not?’ ‘cos of aparthate.’
1986 J. Whyle in S. Gray Market Plays 178This guy walks behind her for about two blocks trying to force her into alleys and things. So eventually Linda loses her temper and..says, ‘Listen fuck off!’ So he says ‘Sorry missus’ and he splits.
1990 R. Stengel January Sun 45I used to see my father referring to whites in — how should I say it? — he referred to them with awe and undue respect. To an old white man, he would say, Oubaas, and to a woman, he would say Missus.
3. With a qualifying word indicating age: klein missus /kleɪn -/ or small-missus [(partial) translations of Afrikaans klein miesies], nonnie sense a; also used as a title with a name. See also oumissus.
1899 B. Mitford Weird of Deadly Hollow 241Maghtag, Klein Missis! I think we shall have a storm to-night.
1900 B. Mitford Aletta 290And the klein missis told me that it didn’t matter if I killed the horse if only we did that.
1979 W. Ebersohn Lonely Place 193You worked for the Old-boss from the time Small-missis Marie and Small-boss Marthinus were babies?
A common noun.
A female employer; miesies1; nonna2 a; nooi1 a.
Any white woman.
A term of address.
Used by servants to a female employer, often in the third person, as a sign of respect; nonna2 b; nooi1 b. Cf. madam1 b.
Used in addressing any white woman.
klein missuskleɪn - or small-missus(partial) translations of klein miesies, nonniea; also used as a title with a name.
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