Why is this cover letter inappropriate?

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the candidate understates its qualifications

David Alberto ∙

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Why do television shows sometimes have beeps in them?

the bleeping is to cover inappropriate language.

What doeas inappropriate mean?

Inappropriate means not suitable for a particular occasion.

What does Serena Lawrence enclose with her cover letter to the oak brook wildlife center?

Her letter of references (APEX)

How inappropriate is Miley Cyrus?

I think Miley is inappropriate because of the little incident at the vmas. She is too inappropriate to be considered a good role model for young girls and women.

What is the most inappropriate movie in the world?

This is a rather vague question. There isn't one lone "most" inappropriate movie. Porn movies are easily the most inappropriate movies.

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Should You Use "Dear Sir or Madam" on Your Cover Letter?

dear sir or madam on cover letter.jpg

In conclusion

Offering the best career advice means equipping you with best tools, tips, and tricks that you can't easily find on the internet.

For example, even though some experts may assure you that for an IT startup initiating your cover letter with "Hi (First name) ", we strongly advise against that.

"Dear (First name)" is a million times better alternative. Plus, you will have a chance to infuse your cover letter with your vibrant personality, demonstrating to HR that you are a pure organizational fit without having to address them like they are just one of your friends.

Similar to "Hi (First name) " is “Dear Sir or Madam” - even if you read somewhere that using it is still acceptable, don't bite that poisonous apple.

In this blog post, you will learn:

Why you shouldn’t use “Dear Sir or Madam” to start your cover letter.

In 2023, writing “Dear Sir or Madam” as the salutation of your application letter isn’t just old fashioned – it’s archaic. The salutation was a safe bet a couple of decades ago when you couldn’t easily find the hiring manager on LinkedIn and there was no way you could find our who’s desk your application will end up on.

Back then, of course, it was totally okay to use it.

On the contrary, today, almost any company, big or small, has a good social media presence. Corporate HRs can very well be more popular than their respective CEOs. Recruiters are the face of the organization, hence it’s easier than ever to find out the name of any HR.

Hence, if the information is just a few clicks away, it is not acceptable to send an impersonalized cover letter, starting with "Dear Sir or Madam." Doing so, you risk leaving the impression that you are a bit lazy, careless, or not so interested in the position.

How to nail the proper cover letter salutation .

Moreover, we live in a dynamic, diverse, and disruptive world. Opening your cover letter with an old-school salutation like "Dear Sir or Madam," you may sound not progressive enough. Instead, consider several inclusive and imaginative alternatives, which we’ll discuss later.

Avoid these other equally bad salutations.

While with the “Dear Sir or Madam” salutation, you would teleport the recruiter 30 years back in time, if you used “ To whom it may concern ”, they are going back to the 70s.

Even worse, such an opening will immediately diminish the power of your cover letter. These are by far the worst and most dangerous openings.

Further down the rabbit hole are expressions like:

They break the standards of proper business communication.

Dozens of ways to substitute “Dear Sir or Madam” for success.

Let's look at how you can avoid the dreaded outdated cover letter salutations but still convey your value proposition respectfully and reasonably. As a general rule, if in doubt, always refer back to the precise business communication rules. Better to stay more official than inappropriately casual.

Need to read more PRO tips on how exactly to write a cover letter that recruiters will talk about long after? Check our article How to Write a Cover Letter – Writing Guide + Examples & Downloadable Templates .

Here are a dozen backup options to completely eradicate from your Cover letter the “Dear Sir or Madam” in various scenarios:

When you know the name of the recruiter,

Using the above alternatives, you show up from the start as a considerate, respectful individual with all the right know-how on proper business communication.

When you don't know and can't find the name of the recruiter.

No name? No problem. Check out how you can navigate that situation with class.

When you are addressing a whole HR team.

There are also these situations when you apply to a big multinational corporate organization or via a Recruitment agency. Typically, you would not be communicating with only one particular HR responsible for the position, but often with the whole Recruitment team. So then, the smart go-to approach is to be inclusive and address the entire group with one of the below options:

Now you have 12 savvy salutations for any Cover letter at your immediate disposal. Which one will you choose to open the door to the HR's heart? Head over to our cover letter builder and start enchanting from “hello”.

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Published in category English , 02.09.2020 >>

Read this cover letter: Dear Sir or Madam: I am responding to your ad seeking data managers. I feel I am highly qualified for the position and have a great deal of relevant experience. I have managed the bookkeeping data for a local volunteer organization for several years. In addition, I love hiking and have spent a lot of time discovering our state parks. In fact, that’s usually where you’ll find me if I’m not at work! I can provide several references attesting to my punctuality, bookkeeping abilities, and reliability. I look forward to your response. Best wishes, John Smith Why is this cover letter inappropriate? A. It makes the candidate appear selfish. B. It understates the candidate’s qualifications. C. It provides irrelevant information. D. It makes the candidate appear unreliable.

Answer by Guest

Hello! The correct answer would be: C. It provides irrelevant information In the letter above, John Smith mentions that he “loves hiking” and “has spent a lot of time discovering our state parks.” This information is irrelevant when responding to an advertisement seeking data managers. I hope this helps!

Apex it is not irrelevant information

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Why is this cover letter inappropriate Dear Sir or Madam?

Dear Sir or Madam as a Letter Salutation The reason why these generic letter salutations should be avoided is because you’re always better off addressing the letter using the recipient’s name. And with the advent of the internet, there’s almost no excuse for not knowing who you’re writing to.

Is Dear Sir or Madam appropriate for cover letter?

It’s just better to use “Dear Hiring Manager.” One more acceptable phrase to use in your cover letter salutations is “Dear Sir or Madam.” This phrase accounts for either gender, which is good, although it does sound awkward since it makes a big affair out of doing so.

Is Dear Sir Madam outdated?

‘Dear Sir or Madam’ is an outdated salutation traditionally used to open formal business emails. It should be avoided for a few reasons: First, today’s digitally connected world makes it easier than ever to find out who you’re emailing. Second, this greeting may not be reflective of the recipient’s gender.

Untitled design (19)

How to Write a Cover Letter for a Job Application in 2023

Write A Cover Letter For A Job Application In 2022

With the growing demand for jobs, competition is also rising. Most individuals fail to fetch a job without a proper resume and cover letter despite having all the desired skills. After Covid-19, most people lost their jobs and the market went up worse than anything. Now in 2023, the situation is not much difficult and the job market is a relief now.

But, job seekers have to prove themselves more potential than other clients so that the interviewer can get clarification on choosing them over other candidates. In this, a resume/CV and cover letter play a pivotal role. With the niche skills on the resume and a well-crafted cover letter, the candidate can make an impression on the  interviewer  and company to stand out from the crowd.


Most companies ask for a cover letter along with a CV(Curriculum Vitae) but it is not a mandatory option. However, attaching an appealing cover letter along with the CV can add up the chances of being noticed by the hiring manager . Well, many folks fail to understand the correct way of drafting a cover letter. Most freshers do not know the proper meaning of a cover letter and its significance.

Here, we will discuss it.

A Cover Letter is a single-page letter written to summarise your resume. It need not be lengthy otherwise the hiring team will lose interest in your candidature. So, try to keep it as short as 200-400 words. Mostly,  recruiters take interest in your resume  after getting a spectacular cover letter. We can say that a well-written cover letter can prompt the recruiters in taking steps ahead in considering you sign for the job role.

There can be thousands of applications for a single job profile and it becomes a hassle to go through each one of them. In such a case, the recruiters find it easy to distinguish between the potential candidates and inappropriate ones through cover letters. Despite adding a cover letter, one needs to be cautious with it. A not-so-well formatted cover letter can bring bad will for you. It might make recruiters throw your CV in the trash bin. So, it is advisable to follow appropriate steps while writing a cover letter, else take the help of professionals.

Let us discuss its importance in the job market.

Importance of a cover letter

Nowadays, a cover letter is a basic requirement. Although many candidates have their cover letters handy while applying for a job. They know its benefits. Therefore, the candidates stay ready with their cover letters. Here, we will discuss how important these cover letters are.

1. Value addition

Applying to any organization is the first step that you take to get the desired role in that firm. It will be the first impression on the hiring team. Try to make it outstanding. You can do it easily through a cover letter. It adds value to your profile by making you organized. Thus, value addition is a key role in a cover letter.

2. Stand out of crowd

There are many applicants in a single job profile. Each company receives a ton of worthy candidates for a single position. In such a case, you need to prove yourself unique for the profile. You can highlight yourself through a well-written cover letter alongside an impressive resume. It helps you mention the key points that can benefit you in proving you are the best fit for the job role.

3. Bring a storyline out of you

A cover letter mostly depicts the story that revolves around you. It gives a brief idea of your recent achievements, key skills, potentiality, strengths, and other qualifiers that can fit into the job profile. Thus, it helps in building your story and fetching a job based on it. Make sure that you do not fake anything.

4. Enthusiasm

A spectacular cover letter when written properly can help showcase your enthusiasm for the job profile. It will show that you are ready to go through the ups and downs of the organization and prove yourself the best fit for the job. Overall, a cover letter shows that you value the job profile as well as the company.

5. Building relationship

Since a cover letter makes everything transparent in front of the hiring team, it indeed helps in building relationship bonds with them. Through a cover letter, you are highlighting your personality and putting everything clear and concise before others. By going through a cover letter, the hiring manager will know many things about you.

Do you need a cover letter in 2023?

A cover letter was introduced on 23rd September 1956. After that, most companies ask for cover letters from candidates. However, this is marked as an optional field but studies have shown that the candidates with a compelling cover letter tend to get more consideration than others.

Till now in 2023, many candidates prefer a cover letter along with a resume. T hings have not changed yet and they will remain the same for the coming 10 years. Also, recruiters find it easy to understand the applicants through their cover letters rather than their resume. So, a cover letter is equally necessary for 2023 and the years coming so forth.

12 tips to write a cover letter in 2023

1. a professional header.

The header of any cover letter gives the first impression. So, try to make it as impressive as you can. In the meanwhile, you need to stay professional. Adding up necessary details about you and your hiring manager will help you create an appealing header. Some important points to keep in mind while writing a header are:-

Firstly, start by adding details about you that include:

That’s it! You do not need to add any details about yourself other than these. Also, make sure that everything is professional, including your email address. For example, [email protected] or [email protected] are some of the red flags. Your email id should be with your first and last name.

Leave one line after it and then add the date on which you are adding the cover letter. Again leave a line and add the details of the person you are referring to. It includes:

After this, anything you write will come under the body section. It might be a time-consuming task but try to write a specific cover letter for every company to print an ever-lasting impression on them. An illustration to explain a professional header in a cover letter is:

      Raman Roy   1234 Street, New York City, 100001 452-899-1011 [email protected] March 21, 2019 Emilie Prestenna, Human Resource Director Easy Software Solutions Inc.

2. Open it with a greeting

After the header, you can leave one line and add a greeting to address the person to whom you are writing the cover letter. You can make it more impressive by addressing the person with their name rather than their designation, department, or Sir/Madam. Once the person is addressed by their name, it makes them attentive while going through the cover letter.

If you are using the name, you can address the person by Mr./Ms., and be sure to write the correct spelling of their name. In many cases, people have revealed that a cover letter written precisely with the name of the concerned person can be a key to getting a response from either side. If you are unsure about the name of the person who is hiring, then you can also write something like Dear {Company Name} Hiring team or Dear Hiring Manager.

3. Write a different cover letter for every job

You must create a company-specific cover letter. Rather than circulating a single cover letter, companies will prefer something written precisely to them. Mention all the key details about you as to how you will be beneficial to the organization and how you can be better than every other candidate applying for this profile.

It will show the recruiters that you are serious about the job and well-organized. Keep in mind that the cover letter is a source to directly interact with the hiring team. They go through tons of cover letters every day so they are professional in distinguishing a genuine cover letter from the repeated ones. If your cover letter is generic, it is a way to get a reputation in front of the recruiters.

4. Start the body with an introduction

After heading and greeting, one needs to start their main body with an introduction. It is vital to create an impression on the recruiter through the first paragraph. Also, the attention of the viewer highly depends on this. If the body is appealing enough, the recruiter will stay stuck till the end.

Begin the body with a brief introduction of your background, current position, and the job position you are looking for. Try to highlight some key points on how this job profile suits you. Keep in mind that the introduction is your opportunity to prove yourself as the best fit for this job. An illustration of the introduction is:-

As a software engineer in a multinational company, XYZ Illustrations Pvt. Ltd., I had proved myself as an enhanced employee with robust problem-solving skills and the ability to optimize the solutions to complex problems. My work spans companies and business units at varying stages of growth, from startups to multinational organizations.

5. Showcase your achievements

It is your opportunity to fetch the job in any case. A cover letter provides you with a platform to achieve this. So, try to showcase your achievements as much as you can. Read the job description carefully and then draft your achievements regarding the description. It will add some benefits to your profile.

Sometimes, you may need to flaunt something extra. Do not hesitate to do so as no one else will do it for you. Make sure to not add many fake achievements and skills. Even if you have basic experience of some skill that is mentioned in the job profile, you can mention it in your cover letter as well.

6. Bullet points

Be careful while using bullet points. Nonetheless, it is not prohibited to use bullet points in cover letters, it indeed increases the visibility as well as the readability of the cover letter. But, you need to make sure where you use it.

There are already bullet points mentioned in your resume highlighting key details about yourself. So, you use bullet points only where necessary in your cover letter because you will not like your cover letter to turn out to be a second resume. The best use case for bullet points in a cover letter is to mention some examples validating your points.

I have been putting my key efforts into learning niche skills for the growth of the organization. However, I had worked exceptionally well in my college also. I also freelanced as a virtual assistant on-call and worked 25+ hours per week as an office clerk. Though I kept myself quite busy, I managed to succeed in all areas, such as:

7. Stay aligned with a single page

You do not need to bombard your cover letter with a lot of words, Instead, you can stay aligned with a single page. Since recruiters receive tons of applications, resumes, and cover letters every day, they will skip a long cover letter.

Learn 3 C’s for cover letters:- Clear, Crisp, and Concise . Stick to a single-page cover letter with all the necessary details about you related to the job profile. Make sure to write things differently from the resume. It will highlight some skills that are not there in your resume. Indirectly, you are asking one of the common questions from the interview:- “ Tell me something, not on your resume”.

8. Font is also important

While you are writing something professional, you are expected to have corporate etiquette. Cover letters are a crucial part of corporate life. So, you need to showcase your professionalism through it as well. You can take care of this using font and margin.

Keep 1 inch or 1.5-inch margin while writing a cover letter from all sides, whether it be top, bottom left, or right. You are keeping your cover letter in a virtual frame through this. Also, font plays a key role in cover letters. Before sending it, make sure that the font size is between 10 to 12 points. Apart from these, the font family should be the same for the entire cover letter. Some of the widely-used fonts are Arial, Calibri, and Helvetica.

9. Illustrate your achievements using examples.

You need to prove yourself as the best fit for the job profile. For this, you can highlight the key achievements you received so far. The best way described above to highlight achievements is using bullet points. You can add multiple examples that you find valid points explaining how you qualify for the job.

10. Divide paragraphs

Instead of mentioning everything in one paragraph, try to make things more visible by breaking them into smaller components. It will make things engaging. Smaller paragraphs are not only visible, but also they make your cover letter look more organized.

Make sure that different paragraphs are connective and that they link together to create a picture of your personality. By this, you can easily achieve the reader’s attention along with credibility for your good work.

11. End up everything perfectly

For a smooth ending to your cover letter, try to proofread it twice. A grammatical mistake or any petty mistake will be a downfall. You can use tools like Grammarly https://www.grammarly.com/ to check any such errors and correct them as well. Make sure to end your cover letter concerning the person you are writing to.

You can use something like “Sincerely”, “Best regards”, “Regards”, “Respectfully”, etc. After this, you can mention your e-sign to provide consent that everything is true and you are held responsible for it. Adding up a tone of enthusiasm can be an added benefit along with a call to action.

12. Take the help of a professional cover letter

There are many agencies out there that work in this niche. One such agency is Writox . You can take their help to draft a professional cover letter without any mistakes and make it precisely for the job you are applying for. The price is also affordable and their customer service is open 24/7.

Whether you are a fresh college graduate or a working professional, a cover letter is enough to fetch you the job you desire. No matter how we keep things, we end up making them complicated. Even a small mistake in a cover letter can be a red flag for your application. So, it is always better to measure the obstacles and walk in a single line. You can achieve your dream job through this. One can visit the website of Writox through Professional Resume Writing Services in India- CV Writing Services ( writrox.com ).

Examples of cover letter

1. photographer cover letter.

Sample for Photographer Cover Letter​

Here is a sample of the cover letter of the photographer who is looking out for an opportunity to transition from a freelancer to a full-time photographer under a recognized firm. You can consider this as an example that has every minute detail mentioned systematically. The cover letter begins with little details about the job profile.

Next, the candidate can highlight their background related to the job they are applying for and how he/she is eager to get this opportunity. In the second last paragraph of the cover letter, you can predict the personality of the applicant. The cover letter ends with a call to action through the portfolio link. It is one of the most suitable cover letters for people looking to get a job in photography.

2. Business analyst cover letter

a cover letter for a Business Analyst

Now, look at an example of a business analyst’s cover letter. You can see the header with all the necessary details and contact points of the applicant. After the introduction of the candidate in the header, the applicant proceeds with the date and description of the recruiting person. Here, the writer addressed the human resource manager with their name as “Dear Mrs. Johnstone”. It will catch the attention of the human resource manager. 

Here also, the writer gives a clear description of their skills and competencies. They highlight precisely how they are the best match for this job profile. All the paragraphs are connective. It ends with a call to action by using words like “let me know your convenience” and “I look forward to your reply”. 

In case you are adding any additional documents along with it, you can mention it the same way the writer had mentioned: “Enclosure: Resume”. You can mention your documents with the name same as the name by which you share them.

3. Architecture intern cover letter

a cover letter for a Architecture Intern

Being an intern itself clarifies my enthusiasm and eagerness to work. Most college students or freshers prefer internships. So, there is a touch of youthfulness in their resume. Here, we are looking at one such resume of an architecture intern. 

The candidate here wants to showcase all the key details of the strengths, skills, and knowledge they possess. The applicant is successful in depicting a strong personality in front of the recruiters. In the end, the candidate is taking an action from their side to call the office and the concerned person for a meeting. You can also do the same in case you want to put steps forward from your side. 

4. Data scientist cover letter

a cover letter for a data Science expert

As technology is emerging, there is also a growing demand for specialists in this field. One of the fields that are at its apex is data science. There are millions of data science aspirants eagerly looking for a job or a job change. Here is one sample data scientist cover letter for your reference.

As mentioned above, one can use bullet points to showcase their achievements, here you can see that the candidate flaunts their contributions using bullet points. These points are crisp and easily understandable. Also, it makes the cover letter more readable. Imagine you reading the contributions as a paragraph. It might be less attentive. But here, all the points are self-explanatory. In the end, the candidate asked the recruiter to schedule an interview if the candidacy is preferred.

5. Bartender cover letter

a cover letter for a bartender

Here is an example of a cover letter for a bartender . In the first paragraph of the body, the candidate mentions the job board on which he/she discovered the job profile. After that, the paragraphs are connected by mentioning all the key details about the applicant including skills, work experiences, etc.

In the last paragraph, along with the call to action, the applicant also mentioned their contact number. You can also mention the same. No matter if you have already mentioned all the contact sources in the header, the chances will increase if you mention any point of contact at the end. Even if you are rejected, you can expect a call from the hiring team in which they will mention their reason and opportunities that may come forward.

6. Software Engineer cover letter

dear sir or madam why is this cover letter inappropriate apex

Image Source

Software Engineering is one of the emerging fields. Many candidates choose this job profile. Most of the applicants look for a job change in the software engineering field, rest are fresh graduates looking for a job in Information Technology. The resume depicts the entire profile of the candidate. (Also Read  Software Engineer Resume Guide )

Here, the applicant mentions things other than their resumes like their work with IBM and their personality. In the end, the candidate mentioned their contact number to reach out to him/her directly by the recruiter. A simple yet straightforward resume for any job profile works great. You can take a look at it and refer to it for further applications.

7. SEO specialist cover letter

dear sir or madam why is this cover letter inappropriate apex

In the above cover letter, the candidate is mentioning everything they know about the organisation. The first paragraph is enough to impress any firm as the candidate mentioned that they have been following the company for a long time. Also, the applicant mentioned that he/she has been working with one of the competitors of the company. 

It is clear that the applicant wants to work with the company and is willing to put all its efforts if gets selected. Apart from this, the candidate showcased their achievements, skills and knowledge so far. At the end, the candidate mentioned his/her eagerness to get this opportunity by scheduling the interview as per the convenience of the company. You can consider this cover letter as a reference for your dream job.

8. Project Manager Cover Letter

dear sir or madam why is this cover letter inappropriate apex

Managerial posts lie in one of the top positions of any organization . There comes a lot of experience with the growing times. Similar is the case for managers. They have a lot of experience and with time, they learn new skills and grab new achievements. Then, it becomes too much to push in a cover letter of one page. 

However, the ideal length of a cover letter is always a single page. So, they need to chop it down to one page and only mention the best they did so far. Here, in the cover letter, you can see that the manager is depicting his views on how he is efficient for the client-facing company. It is quite straightforward with experiences, learning, and effectiveness in the career journey so far. You can take this as a reference for writing a cover letter as a project manager .

In the nutshell

Coming to the end of this blog, we are going, to sum up, everything we looked at so far. We began with a cover letter which is an integral part of anyone’s professional life. In many job posts, the cover letter field is marked as optional, but it is the opposite of that. Never underestimate the power of a cover letter . It increases more than 80% of chances of you getting selected and standing out from your peers. 

It is like an added benefit to a job or career. The secret lies behind the correct Resume formatting and adding relevant points to the cover letter. Also, make sure to mention the things different from your resume. You can take the help of sample cover letters already explained in this article. 

If you are still unsure, then taking the help of professional services will be the best move for you. It is because even a minute mistake in your cover letter can lead to a drastic downfall from your dream job. So, taking the help of professionals is better than taking the risk of getting rejected. Remember “Prevention is better than cure”.

You can take the help of Writrox which provides services like   Resume Writing Services , drafting cover letters, and creating a  Professional LinkedIn profile . So, get ready to receive premium services at an affordable cost. One can visit their website and get the best quote from experienced professionals.

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Madam vs. Ma'am

I suspect that the answer to this depends on region, so insights from multiple areas would be beneficial:

It has been my impression that in the US addressing a woman as "Madam" is considered borderline-vulgar due to the term's usage as the title of a female proprietor of a brothel.

Is it acceptable to use "Madam" when addressing a woman you do not know or should the alternative "Ma'am" (silent "D") be used? Does it depend on spoken vs. written communication?

oosterwal's user avatar

6 Answers 6

In modern use in American English , the term ma'am has gained quite a bit more use than madam :


In modern use in British English , madam is slightly more popular than ma'am :


As a native American English speaker, madam seems a bit archaic but does not necessarily connote a tie with a brothel unless you refer to someone as a madam . For example, the Oxford English dictionary provides the following example for madam of a brothel:

1959 N. Mailer Advts. for Myself (1961) 279 A rather remarkable woman who had been the madam of a whorehouse.

But as a form of address, it is used differently:

1956 N. Algren Walk on Wild Side ii. 122 It's not a pot, Madam. And it's strictly not for sale.

The typical terms I've heard are miss for younger females and ma'am for older ones. You could potentially refer to someone as madam or ma'am in either spoken or written communication. In formal writing, for example to someone whose name you do not know, use madam in both cases. For example :

When addressing a letter to the holder of a particular position without knowing the name or gender of the addressee, it is common to write “Dear Sir or Madam,” (or in the United States, “Dear Sir or Madam:”

This holds in both American and British English.

In less formal writing or speech, I would suggest using whichever term is more popular for the community you are in-- ma'am in American English, and madam in British English. In both, madam will seem a bit more formal.

simchona's user avatar

Maybe, just once, someone will call me "Sir" without adding, "You're making a scene." -- Homer Simpson

"Madam" as a noun certainly means "brothel keeper" in the US but I don't think that has stained its use as an honorific. I don't know why not; certainly no one whose job involves hooking things (like fish) or stripping things (like furniture) would be willing to describe that job as "hooking" or "stripping".

However, in the US, the honorific "Madam" is associated with a level of formality so great that anyone thus addressed will likely believe that she is being mocked (and usually, she'll be right).

In several Asian countries, the English word "hostess" is used to mean "madam" (in the improper sense); I've seen more than one party thrown in the US by new arrivals from the East almost go very very wrong when an American guest complimented the hostess using that word.

Michael Lorton's user avatar

This appears to be more a case of register. "Madam" is the female equivalent for "Sir." It's pretty much at the apex of formality.

"Ma'am," on the other hand, is more akin to "Mister" for men. A median level of decorum. Only context for "Madam" would risk confusion with the brothel-keeper. For example: When I've been lucky enough to dine at 4-star restaurants, women in the party are usually addressed as "Madam" by the waitstaff, and no offense is taken.

The Raven's user avatar

Ngrams only show the usage in literature - which can be a bit selective.

Ma'am is used where you would use 'sir',for senior officer ranks, in the British police and armed forces.

Not sure what you would call a knighted owner of a brothel in BE - possibly "Madam ma'am" ?

mgb's user avatar

As a youngish Australian woman I take offence at ma'am  — which sounds brusque, overly Americanised and inappropriate given my age — but never at madam , which to my ears sounds very polite and appropriate. Personally I would never use ma'am .

RegDwigнt's user avatar

Madam can refer to feminine side of a woman with affection. For example, "No, Madam, this is not the way one should take a screw driver;" plumber noted.

Anonym's user avatar

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