French expressions France

Why do the French say "monsieur"?

You and me, when we meet a man we don't know, we call him "monsieur". But why? With Monsieur de France, discover the origins of commonly used French words and expressions...


Monsieur is a simplified form of ... Monseigneur


Isn't that classy? Monsieur is a contraction of mon and seigneur, i.e. monseigneur, but usage and the desire to move faster deformed it into "monsor" (attested as early as the 13th century) and then into monsieur. Originally, it was a way of greeting someone with deference, to show respect. You'd say "monsieur" to someone important. From the seventeenth century onwards, the custom spread throughout society.


How do you spell "Monsieur"?


Monsieur is abbreviated to M.

But be careful: when you're addressing someone directly, you need to spell out Mr. in full. For example, in a letter, on an envelope or in an e-mail.

Jérôme Prod'homme

Jérôme Prod'homme

Jérôme is "monsieur de France" the author of this site.