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Fräulein gesucht! Job advert for a nanny from 1910 (Image by Bartleby08 at Commons.wikimedia.org under license CC BY SA 4.0)


Fräulein is, literally interpreted, a “bit woman”.

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Words das Fräulein is fairly obviously a derivative of the Gerguy word for woman: die Frau. Belittling of a word in German comes through the finishing -chen or -lein. For example: das Mädchen (the girl) and das Fähnlein (the bit flag). So that’s just how Fräulein sindicate means “little woman”.

Interestingly, Frau originates from the althochdeutsch (Old High German) word frô, which means Herr (Mister, sir, lord), a very male word. So for a long time, linguistically, the Frau was prefer the expansion of the male.

Into the Center Ages, the Jungfrau (“young woman”, virgin) was simply a woman that wasn’t married (yet). Later, when Christianity really took host, the element of Jungfräulichkeit (virginity) gotten in the mix, via Maria being the JungfrauSo, the unmarried women were dubbed by a different name: das Fräulein or die Jungfer, a derivative of Jungfrau.

Initially, both Jungfrau and Fräulein were just offered to refer to unmarried woguys of royal standing, choose the word “damsel”. For example the daughter of a Fürst (monarch) was a Fräulein (additionally see Burgfräulein – a “castle lady”). Gradually, the terms ended up being more and also even more colloquial, to the allude that Fräulein was bastardized to Frollein, and was used as a means to attend to a “Miss” about the late 19th to early 20th century.

Celibacy and also bans – brand-new meaning for the Fräulein
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A Fräulein Lehrerin at work in Berlin 1949 (Image by Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-S88279 / Kümpfel at Commons.wikimedia.org under license CC BY SA 3.0)


In the Germale Realm from 1880 to 1919, a so-called Lehrerinnenzölibat (female teacher celibacy) was in pressure. According to this, a female teacher was by legislation not permitted to be married. If she did get married while being teacher, this celibacy legislation dubbed for the woguy to acquire fired. In general, a Berufstätigkeit (expert occupation) for woguys was seen as a pre-marital thing. Once married, a womale was not deemed to be able to handle both a job and a family. Furthermore, womales were viewed as unnötige Konkurrenz auf dem Arbeitsmarkt (uncrucial competition on the job market). Interesting how a womale that couldn’t take care of a family members and also a task is simultaneously a danger for guys trying to get a job… If you desire to learn more about the Lehrerinnenzölibat, look here.

Comparable rules to connect the marital status of a woguy to her employment existed in Germany kind of till 1957. 1957! At that time, husbands shed their ideal to prohilittle their wives of obtaining a job. So ultimately, Frauen can gain a project without having actually to issue around their marital condition. By law, that is.

The word Fräulein stuck, hartnäckig (stubbornly), as a way to attend to woguys at the workplace. For example in the supermarket, in a experienced environment:

Fräulein Mack, kommales Sie bitte zur Fleischtheke?

(Miss Mack, can you please involved the meat counter?)

So also in a work-related setting, you can be called Fräulein.

But a huge readjust to this came in 1972.

1972: The finish of das Fräulein

Fräulein was next to the married Frau and also the Herr (provided for all adult men) offered as a formal Anrede (address)Frau and Herr are already brief, so they would not be abbreviated. Fräulein, on the various other hand also, was shortened to Frl.

While in 1955, Bundesinnenminister (Federal Minister of the Interior) Gerdifficult Schröder (CDU) already ordered that in amtlichen Schreiben (official letters) womales were to be addressed as Frau, if they so wiburned, the basic dominion was still to deal with married womales as Frau and unmarried woguys as Fräulein. As Schröder wrote:


„Die Bezeichnung ‚Frau‘ ist weder eine Personenstandsbezeichnung noch ein Teil des Namens noch ein Titel, der verliehen werden müßte oder könnte. Sie ist auch nicht gleichbedeutend mit ‚Ehefrau‘. Vielmehr steht es jeder unverheirateten weiblichen Person frei, sich ‚Frau‘ zu nennen. Von dieser Möglichkeit wird zunehmfinish Gebrauch gemacht. Es ist daher gerechtfertigt und geboten, unverheiratete weibliche Personen auch im amtlichen Verkehr mit ‚Frau‘ anzureden, wenn sie dies wünschen.“

(“The desigcountry ‘Mrs’ is neither a civil status designation nor a component of the name, nor a title that need to or could be conferred. Nor is it associated with ‘Wife’. Rather, eexceptionally unmarried female perboy is cost-free to speak to themselves ‘Mrs’. This alternative is significantly being used. It is therefore justified and also necessary to attend to unmarried female persons additionally in main dealings with “Mrs”, if they so wish.”)

So a Fräulein had actually to urge to be addressed as Frau. It took an additional 16 years before the alternative became mandatory. On February 16, 1971, it was announced that the use of the word Fräulein was no much longer enabled for Bundesbehörden (Federal authorities):


„Es ist an der Zeit, im behördlichen Sprachgebrauch der Gleichstellung von Mann und Frau und dem zeitgemäßen Selbstverständnis der Frau von ihrer Stellung in der Gesellschaft Rechnung zu tragen. Somit ist es nicht länger angebracht, bei der Anrede weiblicher Erwachsener im behördlichen Sprachgebrauch anders zu verfahren, als es bei männlichen Erwachsenen seit jeher üblich ist. <…> Im behördlichen Sprachgebrauch ist daher für jede weibliche Erwachsene die Anrede ‚Frau‘ zu verwenden.

(“It is time to take account of ehigh quality between males and also women and also the contemporary self-picture of womales in terms of their position in culture in official language. It is therefore no longer proper to deal with female adults in a different way than the way it has actually always been customary for male adults in main language. <…> In main language, the salutation “Mrs” must therefore be offered for every female adult.”)

Finally! So since then, the Anrede Herr/Frau (Sir/Mrs) was standardized in Gerguy, and also the usage of Fräulein in any type of main method or in relation to a marital standing fell significantly out of usage.


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A young woman that may be addressed through Fräulein by some, possibly without malintent – yet still, it is wise to protect against it anymethod. (Image from pxbelow.com)


If you still hear Fräulein today, it is frequently provided to soptimal to younger woguys and also mainly by older guys or womales. With the background about the word, however, you have the right to imagine that it has actually a clear diminutive tone, so prevent using it.

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I don’t think anybody appreciates being called a “little bit woman”, specifically in a professional capacity!

However before, you might hear it currently and then as a way to describe a woman’s youth and also attractiveness. Gerguy celebrity Iris Berben, for example, called it a “kleine private Freude, dass ich noch ein Fräulein bin” (“bit personal joy that I am still a Fräulein”) in 2012.

Have you heard or used the word Fräulein before? In what way? What do you think around the word, is it ok to still usage it? I want to understand, so please tell me in the comments below!