Mx.: A gender-neutral honorific that may be used in place of “Mr.,” “Mrs., “Miss,” or “Ms.” Pronounced mix or mux.
Mx. was in the news this week after Jonathan Dent, assistant editor at the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), told the Sunday Times (UK) that the term is being considered for inclusion in the dictionary’s next edition. (Access to the full article is restricted to subscribers.) The term is regarded as an option for transgender people and people who wish to conceal their gender identities.
(Various other news outlets reported that Mx. will be added or has already been added to the OED.)
“Over the past two years the title has been quietly added to official forms and databases” in the UK, the Times reported. Dent told the Times that the first recorded use of Mx. was in an American magazine, Single Parent, in 1977: “The early proponents of the term seem to have had gender politics as their central concern [and] saw the title as one which could sidestep the perceived sexism of the traditional ‘Mr’, ‘Mrs’ and ‘Miss’.” The blog Practical Androgyny has traced the subsequent history of the term.
In the US, the PBS Newshour reported last week, “There is currently no widely-used gender-neutral replacement for ‘Mr.’ or ‘Mrs./Ms,’ and this addition would mark the first time that such an option appeared in the dictionary.”
In Sweden, the neuter pronoun hen—coined in the 1960s—was added earlier this year to the official Swedish language dictionary as an alternative to han (he) and hon (she).
Mx—the period is American style; periods are omitted from honorifics in British English—has several other meanings:
- An abbreviation for Maxwell, a unit of magnetic flux named for James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879), who presented the unified theory of electromagnetism in 1865.
- A matrix algebra interpreter and numerical optimizer for structural equation modeling and other types of statistical modeling of data.
- The country domain of Mexico (.mx).
- An abbreviation for motocross (MX).
- An abbreviation for mail exchanger (MX).
I expect flak from the usual sources, but we'll get used to it, just as we'll get used to alternative pronouns.
Posted by: CGHill | May 11, 2015 at 08:30 AM
What alternative pronouns did we get used to? (?)
Posted by: mike | May 25, 2015 at 11:31 AM
Mike: None yet, which I suspect is why CGHill used the future tense.
Posted by: Nancy Friedman | May 25, 2015 at 09:09 PM