Is using the honorific postfix -氏{し} usaged biased towards men or is it equally appropriate to be used for women as well?

Building from this excellent answer about honorifics: What does 氏 mean after a name, how is it different from さん or 様?


There used to be a clear bias toward men, but today you can safely use 氏 for women as well. If you read articles written in the Meiji or Taisho period, you'll probably see 氏 used for men and 女史 for women with a high social status. I found an example here. Note that horizontal sentences were written from right to left in those days.

Today, 女史 has almost fallen out of use, and 氏 has become almost completely gender-neutral.

That said, 氏 tends to be preferred for a person with a higher social status. You may find a recent interview article where 氏 is used for a male CEO and さん is used for his wife and daughters.

Here's a relevant explanation on Wikipedia (From 敬称):





  • 3
    Interesting bit of history. I only ever hear/read it in news reports, and even then only with respect to people who don't have another title that can be appended to their name. I get the (not necessarily justified) impression that it serves as a replacement for さん in contexts where the latter would sound to casual but no other appropriate title is available.
    – Philippe
    Jul 5 '17 at 12:09
  • These 氏 and 女史 were reassigned or created to translate Mr. and Ms. in English.
    – user4092
    Jul 5 '17 at 22:42

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.