Etymology
Advertisement
ma'am 

also maam, 1660s, colloquial shortening of madam (q.v.). At one time the ordinary respectful form of address to a married woman; later restricted to the queen and royal princesses or used by servants to their mistresses. In U.S., used especially in answers, after yes or no.

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
mem-sahib (n.)

In colonial India and south Asia, "a European lady," by 1857, a hybrid from the local pronunciation of English ma'am + Hindi and Urdu sahib "master" (see sahib).

Related entries & more 
schoolmarm (n.)

also school-marm, "female school teacher," 1834, American English colloquial, in the popular countrified humor writing of "Major Jack Downing" of Maine (Seba Smith); a variant of school-ma'am (1828), from school (n.1) + ma'am. See R. Used figuratively from 1887 in reference to patronizing and priggish instruction.

School-mistress "woman who teaches in a school" is attested from c. 1500 (mid-14c. as a surname, scole-maistres). School-dame (1650s) was generally "an old woman who keeps a school for small children."

Related entries & more 
*dem- 

Proto-Indo-European root meaning "house, household." It represents the usual Indo-European word for "house" (Italian, Spanish casa are from Latin casa "cottage, hut;" Germanic *hus is of obscure origin).

It forms all or part of: Anno Domini; belladonna; condominium; dame; damsel; dan "title of address to members of religious orders;" danger; dangerous; demesne; despot; Dom Perignon; domain; dome; domestic; domesticate; domicile; dominate; domination; dominion; domino; don (n.) "Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese title of respect;" Donna; dungeon; ma'am; madam; madame; mademoiselle; madonna; major-domo; predominant; predominate; timber; toft.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit damah "house;" Avestan demana- "house;" Greek domos "house," despotēs "master, lord;" Latin domus "house," dominus "master of a household;" Armenian tanu-ter "house-lord;" Old Church Slavonic domu, Russian dom "house;" Lithuanian dimstis "enclosed court, property;" Old Norse topt "homestead."

Related entries & more 
mum (n.2)

pet word for "mother," 1823, short for mummy (see mamma). In British sociology, used from 1957 in reference to "the working class mother as an influence in the lives of her children." Also sometimes a vulgar corruption of madam or ma'am.

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
mister 

as a conventional title of courtesy before a man's Christian name, mid-15c., unaccented variant of master (n.), but without its meaning. As a form of address when the man's name is unknown (often with a tinge of rudeness), from 1760.

The disappearance of master and mister, and the restricted and obsolescent use of sir, as an unaccompanied term of address, and the like facts with regard to mistress, Mrs., and madam, tend to deprive the English language of polite terms of address to strangers. Sir and madam or ma'am as direct terms of address are old-fashioned and obsolescent in ordinary speech, and mister and lady in this use are confined almost entirely to the lower classes. [Century Dictionary, 1895]
Related entries & more