Ma’am is a term that is meant to accord respect to any woman whom one may not be close to or is meeting in a more formal setting.
But the term is also used to describe women who are considered older and therefore sometimes can be a bit uncomfortable. It’s like calling a young lady old while simply trying to accord them respect.
When you are called ma’am, there is usually one of a few reasons why you’re called that.
You could be seen as older than they are, they could be talking to you as a superior, they could be talking to you as a colleague, they could be talking to you as a stranger, you could be a customer at their establishment and they are being respectful and formal.
As you can see, there are a few reasons why you are referred to as ma’am.
Now what happens after that? What happens when you are called ma’am? What do you say? How do you respond?
What do you say to a person that calls you ma’am? We answer these here and now with a list of things you could use to reply to a person who calls you ma’am.
20 Best Responses When Someone Calls You Ma’am
In this list, we provide a bunch of different responses one could give when someone calls them ma’am. These replies cover a range of situations and you can easily modify them to suit your taste.
That said, here they are:
- Thank you for your politeness!
- You’re too kind, thank you.
- I appreciate your respect.
- Oh, please call me [your name]!
- You’re quite the gentleman/lady!
- Your manners are refreshing.
- Thank you, but ‘ma’am’ makes me feel old!
- I’m flattered by your formality!
- You’re making me feel distinguished!
- You’re too polite, I like it!
- I’m honestly still getting used to ‘ma’am’!
- You’re being too formal!
- I’m just [your name], but I appreciate it!
- Call me ‘ma’am,’ or [your preferred term].
- I’ll respond to either ‘ma’am’ or [your name]!
- That’s nowhere close to the title I would like but let’s go with it.
- Ma’am? That’s a good joke
- Ma’am? Then I presume you are the Duke of France
- Please, I am not ma’am but I am willing to help you in any way I can.
- Finally! You’ve got it right.
1. Thank you for your politeness!
“Thank you for your politeness!” is a simple response to when you are called ma’am. It is polite to address a person by their appropriate title and they have done just that.
This response is then a good way to make a simple request such as asking for the ladies’ room or having another glass of wine.
Be sure that whoever you are addressing, you use the right tithe for them as they have done for you. It is what courtesy demands.
2. You’re too kind, thank you.
While it is not exactly kindness for someone to call you ma’am, you can still respond with “You’re too kind, thank you.”
It is a way of showing your gratitude. Most of the time, it is not just the title ma’am that you are grateful for. It can be that you like how they conducted you and that is something you would like to express.
3. I appreciate your respect
“I appreciate your respect” is another courteous response to being called ma’am. They say to give respect to whom respect is due, and honor to whom honor is due.
As they have paid your respects by observing your title and respectfully treating you, you honor them by appreciating them. It goes a long way.
4. Oh, please call me [your name]!
When someone calls you ma’am, you can politely request that they call you by your name, most likely your first name, by saying “Oh, please call me [your name]!
Some settings don’t call for the formality that they have just employed when they called you ma’am so you can use this response to tell them not to call you ma’am for whatever reason you see fit.
5. You’re quite the gentleman/lady!
It’s gracious to remark with “You’re quite the gentleman/lady!” when you are addressed as ma’am. In this situation, they are most likely friends or acquaintances who are attempting to socialize with you.
They might use the title ma’am on you because they do not know what title to address you by and they don’t want to appear disrespectful.
This response also tells them you are pleasantly surprised by their good manners and the title they have given you.
6. Your manners are refreshing.
“Your manners are refreshing” is a witty response to when someone calls you ma’am. It is never wrong to make a positive remark on a person’s good manners.
A person of etiquette is always loved by everyone because of their carriage and gentle behavior. Complimenting a person this way will give them a reason to smile.
7. Thank you, but ‘ma’am’ makes me feel old!
If you are not keen on being called ma’am, then you can say “Thank you, but ‘ma’am’ makes me feel old!” Your aversion to the title is not in any way out of place and it can put whoever you are speaking to in a relaxed state when they don’t have to be formal with you.
Ma’am is a title that is mostly used for older women and married women. Being called ma’am even if you are already in any of these two categories can make you feel old.
If you are not comfortable with being called ma’am, a reply like this should put an end to it.
8. I’m flattered by your formality!
If being addressed as ma’am is still new to you or if it is the first time, you can respond by saying, “I’m flattered by your formality!”
Whether in a formal setting or not, if you are not used to such treatment, being accorded this sort of respect can be flattering. While it does take time to get used to, it’s not a bad thing.
9. You’re making me feel distinguished!
An honest response to being called ma’am is “You’re making me feel distinguished!” It is honest because you state how you feel about being called ma’am.
A term or title always sets you apart from others. It is the reason many people try to obtain at least one. When a person who doesn’t have that title is called ma’am, especially in a posh place where it is the norm, it does make one feel distinguished.
10. You’re too polite, I like it!
When you are referred to as ma’am you can say “You’re too polite, I like it!” This response can be used by friends who are trying to make a joke.
It is a nice way to continue the fun instead of just blushing or laughing at it. You can add something like “Why thank you kind sir” to the response and settle into peals of laughter.
11. I’m honestly still getting used to ‘ma’am’!
You can feel nervous, flustered, awkward, or even slightly embarrassed – a whole plethora of emotions – when someone calls you ma’am if you are not used to it.
Opening up to how you feel can release some of these strange emotions and you can feel better quickly. It also tells whoever calls you ma’am to tone it down or help you get used to it somehow.
12. You’re being too formal!
There are certain cases where the attachment of a title or a term is unnecessary. In such a case, such as a daughter at home referring to her mother by their family, you can say “You’re being too formal!”
It might be with people of your age or your close friends, and this can be used to correct them and remove any discomfort you might feel at their calling you ma’am.
13. I’m just [your name], but I appreciate it!
If you are mistaken by someone else and called ma’am, you can say “I’m just [your name], but I appreciate it!”
This response will set them right and thank them nonetheless for seeing you worthy of that title. You can then begin a conversation, and who knows you might just make a new friend.
14. Call me ‘ma’am,’ or [your preferred term].
If you feel that aside from ma’am, there is another title that you are comfortable with then you can tell whoever calls you ma’am “Call me ‘ma’am,’ or [your preferred term]”
Giving them the option to call you any of the two instead of a rigid ma’am will make it easier for them to communicate with you. It will also remove any awkwardness there might be when referring to you.
15. I’ll respond to either ‘ma’am’ or [your name]!
If you are one of those people who isn’t a stickler for titles, then “I’ll respond to either ‘ma’am’ or [your name]” is perfect for when people call you ma’am.
It tells them they have options but you won’t impose anything on them. And just like the response above, it will make for easier communication. Just be sure that being called your name by just anyone doesn’t lead to disrespect.
16. That’s nowhere close to the title I would like but let’s go with that
It might seem proud but saying “That’s nowhere close to the title I would like but let’s go with that,” tells people you have something completely different in mind as to what they should call you.
It can be that for the time being you would go along with it but you are letting them know that it doesn’t make you particularly happy to be called ma’am.
17. Ma’am? That’s a good joke
Whether it is a friend who is trying to mess around with you or a stranger who is none the wiser, “Ma’am? That’s a good joke” is a response to give them to let them know that they should not be calling you ma’am.
There are times that out of politeness or just to make a joke, such titles are added. A response like this tells them that their using the ma’am title on you is hilarious and something they should not be doing.
18. Ma’am? Then I presume you are the Duke of France
In a formal setting, where you are trying to be a jovial guest, you can say “Ma’am? Then I presume you are the Duke of France” to correct when they use the ma’am title on you. The unique thing about this response is how it can be used to mean two things.
First, you can use it to tell the person calling you ma’am that you are not a ma’am and are not deserving of the title. Here if you call them the Duke of France – a title above their actual station – they will realize their mistake immediately.
The second is to tell them that they have placed you lower than your title. Here you will use a smaller rank like calling a Governor a sergeant.
19. Please, I am not ma’am but I am willing to help you in any way I can.
“Please, I am not ma’am but I am willing to help you in any way I can” is a kind response to give someone who has called your ma’am, requesting your assistance.
Approaching someone with a title is a norm. There are several reasons they might do it, one of which is to get your attention and ask for your assistance.
In this case, telling them to stop using the term ma’am on you alone might deter them from asking for help, hence this brilliant response.
20. Finally! You’ve got it right
You can use “Finally! You’ve got it right” as a trivia response when a goofy friend calls you ma’am. If they are making jokes and they call you ma’am, you can say this as a comeback or to join in on the fun.
If you say it as a comeback then they will have to think of a better comeback as quickly. If you say it to join in on the fun then you will have everyone laughing.
It’s not bad if a person addresses you as ma‘am. It is used to show respect to you as a lady and so no harm is meant when a person refers to you as such.
It is mostly used for ladies who are higher in the chain of command or position or for a customer who is to be served.
And with the list of ways you can reply that has been provided above, people calling you ma’am no longer need to be as awkward anymore in any situation.