Fräu|lein (abbrev. Frl.) is a German title like Herr or Frau. Usage: "Guten Morgen, Fräulein Müller!" It was used up to around 1980 to address unmarried women, today it's discouraged because it is a diminutive form of Frau and feminists argued that men don't have to disclose their marital status in their title, so why should women?

Today, Fräulein is used to address little girls, sternly or quipping. A young woman addressed in this way might react offended, a grown woman doubly so.

Fräulein is one of the few words that the actors portraying the stereotypical German soldiers in old Hollywood war movies use to indicate that the audience should imagine they are speaking German, while they are obviously speaking English. As in:

"Get Fräulein Braun's luggage to her room and then bring the British war criminals for interrogation. Mach schnell."
"Jawohl, Herr Obersturmbanngauleitermeisterführer! Follow me, Fräulein Braun, please."

This makes the scene more accessible to illiterates, because there's no need to subtitle it, while at the same time putting less pressure on the actors who are already challenged pronouncing one German word correctly, let alone a whole phrase.

In exaggeration, this can be seen in every episode of Hogan's Heroes.

Uses of the word Fräulein in titles of pieces of art include E.T.A. Hoffmann: Das Fräulein von Scuderi or Fräulein Smillas Gespür für Schnee (as this is a 1997 movie, one has to wonder why someone chose to use the exact word-by-word translation as the German title).

Idioms using the term: Fräulein vom Amt (phone operator) or Fräuleinwunder (a term describing the success of young women in West Germany's post-WW2 society).

Fräu"lein (?), n.sing. & pl. [G., dim. of frau woman. See Frau.]

In Germany, a young lady; an unmarried woman; -- as a title, equivalent to Miss.


© Webster 1913

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