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Politics & Government

Regardless of presidential winner, the term “first lady” is obsolete

First Ladies Michelle Obama, Laura Bush, Hillary Clinton, Barbara Bush and Rosalynn Carter stand during dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in 2013.
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First Ladies Michelle Obama, Laura Bush, Hillary Clinton, Barbara Bush and Rosalynn Carter stand during dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in 2013.

 

A recent Boston Globe piece from Mark Peters takes a look at the title “first lady,” calling it an “archaic term.”

We don’t use the term “lady” very often these days, he argues, save for when referring to the wife of the president.

How did we arrive at the title “First Lady” in the first place, and why do we still use it?

University of Michigan English professor Anne Curzan sat down with us today to talk about the history of the term, and what we might call former president Bill Clinton should Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton win the presidential election this fall.

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