Blog Excerpts

For Presidents' Day: Where Did "President" Come From Anyway?

As the United States celebrates Presidents' Day, it's a good time to mull over how we ended up calling the national leader "president" in the first place. Executive editor Ben Zimmer spoke to NPR's All Things Considered about the term's history.


You can listen to the audio and read NPR's writeup here.


Rate this article:

Click here to read more articles from Blog Excerpts.

Join the conversation

Comments from our users:

Wednesday February 17th 2016, 5:57 PM
Comment by: Mary C A.
I was disappointed that nothing was explained about why we address him as Mr. President. We don't say Mr. King or Mr. Your Highness or Mr. Governor. We do say Mr. Prime Minister. Any comments?
Tuesday February 23rd 2016, 7:41 PM
Comment by: Kenneth P.
Very simply, it is a superlative expression of respect for the person and the office.
Wednesday March 16th 2016, 2:11 PM
Comment by: shawn W. (NY)
it came from present which is now
Monday March 21st 2016, 3:13 PM
Comment by: catwalker (Ottawa Canada)
Before looking it up, I would have said that because 'Mr.' is the basic English language honorific used with any man's surname to address him formally, 'Mr. President' would be appropriate for someone considered first among equals. However, Wikipedia notes that Mister as an honorific derives from 'monsieur,' originally 'mon sieur,' ("my lord"). So much for the great leveler.

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mr. for more revelations about who gets called 'Mr.'

Do you have a comment?

Share it with the Visual Thesaurus community.

Your comments:

Sign in to post a comment!

We're sorry, you must be a subscriber to comment.

Click here to subscribe today.

Already a subscriber? Click here to login.