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Miss Manners, Judith Martin, Published April 21 2012

Miss Manners: Marriage can be a different form of election

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have encountered the expression “bride-elect” in engagement announcements. It seems to confuse fiancees with politicians.

Where does this expression come from, and is it correct? I now live in Alabama and first encountered the phrase here.

GENTLE READER: The use of the term “elect” to mean someone who was chosen goes back at least as far as the 15th century, when churchmen were sometimes referred to as “the elect of God.”

Miss Manners does not take this to mean that God held primaries at which competing candidates put themselves forward, presumably without resorting to name-calling and negative advertisements about their rivals. One can be chosen in different ways.

That a bride was chosen by someone is indisputable, and therefore the term is correct. “Bridegroom-elect” is also correct, as the two presumably chose each other.

You needn’t have moved south to encounter this expression. In Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Mikado,” Katisha announces herself as the emperor of Japan’s “daughter-in-law-elect,” although her fiance makes it clear that the choice was not his.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: When someone has passed/died and the family has requested donations to be made, how much time do you have to make those donations?

We have not made ours yet, and the daughter of the deceased continues to ask if our donation has been made. The woman died a month ago. I thought a donation made within three to six months would be OK, but the pressure of these donation efforts has made me uncertain.

GENTLE READER: The only cause for uncertainty that Miss Manners sees in this situation is how long it will be before the bereaved turns you over to a collection agency.

You are under no obligation to pay her for her loss. When donations to a charity are requested in connection with a death, they are only requests, and you needn’t comply nor, if you do, follow a particular timetable.

In rare cases in the past, compassionate people might take up a collection to help indigent survivors. Lately, in these unsubtle times, people have begun to ask for money for themselves. Death has joined other major personal events, such as births, graduations and weddings, as yet another fundraising opportunity.

Why others donate to the greedy, rather than the needy, Miss Manners cannot say.

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, dearmissmanners@gmail.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.