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What is the etymology of the pronoun "usted"? What formal pronouns existed before, and when did the current "usted" come into existence?

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up vote 10 down vote accepted

Vuestra merced evolved to usted. Vuestra merced is a really antique way to say something like your highness (not literally though).

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Suggested reading: –  dusan Nov 17 '11 at 0:57
This answer also explains the origin of the second person pronoun su merced or sumercé that is used in Colombia, especially in the vicinity of Bogotá. A more informal equivalent used in rural areas is vusted. See Wikipedia. –  Jaime Soto Nov 17 '11 at 1:36

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