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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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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: spanish.about.com/od/historyofspanish/a/usted_vd.htm –  dusan Nov 17 '11 at 0:57
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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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