Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR READERS: Most occupational and public office titles originated when only men performed these jobs. Today, women are involved in all occupations, making sex-labeled titles discriminatory.

Occupational titles should describe the job -- not the person doing the job. Some examples:

Forget "lady doctor" -- she is a doctor (who happens to be a woman).

No more "woman lawyer" -- she is a lawyer.

Forget "waitress" -- the correct form is waiter or server.

No more "meter maid" -- meter attendant is correct.

An "authoress" is simply an author.

A "housewife" is now properly called a homemaker.

Perhaps it won't surprise you that these updated terms come from "The Practical Guide to Non-Sexist Language," courtesy of the National Organization for Women in St. Louis, Mo.

While the titles "Miss" and "Mrs." originally were used to distinguish female children from adult women, the titles identify marital status: A "Mrs." is married, a "Miss" is not.

The dissatisfaction of many women with this labeling system led eventually to the use of "Ms." (The American Heritage Dictionary defines "Ms." as "a title of courtesy used before a woman's surname, without regard to her marital status.")

A woman's professional or academic title takes precedence over a social title: Chancellor Jane Roe, or Jane Roe, Ph.D., not Ms. Jane Roe.

And when writing a memorandum to one's office staff, it is correct to say, "Everyone is expected to do the (not his) job well."

Finally, as the guide notes, "Neither sex has a monopoly on jobs, with two exceptions: wet nurses and sperm donors."

DEAR ABBY: My 3-year-old grandson hits almost everyone he associates with, especially his father! His baby brother is now 4 months old, and "Big Brother" has become more abusive since the baby arrived.

My daughter and her husband do not hit him back; they try to reason with him, but they are afraid he will harm another child with a stick, etc., which he likes to have in his hands most of the time.

In my day, I would have sat him in a chair and delivered a firm lecture, and I would have forbidden any "weapons" for him to play with until the hitting stopped. But this advice does not seem to fit into "today's" upbringing.

I live 1,000 miles away from them, so I'm not around enough for my feelings (or any part of my body) to be hurt from my grandson's aggression. But I sure would appreciate a solution. Thank you. -- FLORIDA GRANDMA

DEAR FLORIDA GRANDMA: "Big Brother" is acting out his feelings of jealousy with regard to the new baby, which is only natural. But your daughter and son-in-law should take a lesson from you and nip the child's aggressive behavior before it gets out of control.

And if the aggression persists, the parents should consult a professional for guidance.

People are eating them up! For Abby's favorite recipes, send a long, business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054. (Postage is included.)

4900 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64112; (816) 932-6600