As synonyms for 'madam' :
You are making a very dangerous assumption here: namely that one word can mean only one thing. That is most definitely not true.
The word "madam" in English has at least two very distinct meanings:
- A way of formally addressing a female person of high status in a polite way.
- A woman who runs a brothel / whore house / sex club
Two of the words in your list pertain to the second meaning, which is very much not what you want to call a senior professor! ("Puffmutter", literally "whorehouse mother" and "Bordellwirtin", meaning roughly "brothel proprietor".)
Also, the first meaning can be used in a sarcastic way to address someone who thinks they are better than others, who are arrogant, entitled, or bratty. This is how you could use "kleine Prinzessin" ("little princess"), especially when addressing a young girl.
"Madam" is not used in German, except also in a sarcastic manner. "Gnädige Frau" is outdated, at least in Germany. You might hear it in parts of Austria, for example.
Really, the only one of those that is correct is "Frau". If she has an academic title, you could additionally use that title, e.g.
- Frau Surname
- Frau Professorin Surname
- Frau Professorin
Note that you should only use an academic title if she actually has that title. In some countries, everybody who teaches at a university is called "professor", but in Germany, depending on the state and the university, you could have university lecturers / teachers who aren't professors. Conversely, in some countries, only people who practice medicine are addressed as "doctor" and they are addressed as that regardless of whether they actually have a doctorate degree. In Germany, everybody who has a doctorate degree is addressed as "Doktor", regardless of profession.
On the above two occasions, getting German meaning for madam as 'gnädige Frau' and when translating 'hello madam' as 'Halo Frau' is confusing. What more confusing is sometimes I noticed that to identify 'wife', the word 'Frau' has been used.
That is not really confusing. It is a feature of many languages that the same word can mean different things in different contexts. For example, a hundred years ago, a "computer" was a human who computed things with pen, paper, and slide rule. It was a job description, a profession. Nowadays, a "computer" is a machine.
Likewise, it is normal that a single word in one language does not have a direct 1:1 translation into a different language, but rather is translated into different words depending on context and meaning. And vice versa, multiple words in one language can translate to the same word in a different language.
The word "Frau" in German has multiple different meanings:
- It can mean "woman",
- it can mean "wife" (short for "Ehefrau"), and
- it can be used to address a female person, where it is equivalent to both the English "Ms" and the English "Madam" (or "Ma'am").
This is not usual for me since I am not a German Speaker. In English, one and the only phrase to address a lady with high social rank is '
Madam', a gentleman as '
Sir'. So. the availability of such multiple phrases confuses me.
There are no multiple phrases. The one and only way to address a woman, regardless of rank is "Frau", and "Herr" for a man.
It might be surprising to you that there are no different forms of addressing someone based on their social status, but please remember that there are other ways to confer that difference. The most obvious one is the distinction between "Du" and "Sie", which is a distinction that does not exist in English. Also, word choice, and in case you are directly speaking to the person tone can make a difference.
Hence, can somebody explain which phrases out the words I mentioned (
kleine Prinzessin), which phrase I should use when addressing a lady with higher social rank (Ex: when I need to say "Excuse me, madam" Or "Dear madam" (in a letter) - in a formal/polite manner)?
Definitely not the ones where you call her an entitled brat or imply that she works in prostitution, that's for sure! :-D
The one and only way is to use "Frau". Although in your first example, you wouldn't use that either, unless you add either a title or a name. You would either say "Entschuldigen Sie bitte" or "Entschuldigen Sie bitte, Frau Surname" / "Entschuldigen Sie bitte, Frau Professorin Surname" / "Entschuldigen Sie bitte, Frau Professorin".
For the second example, you would use "Sehr geehrte Frau Surname" or "Sehr geehrte Frau Professorin Surname". (In a letter, it is generally assumed that you know the name of the person you are addressing.)
Note that using the female form "Professorin" might sound slightly strange. It used to be the case that the term "Professor" was considered to both male and gender-neutral at the same time, and you would only use the explicit female form if you wanted to make an important distinction between male and female professors. However, this is is in the process of changing.