A birth name is the name given to a person upon birth. The term may be applied to the surname, the given name, or the entire name. Where births are required to be officially registered, the entire name entered onto a birth certificate or birth register may by that fact alone become the person's legal name.[1]

The assumption in the Western world is often that the name from birth (or perhaps from baptism or brit milah) will persist to adulthood in the normal course of affairs—either throughout life or until marriage. Possible changes of a person's name include middle names, diminutive forms, changes relating to parental status (due to one's parents' divorce or adoption by different parents). The term "birth name" is also sometimes used for trans people even in cases where it is still their legal name, similar to the term deadname.

Maiden and married names

Main article: Maiden and married names

"Né" redirects here. For the river, see Né (river). For the cuneiform sign, see Ni (cuneiform).

The French and English-adopted née is the feminine past participle of naître, which means "to be born". is the masculine form.[2]

The term née, having feminine grammatical gender, can be used to denote a woman's surname at birth that has been replaced or changed. In most English-speaking cultures, it is specifically applied to a woman's maiden name after her surname has changed due to marriage.[3] The term , having masculine grammatical gender, can be used to denote a man's surname at birth that has subsequently been replaced or changed.[4] The diacritic marks (the acute accent) are considered significant to its spelling, and ultimately its meaning, but are sometimes omitted.[4]

According to Oxford University's Dictionary of Modern English Usage, the terms are typically placed after the current surname (e.g., "Margaret Thatcher, née Roberts" or "Bill Clinton, né Blythe").[5][4] Since they are terms adopted into English (from French), they do not have to be italicized, but they often are.[5]

In Polish tradition, the term de domo (literally meaning "of the house" in Latin) may be used, with rare exceptions, meaning the same as née.[a]


  1. ^ In historical contexts, "de domo" may refer to a Polish heraldic clan, e.g. "Paulus de Glownia nobilis de domo Godzamba" (Paul of Glownia noble family, of Godziemba coat of arms). See also De domo (disambiguation).


Listen to this article (2 minutes)
Spoken Wikipedia icon
This audio file was created from a revision of this article dated 21 October 2023 (2023-10-21), and does not reflect subsequent edits.
  1. ^ "French administration must routinely use woman's maiden name in letters". The Connexion. 27 January 2014. Retrieved 1 February 2014. Laws have existed since the French Revolution stating that 'no citizen can use a first name or surname other than that written on their birth certificate' – but many official organisations address both partners by the husband's surname.
  2. ^ "nee", The Free Dictionary, retrieved 5 July 2023
  3. ^ "née – definition of née in English from the Oxford dictionary". Archived from the original on 13 January 2014.
  4. ^ a b c Butterfield, Jeremy (10 March 2016). Fowler's Concise Dictionary of Modern English Usage. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-106230-8.
  5. ^ a b Garner, Bryan (11 March 2016). Garner's Modern English Usage. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-049150-5.