Married and maiden names

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A married name is the family name adopted by a person upon marriage. In many cultures it is common practice for a person to assume the family name of his or her spouse; this new name typically replaces the maiden name.

The term "maiden name" is rarely applied to the change of family names by men, or by either sex other than in connection with marriage. Nevertheless, the French and English-adopted term "née" (pronounced /ˈneɪ/ in English, [ˈne] in French), meaning "born as," can be applied to a woman's family-name at birth that has been replaced for any reason. The French masculine inflection corresponding to née is ""; while less readily recognized by non-French-speakers, it is likewise applied to family names changed for any reason.[1] (The diacritics are sometimes omitted.)

The term "birth name" is sometimes used specifically as a gender-neutral (or male only) substitute for "maiden name", but it is also applied to mean the family name of the mother of a child adopted at birth, and is thus likely to be used with more flexibility than the loan-words née and , accepting it even when the name being referred to was acquired by adoption (at or long after birth), or made in connection with a change of nationality, or changed in any of the variety of other, rarer circumstances. Another distinction is that while "birth name" can refer to either a family name, a full name, or presumably a given name considered in isolation, née or is considered correct only when immediately preceded by the new family name and immediately followed by the old: e.g. "Margaret Hilda Thatcher née Roberts". The maiden name can also be expressed parenthetically, e.g., "Margaret Hilda (Roberts) Thatcher"[citation needed].

Normally, changing one's name requires a legal procedure, as further described in name change; however in some jurisdictions anyone who either marries or divorces may change their name if he or she wishes. Traditionally in the Anglophone West, only women do so, but sometimes men as well change their last names upon marriage.[2]

By extension, née is also used when giving any former names (e.g., companies, products, models, and celebrities who use stage names).


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