The Meaning of Maiden Name: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of the term maiden name? This article will provide you with all of the info you need on the expression maiden name, including its definition, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the term maiden name mean?

According to Merriam-Webster Unabridged English Dictionary and Cambridge Dictionary, a maiden name is a noun that refers to the last name of a woman who is married or divorced prior to her marriage. This could also be considered her given name or family name. The maiden name is the last name that she was born with. Some women choose to keep their maiden names even after they get married, and some families choose to hyphenate both of their last names. Some women change their last name to their new spouse’s given last name.

A maiden name is a common password security question on many different websites. Many websites will ask someone to provide their mother’s maiden name if they have forgotten their password as a secure question to allow entry into the website. Usually for someone’s birth name they will take their father’s name. However, when many women get married they take their husband’s or spouse’s surname. Thus, a married woman might have a married name that is different from her given name. They must go through the name change process to change their name legally. In some cultures, children take their mother’s maiden name as their middle name. 

The term maiden name is also present in many other different languages to refer to a woman’s last name before she was married and took her husband’s last name. This term is fairly widespread and used in many different languages and cultures. This list of translations for the term maiden name is provided by Word Sense.

  • Esperanto: denaska nomo
  • Belarusian: дзявочае прозвішча‎
  • Swedish: flicknamn‎ (neut.)
  • Macedonian: моминско презиме‎
  • Greek: πατρικό όνομα‎ (neut.)
  • Vietnamese: tên thời con gái‎
  • Hungarian: leánykori név‎
  • Korean: 구성‎
  • Italian: nome da ragazza‎ (masc.), nome da nubile‎ (masc.)
  • Romanian: nume de fată‎ (masc.)
  • Russian: де́вичья фами́лия‎ (fem.)
  • Chinese – Mandarin: 閨名‎, 闺名‎ (guīmíng), 原姓‎ (yuánxìng), 舊姓‎, 旧姓‎ (jiùxìng), 本性‎ (běnxìng), 娘家姓‎ (niángjiāxìng)
  • Roman: devojačko prezime‎ (neut.), djevojačko prezime‎ (neut.)
  • Turkish: kızlık soyadı‎
  • Thai: นามสกุลก่อนแต่งงาน‎ (naam-sà-gun gòn dtàeng-ngaan)
  • Afrikaans: nooiensvan‎
  • Dutch: meisjesnaam‎ (masc.)
  • Spanish: apellido de soltera‎ (masc.)
  • Hebrew: שֵׁם נְעוּרִים‎
  • Polish: nazwisko panieńskie‎ (neut.), nazwisko rodowe‎ (neut.)
  • French: nom de jeune fille‎ (masc.)
  • Danish: pigenavn‎
  • Finnish: tyttönimi‎
  • Ukrainian: дівоче прізвище‎
  • German: Mädchenname‎ (masc.)
  • Slovene: dekliški priimek‎ (masc.)
  • Cyrillic: девојачко презиме‎ (neut.), дјевојачко презиме‎ (neut.)
  • Yiddish: מיידלישער נאָמען‎ (masc.)
  • Arabic: اِسْم اَلْبَتُولَة‎ (masc.), اِسْم اَلْفَتَاة قَبْل اَلزَّوَّاج‎
  • Norwegian: pikenavn‎
  • Bulgarian: моминско име‎
  • Slovak: dievčenské meno‎ (neut.)
  • Japanese: (“old name”, also “previous name”) 旧姓‎ (きゅうせい, kyūsei), 旧名‎ (きゅうめい, kyūmei)
  • Portuguese: nome de solteira‎ (masc.)
  • Estonian: neiupõlvenimi‎
  • Serbo-Croatian:
  • Czech: dívčí jméno‎ (neut.), jméno za svobodna‎ (neut.)

What are synonyms and antonyms for the term maiden name?

The closest synonyms to maiden name would be family name, given name, and birth name. All of these terms refer to a woman’s last name prior to a marriage. Synonyms are useful to know if you want to avoid repeating yourself, or if you want to expand your knowledge of the English language. An antonym to the term maiden name would be married name, which refers to the last name that a woman takes on after she is married. In some cases, these are the same last name. 

How can the term maiden name be used in a sentence?

The term maiden name is widely used and many people use this to refer to a person’s last name prior to marriage. In this example, Ursula and Rylan are talking about their ancestry. 

Rylan: I’m 100% Irish, actually.

Ursula: Really? I thought your last name would be more Irish, then. Rodrigo doesn’t seem very Irish to me.

Rylan: That’s actually my married last name, I never changed it back after I got divorced. My maiden name is Brannigan. Super, super Irish. And my mom’s maiden name is O’Connell.

Ursula: Wow!

Here, Rylan uses both her own maiden anime and her mother’s maiden name to refer to her Irish heritage, even though her married last name isn’t Irish.

What is the origin of the term maiden name?

According to Quora, the first known usage of the term maiden name was in a publican from the year 1663 entitled The Ultimum Vale by John Fuller. The quote form the book is as follows:

“She was borne in canterbury, her maiden name is mary modders, … she was lately in dover-castle a prisoner…”

The term maiden surname was used slightly prior to this, in a 1665 work by Thomas Fuller, The church-history of Britain from the birth of Jesus Christ until the year M.DC.XLVIII. In this piece, the below is written:

“Jesuite condemns her for leaving her husband, at home, and gadding to gospel, and gossip it at court, alwaies subscribing herself, not by her married, but maiden surname.”

According to Etymonline, the term maiden has been used to mean an unmarried woman since Old English times. Hence, the term maiden name stems from the original meaning of maiden. 

Overall, the term maiden name is a noun that refers to the last name of a woman prior to marriage. This can also be considered her family name or given surname, and is often changed after marriage. However, it is becoming more and more common for women to keep their last names after marriage or to hyphenate their last name with their spouse’s to form a new family name. 

Sources:

  1. https://www.wordsense.eu/maiden_name/
  2. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/maiden%20name#:~:text=%3A%20the%20surname%20of%20a%20married,took%20back%20her%20maiden%20name.
  3. https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/maiden-name
  4. https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-origin-of-the-term-maiden-name
  5. https://www.etymonline.com/word/maiden#:~:text=maiden%20(n.)&text=variant%20of%20PIE%20root%20*maghu,1200).