Regarding the renaming of fair maidens

by andybechtel

A friend asked me recently on Facebook about “maiden name.” She made this plea, with a recommendation that “birth name” is better:

Dear Professor Bechtel: I’ve read three articles today that included the term “maiden name,” and I am irked. I am requesting that you use your influence as a member of the copy-editing world to lead the change to end this practice. Thank you.

I took my friend’s suggestion to my followers on Twitter. Here are some of their reactions:

  • I have a cousin whose maiden name isn’t her birth name. It’s her adopted name. Probably best for a new term altogether.
  • As Sly would say, “Go for it.”
  • Good idea. “Maiden name” is ridiculously archaic.
  • I always say family name.
  • In conversation? I haven’t seen “maiden name” in a news story for decades. Maybe I missed it.
  • Have never liked the word “maiden.” I’d adopt “birth name” instead.
  • Absolutely! I don’t think women have been maidens since 1400 … or at least 1920?

No one stuck up for “maiden name.” I’m giving the last word to @GRAMMARHULK:

  • MANY PEOPLE CHANGE NAME WITHOUT MARRIAGE: IMMIGRANTS, ABUSE VICTIMS, PEOPLE WHO JUST DON’T LIKE OLD NAME.
  • HULK THINK “BIRTH NAME” BETTER: MORE SENSITIVE TO TRANSPEOPLE, APPLICABLE TO ALL REASONS FOR NAME CHANGE.

OK, Hulk and the rest of you. Consider “maiden name” SMASHED.

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