Regarding the renaming of fair maidens

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.

About these ads

4 thoughts on “Regarding the renaming of fair maidens

  1. Using an appropriate term is important for both women and men: My husband hyphenated his surname when we married, just as I did. We both carry the surname O’Moore-Klopf, because I am not his property and he is not mine; instead, we founded a new family together. Our two sons also have our hyphenated surname. On the application for our marriage license, we had to create a space to indicate that he was born with the surname Klopf but would be using another surname once we were married. In other words, the license application had a place to indicate my “maiden” name but had no place to indicate his; officials assumed that he would continue to use Klopf after we married.

  2. This is a ggod day to dicuss this. On this day in 1920 the nineteenth amendment to the Federal Constitution was passed. Thank you to Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan Brownell Anthony. MOM

  3. Apart from being archaic, “née” doesn’t solve the gender problem, because it is only used with women–the masculine counterpart to the word is “né”. “Birth name” is best.

Comments are closed.