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.