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A pseudonym or allonym is a name (sometimes legally adopted, sometimes purely fictitious) used by an individual as an alternative to their birth name.

Table of contents
1 Pseudonyms in Print
2 Pseudonyms in Entertainment
3 Other Pseudonyms
4 See also
5 External links

Pseudonyms in Print

When used by authors, a pseudonym is also called a pen name or (in French) nom de plume. This is an English expression: in France, such an alias is more commonly termed a nom de guerre, or "name of war".

Authors use pseudonyms for a variety of reasons; for example, to experiment with a new genre, with reduced risk of upsetting regular readers. Occasionally, it is to avoid overexposure; Isaac Asimov once had three short stories in one issue of a magazine; the editor introduced two pseudonyms, to avoid readers becoming suspicious. In other cases, it is simply to protect the author from persecution following unpopular opinions.

Pseudonyms in Entertainment

When used by actors, performers, or models, a pseudonym is also called a stage name (or sometimes "screen name")

Actors - and others in show business - rarely use a pseudonym to disguise them selves; rather the opposite, it is intended to build a distinct and visible persona, in most cases. In some cases, it will help to separate the public persona from the private life, but with today's intrusive media, particularly the paparazzi, a change of name will be little help.

John Wayne, building a reputation as a tough guy, felt that Marion Morrison was not the image he sought. Stan Laurel, born Arthur Stanley Jefferson was apparently happy to be known as Stan Jefferson until he realised that it had thirteen letters.

In some cases, changes were made simply because a studio manager simply did not like the real name! However, the most common reason for actors to adopt a pseudonym is simply that someone else had already achieved fame with that name.

Most hip hop artists prefer to use a pseudonym that represents some variation of their name, personality, or interests. Prime examples include Ludacris, LL Cool J, and Chingy. See List of hip hop musicians.

Other Pseudonyms

Others in public life adopted pseudonyms for many reasons. Malcolm X, the civil rights campaigner, (born Malcolm Little), adopted the 'X' to represent his unknown African ancestral name. Many Jewish politicians re-adoted Hebrew family names on return to Israel, dropping westernized versions that may have been in the family for generations; Golda Meir, for example, was born Golda Mabovitz in Russia, and lived in USA before emigrating to Palestine; she adopted her Hebrew name on becoming a government minister in 1956.

Famous pseudonyms of people who were neither authors nor actors include:

On the internet, pseudonymous remailers utilising cryptography can be used to achieve persistent pseudonymity, so that two-way communication can be achieved, and reputations can be established without linking a physical identity to a pseudonym.

See also

External links