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Origin of pen name
Words nearby pen name
What is a pen name?
A pen name is a name, especially a completely fake one, under which an author publishes their work instead of using their real name.
The term nom de plume means the exact same thing. There are many reasons an author may choose to use a pen name instead of their own name, such as to avoid controversy or to create a persona. Many women authors throughout history have used a male or gender-neutral pen name to get their work published due to bias against women writers. A famous example is Mary Ann Evans, who used the pen name George Eliot.
A more general term for a pen name is pseudonym, which refers to any false name but is most commonly associated with writers.
Example: Many people know that Mark Twain was the pen name of Samuel Clemens, but they don’t realize he also published as Sieur Louis de Conte.
Where does pen name come from?
The first records of the term pen name come from the 1800s. It’s essentially a translation of nom de plume, which uses French words but was actually coined in English. The French word nom means “name” and plume refers to a quill—a feather used as a pen. Both pen name and nom de plume are still in use.
Actors and entertainers have stage names (Cary Grant’s real name was Archibald Leach; Lady Gaga’s real name is Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta), but writers have pen names. Some famous ones are George Orwell (real name Eric Arthur Blair), Lewis Carroll (real name Charles Lutwidge Dodgson), and Evelyn Waugh (real name Arthur St. John).
Authors use pen names for many reasons. Sometimes, a famous author uses a pen name to publish a work in a genre that’s different from the one they’re known for, like when Agatha Christie published non-mystery novels as Mary Westmacott. Or just to write more books, like Stephen King did with the pen name Richard Bachman.
Sometimes, the fake name is intended to create a persona, such as Diedrich Knickerbocker (real name Washington Irving), Dr. Suess (real name Theodor Geisel), or Lemony Snicket (real name Daniel Handler).
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How is pen name used in real life?
Pen name is almost exclusively applied to writers.
#MuseumFromHome If you were a woman writing in the eighteenth or nineteenth century, you may have chosen to obscure your gender by using an androgynous pen name. Use our game from the exhibition Man Up! to find out what your nom de plume might have been. Tweet it at us! pic.twitter.com/oSE6WxFFUQ
— ChawtonHouse (@ChawtonHouse) April 30, 2020
Good idea. I will pull pen names randomly out of my hat of pen names based on my mood and switch among them for no identifiable reason. Lol. https://t.co/EK3OvUe0ES
— Yilin Wang (she/they) #LiteraryJianghu (@yilinwriter) August 14, 2020
Her later pen name was an explicit choice to push against the legacy of her white English father and reclaim the legacy of her Chinese mother
When you say her "real name" was "Edith" you're taking her white dad's side
— Arthur Chu (@arthur_affect) August 14, 2020
Try using pen name!
True or False?
Pen name means the same thing as nom de plume.
Example sentences from the Web for pen name
His face was not so well known and his pen-name was carefully concealed.Mark Twain, A Biography, 1835-1910, Complete|Albert Bigelow Paine
It was as open to him in 1599 as in 1612 to publish his own pieces under his own name, or pen-name.Shakespeare, Bacon and the Great Unknown|Andrew Lang
In 1751 he published, at Dublin, under the pen-name of Ontologos, an essay to prove that the soul is not immortal.A Biographical Dictionary of Freethinkers of All Ages and Nations|Joseph Mazzini Wheeler
In 1854-5 he published several volumes of poems under the pen-name of "Melanter."
As Ishkmsh is not in Badakhshn, it is odd he should have made it his pen-name.The Bbur-nma in English|Babur, Emperor of Hindustan