Language tip of the week: names

Posted by on January 31, 2012

In this weekly microblog, we bring to English language learners more useful content from the Macmillan DictionaryThese tips are based on areas of English (e.g. spelling, grammar, collocation, synonyms, etc) which learners often find difficult.

This week’s language tip helps with key words which are used for talking or writing about names.

first name / given name: a personal name that you are given when you are born. Another British word is Christian name: The children call me Mrs. Jones, but actually my first name is Mary.
last name: your family name. The usual British word is surname: Let me spell my last name for you.
middle name: the name that comes after your first name but is not often used except to identify you formally. Another British word is second name: My second name is Victoria, after my grandmother.
maiden name: a woman’s last name before she was married: I still use my maiden name for work purposes.
nickname: an invented name that other people call you, especially when you are young: His nickname was Penguin because of the way he walked.
stage name: a name that actors use in their professional career that is different from their real name: She thought Joan Smith was too boring, so she decided to use the stage name Maria Vitalez.
nom de plume / pen name / pseudonym: a name that writers sometimes use so that their real identity is not known: She wrote all her detective novels under the pen name Barbara Greensmith.
initials: the first letters of each of your names: His initials H.I. were carved on the side of the desk.
title: an official name that you put in front of your own name that shows your status in society: Officially my title is Doctor Jones, but most people just call me Janet. ♦ When his father dies he will have the title of Duke of Cumberland.
alias: a false name that someone, especially a criminal, uses to keep their real identity secret: He went under several aliases, including Bernard Kopf and Harold Gene.

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