pen name

(redirected from nom de plume)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Legal, Acronyms, Wikipedia.

pen name

an author's pseudonym

Pen Name


(also, pseudonym), a name used by an author or artist instead of his real name.

Pen names have long been used, for various reasons: to escape the censor’s notice, to emphasize a trait of the author or of his work, or to present the author as something other than he actually is (a literary mask). Other reasons have been the wish to avoid a noneuphonious last name, class prejudice, fear of failure as a writer, and the existence of other persons with the same last name. Pen names may be considered a type of literary hoax.

A number of authors have used many pen names in addition to the main one: Voltaire had more than 160 and V. I. Lenin more than 150. Sometimes pen names were joined to the real last name (M. E. Saltykov-Shchedrin). Many pen names replaced the actual last name and became the name by which the author was known (Molière, Stendhal, Gorky, Lenin). There are also collective pen names, such as Koz’ma Prutkov.

There are more than 50 types of pen names or pseudonyms. Such names may indicate an author’s nationality (Lesia Ukrainka), his place of birth or residence (D. N. Mamin-Sibiriak), his social status, occupation, convictions, or character traits (Besposhchadnyi, “ruthless”), or the distinctive features of his work (Navoi, “melodic”). Pen names may purposefully indicate the wrong sex (George Sand), nationality (G. Apollinaire-Kostrowitski), occupation (the beekeeper Rudyi Pan’ko-N. V. Gogol), or disposition (Emil’ Krotkii [”gentle,”]-E. German). Some pen names are made up of elements from an author’s real first and last names (Il’f-Il’ia Fainzil’berg), and sometimes they are in cipher form: 200–1 (S. A.-Sergei Aksakov; M/f [Minaev]). Distinctive pen names are composed of an author’s initials or of his first name alone (Abai). An author may use an allonym; that is, he may assume the last name of another person (Pablo Neruda from Jan Neruda).

An author may choose a pen name according to his own discretion and may publish under different pen names. In the USSR, pen names are usually specified in an author’s agreement. As a rule, a pen name may not be disclosed without the author’s permission during the period covered by the copyright, except when the use of the pen name conflicts with society’s interests (for example, when it is used to falsify authorship).

In modern Soviet works, party pseudonyms are often termed party nicknames.


Masanov, I. F. Slovar’ psevdonimov russkikh pisatelei, uchenykh i obshchestvennykh deiatelei, vols. Moscow, 1956–60.
Masanov, Iu. V mire psevdonimov, anonimov i literaturnykh poddelok. Moscow, 1963.
Dmitriev, V. Skryvshie svoe imia. Moscow, 1970.
Dmitriev, V. “O psevdonimakh i ikh klassifikatsii.” Filologicheskie nauki, 1915, no. 5.


References in periodicals archive ?
Harris, a humorous collection of tales about Sut Lovingood, "a nat'ral born durn'd fool" and prankish roughneck who took advantage of the foibles of mankind; The Lost Galleon and Other Tales, a first volume of poems by Bret Harte; and Katherine, a narrative poem by Timothy Titcomb, the nom de plume of Josiah Gilbert Holland.
Under the nom de plume James Helvick, my father had just published his first novel, Beat the Devil, and we left copies of it around the Luggala house in the hope that Huston would read it, then buy it for the movies, thus saving us from penury.
What was the usual nom de plume of Irish novelist and journalist Brian O'Nolan, who also wrote as Myles na Gopaleen?
The baker, who works under the nom de plume Annabel Lecter is currently creating a giant cake littered with mementoes to the dead including a book, flowers, jewellery and a skull.
Close up Cliffy" is his nom de plume, When he does his magic he lights up the room, He can give magicians in the magic circle a run for their money, Not only that, he is very funny.
22 (Voices: Bart) Nom de plume of contemporary Cuban artist Alexis Leiva Machado, who, in addition to his artwork, is known for offering free Wi-Fi at his studio in Havana.
What was the nom de plume of the short story writer Hector Hugh Munro?
Under the nom de plume of faux fashion designer "Cloey De La Rox," the makers of Clorox Bleach are celebrating their first foray into patterns, stripes and dots to highlight the debut of new Clorox Smart Seek Bleach.
The imaginative brain behind this operation belongs to Spencer Quinn, aka Peter Abrahams, a noted suspense writer who chose a nom de plume to chronicle Chet and Bernie's adventures.
For when it comes to making macabre cakes, Annabel de Vetten, who works under the nom de plume Annabel Lecter, is the whiskfinder general.
Available April 17 NORA Roberts brings us a romance wrapped up in a thriller that would equally be at home under her nom de plume JD Robb.