A pseudonym is a name that a person (usually an author) uses instead of their real name. A nom de guerre is a name that a person uses in place of their real name when they are engaged in combat or other dangerous activities.

What is a pseudonym?

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picture of Mark Twain

A pseudonym is a fictitious name or alias used by an individual to conceal their true identity when engaging in various activities. It is commonly employed by writers, artists, and performers who wish to maintain anonymity or separate their personal lives from their public personas. Pseudonyms are often adopted for artistic expression, privacy concerns, or to explore different creative identities. They provide individuals with the freedom to express themselves without the constraints of their real-world reputation. Pseudonyms have been used throughout history by notable figures such as authors George Orwell (real name Eric Arthur Blair) and Mark Twain (real name Samuel Langhorne Clemens)

What is a nom de guerre?

A nom de guerre is a pseudonym taken on by someone to hide their identity in wartime. It’s French for “war name,” and it was commonly used by soldiers in past centuries. In more recent times, however, it has been adopted by guerrilla fighters and other people engaged in combat or clandestine operations.

The reasons for using a nom de guerre

When someone assumes a pseudonym, they do so for a variety of reasons. Maybe they want to keep their identity secret for personal safety reasons. Maybe they’re an author and they want to use a pen name. Or maybe they just think it sounds cooler than their real name. But what about when someone takes on a nom de guerre?

The reason for using a nom de guerre is simple: It makes it harder for the enemy to target you specifically. If your real name is known to the enemy, they can use that information to try to track you down or kill you. But if you’re using a war name, it becomes much more difficult for them to single you out.

In some cases, a nom de guerre may also be used as a way to show solidarity with fellow fighters or as a symbol of resistance against an oppressor. For example, during the Iranian Revolution, many protesters took on new names that expressed their defiance of the Shah’s regime (e.g., “Death to the Shah” or “Burn America

How are pseudonyms and nom de guerres used?

Pseudonyms and nom de guerres are used in a variety of ways. Pseudonyms are often used by writers, artists, and entertainers to protect their real identities or to create a more interesting persona. A nom de guerre is usually adopted by soldiers or other military personnel to conceal their identity in combat or other dangerous situations.

Examples of famous people who have used pseudonyms or nom de guerres

Mark Twain was the pseudonym of Samuel Langhorne Clemens. He is one of the most famous American authors and is known for his novels “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” and “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”.

J.K. Rowling is the pseudonym of Joanne Rowling. She is a British author best known for her Harry Potter series.

George Orwell was the pseudonym of Eric Arthur Blair. He was a British author, journalist, and political commentator best known for his novels “Animal Farm” and “1984”.

Ayn Rand was the pseudonym of Alisa Zinov’yevna Rosenbaum. She was a Russian-American novelist, philosopher, and screenwriter best known for her novels “The Fountainhead” and “Atlas Shrugged”.

Why use a pseudonym or nom de guerre?

Some people use pseudonyms or noms de guerre to protect themselves from harm. For example, many journalists who report on sensitive topics use pseudonyms to avoid retaliation from the people or organizations they write about. In some cases, using a pseudonym or nom de guerre can be a matter of life and death.

Other people use pseudonyms or noms de guerre because they want to keep their personal lives separate from their professional lives. For example, an author might use a pseudonym so that readers will judge their work on its merits rather than on the author’s personal life.

Still, others use pseudonyms or noms de guerre simply because they prefer them to their real names. Some people find that using a different name can help them feel more creative or empowered. Whatever the reason, using a pseudonym or nom de guerre can be a helpful way to manage one’s identity.

Can journalists use pseudonyms?

There are a few different reasons why journalists might choose to use pseudonyms. In some cases, it might be for their safety – for example, if they are reporting on a sensitive story from a dangerous location. In other cases, it might be because the journalist wants to protect their sources – for example, if they have promised anonymity to someone who has shared sensitive information.


Photo by Brando Louhivaara on Unsplash

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