A pseudonym ( ) is a name that a person or group assumes for a particular purpose, which can differ from his or her original or true name (orthonym).〔Room (2010, 3).〕 Pseudonyms include stage names, screen names, ring names, pen names, nicknames, aliases, superhero identities and code names, gamer identifications, and regnal names of emperors, popes and other monarchs. Historically they have often taken the form of anagrams, Graecisms, and Latinisations, although there are many other methods of choosing a pseudonym.〔Peschke (2006, vii).〕
Pseudonyms are most usually adopted to hide an individual's real identity, as with writers' pen names, graffiti artists' tags, resistance fighters' or terrorists' ''noms de guerre'', and computer hackers' handles. Actors, musicians, and other performers sometimes use stage names, for example, to mask their ethnic backgrounds.
In some cases, pseudonyms are adopted because they are part of a cultural or organisational tradition: for example devotional names used by members of some religious institutes, and "cadre names" used by Communist party leaders such as Trotsky and Lenin.
A pseudonym may also be used for personal reasons: for example, an individual may prefer to be called or known by a name that differs from their given or legal name, but is not ready to take the numerous steps to get their name legally changed; or an individual may simply feel that the context and content of an exchange offer no reason, legal or otherwise, to provide their given or legal name.
A ''collective name'' or ''collective pseudonym'' is one shared by two or more persons, for example the co-authors of a work, such as Ellery Queen, or Nicolas Bourbaki.
The term is derived from the Greek (''pseudṓnymon''), literally "false name", from (''pseûdos''), "lie, falsehood"〔(ψεῦδος ),
Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, ''A Greek-English Lexicon'', on Perseus project〕 and (''ónoma''), "name".〔(ὄνομα ), Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, ''A Greek-English Lexicon'', on Perseus project〕 A pseudonym is distinct from an ''allonym'', which is the (real) name of another person, assumed by the author of a work of art. This may occur when someone is ghostwriting a book or play, or in parody, or when using a "front" name, such as by screenwriters blacklisted in Hollywood in the 1950s and 1960s. See also pseudepigraph, for ''falsely'' attributed authorship.
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