pseu·​do·​nym ˈsü-də-ˌnim How to pronounce pseudonym (audio)
: a fictitious name
especially : pen name

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Pseudonym, has its origins in the Greek word pseudōnymos, which means "bearing a false name." Greek speakers formed their word by combining pseud-, meaning "false," and onyma, meaning "name." French speakers adopted the Greek word as pseudonyme, and English speakers later modified the French word into pseudonym. Many celebrated authors have used pseudonyms. Samuel Clemens wrote under the pseudonym "Mark Twain," Charles Lutwidge Dodgson assumed the pseudonym "Lewis Carroll," and Mary Ann Evans used "George Eliot" as her pseudonym.

Examples of pseudonym in a Sentence

Mark Twain is the pseudonym of the American writer Samuel L. Clemens. the most notorious serial killer of the 19th century remains known only by the pseudonym of Jack the Ripper
Recent Examples on the Web The interveners say the use of the pseudonym was improper to begin with and is particularly unwarranted now that the officer’s identity is well known. Steve Thompson, Washington Post, 24 Nov. 2023 The missive was signed by Tarzan, a pseudonym used by an anonymous soldier during the war. Christopher Vourlias, Variety, 5 Nov. 2023 Oates continued using the pseudonym (without hiding her real name) to write seven more books, all of them involving twins. Rachel Aviv, The New Yorker, 20 Nov. 2023 Duchovny went on to joke that Hal Liggett is a pseudonym for Barack Obama, while Ryan shared that the name draws from the artificial intelligence HAL 9000 from the 1968 classic 2001: A Space Odyssey. Tommy McArdle, Peoplemag, 31 Oct. 2023 In preparing their witnesses, federal prosecutors in the U.S. attorney’s office in the District requested that testifying clinic employees and patients such as Jones be allowed to use pseudonyms to protect their privacy and safety. Ellie Silverman, Washington Post, 16 Aug. 2023 The photos published in the first article are from various social media accounts Copeland operated under the pseudonym Brittini Blaire Summerlin. Jo Yurcaba, NBC News, 7 Nov. 2023 The House Oversight Committee wants to see more than 5,000 emails Vice President Biden sent using a pseudonym, while a third bank memorandum details further allegations of payments to the Biden family and its business associates. Kimberley A. Strassel, WSJ, 2 Nov. 2023 Her name was no radio pseudonym — and her radio persona was no persona. Chris Willman, Variety, 23 Oct. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'pseudonym.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


French pseudonyme, from Greek pseudōnymos bearing a false name, from pseud- + onyma name — more at name

First Known Use

1817, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of pseudonym was in 1817


Dictionary Entries Near pseudonym

Cite this Entry

“Pseudonym.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


: a fictitious name
especially : pen name

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