What is the correct way of writing previous surname when married? E.g. John Johnson (former Davis) Is it correct to use 'former' or should it be 'previous' or any other word, or just '(Davis)' without any preceding word?

Than you.

  • Perhaps you could tell us who married whom and when and when that marriage was dissolved. – Michael Owen Sartin Jan 15 '14 at 10:27
  • @MichaelOwenSartin What does all this matter? None of these information is necessary. And actually, probably the marriage hasn't been dissolved. – Em1 Jan 15 '14 at 11:08
  • Note that if you do use the words in your example, they should be written "formerly" and "previously". – Mr Lister Jan 15 '14 at 11:56
  • I might settle for John Johnson (born, Davis) -- as being simpler to understand for the common folk like me. This is not necessarily "the correct" way to write. – Kris Jan 15 '14 at 14:13
  • On the question, "What does all this matter?": When you reference an official document that has a different last name for the person of interest, it is nice to have a simple way to connect the document and the person. – Dennis May 1 '18 at 22:34

A relatively common way of putting it is to use the French term "née" (for women) or "né" for men, meaning "born":

My name is John Johnson (né Davis).

Since changing last names is more commonly practiced by women these days, the masculine is less common and might not be as familiar to readers.

Of course, as Andrew Leach mentions in the comments, this technically only covers the name you were born with, but I believe that in common usage it is used to represent a maiden name, even if there were other name changes at previous points in time.

  • 1
    Never née for men. It also depends whether the name quoted is the birth name or merely a previous surname from a previous marriage. – Andrew Leach Jan 15 '14 at 10:49
  • 3
    I'll agree with the common usage statement, it is often used of maiden names even when they weren't birth names, and so is technically incorrect. (Or at least, is incorrect French, whether it's incorrect English or modern English that differs from the French source, is perhaps debatable). – Jon Hanna Jan 15 '14 at 12:11

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