What's the term for the name you were given when you were born as opposed to the one you changed to for some reason? Real name? Given name? Birth name?

  • 2
    Whatever it is, it doesn't sound like an "antonym" of stage name.
    – R Sahu
    Commented Sep 8, 2014 at 1:10
  • 1
    According to official records, the (first) name you're given when you are born is the given name. The family name is your surname. So yeah, I think what you're looking for is given name. Commented Sep 8, 2014 at 1:19
  • There isn't really an "antonym". There are just lots of other possible names, of which "birth name" is one. Commented Feb 14, 2023 at 19:03

3 Answers 3


If by "stage name" you mean "a name artists use at work", the opposite of that is "real name", the official name they're registered as to the government

  • Yes, 'real name', although difficult to define, is probably better than 'given name' for two reasons. Firstly 'given name' can be used instead of 'christian name' and not include the family name. Secondly I'm sure there are performers around who have changed their names from their original names (by deed poll or, for women, by marriage) and are using a third or subsequent name as a stage name. It would be easy to imagine someone brought up as "Immaculata Shufflebottom", changing her name by deed poll to "Irene Sands", getting married to someone called "Lee" and appearing as "Vixen".
    – BoldBen
    Commented Oct 4, 2020 at 8:11

Of the three options that are offered within the body of the question as possible answers, given name is definitely not the right one, as it usually used in contrast to surname (or family name), and what is sought seems to be a term for something that includes a surname. Birth name and real name can both be used in contrast to stage name, but they don't always stand for the same thing, as one may change one's birth name to another name, which one then proceeds to use for all purposes that are not related to one's acting career, and have yet another name as one's stage name. Most commonly, that's the case when a woman adopts her husband's surname; if one asks of such a woman 'I know what her stage name is, but what's her real name?', the correct answer would be the name she currently uses outside the theatre world, not the birth name.

Most of the above has already been noted in a comment by BoldBen. What needs to be clarified is that real name does not have a precise context-independent meaning, because it is always used in contrast to some other kind of a name, and its use requires a context that makes it clear what the relevant other kind of a name is. Sometimes, the other name is the stage name of an actor, but it can also be a nom de plume of a writer, a username of a subscriber to an online service, an alias of spy, or of a criminal, a code name used for secrecy, or simply a nickname. The question 'What's his real name?' may thus have different answers in different contexts. For example, if it asked of an actor 'I know what his stage name is, but what's his real name?', the answer may be 'John Smith', if that's the name by which he always introduces himself outside the theatre world, but, in a different context, we may say of the same person that his real name is 'Johannes Smith', if that's what appears in his passport.

Thus, even though real name is probably the best term for the OP's purposes, it may not always be precise enough for the purposes in which a lot depends on the answer. In such cases one may need a longer phrase that specifies fully what kind of a name is needed, such as your name, as it appears in your current passport or the name under which you graduated from this university.


I have written this before and I shall write it again.

Antonyms can only be surmised within a bi-modal phenomenon. This reasoning does not pertain to the English language alone, but to any language in the Universe. It is a basic axiom in perceiving the functioning of the Universe.

Let's illustrate with perceptions that are classified with two and only two states.
  • temperatureLevel{hot, cold}
  • depthLevel{deep, shallow}
  • spirituality{good, evil}
  • languageUsedInOperationManualOfMyMicrowaveOven {English, Spanish}
However, within frameworks that the observer fails to constrain into bi-modal perception, it is impossible to express mutual individual antonyms
  • myTemplate{red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple}
  • colour{continuous spectrum}
Where you could only say
  • The opposite of red template = not red = the set of all other colours in myTemplate besides red
  • The opposite of green colour = not green = infinite collection of all colours except those regions perceived as green

One could also derive the pleasure from having antonyms, by defining an ordered set.

For example, let's define that enumeration order proceeds from left to right in the following frameworks
  • temperatureSetting{hot, medium, cold}
  • computerGameOfClones{love, friend, hate}
In such settings, it would not be difficult to surmise what you would be asking
  • what is the opposite of hot temperature setting
  • what is the opposite of love relationship

because they are in an ordered set, where the opposite of one extremity is the other extremity within a one dimensional vector. You are merely implicitly defining a bi-modal (i.e., two valued) set of extremities from a range of labels.

It is also not difficult to surmise
  • what is opposite of medium in my air-cond setting
    where answer is the set of extremities{hot, cold}
  • what is opposite of friend in GameOfClones
    where answer is the set of extremities{love, hate}

OTOH, let's consider a multidimensional framework

  power{on, standby, scheduled, off} , 
  temperature{hot, medium, cold} ,
  mode{summer, springfall, winter, userprg1, userprg2, userprg3}
And then let's ask the unanswerable questions
  • What is the opposite of userprg3?
  • What is the opposite of mode?
Further, let's consider a multiple membership entity where shoes could be a member in any of the the following sets.
  • set of apparel {shirts, trousers, scarves, shoes, blouses, ... etc}
  • set of footwear {slippers, socks, stockings, shoes, sole pads, ... etc}
  • set of impediments to rescuing from car accidents {jackets, boots, shoes, wristwatches, belts, ... etc}

Then, you wish to ask the question

What is the opposite of shoes?

There isn't an answer because
  1. You did not specify which association of membership in which shoes are found: set of apparel, set of footwear, set of impediment, set of ego statements ...
  2. You did not constrain any of the possible sets into perceivable bi-modal abstracts, implicitly or explicitly.

Therefore, when you ask

What is the antonym of stage name?

  1. You did not specify the association membership: stage, public persona, online avatar, legal, etc.
  2. You did not present any constrains that might help to arrange these associations into an ordered set, to see if we could find stage name as one of the extremities.
  • There are a couple of typos I need to correct. Commented Sep 8, 2014 at 17:23
  • 3
    -1: entirely misses the intent of the question. I came to this page because I have the same question as the OP, and neither of us needed this pedantry.. Commented Oct 4, 2020 at 2:51
  • 2
    The OP is clearly looking for something along the lines of “real name”, “birth name” or “given name”. All you need to do is think “What is the asker trying to learn right now?”, not “How can I show off my knowledge on this anonymous forum”
    – Unrelated
    Commented Oct 4, 2020 at 4:59
  • Exactly. The asker failed to provide a context that would constrain the question into a bi-modal framework. Being in the autistic spectrum and extremely mathematically inclined, I am able to see the question is unconstrained to a bimodal mode. Commented Oct 9, 2020 at 16:41

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.