For the first time today I have seen the word née following a woman's name. It's often in parenthesis and precedes what appears to be another surname. I'm guessing it's a way of signifying a woman's maiden name, but the notation is very foreign to me. What exactly does it mean? Why is it used to signify a woman's maiden name?

This obituary from 2009 is a good example where it's used twice: Loretta M. (née Kott) and Mary (née Gawlek) Kott.

  • 6
    This question doesn't show any research. A simple dictionary search reveals the answer.
    – Luke_0
    Commented Jul 29, 2013 at 16:38
  • Since this (self-answered) question is apparently intended to provide a useful reference source, will the answer be extended to include how this relationship is shown in other language and customary groups?
    – Fortiter
    Commented Jul 30, 2013 at 2:11
  • @Fortiter It could be but I don't have that information.
    – user47
    Commented Jul 30, 2013 at 2:32
  • @Fortiter, even Wikipedia (which addresses the meaning of née, as well as using it copiously) has bottled out of a more definitive article.
    – user104
    Commented Jul 30, 2013 at 9:36
  • For example, how common is geb. or geboren in german documents?
    – Fortiter
    Commented Jul 31, 2013 at 23:59

3 Answers 3


Née is used in French, and also in English, to describe a woman's last name (family name, surname) at birth. The more widely used term is her maiden name.

Né, which is used much less often, indicates the birth last name of man, when his last name is now different.

Most commonly, Née is used when a woman has changed her name due to marriage. But that is not the only use, both née and né describe the birth last name of a person who has changed their name by some other way, such as adopting a pen name.


Née is an adjective, a loanword from French, Née is the past participle of *naître (to be born). There should be little opportunity for confusion with nee, the Dutch word for no. In English text, née introduces the birth name.

Often used to introduce the maiden name of a married woman, it can also be used to introduce the birth name of a illegitimate child that has been recognised at marriage, a child that has been adopted, or someone who changed their name.

Née can be used outside family context, for example when referring to the original name of a now renamed product or company, e.g. "the Macintosh XL, née Apple Lisa".


According to The Free Dictionary, nee (or more correctly née) of French origin and is the feminine past participle of naître which means to be born.

  1. Born. Used to indicate the maiden name of a married woman.
  2. Formerly known as.
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    Justin, used commonly in English records (UK) and yes it does mean their maiden name.
    – Colin
    Commented Jul 29, 2013 at 6:28