German Language Stack Exchange is a bilingual question and answer site for speakers of all levels who want to share and increase their knowledge of the German language. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

In America, there was a very famous investment writer named Benjamin Graham, who was Warren Buffett's teacher. But his birth name was actually Benjamin Grossbaum, a German name he changed during World War I.

What would be the term for the other name, Benjamin Grossbaum? Would it be "der ursprüngliche Name" (the original name)?

And how would one refer to the new name, Benjamin Graham?

share|improve this question
When you want to mention the birth name right away with the current one, you use geborene[r]. Benjamin Graham geb. Grossbaum war ein... (see here) – user5513 Mar 2 '14 at 13:33
up vote 18 down vote accepted

I would use:


for the original name as this is a legal term for a child's default surname (see § 1616 BGB). "Ursprünglicher Name" is okay, too.

For a newly adopted name changed later, I propose:

angenommener Name

(not sure whether translating this as "adopted name" is correct).

EDIT: AFAIK there's no fixed terminology for cases of name changing. Maybe this is due to the fact that changing its name in germany (and, i assume, in austria and switzerland) requires an administrative act. So, this isn't as easy as in common law countries. See Wikipedia on Namensrecht and on Legal Name.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

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