Mother’s Maiden Name – Meaning & Helpful Examples

Have you encountered a form that asked for your “mother’s maiden name” and been left in a state of sheer panic and confusion? As far as you know, your mother’s only got the one name, not some secret alter ego maiden name.

Don’t worry, we’ll explain.

Mother’s Maiden Name – Meaning

Your “mother’s maiden name” is her name before she was married. This means her family name or surname that she had while growing up. In English-speaking countries, it is common for women to take their husband’s last name when they marry, which is why the term “maiden name” is necessary.

Mother's Maiden Name - Meaning

However, your “mother’s maiden name” is not always going to be different from her married name. If your mother decided to keep her own last name when getting married, then her maiden name and married name will be the same.

Your maiden name won’t change no matter how many times you get married.

For example, if Ella Gomez marries Steve White and becomes Mrs. White, then gets a divorce and remarries Steve Brown to become Ella Brown, her maiden name is still Gomez. That is the name she had before she was ever married.

If she marries Steve White and decides to not take his last name and to remain Ella Gomez, then that’s both her married and maiden name.

“Maiden” is an old-fashioned word for an unmarried woman.

What Is “Mother’s Maiden Name” on a Job Application?

If a job application is asking for your “mother’s maiden name”, that means her last name before she was first married. 

This is her family name, which she will normally share with her father, although this isn’t always the case.

If your mother didn’t change her surname when she got married, then her maiden name will be the same as her married name.

If your mother has been married and changed her name multiple times this won’t impact her maiden name. It will still be the last name she had before she got married for the first time.

Is “Mother’s Maiden Name” Her Full Name?

Your “mother’s maiden name” is not her full name. Her maiden name is her last name before she was married. Your full name is every word that comprises the name that people will call you by.

For example, let’s look at a person called:

  • Ella Maria Gomez

This is her full name. Ella is her first name, Maria is her middle name, and Gomez is her last name.

Her “maiden name” only refers to the “Gomez” part. This is because it is not standard practice in the English-speaking world for a woman to change her first or middle name upon marriage, only her last.

How to Get Mother’s Maiden Name

The best way to find out your mother’s maiden name is to ask her. If she isn’t available, ask someone else who is likely to know, like your father or grandparents.

It is typical for your mother’s maiden name to be the same as her father’s surname. However, this isn’t always the case. Your grandma may have decided to keep her surname and then passed it on to her daughter. Your mother may have been raised by her stepfather.

If neither your mother nor anyone else in your life is willing to share this information, then maybe hire a private detective. Or give up.


It is tradition in some parts of the world for women to assume their husband’s last name when they get married, forgoing their previous family name. Her former surname is then referred to as her “maiden name”, i.e., the name she had when she was still unmarried.