NLN No Last Name

I've always wanted to change my last name. As a word, not a name, it means something akin to messy, disorganized, devastated. As a child I thought I'd someday be married and would change it that way, but now have no desire to be married. For my profession, the image it puts in the minds of potential clients is negative making me want to change it even more. There are only two good things about my last name. 1. My nieces and nephews feel more connected to me because we share a last name and 2. It is unique; there is not one other person the world over with my fn/ln combo.

So, ultimately I really like the idea of having only one name but I wonder how much complication would it cause and, realistically how often would I have to deal with NLN showing up as though it actually were my last name? That may actually be worse than Myfirstname Devistated-mess. 

Please share your ideas, opinions, and experiences. Thank you. 


June 9, 2015 11:59 PM

I think not having a surname seems really logistically complicated, because surnames are used so very much in so many areas of our lives. I'd think NLN would show up as "Nln" being the last name, and you being addressed as Ms Nln, quite a lot. Even the royals have a last name that they use (Prince Harry is Lieutenant Wales in the army, as I understand it).

 Somewhat relatedly, I know someone whose parent put "nil" in the middle name slot when filling out the birth paperwork to indicate that there was no middle name, and then the official birth certificate came back with a middle name of Nil. I think you'd encounter similar mix ups all the time, everywhere, with "No Last Name", since surnames are used so much more frequently, and it would be a huge hassle.

I do however know many people who have changed their surname because their given ones didn't fit well, for a variety of reasons (surname being from a branch of the family they didn't have any connection to, just not being a good fit, wanting to reinvent themselves in conjunction with a major life event, etc.). This is what I'd recommend for you. The legal aspects of changing a name legally are pretty straightforward in most parts of the US. The far bigger hassle is going through all aspects of your life and changing all accounts and utilities and the like over to the new name once you have the court order in hand, but it's not too challenging - most of the minor accounts you can just change when you encounter them.

Everyone I know who has done the surname change has been very positive about it. The only bad story I have is from someone who wanted to change his surname (in a marriage context, to a name from his wife's family tree) and his parents flipped out -- in response, he didn't go through with it, but regrets not having done it to this day. is a resource worth considering, and I'd do some scavenging both in the family tree and in the dictionary, too. If I recall correctly you enjoy highly unconventional names, and I think that an unconventional surname could be quite a lot of fun to generate for yourself, retaining the unique identifier aspect of your current First-Last combo.

June 10, 2015 12:12 AM

I know a family that comes from a single-name culture (Sri Lanka) who took Dad's given name as their family name, because their experience was that it's basically impossible to live with just one name in the western world. (Dad then took his father's name as his official "first" name, which he doesn't actually use, but it keeps the bureaucratic hassles at bay.)

You could do a play on "no last name" and adopt Nolan or Nolana as your new surname. :-)