Nomen nescio

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Nomen nescio (/ˈnoː.men ˈː/), abbreviated to N.N., is used to signify an anonymous or unnamed person. From Latin nomen, name, and nescio, I do not know (from nescire, not to know), it literally means, I do not know the name.[1]

Uses and alternatives

On Familypedia person-pages, the preferred option for an unknown given name or surname is "Unknown". Contributors are not encouraged to create separate pages for such people unless they are important in linking others such as siblings. Never include a question-mark in an individual's page name.

One use for this name is to protect against retaliation when reporting a crime or company fraud. In the Netherlands a police suspect that refuses to give his name is given an "N.N. number." In Germany, and Belgium, N.N. is also frequently seen in university course lists, indicating that a course will take place but that the lecturer is not yet known; the abbreviation means "nomen nominandum" ("the name is to be announced") in this case.

"N. N." is commonly used in the scoring of chess games,[2] not only when one participant's name is genuinely unknown but when an untitled player faces a master, as in a simultaneous exhibition. Another reason is to protect a known player from the insult of a painful defeat.

The generic name Numerius Negidius used in Roman times was chosen partly because it shared initials with this phrase.

Genealogists often use the abbreviation to signify an unknown or partially unknown name (such as N.N. Jones).

In sport a player whose name is not known at the time of publishing a list may more usually be reported as "A. N. Other"

See also

  • John Doe
  • Mister X
  • To be announced


  1. ^ Thode, Ernest (1992), German-English Genealogical Dictionary, Genealogical Publishing Com, p. 179, ISBN 978-0-8063-1342-9 
  2. ^ Hooper, David; Whyld, Kenneth (1992), The Oxford Companion to Chess (2nd ed.), Oxford University Press, p. 274, ISBN 0-19-280049-3 
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