I've seen both of these used about equally, and they seem to have similar meanings. Are they entirely interchangeable?

2 Answers 2


Both are translated as "real name" in English. According to 類語例解辞典{るいごれいかいじてん}, 本名{ほんみょう} is used as opposed to the name that a person uses such as a stage name or alias. 実名{じつめい} is used when one dares to disclose one’s name.

The sentences below are examples taken from 類語例解辞典{るいごれいかいじてん}:

  1. 本名{ほんみょう}/実名{じつめい}を名乗{なの}れ。
    'Tell me your real name.'

  2. 実名{じつめい}入{い}りで記事{きじ}を書{か}く。
    '(person) writes a [newspaper/magazine] article in her own name.'

  3. 本名{ほんみょう}を偽{いつわ}る。
    '(a person) lies about their real name.'

Compared with 本名{ほんみょう}, 実名{じつめい} tends to be used in the sense of revealing/hiding the real name. For instance, the police make 実名{じつめい} of the suspect public or they hide 実名{じつめい} of the victim.

  • In example #2, the original and your TL do not match.
    – user4032
    Feb 2, 2015 at 11:31
  • I didn't translate like this originally :/ Athough, the doer of the sentence is not specified in all the examples. So, the translation for the sentences can be various in a context. As to #2, potential translations are: 1. I write an article in my own name. 2. I write an article that contains s X's real name. 3. X writes an article im his/her own name. 4. X writes an article that contains Y's real name. (X and Y are dependent on the previous sentence.)
    – nomithekid
    Feb 4, 2015 at 9:11

Yes, I agree with nominozomy about 70%. For these kind of stuff, you need to "feel" when it is used, when it should be used.

Although nominozomy quoted [実名]{じつめい}[入]{い}りで[記事]{きじ}を[書]{か}く。 '(person) writes a [newspaper/magazine] article in her own name.'

Regarding this I never came across wherever it is at work, or municipal registration stuff, or a conversation. And to me, personally, it sounds a bit strange.

In terms of frequency, 本名 is far more often used than 実名, at the official procedures, or in business, because as nominozomy said "Compared with [本名]{ほんみょう}, [実名]{じつめい} tends to be used in the sense of revealing/hiding the real name." And 実名 reminds me of some kind of criminal activities, though not for all cases.

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