A pseudonym is a fictitious name, also known as an alias, used as an alternative to a person's legal name. In most legal systems, a person can assume a different name for non-fraudulent purposes and use it as their legal name. In some cases, pseudonyms are adopted because it is part of a cultural or organizational tradition, as in the case of devotional names used by members of some religious orders and "cadre names" used by Communist party leaders such as Trotsky and Stalin.
Pseudonyms are also used to hide an individual's identity, as with writers' pen names, resistance fighters or terrorists' noms de guerre; and computer hackers' nicknames. Actors, musicians, and other performers sometimes use a stage name to mask their original ethnic background, particularly in the early to mid-1900s. Stage names are also used to create a name which better matches their stage persona, as in the case of hip hop artists such as Ol' Dirty Bastard (who was known under at least six aliases); Black metal performers such as Nocturno Culto; and hardcore punk singers such as "Rat" of Discharge.