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In some cultures, a surname, family name, or last name is the portion of one's
personal name 300px, First/given, middle and last/family/surname with John Fitzgerald Kennedy as example. This shows a structure typical for the Anglosphere, among others. Other cultures use other structures for full names. A personal name, or full name, i ...
that indicates one's family, tribe or community. Practices vary by culture. The family name may be placed at either the start of a person's full name, as the forename, or at the end; the number of surnames given to an individual also varies. As the surname indicates
genetic inheritance Heredity, also called inheritance or biological inheritance, is the passing on of traits from parents to their offspring; either through asexual reproduction Asexual reproduction is a type of reproduction that does not involve the fusion o ...
, all members of a
family unit In human society, family (from la, familia) is a Social group, group of people related either by consanguinity (by recognized birth) or Affinity (law), affinity (by marriage or other relationship). The purpose of families is to maintain the w ...
may have identical surnames or there may be variations; for example, a woman might marry and have a child, but later remarry and have another child by a different father, and as such both children could have different surnames. It is common to see two or more words in a surname, such as in compound surnames. Compound surnames can be composed of separate names, such as in traditional
Spanish culture The culture of Spain , * gl, Reino de España, * oc, Reiaume d'Espanha, , , image_flag = Bandera de España.svg , image_coat = Escudo de España (mazonado).svg , national_motto = , national_anthem = , image_map = , ...
, they can be
hyphen The hyphen is a punctuation mark used to join word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical meaning (li ...
ated together, or may contain
prefix A prefix is an affix which is placed before the Word stem, stem of a word. Adding it to the beginning of one word changes it into another word. For example, when the prefix ''un-'' is added to the word ''happy'', it creates the word ''unhappy'' ...
es. Using names has been documented in even the oldest historical records. Examples of surnames are documented in the 11th century by the
baron Baron is a rank of nobility Nobility is a social class normally ranked immediately below Royal family, royalty and found in some societies that have a formal aristocracy (class), aristocracy. Nobility has often been an Estates of the ...

baron
s in England. English surnames began as a way of identifying a certain aspect of that individual, such as by trade, father's name, location of birth, or physical features, and were not necessarily inherited. By 1400 most English families, and those from Lowland Scotland, had adopted the use of hereditary surnames.


What is a surname?

In the Anglophonic world, a surname is commonly referred to as the last name because it is usually placed at the end of a person's full name, after any given name. In many parts of Asia and in some parts of Europe and Africa, the family name is placed before a person's given name. In most
Spanish-speaking Hispanophone and Hispanic refers to anything relating to the speech of Spain (the ''Hispanosphere''). In a cultural, rather than merely linguistic sense, the notion of "Hispanophone" goes further than the above definition. The Hispanic culture is t ...
and
Portuguese-speaking File:WIKITONGUES- Freddie speaking Portuguese.webm, A Lusophone speaking Portuguese, recorded in the United States. Lusophones ( pt, Lusófonos) are an ethnolinguistic group of peoples and nations that comprise an estimated 270 million people spre ...
countries, two surnames are commonly used or, in some families, three or even more, often because of family claims to nobility. Surnames have not always existed and are still not universal in some cultures. The tradition has arisen separately in different cultures around the world. In Europe, the concept of surnames became popular in the
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post- period of . As a it included large territorial holdings around the in , , and ruled by . From the t ...

Roman Empire
and expanded throughout the
Mediterranean The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by the Mediterranean Basin In biogeography, the Mediterranean Basin (also known as the Mediterranean region or sometimes Mediterranea) is the region of lands aroun ...

Mediterranean
and Western Europe as a result. During the Middle Ages, that practice died out as Germanic, Persian and other influences took hold. During the late Middle Ages surnames gradually re-emerged, first in the form of bynames, which typically indicated an individual's occupation or area of residence, and gradually evolving into modern surnames. In China surnames have been the norm since at least the 2nd century BC. A family name is typically a part of a person's
personal name 300px, First/given, middle and last/family/surname with John Fitzgerald Kennedy as example. This shows a structure typical for the Anglosphere, among others. Other cultures use other structures for full names. A personal name, or full name, i ...
and, according to law or custom, is passed or given to children from at least one of their parents' family names. The use of family names is common in most cultures around the world, but each culture has its own rules as to how the names are formed, passed, and used. However, the style of having both a family name (surname) and a given name (forename) is far from universal (see §History below). In many cultures, it is common for people to have one name or
mononym A mononymous person is an individual who is known and addressed by a single name, or mononym. In some cases, that name has been selected by the individual, who may have originally been given a :Wiktionary:polynym, polynym ("multiple name"). In oth ...
, with some cultures not using family names. In most
Slavic countries Slavs are a European ethno-linguistic group of people who speak the various Slavic languages The Slavic languages, also known as the Slavonic languages, are Indo-European languages The Indo-European languages are a language family nat ...
and in
Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, Elláda, ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in . Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of 2021; is its largest and capital city, followed by . Situated on the southern tip of the , ...

Greece
,
Lithuania Lithuania (; lt, Lietuva ), officially the Republic of Lithuania ( lt, Lietuvos Respublika, links=no), is a country in the Baltic region The terms Baltic Sea Region, Baltic Rim countries (or simply Baltic Rim), and the Baltic Sea countri ...
and
Latvia Latvia ( or ; lv, Latvija ; ltg, Latveja; liv, Leţmō), officially known as the Republic of Latvia ( lv, Latvijas Republika, links=no, ltg, Latvejas Republika, links=no, liv, Leţmō Vabāmō, links=no), is a country in the Baltic re ...

Latvia
, for example, there are different family name forms for male and female members of the family. Issues of family name arise especially on the passing of a name to a newborn child, the adoption of a common family name on marriage, the renunciation of a family name, and the changing of a family name.
Surname laws In some cultures, a surname, family name, or last name is the portion of one's personal name 300px, First/given, middle and last/family/surname with John Fitzgerald Kennedy as example. This shows a structure typical for the Anglosphere, am ...
vary around the world. Traditionally in many European countries for the past few hundred years, it was the custom or the law for a woman, upon marriage, to use her husband's surname and for any children born to bear the father's surname. If a child's paternity was not known, or if the
putative father__NOTOC__ A putative father, with some variation in specific language, generally means a man whose legal relationship to a child has not been established but who is alleged to be or claims that he may be the biological father of a child who is born ...
denied paternity, the newborn child would have the surname of the mother. That is still the custom or law in many countries. The surname for children of married parents is usually inherited from the father.Kelly, 99 W Va L Rev at 10; see id. at 10 n 25 (The custom of taking the father's surname assumes that the child is born to parents in a "state-sanctioned marriage". The custom is different for children born to unmarried parents.). Cited i
Doherty v. Wizner, Oregon Court of Appeals
(2005)
In recent years, there has been a trend towards equality of treatment in relation to family names, with women being not automatically required, expected or, in some places, even forbidden, to take the husband's surname on marriage, with the children not automatically being given the father's surname. In this article, both family name and surname mean the
patrilineal Patrilineality, also known as the male line, the spear side or agnatic kinship, is a common kinship system in which an individual's family membership derives from and is recorded through their father's lineage. It generally involves the inheritance ...
surname, which is handed down from or inherited from the father, unless it is explicitly stated otherwise. Thus, the term "maternal surname" means the ''patrilineal'' surname that one's mother inherited from either or both of her parents. For a discussion of ''
matrilineal Matrilineality is the tracing of kinship through the female line. It may also correlate with a social system in which each person is identified with their matriline – their mother's Lineage (anthropology), lineage – and which can inv ...
'' ('mother-line') surnames, passing from mothers to daughters, see
matrilineal surname A matrilineal Matrilineality is the tracing of kinship through the female line. It may also correlate with a social system in which each person is identified with their matriline – their mother's Lineage (anthropology), lineage – an ...
. The study of proper names (in family names, personal names, or places) is called
onomastics Onomastics or onomatology is the study of the etymology Etymology ()The New Oxford Dictionary of English (1998) – p. 633 "Etymology /ˌɛtɪˈmɒlədʒi/ the study of the class in words and the way their meanings have changed throughout time ...
. A
one-name study A one-name study is a project researching a specific surname, as opposed to a particular Pedigree chart, pedigree (ancestors of one person) or descendancy (Lineal descendant, descendants of one person or couple). Some people who research a specifi ...
is a collection of vital and other biographical data about all persons worldwide sharing a particular surname.


History


Origins

While the use of given names to identify individuals is attested in the oldest historical records, the advent of surnames is a relatively recent phenomenon. ''Note: content available by subscription only. The first page of content is available vi
Google Scholar
'.
Many cultures have used and continue to use additional descriptive terms in identifying individuals. These terms may indicate personal attributes, location of origin, occupation, parentage, patronage, adoption, or clan affiliation. These descriptors often developed into fixed clan identifications that in turn became family names as we know them today. In China, according to legend, family names started with Emperor
Fu Xi Fuxi or Fu Hsi (伏羲 ~ 伏犧 ~ 伏戲) is a culture hero A culture hero is a mythological hero File:Wilhelm Tell Denkmal Altdorf um 1900.jpeg, upWilliam Tell, a popular folk hero of Switzerland. A hero (heroine in its feminine form) i ...

Fu Xi
in 2000 BC. His administration standardised the naming system in order to facilitate census-taking, and the use of census information. Originally,
Chinese surname Chinese surnames are used by Han Chinese and Sinicization, Sinicized ethnic groups in China, Taiwan, Korea, Vietnam, and among overseas Chinese communities around the world such as Singapore and Malaysia. Written Chinese names begin with surnames, ...
s were derived matrilineally,linguistics.berkeley.edu (2004). http://www.linguistics.berkeley.edu/~rosemary/55-2004-names.pdf, "Naming practices". A PDF file with a section on "Chinese naming practices (Mak et al., 2003)". Archived at WebCite https://www.webcitation.org/5xd5YvhE3?url=http://www.linguistics.berkeley.edu/%7Erosemary/55-2004-names.pdf on 1Apr11. although by the time of the
Shang dynasty The Shang dynasty (), also historically known as the Yin dynasty (), was a Chinese dynasty Dynasties in Chinese history, or Chinese dynasties, were hereditary monarchical regimes that ruled over China during much of its history. From ...

Shang dynasty
(1600 to 1046 BCE) they had become patrilineal. (The first few sentences are accessible online via JSTOR at https://www.jstor.org/stable/2743616, i.e., p.753.) Chinese women do not change their names upon marriage. They can be referred to either as their full birth names or as their husband's surname plus the word for wife. In the past, women's given names were often not publicly known and women were referred in official documents by their family name plus the character "Shi" and when married by their husband's surname, their birth surname, and the character "Shi". In the Middle East and the
Arab world The Arab world ( ar, العالم العربي '), formally the Arab homeland ( '), also known as the Arab nation ( '), the Arabsphere, or the Arab states, consists of the 22 Arab countries The Arab world ( ar, العالم العربي '), ...

Arab world
, surnames have been and are still of great importance. An early form of tribal
nisba The Arabic language, Arabic word nisba (; also transcribed as ''nisbah'' or ''nisbat'') may refer to: * Arabic nouns and adjectives#Nisba, a suffix used to form adjectives in Arabic grammar, or the adjective resulting from this formation **comparati ...
s is attested among
Amorite The Amorites (; Sumerian language, Sumerian 𒈥𒌅 ''MAR.TU''; Akkadian language, Akkadian ''Amurrūm'' or ''Tidnum''; Egyptian language, Egyptian ''Amar''; he, אמורי ''ʼĔmōrī''; grc, Ἀμορραῖοι) were an ancient Semitic lan ...

Amorite
and
Aramean The Arameans (Old Aramaic Old Aramaic refers to the earliest stage of the Aramaic language Aramaic ( Classical Syriac: ''Arāmāyā''; Old Aramaic: ; Aramaic alphabet, Imperial Aramaic: ; Hebrew alphabet, square script ) is a language th ...
tribes in the early
Bronze Bronze is an alloy consisting primarily of copper, commonly with about 12–12.5% tin and often with the addition of other metals (such as aluminum, manganese, nickel or zinc) and sometimes non-metals or metalloids such as arsenic, phosphorus or ...
and
Iron Iron () is a with Fe (from la, ) and 26. It is a that belongs to the and of the . It is, on , right in front of (32.1% and 30.1%, respectively), forming much of Earth's and . It is the fourth most common . In its metallic state, iron ...
ages as early as 1800 BC. In the
Arab world The Arab world ( ar, العالم العربي '), formally the Arab homeland ( '), also known as the Arab nation ( '), the Arabsphere, or the Arab states, consists of the 22 Arab countries The Arab world ( ar, العالم العربي '), ...

Arab world
, The use of
patronymics A patronymic, or patronym, is a component of a personal name based on the given name of one's father, grandfather (avonymic), or an earlier male ancestor. A component of a name based on the name of one's mother or a female ancestor is a matron ...
is well attested in the early
Islam Islam (; ar, اَلْإِسْلَامُ, al-’Islām, "submission
o God Oh God may refer to: * An exclamation; similar to "oh no", "oh yes", "oh my", "aw goodness", "ah gosh", "ah gawd"; see interjection An interjection is a word or expression that occurs as an utterance on its own and expresses a spontaneous feeling o ...
) is an religion teaching that is a of .Peters, F. E. 2009. "Allāh." In , edited by J. L. Esposito. Oxford: . . (See alsoquick reference) " e Muslims' und ...
ic period (640-900 CE). Arab family names often denote either one's
tribe The term tribe is used in many different contexts to refer to a category of human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipedality, opposable thumbs, hairlessness, and intellig ...

tribe
,
profession A Profession is a disciplined group of individuals who adhere to ethical standards and who hold themselves out as, and are accepted by the public as possessing special knowledge and skills in a widely recognised body of learning derived from re ...

profession
, a famous ancestor, or the place of origin; but they weren't universal. For example,
Hunayn ibn Ishaq Hunayn ibn Ishaq al-Ibadi (also Hunain or Hunein) ( ar, أبو زيد حنين بن إسحاق العبادي; , la, Iohannitius, syr, ܚܢܝܢ ܒܪ ܐܝܣܚܩ) (809–873) was an influential Assyrian Nestorian Christian Nestorianism is a ...
(fl. 850 CE) was known by the nisbah "al-'Ibadi", a federation of Arab Christian tribes that lived in
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in the ...

Mesopotamia
prior to the advent of
Islam Islam (; ar, اَلْإِسْلَامُ, al-’Islām, "submission
o God Oh God may refer to: * An exclamation; similar to "oh no", "oh yes", "oh my", "aw goodness", "ah gosh", "ah gawd"; see interjection An interjection is a word or expression that occurs as an utterance on its own and expresses a spontaneous feeling o ...
) is an religion teaching that is a of .Peters, F. E. 2009. "Allāh." In , edited by J. L. Esposito. Oxford: . . (See alsoquick reference) " e Muslims' und ...
. Hamdan ibn al-Ash'ath (fl. 874 CE), the founder of
Qarmatian The Qarmatians ( ar, قرامطة, Qarāmiṭa; ; also transliterated Carmathians, Qarmathians, Karmathians, Karmatian, or Karmathian, Qarmatī, Qarāmiṭah) were a dynasty of a syncretic Syncretism is the combining of different beliefs, wh ...
Isma'ilism Ismāʿīlism (Arabic language, Arabic: , ) is a branch or sub-sect of Shia Islam. The Ismāʿīlī () get their name from their acceptance of Imam Isma'il ibn Jafar as the appointed spiritual successor (Imamate in Nizari doctrine, imām) to J ...
, was surnamed "Qarmat", an
Aramaic Aramaic (: ''Arāmāyā''; : ; : ; ) is a language that originated among the in the ancient , at the end of the , and later became one of the most prominent languages of the . During its three thousand years long history, Aramaic went thr ...
word which probably meant "red-eyed" or "Short-legged". The famous scholar
Rhazes Abū Bakr Muḥammad ibn Zakariyyāʾ al-Rāzī ( ar, أبو بكر محمد بن زكرياء الرازي, also known by his Persian name Rāzī and by his Latinization (literature), Latinized name Rhazes), 864 or 865 – 925 or 935  ...
() is referred to as "al-Razi" (lit. the one from Ray) due to his origins from the city of
Ray Ray may refer to: Science and mathematics * Ray (geometry), half of a line proceeding from an initial point * Ray (graph theory), an infinite sequence of vertices such that each vertex appears at most once in the sequence and each two consecutive ...
, Iran. In the
Levant The Levant () is an term referring to a large area in the region of . In its narrowest sense, it is equivalent to the , which included present-day , , , , and most of southwest of the middle . In its widest historical sense, the Levant ...

Levant
, surnames were in use as early as the
High Middle Ages The High Middle Ages, or High Medieval Period, was the period Period may refer to: Common uses * Era, a length or span of time * Full stop (or period), a punctuation mark Arts, entertainment, and media * Period (music), a concept in musical c ...
and it was common for people to derive their surname from a distant ancestor, and historically the surname would be often preceded with 'ibn' or 'son of'. In Ancient Greece, during some periods, formal identification commonly included the place of origin. At other times clan names and
patronymic A patronymic, or patronym, is a component of a based on the of one's father, grandfather (avonymic), or an earlier male ancestor. A component of a name based on the name of one's mother or a female ancestor is a . A name based on the name of ...
s ("son of") were also common, as in
Aristides Aristides (; grc-gre, Ἀριστείδης, Aristeídēs ; 530–468 BC) was an ancient Athenian statesman. Nicknamed "the Just", he flourished in the early quarter of Athens' Classical period and is remembered for his generalship in the ...

Aristides
Lysimachu. For example,
Alexander the Great Alexander III of Macedon ( grc-gre, Αλέξανδρος}, ; 20/21 July 356 BC – 10/11 June 323 BC), commonly known as Alexander the Great, was a king (') of the kingdom of and a member of the . He was born in in 356 BC and succeeded his ...

Alexander the Great
was known as ''Heracleides'', as a supposed descendant of
Heracles Heracles ( ; grc-gre, Ἡρακλῆς, , glory/fame of ), born Alcaeus (, ''Alkaios'') or Alcides (, ''Alkeidēs''), was a divine in , the son of and , and the foster son of .By his adoptive descent through Amphitryon, Heracles receive ...

Heracles
, and by the dynastic name ''Karanos''/''Caranus'', which referred to the founder of the dynasty to which he belonged. In none of these cases, though, were these names considered essential parts of the person's name, nor were they explicitly inherited in the manner that is common in many cultures today. In the Roman Empire, the bestowal and use of clan and family names waxed and waned with changes in the various subcultures of the realm. (''See
Roman naming conventions Over the course of some fourteen centuries, the Romans Roman or Romans usually refers to: *Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of ...
.'') The
nomen Nomen may refer to: *Nomen (Roman name) The (or simply ) was a hereditary name borne by the peoples of ancient Italy and later by the citizens of the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire. It was originally the name of one's (family or clan) by p ...
, which was the
gens In ancient Rome, a gens ( or ), plural gentes, was a family consisting of individuals who shared the same Roman naming conventions#Nomen, nomen and who claimed descent from a common ancestor. A branch of a gens was called a ''stirps'' (plural ''s ...
name, was inherited much like last names are, but their purposes were quite different. In later Europe, last names were developed to distinguish between individuals. The nomen was to identify group kinship. The
praenomen The praenomen (; plural: praenomina) was a given name, personal name chosen by the parents of a Ancient Rome, Roman child. It was first bestowed on the ''dies lustricus'' (day of Lustratio, lustration), the eighth day after the birth of a girl, or ...
was the "forename" and was originally used like a first name today. In later times, the praenomen became less useful for distinguishing individuals as it was often passed down for males along with the nomen (like an entire culture where "John Smith, Jr." was the norm), and females were often given no praenomen at all or functional names like Major and Minor ("Older" and "Younger") or Maxima, Maio, and Mino ("Biggest," "Middle," "Littlest") or ordinal numbers, rather than what we might think of as names: Prima, Secunda, Tertia, Quarta, etc. Around this time, the nomen became followed by one or more additional names called
cognomen A ''cognomen'' (, ; Latin plural ''cognomina''; from ''con-'' "together with" and ''(g)nomen'' "name") was the third name of a citizen of ancient Rome, under Roman naming conventions. Initially, it was a nickname, but lost that purpose when it beca ...
s. It became usual that one of these cognomens was inherited, but as the praenomen and nomen became more rigidly used and less useful for identifying individuals, additional personal cognomens were more often used, to the point that first the praenomen and then the nomen fell out of use entirely. With the gradual influence of Greek and Christian culture throughout the Empire, Christian religious names were sometimes put in front of traditional cognomens, but eventually people reverted to single names. By the time of the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century, family names were uncommon in the
Eastern Roman Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn R ...

Eastern Roman Empire
. In Western Europe, where Germanic culture dominated the aristocracy, family names were almost non-existent. They would not significantly reappear again in Eastern Roman society until the 10th century, apparently influenced by the familial affiliations of the Armenian military aristocracy. The practice of using family names spread through the Eastern Roman Empire and gradually into Western Europe, although it was not until the modern era that family names came to be explicitly inherited as they are today. In Ireland, the use of surnames has a very old history. Ireland was the first country in Europe to use fixed surnames. Irish surnames are the oldest surnames in Europe. In medieval Spain, a patronymic system was used. For example, Álvaro, the son of Rodrigo would be named Álvaro Rodríguez. His son, Juan, would not be named Juan Rodríguez, but Juan Álvarez. Over time, many of these patronymics became family names and are some of the most common names in the Spanish-speaking world. Other sources of surnames are personal appearance or habit, e.g. Delgado ("thin") and Moreno ("dark"); geographic location or ethnicity, e.g. Alemán ("German"); or occupations, e.g. Molinero ("miller"), Zapatero ("shoe-maker") and Guerrero ("warrior"), although occupational names are much more often found in a shortened form referring to the trade itself, e.g. Molina ("mill"), Guerra ("war"), or Zapata (archaic form of ''zapato'', "shoe"). In England, the introduction of family names is generally attributed to the preparation of the
Domesday Book Domesday Book () – the spelling of "Doomsday Book" – is a manuscript record of the "Great Survey" of much of England and parts of Wales completed in 1086 by order of William I, known as . Domesday has long been associated with the Latin p ...
in 1086, following the
Norman conquest The Norman Conquest (or the Conquest) was the 11th-century invasion and occupation of England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and ...
. Evidence indicates that surnames were first adopted among the feudal nobility and gentry, and slowly spread to other parts of society. Some of the early Norman nobility who arrived in England during the Norman conquest differentiated themselves by affixing 'de' (of) before the name of their village in France. This is what is known as a territorial surname, a consequence of feudal landownership. In medieval times in France, such a name indicated lordship, or ownership, of the village. Some early Norman nobles in England chose to drop the French derivations and call themselves instead after their new English holdings. Surnames were uncommon prior to the 12th century, and still somewhat rare into the 13th; most European surnames were originally occupational or locational, and served to distinguish one person from another if they happened to live near one another (e.g., two different people named John could conceivably be identified as 'John Butcher' and 'John Chandler'). This still happens, in some communities where a surname is particularly common. By 1400, most
English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading lan ...
and some
Scottish Scottish usually refers to something of, from, or related to Scotland, including: *Scottish Gaelic, a Celtic Goidelic language of the Indo-European language family native to Scotland *Scottish English *Scottish national identity, the Scottish iden ...
people used surnames, but many Scottish and Welsh people did not adopt surnames until the 17th century, or later. A four-year study led by the
University of the West of England The University of the West of England, Bristol (UWE Bristol) is a Public university, public Research universities, research university, located in and around Bristol, England, which received university status in 1992. In common with the Universi ...
, which concluded in 2016, analysed sources dating from the 11th to the 19th century to explain the origins of the surnames in the
British Isles The British Isles are a in the North off the north-western coast of , consisting of the islands of , , the , the and over six thousand smaller islands."British Isles", ' They have a total area of and a combined population of almost 72&nb ...

British Isles
. The study found that over 90% of the 45,602 surnames in the dictionary are native to Britain and Ireland, with the most common in the UK being
Smith Smith or Smithing is a craft A craft or trade is a pastime or an occupation that requires particular skills and knowledge of skilled work. In a historical sense, particularly the Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Age ...
,
Jones Jones may refer to: People * Jones (surname), a common Welsh and English surname * List of people with surname Jones * Jones (singer), a British singer-songwriter Arts and entertainment * Jones (Animal Farm), Jones (''Animal Farm''), a human chara ...
,
Williams Williams may refer to: People * Williams (surname), a surname English in origin, but popular in Wales, 3rd most common in the United Kingdom Places Astronomy * Williams (lunar crater) * Williams (Martian crater) Australia *Williams, Western A ...
,
Brown Brown is a composite color Color (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United State ...
,
Taylor Taylor, Taylors or Taylor's may refer to: People * Taylor (surname) Taylor is a surname used in the British Isles of French name, French origin which came from the Normans, Norman occupational surname (meaning ''tailor'') in France. derived fr ...
,
Davies Davies is a patronymic Welsh language, Welsh surname. There are two main theories concerning its origin, neither of which has been definitively proven. The first theory contends that it may be a corruption of Kingdom of Dyfed, Dyfed, the name of ...

Davies
, and
Wilson Wilson may refer to: Name *Wilson (name) ** List of people with surname Wilson ** List of people with given name Wilson Places Australia *Wilson, South Australia * Wilson, Western Australia * Wilson Inlet, Western Australia * Wilson Reef, ...
. The findings have been published in the ''Oxford English Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland'', with project leader, Professor Richard Coates calling the study "more detailed and accurate" than those before. He elaborated on the origins; "Some surnames have origins that are occupational – obvious examples are Smith and Baker. Other names can be linked to a place, for example, Hill or Green, which relates to a village green. Surnames that are 'patronymic' are those which originally enshrined the father's name – such as
Jackson Jackson may refer to: People * Jackson (name), including a list of people with the surname or given name, with nicknames including "Jackson" "Jacky" or "Jack" Places Australia *Jackson, Queensland, a town in the Maranoa Region *Jackson North, ...
, or Jenkinson. There are also names where the origin describes the original bearer such as Brown, Short, or Thin – though Short may in fact be an ironic 'nickname' surname for a tall person."


Modern era

During the modern era, many cultures around the world adopted family names, particularly for administrative reasons, especially during the age of European expansion and particularly since 1600. Notable examples include the Netherlands (1795–1811), Japan (1870s), Thailand (1920), and Turkey (1934). The structure of the
Japanese name in modern times consist of a family name In some cultures, a surname, family name, or last name is the portion of one's personal name that indicates their family, tribe or community. Practices vary by culture. The family name may be plac ...
was formalized by the government as ''family name'' + ''given name'' in 1868. Nonetheless, the use of surnames is not universal: Icelanders, Burmese, Javanese, and many people groups in East Africa do not use family names. Family names sometimes change or are replaced by non-family-name surnames under political pressure to avoid persecution. Examples are the cases with
Chinese Indonesians Chinese Indonesians ( Indonesian: ''Orang Indonesia keturunan Tionghoa'') or (in Indonesian) ''Orang Tionghoa Indonesia'' & colloquially Chindos, are Indonesians whose ancestors arrived from China China, officially the People's Republic o ...
and Chinese Thais after migration there during the 20th century or the Jews who fled to different European countries to avoid persecution from the Nazis during World War II. Other ethnic groups have been forced to change or add surnames to conform with the cultural norms of the dominant culture, such as in the case of enslaved people and indigenous people of the Americas.


Family name discrimination against women

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Henry VIII
(ruled 1509–1547) ordered that marital births be recorded under the surname of the father. In England and cultures derived from there, there has long been a tradition for a woman to change her surname upon marriage from her
birth name __NOTOC__ A birth name is the name of the person given upon their birth. The term may be applied to the surname In some cultures, a surname, family name, or last name is the portion of one's personal name 300px, First/given, middle and l ...
to her husband's family name. (See
Maiden and married names When a person (traditionally the wife in many cultures) assumes the family name In some cultures, a surname, family name, or last name is the portion of one's personal name that indicates their family, tribe or community. Practices vary by c ...
.) In the Middle Ages, when a man from a lower-status family married an only daughter from a higher-status family, he would often adopt the wife's family name. In the 18th and 19th centuries in Britain, bequests were sometimes made contingent upon a man's changing (or hyphenating) his family name, so that the name of the
testator A testator () is a person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason Reason is the capacity of consciously applying logic by Logical consequence, drawing conclusions from new or exis ...
continued. The United States followed the naming customs and practices of English common law and traditions until recent times. The first known instance in the United States of a woman insisting on the use of her birth name was that of
Lucy Stone Lucy Stone (August 13, 1818 – October 18, 1893) was a prominent U.S. orator, Abolitionism in the United States, abolitionist, and suffragist, and a vocal advocate and organizer promoting women's rights movement, rights for women. In 1847, St ...

Lucy Stone
in 1855, and there has been a general increase in the rate of women using their birth name. Beginning in the latter half of the 20th century, traditional naming practices writes one commentator, were recognized as "cominto conflict with current sensitivities about children's and women's rights". Those changes accelerated a shift away from the interests of the parents to a focus on the best interests of the child. The law in this area continues to evolve today mainly in the context of paternity and custody actions. Naming conventions in the US have gone through periods of flux, however, and the 1990s saw a decline in the percentage of name retention among women. As of 2006, more than 80% of American women adopted the husband's family name after marriage. It is rare but not unknown for an English-speaking man to take his wife's family name, whether for personal reasons or as a matter of tradition (such as among
matrilineal Matrilineality is the tracing of kinship through the female line. It may also correlate with a social system in which each person is identified with their matriline – their mother's Lineage (anthropology), lineage – and which can inv ...
Canadian aboriginal groups, such as the
Haida Haida may refer to: Places * Haida, an old name for Nový Bor * Haida Gwaii, meaning "Islands of the People", formerly called the Queen Charlotte Islands * Haida Islands, a different archipelago near Bella Bella, British Columbia Ships * , a 190 ...
and
Gitxsan Gitxsan (also spelled Gitksan) are an Indigenous people Indigenous peoples, also referred to as First people, Aboriginal people, Native people, or autochthonous people, are culturally distinct ethnic groups who are native to a particular plac ...
). Upon marriage to a woman, men in the United States can easily change their surnames to that of their wives, or adopt a combination of both names with the federal government, through the
Social Security Administration The United States Social Security Administration (SSA) is an independent agency A regulatory agency or regulatory authority, is a Public benefit corporation Public-benefit corporation is a term that has different meanings in different jurisdic ...
. Men may face difficulty doing so on the state level in some states. It is exceedingly rare but does occur in the United States, where a married couple may choose an entirely new last name by going through a legal change of name. As an alternative, both spouses may adopt a
double-barrelled name In the Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town in the US *Western Creek, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western Junction, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western world ...
. For instance, when John Smith and Mary Jones marry each other, they may become known as "John Smith-Jones" and "Mary Smith-Jones". A spouse may also opt to use their birth name as a middle name, and e.g. become known as "Mary Jones Smith". An additional option, although rarely practiced, is the adoption of the last name derived from a blend of the prior names, such as "Simones", which also requires a legal name change. Some couples keep their own last names but give their children hyphenated or combined surnames. In 1979, the United Nations adopted the ''
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) is an international treaty adopted in 1979 by the United Nations General Assembly. Described as an international bill of rights for women, it was instituted o ...
'' ("CEDAW"), which declared in effect that women and men, and specifically wife and husband, shall have the same rights to choose a "family name", as well as a profession and an occupation. In some places, civil rights lawsuits or constitutional amendments changed the law so that men could also easily change their married names (e.g., in British Columbia and California).
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Québec
law permits neither spouse to change surnames. In France, until 1 January 2005, children were required by law to take the surname of their father. Article 311-21 of the French
Civil code A civil code is a codification of private law relating to property law, property, family law, family, and law of obligations, obligations. A jurisdiction that has a civil code generally also has a code of civil procedure. In some jurisdictions w ...
now permits parents to give their children the family name of either their father, mother, or hyphenation of both – although no more than two names can be hyphenated. In cases of disagreement, both names are used in alphabetical order. This brought France into line with a 1978 declaration by the
Council of Europe The Council of Europe (CoE; french: Conseil de l'Europe, ) is an international organization, international organisation founded in the wake of World War II to uphold European Convention on Human Rights, human rights, democracy and the Law in Eu ...

Council of Europe
requiring member governments to take measures to adopt equality of rights in the transmission of family names, a measure that was echoed by the United Nations in 1979. Similar measures were adopted by
West Germany ) , capital = Bonnf , largest_city = Hamburg en, Hamburgian(s) , timezone1 = Central European Time, CET , utc_offset1 = +1 , timezone1_DST = Central Eu ...
(1976), Sweden (1982),
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Denmark
(1983), and Spain (1999). The European Community has been active in eliminating gender discrimination. Several cases concerning discrimination in family names have reached the courts. ''Burghartz v. Switzerland'' challenged the lack of an option for husbands to add the wife's surname to his surname, which they had chosen as the family name when this option was available for women. ''Losonci Rose and Rose v. Switzerland'' challenged a prohibition on foreign men married to Swiss women keeping their surname if this option was provided in their national law, an option available to women. ''Ünal Tekeli v. Turkey'' challenged prohibitions on women using their surname as the family name, an option only available to men. The Court found all these laws to be in violation of the convention. In the Czech Republic, only recently women have been allowed by a law to use family names without the ending -ová behind the name of their father or husband (so-called ''přechýlení''). This was seen as discriminatory by a part of the public.


Patronymic surnames

These are the oldest and most common type of surname. They may be a first name such as "Wilhelm", a
patronymic A patronymic, or patronym, is a component of a based on the of one's father, grandfather (avonymic), or an earlier male ancestor. A component of a name based on the name of one's mother or a female ancestor is a . A name based on the name of ...
such as "
AndersenAndersen () is a Danish-Norwegian Norwegian, Norwayan, or Norsk may refer to: *Something of, from, or related to Norway, a country in northwestern Europe *Norwegians, both a nation and an ethnic group native to Norway *Demographics of Norway *The N ...

Andersen
", a
matronymic A matronymic is a personal name Image:FML names-2.png, 300px, First/given, middle and last/family/surname with John Fitzgerald Kennedy as example. This shows a structure typical for the Anglosphere, among others. Other cultures use other struct ...
such as " Beaton", or a clan name such as " O'Brien". Multiple surnames may be derived from a single given name: e.g. there are thought to be over 90 Italian surnames based on the given name "
GiovanniGiovanni may refer to: * Giovanni (name), an Italian male given name and surname * Giovanni (meteorology), a Web interface for users to analyze NASA's gridded data * ''Don Giovanni'', a 1787 opera by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, based on the legend of D ...
". Hanks, Patrick and Hodges, Flavia. ''A Dictionary of Surnames''. Oxford University Press, 1989. . Patronymic surnames can be a parent's name without modification (Ali Mohamed is Mohamed's son), preceded by a modifying word/character (bin Abdulaziz, Mac Donald), or modified by affixes (Stefanović, Petrov, Jones, Olsen, López, Price, Dēmētrópoulos, Fitzgerald). There is a wide range of family name affixes with a patronymic function. Patronymic surnames can be actively changing with each generation (Senai Abraham father of Zerezghi Senai father of Afwerki Zerezghi) or derived from historical patronymics but now consistent between generations (as in Sarah Jones whose father is Benjamin Jones, and all her paternal grandfathers surnamed Jones back 200 years). Patronymics can represent a single generation (Ali Mohamed is Mohamed's son) or multiple generations (Lemlem Mengesha Abraha is Lemlem son of Mengesha son of Abraha, his son could be Tamrat Lemlem Mengesha). See
Patronymic surname A patronymic surname is a surname In some cultures, a surname, family name, or last name is the portion of one's personal name that indicates their family, tribe or community. Practices vary by culture. The family name may be placed at eit ...
for specifics on cultural differences. See family name affixes for a list of specific prefixes and suffixes with their meanings and associated languages.


Examples

* Patronal from patronage (''Hickman'' meaning Hick's man, where Hick is a pet form of the name Richard) or strong ties of religion ''Kilpatrick'' (follower of Patrick) or ''Kilbride'' (follower of
Bridget Bridget, Bridgit, Briget or Brigid is a Goidelic languages, Gaelic/Irish language, Irish female name derived from the noun ''brígh'', meaning "power, strength, vigor, virtue". An alternate meaning of the name is "exalted one". Its popularity, esp ...
). *
Patronymic A patronymic, or patronym, is a component of a based on the of one's father, grandfather (avonymic), or an earlier male ancestor. A component of a name based on the name of one's mother or a female ancestor is a . A name based on the name of ...
s,
matronymic A matronymic is a personal name Image:FML names-2.png, 300px, First/given, middle and last/family/surname with John Fitzgerald Kennedy as example. This shows a structure typical for the Anglosphere, among others. Other cultures use other struct ...
s or ancestral, often from a person's given name. e.g., from male name: ''
Richardson Richardson may refer to: People * Richardson (surname), an English and Scottish surname Places Australia *Richardson, Australian Capital Territory Canada *Richardson Islands, Nunavut *Richardson Mountains, mountain range in northern Yukon Uni ...
'', ''
Stephenson Stephenson is a medieval patronymic surname A patronymic surname is a surname originated from the given name of the father or a patrilineal ancestor. Different cultures have different ways of producing patronymic surnames. For example, ear ...

Stephenson
'', ''
Jones Jones may refer to: People * Jones (surname), a common Welsh and English surname * List of people with surname Jones * Jones (singer), a British singer-songwriter Arts and entertainment * Jones (Animal Farm), Jones (''Animal Farm''), a human chara ...
'' (Welsh for Johnson), ''
Williams Williams may refer to: People * Williams (surname), a surname English in origin, but popular in Wales, 3rd most common in the United Kingdom Places Astronomy * Williams (lunar crater) * Williams (Martian crater) Australia *Williams, Western A ...
'', ''
Jackson Jackson may refer to: People * Jackson (name), including a list of people with the surname or given name, with nicknames including "Jackson" "Jacky" or "Jack" Places Australia *Jackson, Queensland, a town in the Maranoa Region *Jackson North, ...
'', ''
Wilson Wilson may refer to: Name *Wilson (name) ** List of people with surname Wilson ** List of people with given name Wilson Places Australia *Wilson, South Australia * Wilson, Western Australia * Wilson Inlet, Western Australia * Wilson Reef, ...
'', '' Thompson'', ''
BensonBenson may refer to: Animals *Benson (fish), largest common carp caught in Britain Places Geography Canada *Rural Municipality of Benson No. 35, Saskatchewan; rural municipality *Benson, Saskatchewan; hamlet United Kingdom *Benson, Oxfordshire ...
'', ''
Johnson Johnson is a surname of English name, English and Scottish name, Scottish origin.. The name itself is a patronym of the given name ''John (first name), John'', literally meaning "son of John". The name ''John'' derives from Latin ''Johannes'', whi ...

Johnson
'', ''
Harris Harris may refer to: Places Canada * Harris, Ontario * Northland Pyrite Mine (also known as Harris Mine) * Harris, Saskatchewan * Rural Municipality of Harris No. 316, Saskatchewan Scotland * Harris, Outer Hebrides (sometimes called the Isle of H ...
'', ''Evans (surname), Evans'', ''Simpson (surname), Simpson'', ''Willis (surname), Willis'', ''Fox (surname), Fox'', ''
Davies Davies is a patronymic Welsh language, Welsh surname. There are two main theories concerning its origin, neither of which has been definitively proven. The first theory contends that it may be a corruption of Kingdom of Dyfed, Dyfed, the name of ...

Davies
'', ''Reynolds (surname), Reynolds'', ''Adams (surname), Adams'', ''Dawson (surname), Dawson'', ''Lewis (surname), Lewis'', ''Rogers (surname), Rogers'', ''Murphy'', ''Morrow (surname), Morrow'', ''Nicholson (surname), Nicholson'', ''Robinson (name), Robinson'', ''Powell (surname), Powell'', ''Ferguson (name), Ferguson'', ''Davis (surname), Davis'', ''Edwards (surname), Edwards'', ''Hudson (surname), Hudson'', ''Roberts (surname), Roberts'', ''Harrison (name), Harrison'', ''Watson (surname), Watson'', or female names ''Molson'' (from Moll for Mary), ''Madison (name), Madison'' (from Maud), ''Emmott'' (from Emma), ''Marriott'' (from Mary) or from a clan name (for those of Scottish origin, e.g., ''MacDonald'', ''Clan Forbes, Forbes'', ''Henderson (surname), Henderson'', ''Armstrong (surname), Armstrong'', ''Grant (surname), Grant'', ''Cameron (surname), Cameron'', ''Stewart (name), Stewart'', ''Douglas (surname), Douglas'', ''Crawford (name), Crawford'', ''Campbell (surname), Campbell'', ''Hunter (name), Hunter'') with "Mac" Goidelic languages, Gaelic for son.


Occupational surnames

Vocation, Occupational names include ''
Smith Smith or Smithing is a craft A craft or trade is a pastime or an occupation that requires particular skills and knowledge of skilled work. In a historical sense, particularly the Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Age ...
'' (for a metalsmith, smith), ''Miller (name), Miller'' (for a miller), ''Farmer (surname), Farmer'' (for Farm (revenue leasing), tax farmers or sometimes farmers), ''Thatcher (profession), Thatcher'' (for a thatching, thatcher), ''Shepherd (surname), Shepherd'' (for a shepherd), ''Potter (surname), Potter'' (for a pottery, potter), and so on, as well as non-English ones, such as the German ''Eisenhauer'' (iron hewer, later Anglicized in America as ''Eisenhower (name), Eisenhower'') or ''Schneider (surname), Schneider'' (tailor) – or, as in English, ''Schmidt (surname), Schmidt'' (smith). There are also more complicated names based on occupational titles. In England it was common for servants to take a modified version of their employer's occupation or first name as their last name, adding the letter ''s'' to the word, although this formation could also be a
patronymic A patronymic, or patronym, is a component of a based on the of one's father, grandfather (avonymic), or an earlier male ancestor. A component of a name based on the name of one's mother or a female ancestor is a . A name based on the name of ...
. For instance, the surname ''Vickers (surname), Vickers'' is thought to have arisen as an occupational name adopted by the servant of a vicar,Reaney, P.H., and Wilson, R.M. ''A Dictionary of English Surnames.'' Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997. Rev. 3rd ed. . while ''Roberts (surname), Roberts'' could have been adopted by either the son or the servant of a man named Robert. A subset of occupational names in English are names thought to be derived from the medieval Mystery play#English mystery plays, mystery plays. The participants would often play the same roles for life, passing the part down to their oldest sons. Names derived from this may include ''King (surname), King'', ''Lord (surname), Lord'' and ''Virgin''. The original meaning of names based on medieval occupations may no longer be obvious in modern English (so the surnames ''Cooper'', ''Chandler'', and ''Cutler'' come from the occupations of making barrels, candles, and cutlery, respectively).


Examples

''Archer (surname), Archer'', ''Bailey (surname), Bailey'', ''Bailhache (surname), Bailhache'', ''Baker (surname), Baker'', ''Brewer (surname), Brewer'', ''Butcher (surname), Butcher'', ''Carpenter (surname), Carpenter'', ''Carter (name), Carter'', ''Chandler (surname), Chandler'', ''Clark'' or ''Clarke'', ''Collier (surname), Collier'', ''Cooper (surname), Cooper'', ''Cook (surname), Cook'' or ''Cooke (surname), Cooke'', ''Dempster'', ''Dyer (surname), Dyer'', ''Farmer (surname), Farmer'', ''Faulkner (surname), Faulkner'', ''Ferrari (surname), Ferrari'', ''Ferrero (surname), Ferrero'', ''Fisher (surname), Fisher'', ''Fisichella (surname), Fisichella'', ''Fletcher (surname), Fletcher'', ''Fowler (surname), Fowler'', ''Fuller (surname), Fuller'', ''Gardener'', ''Glover (surname), Glover'', ''Hayward (profession), Hayward'', ''Hawkins (name), Hawkins'', ''Head'', ''Hunt (surname), Hunt'' or ''Hunter (surname), Hunter'', ''Judge (surname), Judge'', ''Knight (surname), Knight'', ''Mason (surname), Mason'', ''Miller (name), Miller'', ''Mower'', ''Page (surname), Page'', ''Palmer (surname), Palmer'', ''Parker (surname), Parker'', ''Porter (name), Porter'', ''Potter (name), Potter'', ''Reeve (surname), Reeve'' or ''Reeves (surname), Reeves'', ''Sawyer (occupation), Sawyer'', ''Shoemaker (surname), Shoemaker'', ''Slater'', ''
Smith Smith or Smithing is a craft A craft or trade is a pastime or an occupation that requires particular skills and knowledge of skilled work. In a historical sense, particularly the Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Age ...
'', ''Stringer (surname), Stringer'', ''
Taylor Taylor, Taylors or Taylor's may refer to: People * Taylor (surname) Taylor is a surname used in the British Isles of French name, French origin which came from the Normans, Norman occupational surname (meaning ''tailor'') in France. derived fr ...
'', ''Thatcher (profession), Thacker'' or ''Thatcher (profession), Thatcher'', ''Turner (surname), Turner'', ''Walker (surname), Walker'', ''Weaver (surname), Weaver'', ''Woodman'' and ''Wright'' (or variations such as ''Cartwright (surname), Cartwright'' and ''Wainwright (name), Wainwright'').


Toponymic surnames

Location (toponymic, habitation) names derive from the inhabited location associated with the person given that name. Such locations can be any type of settlement, such as homesteads, farms, enclosures, villages, hamlets, strongholds, or cottages. One element of a habitation name may describe the type of settlement. Examples of Old English elements are frequently found in the second element of habitational names. The habitative elements in such names can differ in meaning, according to different periods, different locations, or with being used with certain other elements. For example, the Old English element ''tūn'' may have originally meant "enclosure" in one name, but can have meant "farmstead", "village", "manor", or "estate" in other names. Location names, or habitation names, may be as generic as "Monte" (Portuguese for "mountain"), "Górski" (Polish for "hill"), or "Pitt" (variant of "pit"), but may also refer to specific locations. "Washington", for instance, is thought to mean "the homestead of the family of Wassa",Cottle, Basil. ''Penguin Dictionary of Surnames''. Baltimore, MD: Penguin Books, 1967. No ISBN. while "Lucci" means "resident of Lucca". Although some surnames, such as "London", "Lisboa", or "Białystok" are derived from large cities, more people reflect the names of smaller communities, as in Ó Creachmhaoil, derived from a village in County Galway. This is thought to be due to the tendency in Europe during the Middle Ages for migration to chiefly be from smaller communities to the cities and the need for new arrivals to choose a defining surname.Bowman, William Dodgson. ''The Story of Surnames''. London, George Routledge & Sons, Ltd., 1932. No ISBN. In Portuguese-speaking countries, it is uncommon, but not unprecedented, to find surnames derived from names of countries, such as Portugal, França, Brasil, Holanda. Surnames derived from country names are also found in English, such as "England", "Wales", "Spain". Many Japanese name, Japanese surnames derive from geographical features; for example, Ishikawa (石川) means "stone river", Yamamoto (山本) means "the base of the mountain", and Inoue (井上) means "above the well". Arabic names sometimes contain surnames that denote the city of origin. For example, in cases of Saddam Hussein al Tikriti, meaning Saddam Hussein originated from Tikrit, a city in Iraq. This component of the name is called a ''Nisbat (onomastics), nisbah''.


Examples

* Estate names For those descended from land-owners, the name of their holdings, castle, manor or estate, e.g. Ernle, House of Windsor, Windsor, Staunton (surname), Staunton * Habitation (place) names e.g., Burton (name), Burton, Flint (surname), Flint, Hamilton (surname and title), Hamilton, London (name), London, Laughton (surname), Laughton, Leighton (surname), Leighton, Murray (surname), Murray, Sutton (surname), Sutton, Tremblay (surname), Tremblay * Topographic names (geographical features) e.g., Bridge (surname), Bridge or Bridges (surname), Bridges, Brook (surname), Brook or Brooks (surname), Brooks, Bush (surname), Bush, Camp (surname), Camp, Hill (surname), Hill, Lake (surname), Lake, Lee (English name), Lee or Leigh (surname), Leigh, Wood (surname), Wood, Grove (surname), Grove, Holmes (surname), Holmes, Forest (name), Forest, Underwood (surname), Underwood, Hall (surname), Hall, Field (surname), Field, Stone (surname), Stone, Morley (name), Morley, Moore (surname), Moore, Perry (surname), Perry


Cognominal surnames

This is the broadest class of surnames, encompassing many types of origin. These include names, also known as eke-names, based on appearance such as "Schwartzkopf", "Short", and possibly "Caesar", and names based on temperament and personality such as "Daft", "Gutman", and "Maiden", which, according to a number of sources, was an English nickname meaning "effeminate".


Examples

* Physical attributes e.g., Short,
Brown Brown is a composite color Color (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United State ...
, Black, Whitehead, Young (surname), Young, Long, White (surname), White, Stark, Fair * Temperament and personality e.g. Daft, Gutman, Maiden, Smart, Happy


Acquired and ornamental surnames

Ornamental surnames are made up of names, not specific to any attribute (place, parentage, occupation, caste) of the first person to acquire the name, and stem from the middle class's desire for their own hereditary names like the nobles. They were generally acquired later in history and generally when those without surnames needed them. They were originally claimed by middle-class people of the Norse naming traditions who desired names like the nobles and thus referred to as "ornamental". Most other traditions refer to them as "acquired". They might be given to people newly immigrated, conquered, or converted, as well as those with unknown parentage, formerly enslaved, or from parentage without a surname tradition. Ornamental surnames are more common in communities that adopted (or were forced to adopt) surnames in the 18th and 19th centuries. They occur commonly in Scandinavia, among Sinti and Roma and Jews in Germany and Austria. Examples include "Steinbach" ("derived from a place called Steinbach"), "Rosenberg" ("rose mountain"), and "Winterstein" (derived from a place called Winterstein). Forced adoption in the 19th century is the source of German, Polish and even Italian ornamental surnames for Latvians such as "Rozentāls (Rosental)" ("rose valley"), "Eizenbaums (Eisenbaum") ("steel wood"), "Freibergs (Freiberg)" ("free mountain"). In some cases, such as
Chinese Indonesians Chinese Indonesians ( Indonesian: ''Orang Indonesia keturunan Tionghoa'') or (in Indonesian) ''Orang Tionghoa Indonesia'' & colloquially Chindos, are Indonesians whose ancestors arrived from China China, officially the People's Republic o ...
and Chinese Thais, certain ethnic groups are subject to political pressure to change their surnames, in which case surnames can lose their family-name meaning. For instance, Indonesian business tycoon Liem Swie Liong (林绍良) "indonesianised" his name to Sudono Salim. In this case, "Liem" (林) was rendered by "Salim", a name of Arabic origin, while "Sudono", a Javanese name with the honorific prefix "su-" (of Sanskrit origin), was supposed to be a rendering of "Swie Liong". During the era of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade many Africans lost their native names and were forced by their owners to take the owners' surnames and any given name the "owner" or slave master desired. In the Americas, the family names of many African-Americans have their origins in slavery (''i.e.'' slave name). Many freed slaves either created family names themselves or adopted the name of their former master. In regions with a strong religious influence, newly acquired names were often given by the religious leaders as part of naming ceremonies. The religion dictated the type of surname but these are traditionally surnames associated with the religion.
Islam Islam (; ar, اَلْإِسْلَامُ, al-’Islām, "submission
o God Oh God may refer to: * An exclamation; similar to "oh no", "oh yes", "oh my", "aw goodness", "ah gosh", "ah gawd"; see interjection An interjection is a word or expression that occurs as an utterance on its own and expresses a spontaneous feeling o ...
) is an religion teaching that is a of .Peters, F. E. 2009. "Allāh." In , edited by J. L. Esposito. Oxford: . . (See alsoquick reference) " e Muslims' und ...
ic names often follow the Arabic patronymic naming conventions but include names like Mohamed or ibn Abihi, "son of his father". Catholic Church, Catholic names may have been influenced by the Saint on whose Calendar of saints, feast day the person was christened, for instance Toussaint (name), Toussaint and De Los Santos may have been christened on All Saints' Day. As Native Peoples of the Americas were assimilated by the conquering countries, they were often converted to the dominant religion, being christened with associated names (ie. de la Cruz). Others maintained a historical name, title, or byname of an ancestor translated into the new language (ie. RunningWolf). Yet others were simply given "appropriate sounding" invented names (as Markishtum for members of the Makah tribe). Another category of acquired names is Child abandonment, foundlings names. Historically, children born to unwed parents or extremely poor parents would be abandoned in a public place or anonymously placed in a Baby_hatch#History, foundling wheel. Such abandoned children might be claimed and named by religious figures, the community leaders, or adoptive parents. Some such children were given surnames that reflected their condition, like (Italian) Esposito, Innocenti (surname), Innocenti, Casagrande, Della Casagrande, Trovato, Abbandonata, or (Dutch) Vondeling, Verlaeten, Bijstand. Other children were named for the street/place they were found (Union, Holborn (disambiguation), Holborn, Liquorpond (street), di Palermo, Baan, Bijdam, van den Eyngel (shop name), van der Stoep (surname), van der Stoep, von Trapp), the date they were found (Monday (surname), Monday, Septembre, Spring, di Gennaio), or festival/feast day they found or christened (Easter, SanJosé). Some foundlings were given the name of whoever found them.


Gender-specific versions of surname

In some cultures and languages, especially the Baltic languages (Latvian and Lithuanian), and most of the Slavic languages (such as Bulgarian, Russian, Slovak, Czech, etc.) and some other nations – Greece and Iceland – surnames change form depending on the gender of the bearer. Some Slavic cultures originally distinguished the surnames of married and unmarried women by different suffixes, but this distinction is no longer widely observed. In Slavic languages, substantivized adjective surnames have commonly symmetrical adjective variants for males and females (Podwiński/Podwińska in Polish, Nový/Nová in Czech or Slovak, etc.). In the case of nominative and quasi-nominative surnames, the female variant is derived from the male variant by a possessive suffix (Novák/Nováková, Hromada/Hromadová). In Czech and Slovak, the pure possessive would be Novákova, Hromadova, but the surname evolved to a more adjectivized form Nováková, Hromadová, to suppress the historical possessivity. Some rare types of surnames are universal and gender-neutral: examples in Czech are Janů, Martinů, Fojtů, Kovářů. These are the archaic form of the possessive, related to the plural name of the family. Such rare surnames are also often used for transgender persons during transition because most common surnames are gender-specific. Some Czech dialects (Southwest-Bohemian) use the form "Novákojc" as informal for both genders. In the culture of the Sorbs (a.k.a. Wends or Lusatians), Sorbian languages, Sorbian used different female forms for unmarried daughters (Jordanojc, Nowcyc, Kubašec, Markulic), and for wives (Nowakowa, Budarka, Nowcyna, Markulina). In Polish, typical surnames for unmarried women ended -ówna, -anka, or -ianka, while the surnames of married women used the possessive suffixes -ina or -owa. The informal dialectal female form in Polish and Czech dialects was also -ka (Pawlaczka, Kubeška). With the exception of the -ski/-ska suffix, most feminine forms of surnames are seldom observed in Polish. In Czech, a trend to use male surnames for women is popular among cosmopolitans or celebrities, but is often criticized from patriotic views and can be seen as ridiculous and as degradation and disruption of Czech grammar. Adaptation of surnames of foreign women by the suffix "-ová" is currently a hot linguistic and political question in Czechia; it is massively advocated as well as criticized and opposed. Generally, inflected languages use names and surnames as living words, not as static identifiers. Thus, the pair or the family can be named by a plural form which can differ from the singular male and female form. For instance, when the male form is Novák and the female form Nováková, the family name is Novákovi in Czech and Novákovci in Slovak. When the male form is Hrubý and the female form is Hrubá, the plural family name is Hrubí (or "rodina Hrubých"). In Greece, if a man called Papadopoulos has a daughter, she will likely be named Papadopoulou (if the couple has decided their offspring will take his surname), the genitive form, as if the daughter is "of" a man named Papadopoulos. In Lithuania, if the husband is named Vilkas, his wife will be named Vilkienė and his unmarried daughter will be named Vilkaitė. Male surnames have suffixes -as, -is, -ius, or -us, unmarried girl surnames aitė, -ytė, -iūtė or -utė, wife surnames -ienė. These suffixes are also used for foreign names, exclusively for grammar; the surname of the present Archbishop of Canterbury, for example, becomes ''Velbis'' in Lithuanian, while his wife is ''Velbienė'', and his unmarried daughter, ''Velbaitė''. Latvian, like Lithuanian, use strictly feminized surnames for women, even in the case of foreign names. The function of the suffix is purely grammar. Male surnames ending -e or -a need not be modified for women. An exception is 1) the female surnames which correspond to nouns in the sixth declension with the ending "-s" – "Iron", ("iron"), "rock", 2) as well as surnames of both genders, which are written in the same nominative case because corresponds to nouns in the third declension ending in "-us" "Grigus", "Markus"; 3) surnames based on an adjective have indefinite suffixes typical of adjectives "-s, -a" ("Stalts", "Stalta") or the specified endings "-ais, -ā" ("Čaklais", "Čaklā") ("diligent"). In Iceland, surnames have a gender-specific suffix (-dóttir = daughter, -son = son). Finnish used gender-specific suffixes up to 1929 when the Marriage Act forced women to use the husband's form of the surname. In 1985, this clause was removed from the act.


Other

The meanings of some names are unknown or unclear. The most common European name in this category may be the English (Irish derivative) name Ryan (surname), Ryan, which means 'little king' in Irish. Also, Celtic origin of the name Arthur, meaning 'Artur, bear'. Other surnames may have arisen from more than one source: the name DeLuca, De Luca, for instance, likely arose either in or near Lucania or in the family of someone named Lucas or Lucius; in some instances, however, the name may have arisen from Lucca, with the spelling and pronunciation changing over time and with emigration. The same name may appear in different cultures by coincidence or romanization; the surname Lee (English name), Lee is used in English culture, but is also a romanization of the Chinese surname ''Li (surname 李), Li''. Surname origins have been the subject of much folk etymology. In French Canada until the 19th century, several families adopted surnames that followed the family name in order to distinguish the various branches of a large family. Such a surname was preceded by the word ''dit'' ("so-called," lit. "said") and was known as a ''nom-dit'' ("said-name"). (Compare with some
Roman naming conventions Over the course of some fourteen centuries, the Romans Roman or Romans usually refers to: *Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of ...
.) While this tradition is no longer in use, in many cases the ''nom-dit'' has come to replace the original family name. Thus the Bourbeau family has split into Bourbeau dit Verville, Bourbeau dit Lacourse, and Bourbeau dit Beauchesne. In many cases, Verville, Lacourse, or Beauchesne has become the new family name. Likewise, the Rivard family has split into the Rivard dit Lavigne, Rivard dit Loranger and Rivard dit Lanoie. The origin of the ''nom-dit'' can vary. Often it denoted a geographical trait of the area where that branch of the family lived: Verville lived towards the city, Beauchesne lived near an oak tree, Larivière near a river, etc. Some of the oldest ''noms-dits'' are derived from the war name of a settler who served in the army or militia: Tranchemontagne ("mountain slasher"), Jolicœur ("braveheart"). Others denote a personal trait: Lacourse might have been a fast runner, Legrand was probably tall, etc. Similar in German it is with ''genannt'' – "Vietinghoff genannt Scheel".


Order of names

In many cultures (particularly in Culture of Europe, European and European-influenced cultures in the Americas, Oceania, etc., as well as West Asia/North Africa, South Asia, and most Sub-Saharan African cultures), the surname or family name ("last name") is placed after the personal, Given name, forename (in Europe) or given name ("first name"). In other cultures the surname is placed first, followed by the given name or names. The latter is often called the Name order, Eastern naming order because Europeans are most familiar with the examples from the East Asian cultural sphere, specifically, Chinese name, Greater China, Korean name, Korea (the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea), Japanese name, Japan, and Vietnamese name, Vietnam. This is also the case in Cambodia. The Telugu language, Telugu people of south India also place surname before personal name. There are some parts of Europe, in particular Hungary, Bavaria in Germany, and the Samis in Europe, that in some instances also follow the Eastern order. Since family names are normally written last in European societies, the terms last name or surname are commonly used for the family name, while in Japan (with vertical writing) the family name may be referred to as "upper name" (). When people from areas using Eastern naming order write their personal name in the Latin alphabet, it is common to reverse the order of the given and family names for the convenience of Westerners, so that they know which name is the family name for official/formal purposes. Reversing the order of names for the same reason is also Norm (social), customary for the Baltic Finns, Baltic Finnic peoples and the Hungarian people, Hungarians, but other Uralic languages, Uralic peoples traditionally did not have surnames, perhaps because of the clan structure of their societies. The Samis, depending on the circumstances of their names, either saw no change or did see a transformation of their name. For example: Sire in some cases became Siri, and Hætta Jáhkoš Ásslat became Aslak Hætta, Aslak Jacobsen Hætta – as was the Convention (norm), norm. Recently, integration into the EU and increased communications with foreigners prompted many Samis to reverse the order of their full name to given name followed by surname, to avoid their given name being mistaken for and used as a surname. Indian surnames may often denote village, profession, and/or caste and are invariably mentioned along with the personal/first names. However, hereditary last names are not universal. In Telugu language, Telugu-speaking families in south India, surname is placed before personal / first name and in most cases it is only shown as an initial (for example 'S.' for Suryapeth). In English and other languages like Spanish—although the usual order of names is "first middle last"—for the purpose of cataloging in libraries and in citing the names of authors in scholarly papers, the order is changed to "last, first middle," with the last and first names separated by a comma, and items are alphabetized by the last name. In France, Italy, Spain, Belgium and Latin America, administrative usage is to put the surname before the first on official documents.


Compound surnames

While in many countries surnames are usually one word, in others a surname may contain two words or more, as described below.


English compound surnames

Compound surnames in English and several other European cultures feature two (or occasionally more) words, often joined by a
hyphen The hyphen is a punctuation mark used to join word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical meaning (li ...
or hyphens. However, it is not unusual for compound surnames to be composed of separate words not linked by a hyphen, for example Iain Duncan Smith, a former leader of the Conservative Party (UK), British Conservative Party, whose surname is "Duncan Smith".


Surname affixes

Many surnames include prefixes that may or may not be separated by a space or punctuation from the main part of the surname. These are usually not considered true compound names, rather single surnames are made up of more than one word. These prefixes often give hints about the type or origin of the surname (patronymic, toponymic, notable lineage) and include words that mean from [a place or lineage], and son of/daughter of/child of. The common Celtic prefixes "Ó" or "Ua" (descendant of) and "Mac" or "Mag" (son of) can be spelled with the prefix as a separate word, yielding "Ó Briain" or "Mac Millan" as well as the anglicized "O'Brien" and "MacMillan" or "Macmillan". Other Irish prefixes include Ní, Nic (daughter of the son of), Mhic, and Uí (wife of the son of). A surname with the prefix "Fitz" can be spelled with the prefix as a separate word, as in "Fitz William", as well as "FitzWilliam" or "Fitzwilliam" (like, for example, Robert FitzRoy). Note that "Fitz" comes from French (fils) thus making these surnames a form of patronymic. See other articles: Irish_name#Patronyms_and_other_additives, Irish surname additives, Spanish_naming_customs#Nominal_conjunctions, Spanish nominal conjunctions, Von, van (Dutch), Van, List of family name affixes,
Patronymic A patronymic, or patronym, is a component of a based on the of one's father, grandfather (avonymic), or an earlier male ancestor. A component of a name based on the name of one's mother or a female ancestor is a . A name based on the name of ...
surname, and Toponymic surname


Chinese compound surnames

Some
Chinese surname Chinese surnames are used by Han Chinese and Sinicization, Sinicized ethnic groups in China, Taiwan, Korea, Vietnam, and among overseas Chinese communities around the world such as Singapore and Malaysia. Written Chinese names begin with surnames, ...
s use more than one Chinese character, character.


Spanish compound surnames

In traditional Spanish culture, and as is still the case in many Spanish-speaking countries, an individual may have one or two surnames, which can be independent or part of a compound surname that will be passed on to the person's descendants. Instead, an individual inherits the surnames of all of their ancestors, in particular their father and mother. In practice, individuals mostly use only the two surnames of their parents. For instance, Spanish ex-premier José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero has José Luis as his given name, Rodríguez (surname), Rodríguez as his first (i.e. paternal) surname, and Zapatero (surname), Zapatero as his second (i.e. maternal) surname. Generally, this custom does not create a true compound surname. "Rodríguez Zapatero", for example, is not considered one surname; it is two distinct surnames, therefore his children have not inherited the "compound" surname "Rodríguez Zapatero". Only the paternal surname of both father and mother were passed on, although it is not always the case. Uruguayan politician Guido Manini Rios has inherited a compound surname constructed from the patrilineal and matrilineal surnames of a recent ancestor. An additional complication is introduced by marriage. Rodríguez Zapatero's wife was born Sonsoles Espinosa Díaz. Under Spanish tradition she is still known by that name, even after marriage. But she may also be known as :Sonsoles Espinosa Díaz de Rodríguez :Sonsoles Espinosa de Rodríguez :Sonsoles de Rodríguez Feminist activists have criticized this custom as they consider it sexist. Another consequence of feminist activism is the reform of naming codes to allow the mother's surname to be placed before the father's in a child's compound surname.


True compound surnames

Beyond this seemingly "compound" surname system in the Hispanic world, there are also true compound surnames in the Spanish-speaking countries. These true compound surnames are passed on and inherited as compounds. For instance, former Chairman of the Military junta, Supreme Military Junta of Ecuador, General Luis Telmo Paz y Miño Estrella, has Luis as his first given name, Telmo as his middle name, the true compound surname Paz y Miño as his first (i.e. paternal) surname, and Estrella as his second (i.e. maternal) surname. Luis Telmo Paz y Miño Estrella is also known more casually as Luis Paz y Miño, Telmo Paz y Miño, or Luis Telmo Paz y Miño. He would never be regarded as Luis Estrella, Telmo Estrella, or Luis Telmo Estrella, nor as Luis Paz, Telmo Paz, or Luis Telmo Paz. This is because "Paz" alone is not his surname (although other people use the "Paz" surname on its own). In this case, Pazmiño, Paz y Miño is in fact the paternal surname, being a true compound surname. His children, therefore, would inherit the compound surname "Paz y Miño" as their paternal surname, while Estrella would be lost, since the mother's paternal surname becomes the children's second surname (as their own maternal surname). "Paz" alone would not be passed on, nor would "Miño" alone. To avoid ambiguity, one might often informally see these true compound surnames hyphenated, for instance, as Paz-y-Miño. This is true especially in the English-speaking world, but also sometimes even in the Hispanic world, since too many Hispanics unfamiliar with this and other compound surnames, "Paz y Miño" might be inadvertently mistaken as "Paz" for the paternal surname and "Miño" for the maternal surname. Although Miño did start off as the maternal surname in this compound surname, it was many generations ago, around five centuries, that it became compounded, and henceforth inherited and passed on as a compound. Other surnames which started off as compounds of two or more surnames, but which merged into one single word, also exist. An example would be the surname Pazmiño, whose members are related to the Paz y Miño, as both descend from the "Paz Miño" family of five centuries ago. Álava, Spain is known for its incidence of true compound surnames, characterized for having the first portion of the surname as a patronymic, normally a Spanish patronymic (i.e. from Castilian language, Castilian) or more unusually a Basque language, Basque patronymic, followed by the preposition "de", with the second part of the surname being a local toponymic surname from Álava.


Spanish-speaking world

In Spain and in most Hispanophone, Spanish-speaking countries, the custom is for people to have one or two surnames. Usually, the first surname comes from the father and the second from the mother, but it could be the other way around or a compound surname inherited fully from the father. When speaking or in informal situations, only the first one is used, although both are needed for legal purposes. A child's first surname will usually be their father's first surname, while the child's second surname will usually be their mother's first surname. For example, if José García Torres and María Acosta Gómez had a child named Pablo, then his full name would be Pablo García Acosta. One family member's relationship to another can often be identified by the various combinations and permutations of surnames. In some instances, when an individual's first surname is too common (such as in José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, the second surname gains preeminence over the first one. Rodriguez Zapatero, therefore is more often called just "Zapatero" and almost never "Rodriguez" only. In other cases, such as in writer Mario Vargas Llosa), a person would use both surnames instead of just the second one, giving way to the formation of a compound surname that his children might or might not inherit. In Spain, feminist activism pushed for a law approved in 1999 that allows an adult to change the order of his/her family names, and parents can also change the order of their children's family names if they (and the child, if over 12) agree. In Spain, especially Catalonia, the paternal and maternal surnames are often combined using the conjunction ''y'' ("and" in Spanish) or ''i'' ("and" in Catalan language, Catalan), see for example the economist Xavier Sala-i-Martin or painter Salvador Dalí i Domènech. In Spain, a woman does not generally change her legal surname when she marries. In some Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America, a woman may, on her marriage, drop her mother's surname and add her husband's surname to her father's surname using the preposition ''de'' ("of"), ''del'' ("of the", when the following word is masculine) or ''de la'' ("of the", when the following word is feminine). For example, if "Clara Reyes Alba" were to marry "Alberto Gómez Rodríguez", the wife could use "Clara Reyes ''de'' Gómez" as her name (or "Clara Reyes Gómez", or, rarely, "Clara Gómez Reyes". She can be addressed as ''Mrs., Sra. de Gómez'' corresponding to "Mrs Gómez"). In some countries, this form may be mainly social and not an official name change, i.e. her name would still legally be her birth name. This custom of adding the husband's surname is slowly fading. Sometimes a father transmits his combined family names, thus creating a new one e.g., the paternal surname of the son of ''Javier'' (given name) ''Reyes'' (paternal family name) ''de la Barrera'' (maternal surname) may become the new paternal surname ''Reyes de la Barrera''. ''De'' is also the nobiliary particle used with Spanish surnames. This can not be chosen by the person, as it is part of the surname, for example, "Puente" and "Del Puente" are not the same surname. Children take the surnames of both parents, so if the couple above had two children named "Andrés" and "Ana", then their names would be "Andrés Gómez Reyes" and "Ana Gómez Reyes". In Spain, a 1995 reform in the law allows the parents to choose whether the father's or the mother's surname goes first, although this order must be the same for all their children. For instance, the name of the son of the couple in the example above could be either "Andrés Gómez Reyes" or "Andrés Reyes Gómez". Sometimes, for single mothers or when the father would or could not recognize the child, the mother's surname has been used twice: for example, "Ana Reyes Reyes". In Spain, however, children with just one parent receive both surnames of that parent, although the order may also be changed. In 1973 in Chile, the law was changed to avoid stigmatizing illegitimate children with the maternal surname repeated. Some Hispanic people, after leaving their country, drop their maternal surname, even if not formally, so as to better fit into the non-Hispanic society they live or work in. Dropping the paternal surname is not unusual when it is a very common one. For instance, painter Pablo Ruiz Picasso and Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero are known by their maternal surnames as "Picasso" and "Zapatero". Similarly, Anglophones with just one surname may be asked to provide a second surname on official documents in Spanish-speaking countries. When none (such as the mother's maiden name) is provided, the last name may simply be repeated. Traditionally in most countries, and currently in some Spanish-speaking countries, women, upon marrying, keep their own family names. It is considered impolite towards her family for a woman to change her name. The higher-class women of Cuba and Spain traditionally never change their names. In certain rare situations, a woman may be addressed with her paternal surname followed by her husband's paternal surname linked with ''de''. For example, a woman named ''Ana García Díaz'', upon marrying ''Juan Guerrero Macías'', could be called ''Ana García de Guerrero''. This custom, begun in medieval times, is decaying and only has legal validity in Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, Peru, Panama, and to a certain extent in Mexico (where it is optional but becoming obsolete), but is frowned upon by people in Spain, Cuba, and elsewhere. In Peru and the Dominican Republic, women normally conserve all family names after getting married. For example, if ''Rosa María Pérez Martínez'' marries ''Juan Martín De la Cruz Gómez'', she will be called ''Rosa María Pérez Martínez de De la Cruz'', and if the husband dies, she will be called ''Rosa María Pérez Martínez Vda. de De la Cruz'' (Vda. being the abbreviation for ''viuda'', "widow" in Spanish). The law in Peru changed some years ago, and all married women can keep their maiden last name if they wish with no alteration. In some churches, such as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, where the family structure is emphasized, as well as a legal marriage, the wife is referred to as "''hermana''" [sister] plus the surname of her husband. And most records of the church follow that structure as well. A new trend in the United States for Hispanics is to hyphenate their father's and mother's last names. This is done because American-born English-speakers are not aware of the Hispanic custom of using two last names and thus mistake the first last name of the individual for a middle name. In doing so they would, for example, mistakenly refer to Esteban Álvarez Cobos as Esteban A. Cobos. Such confusion can be particularly troublesome in official matters. To avoid such mistakes, Esteban Álvarez Cobos, would become Esteban Álvarez-Cobos, to clarify that both are last names. In Spanish villages in Catalonia, Galicia (Spain), Galicia, and Asturias and in Cuba, people are often known by the name of their dwelling or collective family nickname rather than by their surnames. For example, Remei Pujol i Serra who lives at Ca l'Elvira would be referred to as "Remei de Ca l'Elvira"; and Adela Barreira López who is part of the "Provisores" family would be known as "Adela dos Provisores". In the case of Cantabria the family's nickname is used instead of the surname: if one family is known as "Ñecos" because of an ancestor who was known as "Ñecu", they would be "José el de Ñecu" or "Ana la de Ñecu" (collective: the Ñeco's). Some common nicknames are "Rubiu" (blonde or ginger hair), "Roju" (reddish, as referred to ginger hair), "Chiqui" (small), "Jinchu" (big), and a bunch of names about certain characteristics, family relationship or geographical origin (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ).


Portuguese-speaking countries

In the case of Portuguese naming customs, the main surname (the one used in alpha sorting, indexing, abbreviations, and greetings), appears last. Each person usually has two family names: though the law specifies no order, the first one is usually the maternal family name, whereas the last one is commonly the paternal family name. In Portugal, a person's full name has a minimum legal length of two names (one given name and one family name from either parent) and a maximum of six names (two first names and four surnames – he or she may have up to four surnames in any order desired picked up from the total of his/her parents and grandparents' surnames). The use of any surname outside this lot, or of more than six names, is legally possible, but it requires dealing with bureaucracy. Parents or the person him/herself must explain the claims they have to bear that surname (a family nickname, a rare surname lost in past generations, or any other reason one may find suitable). In Brazil, there is no limit of surnames used. In general, the traditions followed in countries like Brazil, Portugal and Angola are somewhat different from the ones in Spain. In the Spanish tradition, usually, the father's surname comes first, followed by the mother's surname, whereas in Portuguese-speaking countries the father's name is the last, mother's coming first. A woman may adopt her husband's , but nevertheless, she usually keeps her birth name or at least the last one. Since 1977 in Portugal and 2012 in Brazil, a husband can also adopt his wife's surname. When this happens, usually both spouses change their name after marriage. The custom of a woman changing her name upon marriage is recent. It spread in the late 19th century in the upper classes, under French influence, and in the 20th century, particularly during the 1930s and 1940, it became socially almost obligatory. Nowadays, fewer women adopt, even officially, their husbands' names, and among those who do so officially, it is quite common not to use it either in their professional or informal life. The children usually bear only the last surnames of the parents (i.e., the paternal surname of each of their parents). For example, ''Carlos da Silva Gonçalves'' and ''Ana Luísa de Albuquerque Pereira (Gonçalves)'' (in case she adopted her husband's name after marriage) would have a child named ''Lucas Pereira Gonçalves''. However, the child may have any other combination of the parents' surnames, according to euphony, social significance, or other reasons. For example, is not uncommon for the firstborn male to be given the father's full name followed by "Júnior" or "Filho" (son), and the next generation's firstborn male to be given the grandfather's name followed by "Neto" (grandson). Hence ''Carlos da Silva Gonçalves'' might choose to name his first born son ''Carlos da Silva Gonçalves Júnior'', who in turn might name his first born son ''Carlos da Silva Gonçalves Neto'', in which case none of the mother's family names are passed on. In ancient times a patronymic was commonly used – surnames like ''Gonçalves'' ("son of ''Gonçalo''"), ''Fernandes'' ("son of ''Fernando''"), ''Nunes'' ("son of ''Nuno''"), ''Soares'' ("son of ''Soeiro''"), ''Sanches'' ("son of ''Sancho''"), ''Henriques'' ("son of ''Henrique''"), ''Rodrigues'' ("son of ''Rodrigo''") which along with many others are still in regular use as very prevalent family names. In Medieval times, Portuguese nobility started to use one of their estates' names or the name of the town or village they ruled as their surname, just after their patronymic. Soeiro Mendes da Maia bore a name "Soeiro", a patronymic "Mendes" ("son of Hermenegildo – shortened to Mendo") and the name of the town he ruled "Maia, Porto, Portugal, Maia". He was often referred to in 12th-century documents as "Soeiro Mendes, senhor da Maia", Soeiro Mendes, lord of Maia. Noblewomen also bore patronymics and surnames in the same manner and never bore their husband's surnames. First-born males bore their father's surname, other children bore either both or only one of them at their will. Only during the Early Modern Age, lower-class males started to use at least one surname; married lower-class women usually took up their spouse's surname, since they rarely ever used one beforehand. After the 1755 Lisbon earthquake, Portuguese authorities realized the benefits of enforcing the use and registry of surnames. Henceforth, they became mandatory, although the rules for their use were very liberal. Until the end of the 19th century, it was common for women, especially those from a very poor background, not to have a surname and so to be known only by their first names. A woman would then adopt her husband's full surname after marriage. With the advent of republicanism in Brazil and Portugal, along with the institution of civil registries, all children now have surnames. During the mid-20th century, under French influence and among upper classes, women started to take up their husbands' . From the 1960s onwards, this usage spread to the common people, again under French influence, this time, however, due to the forceful legal adoption of their husbands' surname which was imposed onto Portuguese immigrant women in France. From the 1974 Carnation Revolution onwards the adoption of their husbands' receded again, and today both the adoption and non-adoption occur, with non-adoption being chosen in the majority of cases in recent years (60%). Also, it is legally possible for the husband to adopt his wife's , but this practice is rare.


Culture and prevalence

In the United States, 1,712 surnames cover 50% of the population, and about 1% of the population has the surname Smith,Genealogy
, U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division (1995).
which is also the most frequent English name and an occupational name ("metal worker"), a contraction, for instance, of blacksmith or other metalsmiths. Several American surnames are a result of corruption or phonetic misappropriations of European surnames, perhaps as a result of the registration process at the immigration entry points. Spellings and pronunciations of names remained fluid in the United States until the Social Security System enforced standardization. Approximately 70% of Canadians have surnames that are of English, Irish, French, or Scottish derivation. According to some estimates, 85% of China's population shares just 100 surnames. The names Wang (王), Zhang (张), and Li (李) are the most frequent.LaFraniere S
Name Not on Our List? Change It, China Says
''New York Times''. 20 April 2009.


See also

* Genealogy * Generation name * Given name * Legal name * List of family name affixes * Lists of most common surnames *
Maiden and married names When a person (traditionally the wife in many cultures) assumes the family name In some cultures, a surname, family name, or last name is the portion of one's personal name that indicates their family, tribe or community. Practices vary by c ...
* Matriname * Name blending * Name change * Names ending with -ington * Naming law * Nobiliary particle * One-name study *
Patronymic surname A patronymic surname is a surname In some cultures, a surname, family name, or last name is the portion of one's personal name that indicates their family, tribe or community. Practices vary by culture. The family name may be placed at eit ...
* Personal name * Skin name * Galton–Watson process, Surname extinction * Surname law * Surname map * Surnames by country * T–V distinction * Tussenvoegsel


References


Further reading

* Blark. Gregory, et al. ''The Son Also Rises: Surnames and the History of Social Mobility'' (Princeton University Press; 2014) 384 pages; uses statistical data on family names over generations to estimate social mobility in diverse societies and historical periods. * Bowman, William Dodgson. ''The Story of Surnames'' (London, George Routledge & Sons, Ltd., 1932) * Cottle, Basil. ''Penguin Dictionary of Surnames'' (1967) * Hanks, Patrick and Hodges, Flavia. ''A Dictionary of Surnames'' (Oxford University Press, 1989) * Hanks, Patrick, Richard Coates and Peter McClure, eds. ''The Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland'' (Oxford University Press, 2016), which has a lengthy introduction with much comparative material. * Reaney, P.H., and Wilson, R.M. ''A Dictionary of English Surnames'' (3rd ed. Oxford University Press, 1997)


External links

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Comprehensive surname information and resource site
' *

French surname dictionary'' *
Family Facts Archive
Ancestry.com, including UK & US census distribution, immigration, and surname origins (''Dictionary of American Family Names'', Oxford University Press'') *
Guild of One-Name Studies
' *

' *
Information on surname history and origins
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free searchable online database of Italian surnames''. *
Most used names in India, world's 2nd most populated country
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Short explanation of Polish surname endings and their origin
' * * {{Authority control Surname,