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Family Names


family name
A family name, surname, or last name is the part of a person's name that indicates to what family he or she belongs. The use of family names today is widespread in cultures around the world although each culture has its own rules as to how these names are applied and used. In practice, many modern societies no longer require that a family, or surname explicitly indicate family relationship allowing parents and individuals to select the surname according to personal taste, if desired. Nevertheless, it is still common for children to inherit their surname from their parents.

Although in many cultures, notably most European and American nations (there are exceptions), the family name is the last part of a person's name, in many other cultures in Asia and Africa the family name is typically spoken or written first. This order is often erroneously called the Eastern order because Europeans are most familiar with the examples of China, Vietnam, Japan and Korea. Because the family name is today generally given last in English-speaking societies, the term last name is commonly used for family name.

In countries that use family names, these are most often used to refer to a stranger in a formal setting, often with the use of a title such as Mr or Mrs (or equivalent). The first name, given name, or personal name is the one used by friends, family, and other intimates.

It is notable that many Arab societies commonly do not have family names in the sense used in the English sense of the term (although increasingly many Muslims/Arabs are adopting so-called Western naming practices). Traditional Arab naming practices do indicate familial relationships but names indicating these relationships are not inherited in the manner of that the term family name normally implies.


The word surname is name prefixed by the French word sur (meaning "on"), which derives from Latin super ("over" or "above"), meaning "additional name." As early as the 14th century it was also found spelled as sirname or sirename (suggesting that it meant "man's name" or "father's name") due to folk etymology.

The use of family names varies among cultures. In particular, Icelanders, Tibetans, Burmese, and Javanese often do not use a family name — well-known people lacking a family name include U Thant (Burmese), Suharto and Sukarno (see Indonesian names), and Dilber (Uyghur, a Turkic language). Also, many royal families do not use family names.

In some cultures, a woman's family name traditionally changes upon marriage, although few countries mandate such a change. Other modern options include combining both family names, changing neither name, or creating a new name, e.g. combining letters of previous surnames or creating a pseudonym unrelated to the previous surnames.

In the 19th century, Francis Galton published a statistical study of the extinction of family names. (See Galton-Watson process for an account of some of the mathematics.)

In English-, Dutch-, German-, French- and Scandinavian-speaking countries, people often have two or more given names, and the family name goes at the end. (Occasionally a surname is called the "second name", which can be confused with a middle name.) In Spain and Hispanic areas, people have one or more given names and two family names, one from the father and one from the mother. In Italy, people may have one or more given names, no middle name, and a family name. In the Portuguese-speaking countries, people can have one or two given names and from one up to four family names taken from the father and/or from the mother.


The oldest use of family or surnames is unclear. Surnames have arisen in cultures with large, concentrated populations where a single names for individuals become insufficient to uniquely identify them. In many cultures the practice of using additional descriptive terms in identifying individuals arose. These descriptors might indicate personal attributes, location of origin, parentage, or clan affiliation. Often these descriptors developed into fixed clan identifications which became family names in the sense that we know them today.

In China, according to legend, family names originate with Emperor Fu Xi in 2852 BC.[1] His administration standardized the naming system in order to facilitate the census. In Japan family names were uncommon except in the aristocracy until the 19th century.

In Ancient Greece during some periods it became common to use place of origin as a part of their official identification.[2] At other times clan names and patronymic names ("son of") were also common. For example, Alexander the Great was known by the clan name Herakles (as a supposed descendant of Heracles) and the dynastic name Karanos/Caranus referring to the founder of the dynasty. In none of these cases, though, were these names considered formal parts of the person's name nor were they explicitly inherited in the manner which is common in many cultures today.

In the Roman Empire clan/family names became very standardized. At the beginning they were not strictly inherited in the way that family names are inherited in many cultures today. Eventually, though, family names began to be used in a manner similar to most modern European societies. With the gradual influence of Greek/Christian culture throughout the Empire the use of formal family names declined.[3]

By the time of the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century, family names were uncommon in the Eastern Roman (i.e. Byzantine) 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 affilations of the Armenian military aristocracy.[3] 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 in the way that they are today. Note that in the case of the English, the most accepted theory of the origin of family names in England is their introduction to the Normans and the Domesday Book of 1086.

During the modern era many cultures around the world adopted the practice of using family names, especially during imperialistic age of Europe, particularly from the 17th to 19th centuries. They are unused in some cultures even today.

English-speaking countries

In the British Isles, hereditary surnames were adopted in the 13th and 14th centuries, initially by the aristocracy but, eventually, by everyone. By 1400, most English people and Scottish people had acquired surnames, but many Irish people, Highland Scots and Welsh people didn't adopt surnames until the 17th century, or later.

Most surnames of British origin fall into six types:

Occupations (e.g., Smith, Archer, Baker, Walker)
Personal characteristics (e.g., Short, Brown, Whitehead)
Geographical features (e.g., Hill, Lee, Wood, Fields)
Place names (e.g., London, Hamilton, Sutton, Flint, Laughton)
For those descended from land-owners, the name of their holdings, manor or estate
Patronymics and ancestry, often from a male's given name (e.g., Richardson, Williams, Johnson) or from a clan name (for those of Scottish origin, e.g., MacDonald, Forbes)
The original meaning of the name may no longer be obvious in modern English (e.g., the surname Cooper meant barrel maker and the name Tillotson is a matronymic from a diminutive for Matilda). A much smaller category of names relates to religion, though some of this category are also occupations. The names Bishop, Priest, or Abbot, for example, usually indicate that an ancestor worked for a bishop, a priest, or an abbot, respectively.

In the Americas, the family names of many African-Americans have their origins in slavery. Many of them came to bear the surnames of their former owners. Many freed slaves either created family names themselves or else adopted the name of their former master. Others, such as Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X, changed their name rather than live with one they believed had been given to their ancestors by a slave owner.

It has long been the patriarchal tradition for women to change their surname upon marriage from their birth name (or maiden name) to their husband's last name. From the first known instance of a woman keeping her birth name, Lucy Stone in the 19th century, there has been a general increase in the rate of women keeping their original name. This has gone through periods of flux, however, and the 1990s saw a decline in the percentage of name retention among women. As of 2004, roughly 90% of American women automatically assumed their husband's surname upon getting married.[citation needed] Even in families where the wife has kept her birth name, parents often choose to give their children their father's family name. In English-speaking countries, married women traditionally have been called Mrs. [Husband's full name], although this practice is now outdated and has been replaced by a title of Mrs. [Wife's first name] [Husband's surname].

In the Middle Ages, when a man from a lower status family married an only daughter from a higher status family, he would take the wife's family name. In the 18th and 19th centuries in Britain, bequests were sometimes made contingent upon a man changing (or hyphenating) his name, so that the name of the legator continued. Although it is rare for English-speaking men to take the name of their wives, some men still choose to do so (such as among Canadian aboriginal groups) or, increasingly common in the United States, a married couple may choose a new last name entirely.

As an alternative, both the husband and wife may adopt a double-barrelled name. For instance, when John Smith and Mary Jones marry each other, they may become known as John Smith-Jones and Mary Smith-Jones. However, some consider the extra length of the hyphenated names undesirable. A wife may also opt to use her maiden name for her middle name, giving her the option of referring to herself as either Mrs. Smith or Mary Jones Smith. An additional option is when the spouses adopt a last name derived from an aesthetically pleasing combination of the prior names, such as "Simones".

In some jurisdictions, a woman's legal name used to change automatically upon marriage. Although women may now easily choose to change to their married name, that change is no longer the default. 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).[1] (Note: many Anglophone countries are also common-law countries.)

Many women choose to change their name when they marry, while others don't. There are many reasons why women maintain their surname. One is that the female surname disappears throughout generations, while the male surname survives. By keeping their surname and passing that name down to the next generation, the female surname (and its heritage) may also survive. Another reason is if the women's surname is well known due to their family heritage, she may choose to keep her surname. Yet another is the identity crisis women may experience when giving up their surname. Women in academia, for example, who have previously published articles in academic journals under their maiden name often don't change their surname after marriage, in order to ensure that they continue to receive credit for their past and future work. This practice is also common among female physicians, attorneys, and other professionals, as well as celebrities for whom continuity is important. Though the practice of women maintaining their surname after marriage is increasing, it hasn't caught on in the general population. A possible reason is due to the difficulty of distinguishing such a married couple from one who is cohabiting without asking them directly, and the associated stigma that may result.

Spelling of names in past centuries is often assumed to be a deliberate choice by a family, but due to very low literacy rates the reality is that many families could not provide the spelling of their surname, and so the scribe, clerk, minister, or official would write down the name on the basis of how it was spoken. This results in many variations, some of which occurred when families moved to another country. The officially-recorded spellings tended to become the standard for that family.

French-speaking countries

French-speaking countries have many similarities to English-speaking ones in the way family names are used. In France and the Canadian province of Quebec, name change upon marriage is no longer automatic. Those who wish to change their name upon marriage must follow the same legal procedure as would be used under any other circumstance.

In France, until January 1, 2005, children were required by law to take the surname of their father. From this date, article 311-21 of the French Civil code permits parents to give their children either the name of their father, mother, or a hyphenation of both - although no more than two names can be hyphenated. In cases of disagreement the father's name applies [2]. This brought France into line with a 1978 declaration by the 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 Germany (1976), Sweden (1982), Denmark (1983) and Spain (1999).

Furthermore, in French Canada, up until the late 1960s, children of Roman Catholic origin were given three names at birth (usually not hyphenated): the first, Marie or Joseph, usually indicated the gender of the child. The second was usually the name of the godfather or godmother, while the third and last given name was the name used in everyday situations. Thus, a child prenamed Joseph Bruno Jean on his birth or baptismal certificate would indicate the baby to be a boy, the godfather's first name to be Bruno and that the child would be called Jean (and not Joseph) for all intents and purposes of everyday life. This naming convention was in the most part dropped following the Quiet Revolution (late 1960s), and is now seen much more rarely. Currently, most couples give the child the surname of the father, though Quebec civil code allows a couple to combine at most two of their surnames, with or without hyphens. Thus a couple named Joseph Bouchard-Tremblay and Marie Dion-Roy could give to their children the surnames Bouchard, Tremblay, Dion, Roy, Bouchard-Tremblay, Dion-Roy, Bouchard-Dion, Bouchard-Roy, etc. Until the late 1800s, several families also had a "nom-dit" tradition. This was a family nickname (literally a "said name"). The origins of the noms-dits were various. Some noms-dits were the warname of the first settler, while he was a soldier: Hébert dit Jolicoeur (Pretty Heart, cf. Braveheart), Thomas dit Tranchemontagne (mountain chopper). Some denoted the place of origin of the first settler: Langevin (Anjou), Barbeau dit Poitevin (Poitou). Others probably denoted a characteristic of the person or of his dwelling: Lacourse, Lépine, Larivière.

According to some estimations, there would be some 900,000 surnames in France (not all of French origin). For Belgium, see below.

German-speaking countries

For more details on this topic, see German family name etymology.
There are about 1,000,000 different family names in German. German family names most often derive from given names, occupational designations, bodily attributes or geographical names. Hyphenations notwithstanding, they mostly consist of a single word; in those rare cases that the family name is linked to the given names by particles such as von or zu, they usually indicate noble ancestry.

Family names in German-speaking countries are usually positioned last, after all given names. There are exceptions, however: In parts of Austria and the Alemannic-speaking areas, the family name is regularly put in front of the first given name. Also in many - especially rural - parts of Germany, to emphasize family affiliation there is often an inversion in colloquial use, in which the family name becomes a possessive: Rüters Erich, for example, would be Erich of the Rüter family.

In Germany today, upon marriage both partners can choose to keep their birth name or one of them can adopt a hyphenated name of their birth names (the latter case is forbidden for both partners and for the last names of children), or one of them can switch to their partner's name (if the partner keeps it). After that, they must decide on one family name for all their future children, by pretty much the same rules. (German name)
Changing one's family name for reasons other than marriage, divorce or adoption is only possible in Germany if the applicant can prove that they suffer extraordinarily due to their name.

Dutch-speaking countries

Main article: Dutch name
Many Dutch last names start with an independent prefix ("tussenvoegsel") like van ("of"), de or het ("the"), der, van de or van der ("of the"), and in het ("in the"). Examples are De Groot ("the great"), Van Weert ("of the city Weert"). Many such Dutch surnames originated from referrals to cities and other geographical locations. Surname registration started with the French occupation by Napoleon (1811). Some Dutch people, convinced that this convention would only be temporary, deliberately chose comical or confusing surnames, such as Rotmensen (meaning "rotten people"), Poepjes ("poops" or "farts"), Naaktgeboren ("born naked"), or Zeldenthuis ("rarely at home").

The Dutch settlers in South Africa also influenced the language and names. Consequently, surnames like van der Merwe, van Biljon, etc. are common amongst people of that descent.


Since Belgium has three national languages — Dutch, French and German — Belgian names are similar to those in the neighbouring countries: the Netherlands, France and Germany. Thanks to this multiculturalism, Belgium has one of the highest number of surnames in the world (no less than 190,000 at the last count), and certainly the highest per capita ratio, about 1 family name for 53 people.[citation needed] Place names (regions, towns, villages, hamlets) with a particle meaning "from" (de in French, or van in Dutch) are the most numerous. An uncapitalised particle sometimes indicates nobility.

Some differences exist between names in Belgium and in neighbouring countries: for example, Dutch names commonly have prefixes as mentioned above, except that these usually start with a capital letter, and are often written connected to the main word. Thus, de Bakker and van der Steen are probably Dutch while De Bakker and Vandersteen are Belgian. (Note: This distinction may have faded in surnames of Americans of Dutch or Belgian heritage.) The most common Dutch surnames in Belgium are Peeters, Janssens, Maes, Jacobs, Willems, Mertens, Claes, Wouters, Goossens, and De Smet. Dutch surnames in Belgium tend to resemble first names more often than in the Netherlands, e.g. the following first names relate to above surnames: e.g. Peter, Jan, Jacob, Willem, Maarten, Klaas, and Wouter. The trailing s reportedly once meant "son of", so Willems would be "Willem's son". Furthermore older or historically different regional spelling remains visible in many names, e.g. usage of c instead of k and ae instead of aa (compare Claes with Klaas).

The 20 most common French surnames in Belgium are respectively Dubois, Lambert, Dupont, Martin, Dumont, Leroy, Leclercq, Simon, Laurent, François, Denis, Renard, Thomas, Lejeune, Gérard, Petit, Mathieu, Lemaire, Charlier, and Bertrand. Sources


For more details on this topic, see Irish name.
Many surnames in Ireland of Gaelic origin derive from ancestor's names; nicknames; or descriptive names. In the first group can be placed surnames such as McMurrough and McCarthy, derived from father's names, or O'Brien and O'Grady, derived from ancestral names.

Gaelic surnames derived from nicknames include O'Dubhda (from Aedh ua Dubhda - Aedh (pronounced Hugh), the dark one), O'Doherty (from dochartaigh, "destroyer" or "obtrusive"), Garvery (garbh, "rough" or "nasty"), Manton (mantach, "toothless"), Bane (bán, "white", as in "white hair"), Finn (fionn, "fair", as in "fair hair"), and Kennedy (cinnéide, "ugly head").

In contrast to England, very few Gaelic surnames are derived from place names or venerated people/objects. Among those that are included in this small group, several can be shown to be bastardizations of Gaelic personal names or surnames. One notable exception is O'Cuilleain or O'Collins (from cuileann, "Holly") as in the Holly Tree, considered one of the most sacred objects of pre-Christian Celtic culture.

In areas where certain family names are extremely common, extra names are added that sometimes follow this archaic pattern. In Ireland, for example, where Murphy is an exceedingly common name, particular Murphy families or extended families are nicknamed, so that Denis Murphy's family were called The Weavers and Denis himself was called Denis "The Weaver" Murphy. (See also O'Hay.)

For much the same reason, nicknames (e.g. the Fada Burkes, "the long/tall Burkes"), father's names (e.g. John Morrissey Ned) or mother's maiden name (Kennedy becoming Kennedy-Lydon) can become colloquial or legal surnames. The Irish family of de Courcy Ireland became so-named to distinguish them from their cousins who moved to France in the 17th and 18th centuries.

In addition to all this, Irish speaking areas still follow the old tradition of naming themselves after their father, grandfather, great-grandfather and so on. Examples include Mike Bartly Pat Reilly ("Mike, son of Bartholomew, son of Pat Reilly"), John Michel John Oge Pat Breanach ("John, son of Michael, son of young John, son of Pat Breanach"), Tom Paddy-Joe Seoige ("Tom, son of Paddy-Joe Seoige"), and Mary Bartly Mike Walsh ("Mary, daughter of Bartly, son of Mike Walsh"). Sometimes, the female line of the family is used, depending on how well the parent is known in the area the person resides, e.g. Paddy Mary John ("Paddy, son of Mary, daughter of John"). A similar tradition continues even in English-speaking areas, especially in rural districts.

Some Irish surnames can be mistaken for non-Irish. Anglicization of many surnames has been so thorough that bona-fide Irish names such as Crockwell and Harrington appear 100% English. Other Irish names can appear to be German (Bruder), Italian (Costello), or even Polish (Comiskey).

Irish surname prefixes

Bean: "Wife", pronounced /bæn?/.
De: "of the": a Norman-French habitational prefix used by some of the most common Irish surnames among which are De Búrca, De Brún, De Barra, De Cíosóg and de Faoite. 'De' historically has signaled ownership of lands and was traditionally therefore a mark of prestige.
Mhic: pronounced /v?k/. Compressed form of bean mhic ("wife of the son of") eg Máire Mhic Néill (Máire, the wife of Mac Néill). This is the grammatically correct form of the prefix Mac always taken by a woman after marriage (i.e. a woman marrying someone of the surname Mac Néill would become Mhic Néill). Mhig (also pronounced /v?k/) is used similarly to Mag in some cases (e.g. Mag Shamhráin/Mhig Shamhráin).
Maol: In Pagan times this was expressed as Mug, as in the case of Mug Nuadat. The literal expression of this is "slave of Nuada", i.e. "devotee of Nuada". In the Christian era the word Mael was used in its place for given names such as Mael Bridget, Mael Padraig, Mael Lagan, Mael Sechlainn, and Mael Martain. In later times, some of these given names evolved into surnames, e.g. Ó Máel Sechlainn and Mac Mael Martain or Mael Lagan, which became after the 15th Century the name Milligan.
Fitz: a Norman-French word derived from the Latin word filius ("son"). It was used in patronymics by thousands of men in the early Norman period in Ireland (e.g. fitz Stephen, fitz Richard, fitz Robert, fitz William) and only on some occasions did it become used as an actual surname, the most famous example being the FitzGerald Earls of Kildare. Yet well into the 17th and 18th century it was used in certain areas dominated by the Old English of Ireland in its original form, as a patronymic. The Tribes of Galway were especially good at conserving this form, with examples such as John fitz John Bodkin and Michael Lynch fitz Arthur, used even as late as the early 1800s. Despite claims to the contrary, the use of Fitz in a surname never denoted illegitimacy. This misunderstanding may have originated because a number of illegitimate members of the British royal family were given such surnames: some of the illegitimate children of King Charles II were named FitzCharles or FitzRoy ("son of the King"); those of King James II were named FitzJames; those of Prince William, Duke of Clarence and St Andrews (later King William IV) were named FitzClarence.
Ó: In Old Irish as ua ("grandson", "descendant"). E.g., the ancestor of the O'Brien clan, Brian Boru (937-1014) was known in his lifetime as Brian mac Cennéide mac Lorcán ("Brian, the son of Cennéide, the son of Lorcán "). Not until the time of his grandsons and great-grandsons was the name O'Brien used as a surname, used to denote descent from an illustrious ancestor. It has for some three hundred years been written as O', but in recent years the apostrophe is often dropped, bringing it into line with early medieval forms.
Uí: This is the plural of Ó and is used in reference to a kin-group or clan, e.g. Uí Néill, in reference to the O'Neill clan. Pronounced /i/.
Ní: This is used for women instead of O before a surname and comes a shortened form of the Irish word for a daughter, e.g. Máire Ní Bhriain ("Mary O'Brien").
Nic: This is used for women instead of Mac, but only if this is their maiden name, never their married name. Compressed form of iníon mhic ("daughter of the son of/Mac…"), e.g. Máire Nic Charthaigh ("Mary, daughter of McCarthy"). Nig (pronounced /n?k/) is used in cases where the surname uses Mag e.g. Nig Shamhráin.


See also: Category:Italian surnames
Italy has more different surnames than any other country in the world [3], around 350,000.

Italian names are mostly derived from Latin, but since the Italian city-states and modern Italy have always experienced extensive contacts with foreign powers and travellers, many surnames are of Spanish, French, German, Norman or Swiss origin. Beginning in the 14th century, it became necessary to add a second name to distinguish between individuals with the same surname.

Italian surnames are generally easy to recognize because most end in a vowel, like nearly all words in standard Italian, and many of them have been derived from descriptive nicknames.

Italian surnames developed in the most part from four sources: patronym (e.g. Francesco di Marco, "Francis, son of Mark"), occupation (e.g. Giovanni Ferrari, "John the Smith"), personal characteristic (e.g. nicknames or pet names like Dario Forte, "Darius the Strong"), origin (e.g. Eduardo de Filippo, "Edward belonging to the family of Philip") and geographic origin (e.g. Elisabetta Romano, "Elisabeth from Rome").

Few family names are still in the original Latin, and usually they indicate from or with pretensions to antiquity, e.g. Santorum or de Laurentiis. Despite notions of this indicating nobility, it actually reflects that the family name has been preserved from Medieval Latin sources as a part of their business or household documentation or church records.

Usually, family names are written after any given name in most uses. However, the surname is written before given names when used in many official documents (for example, Giovanni Fabbri may be referred to Fabbri Giovanni in official documents). In speech, the use of given name first, family name last is standard.

In parts of the Tyrol and Austria, or anywhere to which certain inhabitants of those lands were moved following World War I, Italian names were forced upon German-speaking South Tyroleans. Some were insulting, others based on a physical attribute, but most were approximate Italianisations, such as "Albrecht Rotheim" becoming "Alberto Casarossa."

Italian women don't switch their surname to that of their husband upon marriage.

In a new proposal of law, the son can be given the surname of the mother rather than the usual father's.


Greek surnames are most commonly patronymics. Occupation, characteristic and location/origin-based surnames names also occur.

Commonly, Greek male surnames end in -s, which is the common ending for Greek masculine proper nouns in the nominative case. Exceptionally, some end in -ou, indicating the genitive case of this proper noun for patronymic reasons. Although surnames are static today, dynamic and changing patronym usage survives in middle names in Greece where the genitive of father's first name is commonly the middle name.

Female surnames, are most often in the genitive case of a male name. In the past, women would change their surname when married, to that of their husband (again in genitive case) signifying the transfer of "dependence" from the father to the husband. Nowadays, women are forced to keep their paternal surname by law (or in very rare cases where this is agreed by the parents before marriage, the maternal); however quite paradoxically, the genitive case is still kept, signifying (mostly unintentionally due to tradition) that dependence (or the dependence to their mother's father in the other case). The husband's surname can only be used unofficially, mainly for social reasons.

Some surnames are prefixed with papa-, indicating ancestry from a priest. Archi- and mastro- signify "boss" and "tradesman" respectively. Prefixes such as konto-, makro-, and chondro-, describe body characteristics, such as "short", "tall/long" and "fat". "Gero-" and "palaio-" signify "old" or "wise". Other prefixes include hadji- which was an honorific deriving from the Arabic Hadj or pilgrimage, and indicate that the person had made a pilgrimage (in the case of Christians to Jerusalem) and Kara- the Turkish word for "black" deriving from the Ottoman Empire era.

Common patronymic suffixes are -poulos/-poulou (Peloponessus), -idis-ides/-idou and -iadis/-iadou (an ancient last name or clan form used in the Black Sea and Asia Minor regions), -akis/-aki (Crete a diminutive suffix signifying "small" thought to derive from the Turkish occupation), -atos/-atou (Cephallonia), -ellis/-elli (Lesvos Island), -akos/-akou (Mani - Laconia region), -eas/-ea (Mani - Messinia region), -oglou (both genres) (Turkish root ending seen in immigrants from Asia Minor), -anis/-ani (Arcadia). The suffix -idis is the oldest in use and survives from ancient times (often transliterated -ides) for patronymic epithets. Zeus, for example was also referred to as Cronides ("son of Cronus") and the daughters of Pleione are the Pleiades.


Persian personal names may have single or multiple surname elements and appear on title pages as follows:

Affixes are:

i, ian, abadi, di, dust, fard, far, ju, iya, niya, nizhad, par, parast, pour, rad, vand, vard, yar, zadeh, zad, zand

Some common Persian last names are: Bahrami, Tehrani, Yazdani, Zahedi, Zandi, Farahani, Esfahani, Bahari, Shirazi Kiyanfar, Niyazfar, Omidifar, Mirzapour, Zandipour, Rastinpour, Gharibpour Soltanzadeh, Mehranzadeh, Alizadeh, Rajaei, Afsar

Most, but not all last names that end in "ian" and sometimes "yan" are traditionally Armenian last names. Persian last names can also contain ian, which does not mean that they have to be Armenian.

In the old traditional Persian culture the wife did not take on the husband's surname. Although she kept her name, her husband's surname was used when she was referred to or addressed directly in a formal setting.


Main articles: Pakistani name and List of Pakistani family names
Pakistani surnames are basically divided in three categories: Arab naming convention, tribal names and ancestral names.

Muslim surnames include those of Arab heritage, e.g. Shaikh, Siddiqui, Abbasi, Syed, Farooqi, Osmani, Alavi, Hassani, Hussaini, and Suhrawardi. Khan is the most common surname in Pakistan, India and Afghanistan indicating Pashtun ancestry. Family names indicating Turkish heritage include Mughal, Mirza, Baig or Beg, Pasha, and Barlas. People claiming Iranian ancestry include those with family names Agha, Firdausi, Ghazali, Hamadani, Isfahani, Kashani, Kermani, Khorasani, Mir, Montazeri, Nishapuri, Noorani, Qizilbash, Saadi, Sabzvari, Shirazi, Sistani, Yazdani, Zahedi, and Zand.

Tribal names include Afaqi, Afridi, Amini, Ashrafkhel, Awan, Bajwa, Baloch, Barakzai, Baranzai, Bhatti, Bhutto, Bijarani, Bizenjo, Brohi, Bugti, Butt, Detho, Gabol, Ghaznavi, Ghilzai, Gichki, Jakhrani, Jamali, Jamote, Janjua, Jatoi, Joyo, Junejo, Karmazkhel, Kayani, Khan, Khar, Khattak, Khuhro, Lakhani, Leghari, Lodhi, Magsi, Malik, Mandokhel, Marwat, Mengal, Palijo, Paracha,Panhwar, Popalzai, Qureshi, Rabbani, Raisani, Rakhshani, Soomro, Sulaimankhel, Talpur, Talwar, Thebo, Yousafzai, and Zamani.

A large number of Rajput converts to islam have retained their surnames such as Chauhan ,Rathore, Parmar etc.

Portugal and Brazil

For more details on this topic, see Portuguese names.
In the Portuguese naming customs, the main surname (the one used in alphasorting, indexing, abbreviations, and greetings), appears last (reverse the order of Spanish surnames).

Each person has usually two family names: the first is the maternal family name; the last is the paternal family name. A person can have up to six names (two first names and four surnames — he or she may have two names from the mother and two from the father).

In the ancient ages the patronymicum 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") and many more are used today as usual family names.

Brazilians usually call people only by their given names, omitting family names, even in many formal situations (as in the press referring to authorities, i.e. "President Fernando Henrique", never President Cardoso). When formality or a prefix requires a family name, the given name usually precedes the surname, e.g. João Santos, or Sr. João Santos.

Spanish-speaking countries

For more details on this topic, see Spanish naming customs.
In medieval times, a patronymic system similar to the one still used in Iceland emerged. 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 ("tan"); occupations, e.g. Molinero ("miller") and Guerrero ("warrior"); and geographic location or ethnicity, e.g. Alemán ("German").

However, nowadays in Spain and in many countries of Spanish speakers (former Spanish colonies, e.g. Mexico, Honduras, Colombia, Peru, Chile, Venezuela), most people have two surnames, although in some situations only the first is used. The first surname is the paternal one, inherited from the father's paternal surname. The second surname is the maternal one, inherited from the mother's paternal surname. (As an example, Mexican boxer Marco Antonio Barrera's full name is Marco Antonio Barrera Tapia, though Barrera is the only one used in general conversation.) In Spain, after a new law approved in 1999, an adult can change the order of his/her surnames and the parents can also change the order of their children's surnames if they agree (if one of their children is at least 12 years old they need his/her agreement too). [4] (Link in Spanish)

Depending on the country, the surnames may or may not be linked by the conjunction y ("and"), i ("and", in Catalonia), de ("of") and de la ("of the", when the following word is feminine). However, in many South American countries people have now adopted the English-speaking custom, thus having a single surname (e.g., in Argentina). Sometimes a new father transmits his complete surname by creating a new one, combining his two surnames, e.g., the paternal surname of the son of Javier (given name) Reyes (paternal surname) de la Barrera (maternal surname) may become the new paternal surname Reyes de la Barrera.

At present day in Spain, women upon marrying keep their two family names intact. In certain rare situations, especially the nobility, she may be addressed as if her maternal surname had been replaced with her husband's paternal surname often 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 Ecuador, Guatemala, Peru, and Panama. In Ecuador, a couple can choose the order of their children's surnames. Most choose the traditional order (e.g., Guerrero García in the example above), but some invert the order, putting the mother's paternal surname first and the father's paternal surname last (e.g., García Guerrero from the example above). Such inversion, if chosen, must be maintained for all the children.

In Argentina only one surname is commonly used and registered, in the same way of the English-Speaking countries do, but women do not change their surname upon marriage from their birth name and use maiden name instead of their hunbands last name, one example of this is Diego Maradona, instead of Diego Maradona Franco, being Franco his mother's surname.

The Philippines

Until the middle of the 19th century, there was no standardization of surnames in the Philippines. There were native Filipinos without surnames, others whose surnames deliberately did not match that of their families, as well as those who took certain surnames simply because they had a certain prestige, usually ones dealing with the Roman Catholic religion, such as de los Santos and de la Cruz.

In 1849, Governor-general Narciso Clavería y Zaldúa decreed an end to these arbitrary practices, the result of which was the Catálogo Alfabético de Apellidos ("Alphabetic Catalog of Surnames"). The book contained many words coming from Spanish and the Philippine languages such as Tagalog.

The actual application of this decree varied from municipality to municipality. Some municipalities received only surnames starting with a particular letter. For example, the majority of residents of the island of Banton in the province of Romblon have surnames starting with F such as Fabicon, Fallarme, Fadrilan, and Ferran. Thus, although there perhaps a majority of Filipinos have Spanish surnames, such a surname does not always imply Spanish ancestry.

There are other sources for surnames. Many Filipinos also have Chinese-derived surnames, which in some cases could yield clues to Chinese ancestry. Many Hispanicized Chinese numerals and other Hispanicized Chinese words, however, were also among the surnames in the Catálogo Alfabético de Apellidos. For those whom it may indicate a Chinese ancestry, analysis of the surname may indicate when those ancestors immigrated to the Philippines. A hispanicized Chinese surname like Cojuangco suggests an 18th-century immigration while a Chinese surname like Lim suggests a relatively recent immigration. Some Chinese surnames like Tiu-Laurel are composed of the immigrant Chinese ancestor's surname as well as the name of that ancestor's godparent.

In the Muslim-dominated areas of the southern Philippines, adoption of surnames was influenced by connections to that religion, its holy places, and prophets. As a result, surnames among Filipino Muslims are largely Arabic-based, and include such surnames as Hassan and Haradji.

There are also Filipinos who to this day have no surnames at all, particularly if from rural tribes.

The vast majority of Filipinos follow a naming system which is the reverse of the Spanish one. Children take the mother's surname as their middle name, followed by their father's as their surname; for example, a son of Juan de la Cruz and his wife Maria Agbayani may be David Agbayani de la Cruz. Women take the surnames of their husband upon marriage; so upon her marriage to David de la Cruz, the full name of Laura Yuchengco Macaraeg would become Laura Yuchengco Macaraeg de la Cruz.

Prior to the establishment of the Philippines as a US territory during the earlier part of the 20th century, Filipinos usually followed Iberian naming customs. However, upon the promulgation of the Family Code of 1987, Filipinos begin to adopt the American system of using their surnames.

A common Filipino name will consist of te given name (mostly 2 given names are given), the initial letter of the mother's maiden name and finally the father's surname (i.e. Lucy Anne C. de Guzman). Also, women are allowed to retain their maiden name or use both their her and her husband's surname, separated by a dash. This is common in feminist circles or when the wonam hold a prominent office (e.g. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Mirriam Defensor-Santiago). In more traditional circles, especially those who belong to the prominent families in the provinces, the custom of the woman being addressed as Mrs. Husband's Full Name is still common.

For widows, who chose to marry again, two norms are in existence. For those who were widowed before the Family Code, the full name of the woman remains while the surname of the deceased husband is attached. That is, Maria Andres, who was widowed by Ignacio Dimaculangan will have the name Maria Andres viuda de Dimaculangan. If she chooses to marry again, this name will still continue to exist while the surname of the new husband is attached. That, if Maria marries Rene de los Santos, her new name will be Maria Andres viuda de Dimaculangan de los Santos.

However, a new norm is also in existence. The woman may choose to use her husband's surname to be one of her middle names. Thus, Maria Andres vuida de Dimaculangan de los Santos may also be called Maria A.D. de los Santos.

Children will however automaticaaly inherit their father's surname if they are considered legitimate. If the child is born outside wedlock, the mother will automatically pass her surname to the child, unless the father gives a written aknowledgment of paternity. The Father may also choose to give the child both his parents' surnames if he wishes (that is Gustavo Paredes, whose parents are Eulogio Paredes and Juliana Angeles, while having Maria Solis as a wife, may name his child Kevin S. Angeles-Paredes.

In some Tagalog Regions, the norm of giving patronyms, or in some cases matronyms, are also accepted. These names are of course not official, since surnames in the Philippines are inherited. It is not uncommon to reffer someone as Juan anak ni Pablo (John, the Son of Pablo) or even Juan apo ni Teofilo (John, the grandson of Theophilus).


Due to different cultures that had their impacts on the Maltese archipelago, several surnames where acquired.

Arabic surnames are the most common, due to the long presence of Arabs in Malta. Examples include Sammut, Zammit, Said Borg, Xuereb, Xerri, Grixti, Xriha, although the last three are also written in a Italianized form, i.e. Scerri, Griscti, Sciriha, due to Maltese being written in the Italian alphabet in the 19th century.

Sicilian and Italian surnames are also common due to the close vicinity to Malta. Examples include Camilleri, Tabone, Magri, Darmanin, Bonello, Vassallo, Delicata, Licari, Schembri, Giglio. etc. These types of surnames are the most common types of Maltese surnames.

Jews have also left a relic of their presence on the island with the surnames of Ellul and Cohen.

Spanish surnames exist too. Three common surnames are Abela, Calleja and Galdes and less common surnames are Enriquez, Sapiano, Guzman, Inguanez, Carabez. A variant of Galdes exists and is Galdies, with only one family possessing it.

English surnames exist due to Malta forming a part of the British Empire in the 19th century and most of the 20th. Examples include Harmsworth, Atkins, Mattocks, Wallbank, Smith, Jones, Sixsmith, Woods, Turner. Some exponents of these surnames have tried to deviate from the rest of the Maltese society (forming a sub-group), aimed for white collar jobs and opted to speak English instead of Maltese, creating despise and prejudice. (While these still opt for English and aim for white collar jobs, the rising generation is trying to break these prejudices and socialise with the rest of the Maltese.)

Surnames from foreign countries from Middle Ages include German ones such as von Brockdorff, Engerer, Hyzler, French such as Depuis, and Greek such as Papagiorcopulou, Dacoutros.

Families with rare surnames and combined surnames, are highly regarded and seen as the "noble" families. These include Sant, Gonzi, Naudi, Privitelli, Spiteri Gonzi, Jaccarini, Sammut Alessi, Mifsud-Bonnici, Zarb Cousin, Zammit Endrich, Fenech-Adami, Biondo, Cachia Zammit, Fiott, Lanfranco.

The few original Maltese surnames are those which show places of origin, for example, Chircop (Kirkop), Lia (Lija), Balzan (Balzan), Attard (Attard), Valletta (Valletta), Sciberras (Xebb ir-Ras Hill) and possibly Curmi from Qormi.

The village of Munxar,Gozo is characterised by the majority of its population having one from two surnames, either Curmi or de Brincat. In Gozo, the surname Bajada is also very common.

Recently, due to asylum seekers from third world countries, new family names have been created. An example is Nwoko, following the naturalisation of footballer Chucks Nwoko. Others include Okoh, Ohaegbu, Yekoko, Stefanov, Bogdanovic, Giorev, Mohammed, Abu Shala, Abu Shamala.

Women take a man's surname upon marriage, and their name is written as: Maria Borg née Zammit in official documents, but only as Maria Borg in informal scenarios. However some celebrities retain their old name as a stage name. Generally children take the surname of their father, but some are given the name of their mother, either alone or combined to their father's.

The custom to address a family is to use the initial and surname of the male and refer also to the family. For example, if a letter is sent to a person named David Saliba and his family, one writes Mr. and Mrs. D. Saliba.

Except for the new surnames from foreign countries, and sometimes the long, combined and rare ones, generally the Maltese people do not give a lot of importance to the origins of their surnames, and cohabit hand in hand.


For more details on Naming conventions of Iceland, see Icelandic name.
In Iceland, most people have no family name; a person's last name is most commonly a patronymic, i.e. derived from the father's first name. For example, when a man called Karl has a daughter called Anna and a son called Magnús, their full names will typically be Anna Karlsdóttir ("Karl's daughter") and Magnús Karlsson ("Karl's son").


Until the early 20th Century, Finland was a predominantly agrarian society and the names of Finns were based on their association with a particular area, farm, or homestead, e.g. Jaakko Lahtinen ("Jaakko from Lahti" with the diminutive -nen suffix). People began treating the agrarian names as proper surnames, and this practice produced many surnames ending with -nen, e.g. Häkkinen, Halonen, Lipponen, and Räikkönen. Surnames became compulsory for all Finns in 1921.

However, a considerable minority of Finnish surnames have suffixes that describe the place where an ancestor lived, like -mäki ("-hill"), -järvi ("-lake"), and -joki ("-river"). Finnish women usually change their surname when they get married. The family names of Swedish-speaking Finns follow the Swedish conventions, see the section on Scandinavia.

Due to Finland's legal protection of names, many people can't change their surnames to legally protected ones, e.g. to famous names like Mannerheim or Ståhlberg. Finns also can legally only have a maximum of three given names and two surnames (double barrelled only). Some immigrants have had difficulty naming their children, as they must choose from an approved list based on the family's household language.


In Scandinavia family names often, but certainly not always, originate from a patronymic. In Sweden, the patronymic ending is -sson, e.g. Karlsson ("Karl's son"). In Denmark and Norway, the corresponding ending is -sen, as in Karlsen. Names ending with dotter/datter (daughter), such as Olofsdotter, are rare but occurring, and only apply to females. However in Sweden names that end with "dotter" for men are no stranger than names that end with "son" are for women, although dotter in general is much rarer. Today, the patronymic names are passed on similarly to family names in other Western countries, and a person's father doesn't have to be called Karl if he or she has the surname Karlsson.

Before the 19th century there was the same system in Scandinavia as in Iceland today. Noble families, however, as a rule adopted a family name, which could refer to a presumed or real forefather (e.g. Earl Birger Magnusson Folkunge) or to the family's coat of arms (e.g. King Gustav Eriksson Vasa). In many surviving family noble names, such as Cederqvist ("cedar-twig") or Stiernhielm ("star-helmet"), the spelling is obsolete, but since it applies to a name, remains unchanged.

Later on, people from the Scandinavian middle classes, particularly artisans and town dwellers, adopted names in a similar fashion to that of the nobility. Family names such as the Swedish Bergman, Holmberg, Lindgren, Sandström and Åkerlund were quite frequent and remain common today. The same is true for similar Norwegian and Danish names.

These names often indicated the place of residence of the family. For this reason, Denmark and Norway have a very high incidence of names derived from those of farms, many signified by the suffixes like -bø, -stuen, -løkken or even more predominantly -gaard -- the modern spelling is gård in Danish and has changed to gard in Norwegian, but as in Sweden, archaic spelling persists in surnames. The most well-known example of this kind of surname is probably Kierkegaard (original meaning: the farm located by the Church or also churchyard and cemetery [although this is unlikely in the context] which, with kierke, actually includes two archaic spellings), but many others could be cited. It should also be noted that, since the names in question are derived from the original owners' domiciles, the possession of this kind of name is no longer an indicator of affinity with others who bear it.

In many cases, names were taken from the nature around them. In Norway, for instance, there is an abundancy of surnames based on coastal geography, with suffixes like -strand, -øy, -holm, -vik, -fjord or -nes. A family name such as Dahlgren is derived from "dahl" meaning valley and "gren" meaning branch; or similarly Upvall [5] meaning "upper-valley"; It depends on the Scandinavian country, language, and dialect.

Slavic countries

Slavic countries are noted for having masculine and feminine versions for many (but not all) of their names. Most of their surnames have suffixes which are found to varying degrees over the different nations. (Of course, many other names do not have suffixes at all.)

Note: the following list does not take regional spelling variations into account.

-ov/-ev (-ova/-eva): Russia, Bulgaria, Ukraine (sometimes as -iv); this has been adopted by many non-Slavic peoples of Central Asia who are or have been under Russian rule, such as the Tatars, Chechens, Uzbeks, Kazakhs, etc.
-ski (-ska): Russia, Poland, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Slovakia
-vich: Russia, Belarus, Poland, Ukraine, Slovakia, ex-Yugoslavia (Croatia and Serbia)
-ich: Very common in former Yugoslavia (Croatia and Serbia), Bulgaria, Slovakia
-in (-ina): Russia, Bulgaria, Serbia
-enko: Ukraine, Belarus, Russia
-ak/-ek/-ik (-akova/-ekova/-ikova): Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Belarus, Slovenia, Croatia
-uk (-ukova): Ukraine, Belarus
If the name has no suffix, it may or may not have a feminine version. Sometimes it has the ending changed (such as the addition of -a). In the Czech Republic and Slovakia, suffixless names are feminized by adding -ová, but this is not done in neighboring Poland.


A full Russian name consists of personal (given) name, patronymic, and family name (surname).

Most Russian family names originated from patronymics, that is, father's name usually formed by adding the adjective suffix -ov(a) or -ev(a)). Contemporary patronymics, however, have a substantive suffix -ich for masculine and the adjective suffix -na for feminine.

For example, the proverbial triad of most common Russian surnames follows:

Ivanov (son of Ivan),
Petrov (son of Petr),
Sidorov (son of Sidor).
Feminine forms of these surnames have the ending -a:

Ivanova (daughter of Ivan),
Petrova (daughter of Petr),
Sidorova (daughter of Sidor).
Such a pattern of name formation is not unique to Russia or even to the Eastern and Southern Slavs in general; quite common are also names derived from professions, places of origin, and personal characteristics, with various suffixes (e.g. -in(a) and -sky (-skaia)).


kuznets (smith) → Kuznetsov—Kuznetsova
portnoi (tailor) → Portnov—Portnova
pastukh (shepherd) → Pastukhov—Pastukhova.
Places of origin:

Moskva (Moscow) → Moskvin—Moskvina,
Smolensk → Smolensky—Smolenskaia,
Riazan → Riazanov—Riazanova.
Personal characteristics:

tolsty (stout, fat) → Tolstov—Tolstova, Tolstoy—Tolstaya,
nos (nose) → Nosov—Nosova,
sedoi (grey-haired or -headed) → Sedov—Sedova.
A considerable number of “artificial” names exists, for example, those given to seminary graduates; such names were based on Great Feasts of the Orthodox Church or Christian virtues.

Great Orthodox Feasts:

rozhdestvo (Christmas) → Rozhdestvensky—Rozhdestvenskaia,
voskresenie (Resurrection) → Voskresensky—Voskresenskaia,
uspenie (Assumption) → Uspensky—Uspenskaia.
Christian virtues:

philagathos (one who loves goodness) → Dobrolubov—Dobrolubova, Dobrolubsky—Dobrolubskaia,
philosophos (one who loves wisdom) → Lubomudrov—Lubomudrova,
theophilos (one who loves God) → Bogolubov—Bogolubova.
Many freed serfs were given surnames after those of their former owners. For example, a serf of the Demidov family might be named Demidovsky, which translates roughly as "belonging to Demidov" or "one of Demidov's bunch".

Grammatically, Russian family names follow the same rules as other nouns or adjectives (names ending with -oy, -aya are grammatically adjectives), with exceptions: some names do not change in different cases and have the same form in both genders (for example, Sedykh, Lata).


Main articles: Polish surnames and Polish name
In Poland and most of the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, surnames first appeared during the late Middle Ages. They initially denoted the differences between various people living in the same town or village and bearing the same name. The conventions were similar to those of English surnames, using occupations, patronymic descent, geographic origins, or personal characteristics. Thus, early surnames indicating occupation include Karczmarz ("innkeeper"), Kowal ("blacksmith"), and Bednarczyk ("young cooper"), while those indicating patronymic descent include Szczepaniak ("Son of Szczepan), Józefowicz ("Son of Józef), and Ka?mirkiewicz ("Son of Kazimierz"). Similarly, early surnames like Mazur ("the one from Mazury") indicated geographic origin, while ones like Nowak ("the new one"), Bia?y ("the pale one"), and Wielgus ("the big one") indicated personal characteristics.

In the early 16th century, ( the Polish Renaissance), toponymic names became common, especially among the nobility. Initially, the surnames were in a form of "[first name] de ("z", "of") [location]", e.g. Jan z Kolna ("John of Kolno"). Later, most surnames were changed to adjective forms, e.g. Jakub Wi?licki ("James of Wi?lica") and Zbigniew Ole?nicki ("Zbigniew of Ole?nica"), with masculine suffixes -ski, -cki and -dzki or respective feminine suffixes -ska, -cka and -dzka. Names formed this way are adjectives grammatically, and therefore change their form depending on gender; for example, Jan Kowalski and Maria Kowalska collectively use the plural Kowalscy.

Names with masculine suffixes -ski, -cki, and -dzki, and corresponding feminine suffixes -ska, -cka, and -dzka became associated with noble origin. Many people from lower classes successively changed their surnames to fit this pattern. This produced many Kowalskis, Bednarskis, Kaczmarskis and so on. Today, although most Polish speakers do not know about noble associations of -ski endings, such names still sound somehow better to them.

A separate class of surnames derive from the names of noble clans. These are used either as separate names or the first part of a double-barrelled name. Thus, persons named Jan Nieczuja and Krzysztof Nieczuja-Machocki might be related. Similarly, after World War I and World War II, many members of Polish underground organizations adopted their war-time pseudonyms as the first part of their surnames. Edward Rydz thus became Marshal of Poland Edward ?mig?y-Rydz and Jan Nowak became Jan Nowak-Jeziora?ski.

South Slavs

Surnames of some South Slavic groups such as Serbs, Croats, Montenegrins, and Bosniaks traditionally end with the suffix "-vi?" (often transliterated to English and other western languages as "ic" or "ich") which is a deminutive indicating descent i.e. "son of." e These are commonly derived from the name of prominent (usually but not always) ancestor male (e.g. "Jovan" → "Jovanovi?"). Sometimes a nickname of prominent ancestor was fused with his propr given name to form a future family name. One prominent example is name of royal dynasty of Kara?or?evi? derived from name and nick name of its founder Kara (Turkish Black) ?or?e Petrovi?. Other examples are Uzunmirkovi?, from Uzun (Turkish Long) Mirko, or Belimarkovi?, from Beli (white) Marko.

Noted exception from patronymic rule was a family name of prominent 19th century Serbia family Babadudi? from Baba (literary grandma) Duda.

In some cases family name was derived from a profession (e.g. blacksmith - "Kova?" → "Kova?evi?").

Children usually inherit fathers family name. In older naming convention which was common in Serbia and Bosnia up until mid 19th century a persons name would consist of three distinct parts persons given name, patronymic derived from father's personal name and the family name, as seen in for example in the name of language reformer Vuk Stefanovi? Karad?i?.

In Serbo-Croatian speaking countries official family names do not have distinct male or female forms. Somewhat archaic unofficial form of adding suffixes to family names to form female form exists, with -eva, implying "daughter of" or "female descendant of" or -ka, implying "wife of" or "married to".

In general family names in all of these countries follow this pattern with some family names being typically Serbian, some typically Croat and yet others being common throughout the whole linguistic region.

Bosniak Muslim names follow the same formation pattern but are usually derived from proper names of Islamic origin, often combining archaic Islamic or feudal Turkish titles i.e. Mulaomerovi?, Šabanad?ovi?, Had?ihafisbegovi? etc.

Also related to Turkish influence is prefix Had?i- found in some family names. Regardless of religion, this prefix was derived from the honorary title which a distinguished ancestor eared by making a pilgrimage to either Christian or Islamic holy places. Had?ibegi?, being Bosniak Muslim example and Had?idimitrijevi? or Had?ianti? being typically Serbian examples.

In parts of Serbo-Croatian speaking countries where tribal affiliations persisted longer, Lika, Herzegovina etc., original family name came to signify practically all people living in one area. Nicknames were adapted into names of individual families, leading to "irregular" family names such as Tesla.

Due to discriminatory laws in Austro-Hungarian Empire some of Serb families of Vojvodina have discarded suffix -i? in an attempt to mask their ethnicity and avoid heavy taxation.

Among the Bulgarians, another South Slavic people, the typical surname suffix is "-ov" (Ivanov, Kovachev), although other popular suffixes also exist. In the Republic of Macedonia, the most popular suffix today is "-ski", which has been to an extent artificially spread in the 20th century to replace most "-ov" names, perceived as sounding too Bulgarian.

Further information: Bulgarian name

Ukraine and Belarus

Ukrainian and Belarusian names evolved from the same Old East Slavic and Ruthenian language (western Rus’) origins. Ukrainian and Belarusian names share many characteristics with family names from other Slavic cultures. Most prominent are the shared root words and suffixes. For example, the root koval (blacksmith) compares to the Polish kowal, and the root bab (woman) is shared with Polish, Slovakian, and Czech. The suffix -vych (son of) corresponds to the South Slavic -vic, the Russian -vich, and the Polish -wicz, while -sky, -ski, and -ska are shared with both Polish and Russian, and -ak with Polish.

However some suffixes are more uniquely characteristic to Ukrainian and Belarusian names, especially: -chuk, -enko (son of), -ko (little [masculine]), -ka (little [feminine]), -shyn, and -uk. See, for example, Ukrainian Presidents Leonid Kravchuk, and Viktor Yushchenko, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, or former Soviet diplomat Andrei Gromyko.


Main article: Jewish name
Jewish names have historically varied, encompassing throughout the centuries several different traditions.


In Romania family names traditionally have an English-like usage: a child inherits his father's family name, and a wife takes her husband's last name. There are however exceptions and social pressure to follow this tradition is not particularly strong in most families.

Until the 19th century, the names were primarily of the form "[given name] [father's name] [grandfather's name]". The few exceptions are usually famous people or the nobility (boyars). The name reform introduced around 1850, had the names changed to a western style, most likely imported from France, consisting of a given name followed by a family name.

As such, the name is called prenume (French prénom), while the family name is called nume or, when otherwise ambiguous, nume de familie ("family name"). Although not mandatory, middle names (Romanian numele mic, literally, "small name") are common.

Historically, when the family name reform was introduced in the mid 19th century, the default was to use a patronym, or a matronym when the father was dead or unknown. The typical derivation was to append the suffix -escu to the father's name, e.g. Anghelescu ("Anghel's child") and Petrescu ("Petre's child"). The other common derivation was to append the suffix -eanu to the name of the place of origin, especially when one came from a different region, e.g. Munteanu ("from Munte") and Moldoveanu ("from Moldova"). These uniquely Romanian suffixes strongly identify ancestoral nationality.

There are also descriptive family names derived from occupations, nicknames, and events, e.g. Botezatu ("baptised"), Barbu ("bushy bearded"), Prodan ("foster"), B?lan ("blond"), and Fieraru ("smith").

Romanian family names remain the same regardless of the sex of the person.

Although given names appear before family names in most Romanian contexts, official documents invert the order, ostensibly for filing purposes. Correspondingly, Romanians often introduce themselves with their family names first, especially in official contexts, e.g. a student signing a test paper in school.


Main article: Indian family name
India is a country with numerous distinct cultures and language groups within it. Thus, Indian surnames, where formalized, fall into seven general types. And many people from the southern states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala do not use any formal surnames, though most have one.

Patronymics and Ancestry, where the father's name or an ancestor's given name is used in its original form or in a derived form (e.g. Aggarwal or Agrawal or Agrawala derived from the ancestor Agrasen).
Occupations (Chamar, Chaudhury, Patel or Patil meaning Village Headman, Gandhi, Kamath, Kulkarni, Kapadia, Nadkarni, Patwardhan, Patwari, Shenoy, etc.) and priestly distinctions (Bhat, Bhattar, Trivedi, Chaturvedi, Twivedi, Purohit, Mukhopadhyay) Businesspeople:Amin, Shah. In addition many Parsi, Bohra and Gujarati families have used English trade names as last names since the 18th and 19th centuries (Contractor, Engineer, Builder).
Caste or clan names (Pillai, Gounder, Parmar, Sindhi, Vaish).Reddy and naidu are not surnames but suffixes to first names to indicate their clan or caste.
Place names or names derived from places of ancestral origin (Marwari, Gawaskar, Mangeshkar, Kapoor, Kokradi ,Karnad).
Muslim surnames, generally following the same rules used in Pakistan. Khan among the most popular, often signifying Afghan/Central Asian descent.
Bestowed titles or other honorifics (titles bestowed by Kings, Rajas, Nawabs and other nobles before the British Raj (Wali, Rai, Rao, Tharakan, Panicker, Vallikappen, Moocken, etc.) and those bestowed by the British (Rai, Bahadur). In Bengal, it is also common custom to create hybrid surnames based on the previous last names and new titles (Raichoudhury)
Names indicating nobility or feudal associations or honorifics (Varma, Singh, Burman, Raja, Reddy, Tagore, Thakur)
Colonial Surnames forced on natives based on tax or after religious conversion, particularly in Goa which was under Portuguese control (D'Cruz, Pinto). Often, surnames of Portuguese noble families who were accepted as God parents were used as the surnames of the converted. Some families still keep their ancestral Hindu surnames along with their given Catholic Surnames eg. Miranda-Prabhu and Pereira-Shenoy.
The convention is to write the first name followed by middle names and surname. It is common to use the father's first name as the middle name or last name even though it is not universal. In some Indian states like Maharashtra, official documents list the family name first, followed by a comma and the given names.

It is customary for wives to take the surname of their husband after marriage. In modern times, in urban areas at least, this practice is not universal. In some rural areas, particularly in north India, wives may also take a new first name after their nuptials. Children inherit their surnames from their father.

In some parts of Southern India, no formal Surname is used, because the family has decided to forgo its existing clan name. This practice has its origin due to the persecution of the upper classes, notably the brahmins in the middle of twentith century. There has been a minor reversal of this trend in the recent times. This practice is prevalent in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. For example, people from the kongu vellala gounder community of Tamilnadu have in general two titles: the caste title Gounder and the clan name, example Perungudi. Nowadays it is common for people not to use any of these titles. So a Konguvel, son of Shanmuganathan, of say Erode, would call himself Konguvel Shanmughanathan, instead of the traditional Erode Perungudi Konguvel Gounder. This practise is of very recent origin though. Wife or child takes the given name of the husband or father (Usha married Satish, and may therefore be called Usha Satish or simply S. Usha). In many communities, especially Christian, names are formed by the given name as the first name, the family name and house name as the middle name(s) and the father's/husband's given name as the last name. Thus, the last name changes with each generation. The house name would also change as generations move out of their consanguineal family homes with the changing ownership of property upon the death of the patriarch.

Jains generally use Jain, Shah, Firodia, Singhal or Gupta as their last names. Sikhs generally use the words Singh ("lion") and Kaur ("princess") as surnames added to the otherwise unisex first names of men and women, respectively. It is also common to use a different surname after Singh in which case Singh or Kaur are used as middle names (Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Surinder Kaur Badal). In modern times, many Sikh women also use "Singh" as their last name following the western concept of patronymic or marital inheritance (Surinder K. Singh). Other middle names or honorifics that are sometimes used as surnames include Kumar, Dev, Lal, and Chand.

The modern day spellings of names originated when families translated their surnames to English, with no standardization across the country. Variations are regional, based on how the name was translated from the local language to English in the 18th, 19th or 20th centuries during British rule. Therefore, it is understood in the local traditions that Agrawal and Aggarwal represent the same name derived from Uttar Pradesh and Punjab respectively. Similarly, Tagore derives from Bengal while Thakur is from Hindi-speaking areas. The officially-recorded spellings tended to become the standard for that family. In the modern times, some states have attempted at standardization, particularly where the surnames were corrupted because of the early British insistence of shortening them for convenience. Thus Bandopadhyay became Banerji, Mukhopadhay became Mukherji, Chattopadhyay became Chatterji etc. This coupled with various other spelling variations created several surnames based on the original surnames. The West Bengal Government now insists on re-converting all the variations to their original form when the child is enrolled in school.

Some parts of Sri Lanka, Thailand, Myanmar, and Indonesia have similar patronymic customs as that of India.


See also: Habesha name
The patronymic custom in most of Eritrea and Ethiopia gives children the father's exact first name as their surname. The family gives the child its first name. There is no middle name given in this culture. So for example, a person's name might be Demesie Birhanu. In this case, Demesie is the first name and Birhanu is the surname, and also the first name of the father.

The paternal grandfather's name is often used to further identify a person, for example in school registration. Also, different cultures and tribes use family name as father's name or gradfather's name. For example, some Oromos use Warra Ali to mean families of Ali. Where Ali, is either the house hold owner, a father or grandfather. In Ethiopia familiy naming is complex as cultures. There are many cultures and nations or tribes and there is no one real formula to give family name as Ethiopian representation. But in general, Ethiopians use their fathers' name in most cases to be identified or some times father name and gradfather name together.

Cultures of China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam

Further information: Chinese surname, Korean family name, Japanese name, and Vietnamese name
In Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese cultures, the family name is placed before the given names. So the terms "first name" and "last name" are potentially confusing and should be avoided, as they do not in this case denote the given and family names.

Chinese names many times originate through royal decree, awarded by the Emperor, such as Kwong or Li. Some Chinese adopt a Western given name in front of their Chinese name, e.g. Martin LEE Chu-ming or even as a nickname. In addition, many people with Chinese names have non-Chinese first names which are commonly used. Sometimes, the Chinese name becomes used as a middle name, e.g. Martin Chu-ming Lee or Royce Pak-Ho Chan. Chinese names used in Western countries may be rearranged when written to avoid misunderstanding, e.g. cellist Yo-Yo Ma. However, some well-known Chinese names remain in the traditional order even in English literature, e.g. Mao Zedong, Yao Ming.

Some Chinese may also have two given names, one which is acquired at birth (ming ?), and a second given at adulthood (zi ?). The two names often have intertwining meanings, or are given based on a talent or valued profession, such as (mozhen ??, true-ink, for a calligrapher). This practice was common in imperial days in wealthy/aristocratic families, and was used to mark rank and express politeness. The "ming" was used by superiors to address inferiors and by the individual to indicate themselves, expressing humbleness. The "zi" was used by inferiors to address superiors as a form of politeness.

Vietnamese and Korean names are generally stated in East Asian order (family name first) even when writing in English. When translating into English, Japanese people born in the Meiji period or afterwards usually have their names in Western order while Japanese people born before the Meiji period are usually referred in Japanese order.

In English writings originating from non-English cultures (e.g. English newspapers in China), the family name is often written with all capital letters to avoid being mistaken as a middle name, e.g. Laurence Yee-ming KWONG or using small capitals, as Laurence KWONG Yee-ming or with a comma, as AKUTAGAWA, Ry?nosuke to make clear which name is the family name. Such practice is particularly common in mass-media reporting international events like the Olympic Games. The CIA World Factbook stated that "The Factbook capitalizes the surname or family name of individuals for the convenience of [their] users who are faced with a world of different cultures and naming conventions". For example, Leslie Cheung Kwok Wing might be mistaken as Mr. Wing by readers unaware of Chinese naming conventions.

Vietnamese family names present an added complication. Like Chinese family names, they are placed at the beginning of a name, but unlike Chinese names, they are not usually the primary form of address. Rather, people will be referred to by their given name, usually accompanied by an honorific. For example, Phan Van Khai is properly addressed as Mr. Khai, even though Phan is his family name. This pattern contrasts with that of most other East Asian naming conventions.

In Japan, the civil law forces a common surname for every married couple, unless in a case of international marriage. In most cases, women surrender their surnames upon marriage, and use the surnames of their husbands. However, a convention that a man uses his wife's family name if the wife is an only child is sometimes observed. A similar tradition called ru zhui (??) is common among Chinese when the bride's family is wealthy and has no son but wants the heir to pass on their assets under the same family name. The Chinese character zhui (?) carries a money radical (?), which implies that this tradition was originally based on financial reasons. All their offspring carry the mother's family name. If the groom is the first born with an obligation to carry his own ancestor's name, a compromise may be reached in that the first male child carries the mother's family name while subsequent offspring carry the father's family name. The tradition is still in use in many Chinese communities outside of mainland China, but largely disused in China because of social changes from communism. Due to the economic reform in the past decade, accumulation and inheritance of personal wealth made a come back to the Chinese society. It is unknown if this financially motivated tradition would also come back to mainland China.

In Korean and Chinese cultures (including Hong Kong, Singapore, and non-aboriginal Taiwan), women keep their own surnames, while the family as a whole is referred to by the surnames of the husbands.

In Hong Kong, some women would be known to the public with the surnames of their husbands preceding their own surnames, such as Anson Chan Fang On Sang. Anson is an English given name, On Sang is the given name in Chinese, Chan is the surname of Anson's husband, and Fang is her own surname. A name change on legal documents is not necessary.

In Macau, some people have their names in Portuguese spelt with some Portuguese style, such as Carlos do Rosario Tchiang.

Chinese women in Canada, especially Hongkongers in Toronto, would preserve their maiden names before the surnames of their husbands when written in English, for instance Rosa Chan Leung, where Chan is the maiden name, and Leung is the surname of the husband.

In Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese, surnames are predominantly monosyllabic (written with one character), though a small number of common disyllabic (or written with two characters) surnames exists (e.g. the Chinese name Ou Yang, the Korean name Namgung and the Vietnamese name Phan-Tran).

Many Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese surnames are the same, but simply pronounced different and even transliterated differently overseas in Western nations. For example, the common Chinese surnames Chen, Chan, Chin, Cheng and Tan are often all the same exact character ?. The common Korean surname Kim is also the common Chinese surname Jin, and written ?. The common Mandarin surnames Lin or Lim (?) is also one and the same as the common Cantonese or Vietnamese surname Lam.


In Mongolia, it is customary for children to take the first name of their father as their surname (see patronymic). For example the name Yuhjijad Befinsioan indicates that the person's father's first name is Befinsioan.


Armenian surnames almost always have an ending transliterated into English as -yan or -ian (spelled -ean in Western Armenian and pre-Soviet Eastern Armenian, of Parthian origin, presumably meaning "son of"), though names with that ending can also be found among Persians and a few other nationalities. Armenian surnames can derive from a geographic location, profession, noble rank, personal characteristic or personal name of an ancestor. Armenians in the diaspora sometimes adapt their surnames to help assimiliation. In Russia, many have changed -yan to -ov (or -ova for women). In Turkey, many have changed the ending to -oglu (also meaning "son of"). In English and French-speaking countries, many have shortened their name by removing the ending (for example Charles Aznavour). In ancient Armenia, many noble names ended with the locative -t'si (example, Khorenatsi). Several modern Armenian names also have a Turkish suffix which appears before -ian/-yan: -lian denotes a placename; -djian denotes a profession. Some Western Armenian names have a particle Der, while their Eastern counterparts have Ter. This particle indicates an ancestor who was a priest (lower Armenian priests can marry, while bishops cannot). Thus someone named Der Bedrosian (Western) or Ter Petrosian (Eastern) is a descendent of an Armenian priest. The convention is still in use today: the children of a priest named Hagop Sarkisian would be called Der Sarkisian.


Georgian surnames end alternately with the suffixes of "-shvili", Georgian for "child", "Offspring", or "-dze", Georgian for 'Son'. Several other location-specific endings exist: In western Georgia the endings are "-ia", "-iani", meaning 'belonging to', or 'hailing from'.




Further information: Hungarian name, Hungarian language#Name order
In Hungarian, like Asian languages but unlike all other European ones, the family name is placed before the given names. This usage doesn't apply to non-Hungarian names, for example "Tony Blair" will remain "Tony Blair" when written in Hungarian texts.

However, names of Hungarian individuals appear in Western order in English writing.

North Caucassian Adyghe Family Surnames

In Circassian espically Adyge and Kabardian, hereditary surnames were adopted for thousands years. Every Circassian people belong to a Clan.

Most surnames of Adyge origin fall into six types:

Occupations (e.g., Smith”,“Hunter”, “Goldsmith” etc.)
Personal characteristics (e.g., Short, deaf, beautiful)
Geographical features (e.g., Hill, River, cave, Wood, Fields etc.)
Animal Names (e.g., Bear, Horse, snake,Fox, Wild boar etc.)
Patronymics and ancestry, often from a male's given name son of.....”) or from a ethnicty name (e.g., Shapsug, Kabardey)
Relagious names (e.g., Priest', Yefendi, Mullah, )
In Circassian culture women even they marry, not to change their surnames. By keeping their surname and passing that name down to the next generation meaning that children know who is the relative from mother side and respect to her family by husband side.

On the other hands, children can not to marry with a person even a far away cousin or nephew.

In Circassian traditon Circassian women call such as “dauther of ...”

Abkhaz Families who has the family names such as above sources. Abkhazian, Adygean and Wubikh peoples has same roots.

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Q. What's the difference between a Coat of Arms & Family Crest?
A. A coat of arms technically refers to the cloth covering worn by knights over their armor to display their arms. Arms are the correct term used to describe what we call today a Coat of Arms or Family Crest, with a Crest being the charge (symbol) over the helmet, so both terms coat of arms and family crest are the same thing.

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