A given name (also known as a first name, forename or Christian name) is a part of a person's personal name. It identifies a person, and differentiates that person from the other members of a group (typically a family or clan) who have a common surname. The term given name refers to the fact that the name usually is bestowed upon a person, normally to a child by their parents at or close to the time of birth. A Christian name, a first name which historically was given at baptism, is now also typically given by the parents at birth.
In informal situations, given names are often used in a familiar and friendly manner. In more formal situations, a person's surname is more commonly used—unless a distinction needs to be made between people with the same surname. The idioms "on a first-name basis" and "being on first-name terms" refer to the familiarity inherent in addressing someone by their given name.
By contrast, a surname (also known as a family name, last name, or gentile name), which is normally inherited, is typically shared with other members of one's immediate family. Regnal names and religious or monastic names are special given names bestowed upon someone receiving a crown or entering a religious order. Such a person then typically becomes known chiefly by that name.
The order given name – family name, commonly known as the Western order, is used throughout most European countries and in countries that have cultures predominantly influenced by European culture, including North and South America; North, East, Central and West India; Australia, New Zealand, and the Philippines.
The order family name – given name, commonly known as the Eastern order, is primarily used in East Asia (for example in China, Japan, Korea, Malaysian Chinese, Singapore, and Vietnam, among others), as well as in Southern and North-Eastern parts of India, and in Hungary. This order is common also in Austria and Bavaria, and in France, Belgium, Greece and Italy, possibly because of the influence of bureaucracy, which commonly puts the family name before the given name. In China and Korea, part of the given name may be shared among all members of a given generation within a family and extended family or families, in order to differentiate those generations from other generations.
The order given name – father's family name – mother's family name is commonly used in Spanish-speaking countries to acknowledge the families of both parents. Today the order can also be changed legally in Spain and Uruguay using given name – mother's family name – father's family name.
The order given name – mother's family name – father's family name is commonly used in Portuguese-speaking countries to acknowledge the families of both parents.
In many Western cultures, people often have more than one given name. One of those which is not the first in succession might be used exclusively as the name which that person goes by, such as in the cases of John Edgar Hoover and Mary Barbara Hamilton Cartland.
A child's given name or names are usually chosen by the parents soon after birth. If a name is not assigned at birth, one may be given at a naming ceremony, with family and friends in attendance. In most jurisdictions, a child's name at birth is a matter of public record, inscribed on a birth certificate, or its equivalent. In western cultures, people normally retain the same given name throughout their lives. However, in some cases these names may be changed by following legal processes or by repute. People may also change their names when immigrating from one country to another with different naming conventions.
In certain jurisdictions, a government-appointed registrar of births may refuse to register a name that may cause a child harm, which is considered offensive or which are deemed impractical. In France, the agency can refer the case to a local judge. Some jurisdictions, such as Sweden, restrict the spelling of names.[i]
Parents may choose a name because of its meaning. This may be a personal or familial meaning, such as giving a child the name of an admired person, or it may be an example of nominative determinism, in which the parents give the child a name that they believe will be lucky or favourable for the child. Given names most often derive from the following categories:
The most familiar example of this, to Western readers, is the use of Biblical and saints' names in most of the Christian countries (with Ethiopia, in which names were often ideals or abstractions—Haile Selassie, "power of the Trinity"; Haile Miriam, "power of Mary"—as the most conspicuous exception). However, the name Jesus is considered taboo or sacrilegious in some parts of the Christian world, though this taboo does not extend to the cognate Joshua or related forms which are common in many languages even among Christians. In some Spanish speaking countries, the name Jesus is considered a normal given name.
Similarly, the name Mary, now popular among Christians, particularly Roman Catholics, was considered too holy for secular use until about the 12th century. In countries that particularly venerated Mary, this remained the case much longer; in Poland, until the arrival in the 17th century of French queens named Marie.
Most common given names in English (and many other European languages) can be grouped into broad categories based on their origin:
Frequently, a given name has versions in many different languages. For example, the biblical name Susanna also occurs in its original biblical Hebrew version, Shoshannah, its Spanish and Portuguese version Susana, its French version, Suzanne, and its Polish version, Zuzanna.
Despite the uniformity of Chinese surnames, Chinese given names can be fairly original because Chinese characters can be combined extensively. Unlike European languages with their Biblical and Greco-Roman heritage, the Chinese language does not have a particular set of words reserved for given names: any combination of Chinese characters can theoretically be used as a given name. Nonetheless, a number of popular characters commonly recur, including "Strong" (伟, Wěi), "Learned" (文, Wén), "Peaceful" (安, Ān), and "Beautiful" (美, Měi). Despite China's increasing urbanization, a great many names – such as "Pine" (松, Sōng) and "Plum" (梅, Méi) – also still reference nature.
Most Chinese given names are two characters long and – despite the examples above – the two characters together may mean nothing at all. Instead, they may be selected to include particular sounds, tones, or radicals; to balance the Chinese elements of a child's birth chart; or to honor a generation poem handed down through the family for centuries. Traditionally, it is considered an affront and not an honor to have a newborn named after an older relative, so that full names are rarely passed down through a family in the manner of American English Seniors, Juniors, III, etc. Similarly, it is considered disadvantageous for the child to bear a name already made famous by someone else, although Romanizations might be identical or a common name like Liu Xiang might be borne by tens of thousands.
In many Westernised Asian locations, many Asians also have an unofficial or even registered Western (typically English) given name, in addition to their Asian given name. This is also true for Asian students at colleges in countries such as the United States, Canada, and Australia as well as among international businesspeople.
Most names in English are traditionally masculine or feminine, but there are unisex names as well, such as Jordan, Jamie, Jesse, Alex, Ash, Chris/Kris, Hilary/Hillary, Kim, Leslie/Lesley, Joe/Jo, Jackie, Pat, Dana, or Sam. Often, one gender is predominant. Also, a particular spelling is often more common for either men or women, even if the pronunciation is the same. Predicting gender using names in the US or Europe is about 99% accurate.
Many culture groups, past and present, did not or do not gender names strongly, so that many or all of their names are unisex. On the other hand, in many languages including most Indo-European languages (but not English), gender is inherent in the grammar. Some countries have laws preventing unisex names, requiring parents to give their children sex-specific names. Names may have different gender connotations from country to country or language to language.
The popularity (frequency) distribution of given names typically follows a power law distribution.
Since about 1800 in England and Wales and in the U.S., the popularity distribution of given names has been shifting so that the most popular names are losing popularity. For example, in England and Wales, the most popular female and male names given to babies born in 1800 were Mary and John, with 24% of female babies and 22% of male babies receiving those names, respectively. In contrast, the corresponding statistics for England and Wales in 1994 were Emily and James, with 3% and 4% of names, respectively. Not only have Mary and John gone out of favour in the English speaking world, the overall distribution of names has also changed significantly over the last 100 years for females, but not for males. This has led to an increasing amount of diversity for female names.
Education, ethnicity, religion, class and political ideology affect parents' choice of names. In the United States, popular names tend to be chosen by parents with more education. Politically conservative parents choose common and traditional names, while politically liberal parents choose the names of literary characters or other relatively obscure cultural figures. Devout members of religions often choose names from their religious scriptures. For example, Hindu parents may name a daughter Saanvi after the goddess, Jewish parents may name a boy Isaac after one of the earliest ancestral figures, and Muslim parents may name a boy Mohammed after the prophet Mohammed.
There are many tools parents can use to choose names, including books, websites and applications. An example is the Baby Name Game that uses the Elo rating system to rank parents preferred names and help them select one.
Popular culture appears to have an influence on naming trends, at least in the United States and United Kingdom. Newly famous celebrities and public figures may influence the popularity of names. For example, in 2004, the names "Keira" and "Kiera" (anglicisation of Irish name Ciara) respectively became the 51st and 92nd most popular girls' names in the UK, following the rise in popularity of British actress Keira Knightley. In 2001, the use of Colby as a boys' name for babies in the United States jumped from 233rd place to 99th, just after Colby Donaldson was the runner-up on Survivor: The Australian Outback. Also, the female name "Miley" which before was not in the top 1000 was 278th most popular in 2007, following the rise to fame of singer-actress Miley Cyrus (who was named Destiny at birth).
Characters from fiction also seem to influence naming. After the name Kayla was used for a character on the American soap opera Days of Our Lives, the name's popularity increased greatly. The name Tammy, and the related Tamara became popular after the movie Tammy and the Bachelor came out in 1957. Some names were established or spread by being used in literature. Notable examples include Pamela, invented by Sir Philip Sidney for a pivotal character in his epic prose work, The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia; Jessica, created by William Shakespeare in his play The Merchant of Venice; Vanessa, created by Jonathan Swift; Fiona, a character from James Macpherson's spurious cycle of Ossian poems; Wendy, an obscure name popularised by J. M. Barrie in his play Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up; and Madison, a character from the movie Splash. Lara and Larissa were rare in America before the appearance of Doctor Zhivago, and have become fairly common since.
Songs can influence the naming of children. Jude jumped from 814th most popular male name in 1968 to 668th in 1969, following the release of the Beatles' "Hey Jude". Similarly, Layla charted as 969th most popular in 1972 after the Eric Clapton song. It had not been in the top 1,000 before.
Kayleigh became a particularly popular name in the United Kingdom following the release of a song by the British rock group Marillion. Government statistics in 2005 revealed that 96% of Kayleighs were born after 1985, the year in which Marillion released "Kayleigh".
Popular culture figures need not be admirable in order to influence naming trends. For example, Peyton came into the top 1000 as a female given name for babies in the United States for the first time in 1992 (at #583), immediately after it was featured as the name of an evil nanny in the film The Hand That Rocks the Cradle. On the other hand, historical events can influence child-naming. For example, the given name Adolf has fallen out of use since the end of World War II in 1945.
In contrast with these anecdotal evidence, a comprehensive study of Norwegian first name datasets shows that the main factors that govern first name dynamics are endogenous. Monitoring the popularity of 1000 names along 130 years, the authors have identified only five cases of exogenous effects, three of them are connected to the names given to the babies of the Norwegian royal family.
Where births are required to be officially registered, the entire name entered onto a births register or birth certificate may by that fact alone become the person's legal name. The assumption in the Western world is often that the name from birth (or perhaps from baptism or brit milah) will persist to adulthood in the normal course of affairs—notably throughout life for men, and until marriage for women. Some possible changes concern middle names, diminutive forms, and changes relating to parental status (due to one's parents' divorce, or adoption by different parents). Matters are very different in some cultures in which a birth name is for childhood only, rather than for life.
The French and English-adopted terms née and né (/neɪ/; French: [ne]; from French né[e], meaning 'born')[a] have been used to indicate maiden or married names. The term née, having feminine grammatical gender, can be used to denote a woman's surname at birth that has been replaced or changed. In most English-speaking cultures, it is specifically applied to a woman's maiden name after her surname has changed due to marriage. The term né, having masculine grammatical gender, can likewise be used to denote a man's surname at birth which has subsequently been changed or replaced. The diacritic marks (the acute accent) are considered significant to its spelling, and ultimately its meaning, but are sometimes omitted. According to Oxford University's Dictionary of Modern English Usage, the terms are typically placed after the second surname (e.g. 'Ann Smith née Jones' or 'Adam Smith né Jones'). Because they are terms adopted into English from French, they do not have to be italicized, but often are.
In the last century and well into the present one, grown-up British people, with rare exceptions, addressed each other by their surnames. What we now call first names (then Christian names) were very little used outside the family. Men who became friends would drop the Mr and use their bare surnames as a mark of intimacy: e.g. Holmes and Watson. First names were only generally used for, and among, children. Today we have gone to the other extreme. People tend to be on first-name terms from the moment of introduction, and surnames are often hardly mentioned. Moreover, first names are relentlessly abbreviated, particularly in the media: Susan becomes Sue, Terrence Terry and Robert Bob not only to friends and relations, but to millions who know these people only as faces and/or voices.quoted in Burchfield, R. W. (1996). The New Fowler's Modern English Usage (3rd ed.). p. 512. ISBN 978-0199690367.
Laws have existed since the French Revolution stating that 'no citizen can use a first name or surname other than that written on their birth certificate' – but many official organisations address both partners by the husband's surname.
Arabic names were historically based on a long naming system; most Arabs did not have given/middle/family names, but a full chain of names. This system is mainly in use throughout the Arab world.Chinese name
Chinese personal names are names used by those from mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, and the Chinese diaspora overseas. Due to China's historical dominance of East Asian culture, many names used in Korea and Vietnam are adaptations of Chinese names, or have historical roots in Chinese, with appropriate adaptation to accommodate linguistic differences.
Modern Chinese names consist of a surname known as xing (姓, xìng), which comes first and is usually but not always monosyllabic, followed by a personal name called ming (名, míng), which is nearly always mono- or disyllabic. Prior to the 20th century, educated Chinese also utilized a "courtesy name" or "style name" called zi (字, zì) by which they were known among those outside their family and closest friends.
From at least the time of the Shang dynasty, the Han Chinese observed a number of naming taboos regulating who may or may not use a person's given name (without being disrespectful). In general, using the given name connoted the speaker's authority and superior position to the addressee. Peers and younger relatives were barred from speaking it. Owing to this, many historical Chinese figures—particularly emperors—used a half-dozen or more different names in different contexts and for different speakers. Those possessing names (sometimes even mere homophones) identical to the emperor's were frequently forced to change them. The normalization of personal names after the May Fourth Movement has generally eradicated aliases such as the school name and courtesy name but traces of the old taboos remain, particularly within families.Courtesy name
A courtesy name (Chinese: 字; pinyin: zì; literally: 'character'), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the Sinosphere, including China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam.Formerly in China, the zi would replace a male's given name when he turned twenty, as a symbol of adulthood and respect. It could be given either by the parents or by the first personal teacher on the first day of family school. Women might adopt a zi in place of their given name upon marriage. One also may adopt a self-chosen courtesy name.
In China, the popularity of the custom has declined to a large extent since the May Fourth Movement in 1919.A courtesy name is not to be confused with an art name (hào, Chinese: 號, Korean: 호), another frequently mentioned term for an alternative name in Asian culture-based context. An art name is usually associated with art and is more of a pen name or a pseudonym that is more spontaneous, compared to a courtesy name.Daniel
Daniel is a masculine given name and a surname of Hebrew origin. It means, "God is my judge", and derives from two early biblical figures, primary among them Daniel from the Book of Daniel (see also "God is my strength" cf. Gabriel). It is a common given name for males, and is also used as a surname. It is also the basis for various derived given names and surnames.Irish name
A formal Irish-language personal name consists of a given name and a surname. Surnames in Irish are generally patronymic in etymology, although they are no longer literal patronyms, as Icelandic names are. The form of a surname varies according to whether its bearer is male or female and in the case of a married woman, whether she chooses to adopt her husband's surname.
An alternative traditional naming convention consists of the first name followed by a double patronym, usually with the father and grandfather's names. This convention is not used for official purposes but is generalized in Gaeltachtaí, or Irish-speaking areas, and also survives in some rural non-Gaeltacht areas. Sometimes the name of the mother or grandmother may be used instead of that of the father or grandfather.Japanese name
Japanese names (日本人の氏名, Nihonjin no Shimei) in modern times usually consist of a family name (surname), followed by a given name. More than one given name is not generally used. Japanese names are usually written in kanji, which are characters usually Chinese in origin but Japanese in pronunciation. The kanji for a name may have a variety of possible Japanese pronunciations, hence parents might use hiragana or katakana when giving a birth name to their newborn child. Names written in hiragana or katakana are phonetic renderings, and so lack the visual meaning of names expressed in the logographic kanji.
Japanese family names are extremely varied: according to estimates, there are over 100,000 different surnames in use today in Japan. The three most common family names in Japan are Satō (佐藤), Suzuki (鈴木), and Takahashi (高橋). This diversity is in stark contrast to the situation in other nations of the East Asian cultural sphere, which reflects a different history: while Chinese surnames have been in use for millennia and were often reflective of an entire clan or adopted from nobles (with or without any genetic relationship) and were thence transferred to Korea and Vietnam via noble names, the vast majority of modern Japanese family names date only to the 19th century, following the Meiji restoration, and were chosen at will. The recent introduction of surnames has two additional effects: Japanese names became widespread when the country had a very large population (over 30 million during the early Meiji era – see Demographics of Imperial Japan) instead of dating to ancient times (estimated population at 1 CE is 300,000, for instance – see Demographics of Japan before Meiji Restoration), and since little time has passed, Japanese names have not experienced as significant a surname extinction as has occurred in the much longer history in China.Surnames occur with varying frequency in different regions; for example, the names Chinen (知念), Higa (比嘉), and Shimabukuro (島袋) are common in Okinawa but not in other parts of Japan; this is mainly due to differences between the language and culture of Yamato people and Okinawans. Many Japanese family names derive from features of the rural landscape; for example, Ishikawa (石川) means "river of the stones", Yamamoto (山本) means "the base of the mountain", and Inoue (井上) means "above the well".
While family names follow relatively consistent rules, given names are much more diverse in pronunciation and character usage. While many common names can easily be spelled or pronounced, many parents choose names with unusual characters or pronunciations, and such names cannot in general be spelled or pronounced unless both the spelling and pronunciation are given. Unusual pronunciations have especially become common, with this trend having increased significantly since the 1990s. For example, the popular masculine name 大翔 is traditionally pronounced "Hiroto", but in recent years alternative pronunciations "Haruto", "Yamato", "Taiga", "Sora", "Taito", "Daito", and "Masato" have all entered use.Male names often end in -rō (郎 "son", but also 朗 "clear, bright"; e.g. "Ichirō") -ta (太 "great, thick"; e.g. "Kenta") or -o (男 / 雄 / 夫 "man"; e.g. "Teruo" or "Akio"), or contain ichi (一 "first [son]"; e.g. "Ken'ichi"), kazu (also written with 一 "first [son]", along with several other possible characters; e.g. "Kazuhiro"), ji (二 "second [son]" or 次 "next"; e.g. "Jirō"), or dai (大 "great, large"; e.g. "Daichi").
Female names often end in -ko (子 "child"; e.g. "Keiko") or -mi (美 "beauty"; e.g. "Yumi"). Other popular endings for female names include -ka (香 "scent, perfume" or 花 "flower"; e.g. "Reika") and -na (奈, or 菜, meaning "greens" or "apple tree"; e.g. "Haruna").John (given name)
John is a common masculine given name in the English language of Semitic origin. The name is derived from the Latin Ioannes and Iohannes, which are forms of the Greek name Iōannēs (Ἰωάννης), originally borne by Hellenized Jews transliterating the Hebrew name Yohanan (יוֹחָנָן), "Graced by Yah", or Yehohanan (יְהוֹחָנָן), "Yahweh is Gracious". There are numerous forms of the name in different languages; these were formerly often simply translated as "John" in English but are increasingly left in their native forms (see sidebar).It is among the most common given names in Anglophone, Arabic, Persian, Turkic and European countries; traditionally, it was the most common, although it has not been since the latter half of the 20th century. John owes its unique popularity to two highly revered saints, John the Baptist (forerunner of Jesus Christ) and the apostle John (traditionally considered the author of the Gospel of John); the name has since been chosen as the regnal or religious name of a vast number of emperors, kings, popes and patriarchs. Initially, it was a favorite name among the Greeks but it flourished in all of Europe after the First Crusade.Joseph
Joseph is a masculine given name originating from Hebrew, recorded in the Hebrew Bible, as יוֹסֵף, Standard Hebrew Yossef, Tiberian Hebrew and Aramaic Yôsēp̄. The name can be translated from Hebrew יוסף יהוה yosef YHWH as signifying "Yahweh/Jehovah shall increase/add".The name appears in the book of Genesis: Joseph is Jacob's eleventh son and Rachel's first son, and known in the Jewish Bible as Yossef ben-Yaakov.In the New Testament there are two others named Joseph: 1) Joseph, the husband of Mary, the mother of Jesus; and, 2) Joseph of Arimathea, a secret disciple of Jesus who supplied the tomb in which Jesus was buried.
The form "Joseph" is used mostly in English, French and German-speaking countries. This spelling form is also found as a variant in the Nordic countries. In Persian the name is called "Yousef". In Portuguese and Spanish, the name is called "José". In Arabic, including in the Quran, the name is spelled يوسف or Yūsuf. The name has enjoyed significant popularity in its many forms in numerous countries, and Joseph was one of the two names, along with Robert, to have remained in the top 10 boys' names list in the US from 1925 to 1972. It is especially common in contemporary Israel, as either "Yossi" or "Yossef", and in Italy, where the name "Giuseppe" was the most common male name in the 20th century.Korean name
A Korean name consists of a family name followed by a given name, as used by the Korean people in both South Korea and North Korea. In the Korean language, ireum or seongmyeong usually refers to the family name (seong) and given name (ireum in a narrow sense) together.
Traditional Korean family names typically consist of only one syllable. There is no middle name in the English language sense. Many Koreans have their given names made of a generational name syllable and an individually distinct syllable, though this practice is declining in the younger generations. The generational name syllable is shared by siblings in North Korea, and by all members of the same generation of an extended family in South Korea. Married men and women keep their full personal names, and children inherit the father's family name unless otherwise settled when registering the marriage.
The family names are subdivided into bon-gwan (clans), i.e. extended families which originate in the lineage system used in previous historical periods. Each clan is identified by a specific place, and traces its origin to a common patrilineal ancestor.
Early names based on the Korean language were recorded in the Three Kingdoms period (57 BCE – 668 CE), but with the growing adoption of the Chinese writing system, these were gradually replaced by names based on Chinese characters (hanja). During periods of Mongol influence, the ruling class supplemented their Korean names with Mongolian names.
Because of the many changes in Korean romanization practices over the years, modern Koreans, when using languages written in Latin script, romanize their names in various ways, most often approximating the pronunciation in English orthography. Some keep the original order of names, while others reverse the names to match the usual Western pattern.
According to the population and housing census of 2000 conducted by the South Korean government, there are a total of 286 surnames and 4,179 clans.List of most popular given names
The most popular given names vary nationally, regionally, and culturally. Lists of widely used given names can consist of those most often bestowed upon infants born within the last year, thus reflecting the current naming trends, or else be composed of the personal names occurring most within the total population.Michael
Michael is a masculine given name that comes from Hebrew: מִיכָאֵל / מיכאל (Mīkhāʼēl [miχaˈʔel]), derived from the question מי כאל mī kāʼēl, meaning "Who is like God?".Patronymic surnames that come from Michael include Carmichael, DiMichele, MacMichael, McMichael, Michaels, Micallef, Michaelson, Michalka, Michels, Mihály, Mikeladze, Mikhaylov, Mikkelsen, Mitchell, Michalski, Mykhaylenko and Mikaelyan.Middle name
In several cultures, a middle name is a portion of a personal name that is written between the person's given name and their surname. A person may be given a middle name regardless of whether it's necessary to distinguish them from other people with the same given name and surname. In cultures where a given name is expected to precede the surname, additional names are likely to be placed after the given name and before the surname, and thus called middle names. In English-speaking American culture, that term is often applied (arguably mistakenly) to names occupying that position even if the bearer would insist that that name is being mistakenly called a "middle name", and is actually (to mention several types of common cases):
part of a two-word given name (e.g. Mary Anne, about Mary Anne Clarke, and "Joe Bob Briggs"),
a maiden name (e.g. Rodham),
a patronymic (e.g. Sergeyevich),
a baptismal name (e.g. "Christopher" invoking Saint Christopher), or
a maternal surname (such as in Portuguese, Brazilian, and Filipino names).In the United States, such names are specifically referred to as middle names; in most other countries, as far as they are given names and not, for example, patronymics, they would simply be regarded as second, third etc. given names. In the U.S., the "middle name" is often abbreviated to the middle initial (e.g. Mary Lee Bianchi becomes Mary L. Bianchi, which is usually standard for signatures) or omitted entirely in everyday use (e.g. just Mary Bianchi). An individual may have more than one middle name, or none. In the United Kingdom, for comparison, she would usually be referred to as either Mary Bianchi, M. L. Bianchi or Mary Lee Bianchi, or she may choose Lee Bianchi, and informally there may be familiar shortenings.
It is debatable how long multiple given names have existed in English-speaking countries, but it is certain that among royalty and aristocracy the practice existed by the late 17th century (and possibly earlier), as exemplified in the name of the Stuart pretender James Francis Edward Stuart (1688–1766).
Despite their relatively long existence in North America, the phrase "middle name" was not recorded until 1835, in the periodical Harvardiana.
The use of multiple middle names has been somewhat impeded recently by the increased use of computer databases that occasionally allow for only a single middle name or more commonly a middle initial in storing personal records, effectively preventing people with multiple middle names from being listed in such databases under their full name. This is worsened by longer compound names, like María del Pilar Pereyra or María de las Nieves García.
The abbreviation "N.M.N." (no middle name) or "N.M.I." (no middle initial), with or without periods, is sometimes used in formal documents in the United States, where a middle initial or name is expected but the person does not have one. The middle name can also be a maiden name.
Since 1905, "middle name" has also developed a figurative usage meaning a notable or outstanding attribute of a person, as in the phrase "discretion is my middle name."Patronymic
A patronymic, or patronym, is a component of a personal name based on the given name of one's father, grandfather (i.e., an 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 matronymic. Each is a means of conveying lineage.
Patronymics are still in use, including mandatory use, in many countries worldwide, although their use has largely been replaced by or transformed into patronymic surnames. Examples of such transformations include common English surnames such as Johnson (son of John).Personal name
A personal name or full name is the set of names by which an individual is known and that can be recited as a word-group, with the understanding that, taken together, they all relate to that one individual. In many cultures, the term is synonymous with the birth name or legal name of the individual. The academic study of personal names is called anthroponymy.
In Western culture, nearly all individuals possess at least one given name (also known as a first name, forename, or Christian name), together with a surname (also known as a last name or family name)—respectively, the Abraham and Lincoln in Abraham Lincoln—the latter to indicate that the individual belongs to a family, a tribe, or a clan. Where there are two or more given names, typically only one (in English-speaking cultures usually the first) is used in normal speech.
Another naming convention that is used mainly in the Arabic culture and in different other areas across Africa and Asia is connecting the person's given name with a chain of names, starting with the name of the person's father and then the father's father and so on, usually ending with the family name (tribe or clan name). However, the legal full name of a person usually contains the first three names with the family name at the end, to limit the name in government-issued ID. Also note that the wife's name does not change after marriage, and it follows the naming convention described above.Some cultures, including Western ones, also add (or once added) patronymics or matronymics. For instance, as a middle name as with Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (whose father's given name was Ilya), or as a last name as with Björk Guðmundsdóttir (whose father was named Guðmundur) or Heiðar Helguson (whose mother was named Helga). Similar concepts are present in Eastern cultures.
However, in some areas of the world, many people are known by a single name, and so are said to be mononymous. Still other cultures lack the concept of specific, fixed names designating people, either individually or collectively. Certain isolated tribes, such as the Machiguenga of the Amazon, do not use personal names.A person's full name usually identifies that person for legal and administrative purposes, although it may not be the name by which the person is commonly known; some people use only a portion of their full name, or are known by titles, nicknames, pseudonyms or other formal or informal designations.
It is nearly universal for people to have names; the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child declares that a child has the right to a name from birth.Stephen
Stephen or Steven is a common English first name. It is particularly significant to Christians, as it belonged to Saint Stephen (Greek Στέφανος Stéphanos), an early disciple and deacon who, according to the Book of Acts, was stoned to death; he is widely regarded as the first martyr (or "protomartyr") of the Christian Church. The name "Stephen" (and its common variant "Steven") is derived from Greek Στέφανος (Stéphanos), a first name from the Greek word στέφανος (stéphanos), meaning "wreath, crown" and by extension "reward, honor, renown, fame", from the verb στέφειν (stéphein), "to encircle, to wreathe". In Ancient Greece, crowning wreaths (such as laurel wreaths) were given to the winners of contests. Originally, as the verb suggests, the noun had a more general meaning of any "circle"—including a circle of people, a circling wall around a city, and, in its earliest recorded use, the circle of a fight, which is found in the Iliad of Homer.The name, in both the forms Stephen and Steven, is commonly shortened to Steve or Stevie. In English, the female version of the name is "Stephanie". Many surnames are derived from the first name, including Stephens, Stevens, Stephenson, and Stevenson, all of which mean "Stephen's (son)". In modern times especially the name has sometimes been given with intentionally nonstandard spelling, such as Stevan or Stevon. A common variant of the name used in English is Stephan ; related names that have found some currency or significance in English include Stefan (pronounced or in English), Esteban (often pronounced ), and the Shakespearean Stephano . Like all biblical names, Stephen has forms in almost all major world languages. Some of these include:
Esteban (Spanish; Spanish pronunciation: [esˈteβan]);
Sītífán (Mandarin Chinese);
Stefan (German, Dutch, Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, Ukrainian, Bulgarian, and Serbian; German pronunciation: [ˈʃteːfan]);
Степан/Stepan (Russian, Ukrainian);
Štefan (Slovak and Slovenian);
Stefano (Italian and Swahili);
Stefanos (modern Greek, modern Hebrew, and Estonian);
Stefans (Latvian and
Szczepan (Polish); and
In the United Kingdom, it peaked during the 1950s and 1960s as one of the top ten male first names (ranking third in 1954) but had fallen to twentieth by 1984 and had fallen out of the top one hundred by 2002. The name was ranked 201 in the United States in 2009, according to the Social Security Administration. The name reached its peak popularity in 1951 but remained very common through the mid-1990s, when popularity started to decrease in the United States.Surname
A surname, family name, or last name is the portion (in some cultures) of a personal name that indicates a person's family (or tribe or community, depending on the culture). Depending on the culture, all members of a family unit may have identical surnames or there may be variations based on the cultural rules.
In the English-speaking world, a surname is commonly referred to as a last name because it is usually placed at the end of a person's full name, after any given names. In many parts of Asia, as well as some parts of Europe and Africa, the family name is placed before a person's given name. In most Spanish-speaking and Portuguese-speaking countries, two surnames are commonly used and in some families even three or more are used (often due to a family claim to nobility).
Surnames have not always existed and today are not universal in all cultures. This tradition has arisen separately in different cultures around the world. In Europe, the concept of surnames became popular in the Roman Empire and expanded throughout the Mediterranean and Western Europe as a result. During the Middle Ages this 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 (typically indicating individual's occupation or area of residence), which gradually evolved 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 which, according to law or custom, is passed or given to children from one or both of their parents' family names. The use of family names is common in most cultures around the world, with each culture having its own rules as to how these 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. In many cultures, it is common for people to have one name or mononym, with some cultures not using family names. In most Slavic countries, as well as other countries including Greece and Iceland, 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 new-born child, on the adoption of a common family name on marriage, on renouncing of a family name and on changing of a family name.
Surname laws vary around the world. Traditionally in many European countries for the past few hundred years, it was the custom or law that a woman would on marriage use the surname of her husband and that children of a man would have the father's surname. If a child's paternity was not known, or if the putative father denied paternity, the new-born 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. In recent years there has been a trend towards equality of treatment in relation to family names, with women being not automatically required or expected, or in some places even forbidden, to take the husband's surname on marriage, and children not automatically being given the father's surname. In this article, family name and surname both mean the patrilineal surname, handed down from or inherited from the father's, unless explicitly stated otherwise. Thus, the term "maternal surname" means the patrilineal surname which one's mother inherited from either or both of her parents. For a discussion of matrilineal ('mother-line') surnames, passing from mothers to daughters, see matrilineal surname.
It is common for women in the entertainment industry (like Celebrities) to keep their maiden name after they get married, especially if they achieved their fame before marriage. The same can be said for women who achieved their fame during a previous marriage; For example: Kris Jenner (born Kris Houghton) was married to her second spouse Caitlyn Jenner when she rose to prominence in the reality show Keeping Up with the Kardashians and singer Britney Spears has been married twice after she rose to prominence, but she still uses her maiden name.
In English-speaking cultures, family names are often used by children when referring to adults but are also used to refer to someone in authority, the elderly, or in a formal setting, and are often used with a title or honorific such as Mr., Mrs., Ms., Miss, Doctor, and so on. Generally the given name is the one used by friends, family, and other intimates to address an individual. It may also be used by someone who is in some way senior to the person being addressed. This practice also differs between cultures; see T–V distinction.
The study of proper names (in family names, personal names, or places) is called onomastics. A one-name study is a collection of vital and other biographical data about all persons worldwide sharing a particular surname.Unisex name
A unisex name (also known as an epicene name, a gender-neutral name or an androgynous name) is a given name that can be used by a person regardless of their sex. Unisex names are common in the English speaking world, especially in the United States. By contrast, some countries have laws preventing unisex names, requiring parents to give their children sex-specific names. In other countries, unisex names are sometimes avoided for social reasons such as potential discrimination, ridicule, and psychological abuse.Names may have different gender connotations from country to country or language to language. For example, the Italian male name Andrea (derived from Greek Andreas) is understood as a female name in many languages, such as English, German, Hungarian, Czech, and Spanish.
Parents may name their child in honor of a person of another sex, which – if done widely – can result in the name becoming unisex. For example, Christians, particularly Catholics, may give a child a second/middle name of the opposite sex, e.g. name a son Marie or Maria in honor of the Virgin Mary or formerly Anne for Saint Anne; or name a daughter José in honor of Saint Joseph or Jean in honor of John the Baptist. This practice is rare in English-speaking countries.
Some masculine and feminine names are homophones, pronounced the same for both sexes but spelled differently. For example, Yves and Eve and (for some speakers) Artemus and Artemis. These names are not strictly unisex names.
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Surnames by country
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