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A Surname (pronounced: /ˈsɜːrneɪm/) is a family name that is passed from one generation to the next. It is also known as a last name or family name.


The term "surname" originates from the Middle English surnom, which is derived from the Old French surnom meaning "over-name". The concept of a surname is believed to have been introduced by the Normans during the Middle Ages.


In many cultures, the surname is typically placed at the end of a person's full name. However, in some cultures, such as in Hungary and parts of China, the surname is placed before the given name.

Surnames often have significant historical and cultural meanings. They can denote a person's occupation (occupation), geographical location (geography), physical characteristics, or can be derived from the name of a person's father or ancestor (patronymic and matronymic surnames).

Related Terms

  • Given name: The personal name given to someone at birth or baptism, used before the surname.
  • Middle name: A name that occurs between a person's first name and surname.
  • Maiden name: The surname that a woman used before getting married and adopting her spouse's surname.
  • Patronymic: A type of surname derived from a male ancestor's name.
  • Matronymic: A type of surname derived from a female ancestor's name.

See Also

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