What does surname mean?

Definitions for surname
ˈsɜrˌneɪm; sɜrˈneɪmsur·name

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word surname.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. surname, family name, cognomen, last namenoun

    the name used to identify the members of a family (as distinguished from each member's given name)


  1. surnamenoun

    A name that indicates to which family a person belongs, normally following that person's given name(s) in Western culture, and preceding it in Eastern.

  2. surnameverb

    To give a surname.

  3. surnameverb

    To call by a surname.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. Surnamenoun

    Etymology: surnom, French.

    Many which were mere English joined with the Irish against the king, taking on them Irish habits and customs, which could never since be clean wiped away; of which sort be most of the surnames that end in an, as Hernan, Shinan, and Mungan, which now account themselves natural Irish. Edmund Spenser.

    He, made heir not only of his brother’s kingdom, but of his virtues and haughty thoughts, and of the surname also of Barbarossa, began to aspire unto the empire of all that part of Africk. Richard Knolles, History of the Turks.

    The epithets of great men, monsieur Boileau is of opinion, were in the nature of surnames, and repeated as such. Alexander Pope.

    Witness may
    My surname Coriolanus: the painful service,
    The extreme dangers, and the drops of blood
    Shed for my thankless country, are requited
    But with that surname. William Shakespeare, Coriolanus.

  2. To Surnameverb

    To name by an appellation added to the original name.

    Etymology: surnommer, Fr. from the noun.

    The people of Rome have by common voice,
    In election for the Roman empire,
    Chosen Andronicus, surnamed Pius. William Shakespeare, Titus Andronicus.

    Another shall subscribe with his hand unto the Lord, and surname himself by the name of Israel. Is. xliv. 5.

    Pyreicus, only famous for counterfeiting earthen pitchers, a scullery, rogues together by the ears, was sirnamed Rupographus. Henry Peacham, on Drawing.

    How he, surnam’d of Africa, dismiss’d
    In his prime youth the fair Iberian maid. John Milton.

    God commanded man what was good; but the devil surnamed it evil, and thereby baffled the command. South.


  1. Surname

    In some cultures, a surname, family name, or last name is the portion of one's personal name that indicates their family, tribe or community.Practices vary by culture. The family name may be placed at either the start of a person's full name, as the forename, or at the end; the number of surnames given to an individual also varies. As the surname indicates genetic inheritance, all members of a family unit may have identical surnames or there may be variations; for example, a woman might marry and have a child, but later remarry and have another child by a different father, and as such both children could have different surnames. It is common to see two or more words in a surname, such as in compound surnames. Compound surnames can be composed of separate names, such as in traditional Spanish culture, they can be hyphenated together, or may contain prefixes. Using names has been documented in even the oldest historical records. Examples of surnames are documented in the 11th century by the barons in England. Surnames began as a way of identifying a certain aspect of that individual, such as by trade, father's name, location of birth, or physical features. It was not until the 15th century that surnames were used to denote inheritance.


  1. surname

    A surname is a hereditary name passed down within a family or clan which distinguishes individuals from one another. It is typically used as the last name or family name and is commonly shared by members of a particular family or lineage.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Surnamenoun

    a name or appellation which is added to, or over and above, the baptismal or Christian name, and becomes a family name

  2. Surnamenoun

    an appellation added to the original name; an agnomen

  3. Surnameverb

    to name or call by an appellation added to the original name; to give a surname to

  4. Etymology: [Pref. sur + name; really a substitution for OE. sournoun, from F. surnom. See Sur-, and Noun, Name.]


  1. Surname

    A surname is a name added to a given name and is part of a personal name. In many cases, a surname is a family name and many dictionaries define "surname" as a synonym of "family name". In the western hemisphere, it is commonly synonymous with "last name", since it is usually placed at the end of a person's given name. In most Hispanophone and Lusophone countries, two or more last names may be used. In Russia, China, Hungary, Japan, Korea, Madagascar, Vietnam, parts of India and in many other East Asian countries, the family name is placed before a person's given name. The style of having both a family name and a given name is far from universal. In many countries it is common for ordinary people to have only one name or mononym. The concept of a 'surname' is a relatively recent historical development, evolving from a medieval naming practice called a 'byname'. Based on an individual's occupation or area of residence, a byname would be used in situations where more than one person had the same name.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Surname

    sur′nām, n. a name over and above the Christian name: the family name.—v.t. to call by a surname.—adj. Surnom′inal. [Formed from Fr. sur—L. super, over and above, and Eng. name, on the analogy of Fr. sur-nom.]

Editors Contribution

  1. surname

    A family name or combination of family names.

    Our surname can be a family name of a mix of our family name and our husband or wifes family name.

    Submitted by MaryC on April 8, 2020  

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  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of surname in Chaldean Numerology is: 8

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of surname in Pythagorean Numerology is: 1

Examples of surname in a Sentence

  1. Mikhail Podoliak:

    As usual, mandatory anonymous retirees -- and this is key -- confirm something. Another anonymous source denies something. Once again : anonymous, without a surname, without a position and, therefore, sources that have no informational and reputational value.

  2. Wayne Hamilton:

    South Texas is as diverse of a place as you could imagine and going around saying that because someone has a Hispanic surname that they're a Democrat, like most people outside of Texas and most in the media do is just blatantly racist, hispanics are individuals. They think for themselves.

  3. Maria Grazia Chiuri:

    It gives me great joy to be here tonight to honor Maria Grazia and Chiuri and Pierpaolo .?.?. Oh, I don’t know how to say your surname, it’s so difficult.

  4. Keiko Fujimori:

    In 2021, there will be no (presidential) candidate with the Fujimori surname.

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Translations for surname

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"surname." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 11 Dec. 2023. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/surname>.

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1 Comment
  • Maimounah Mbemba
    Maimounah Mbemba
    LikeReply3 years ago

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