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First/given/forename, middle, and last/family/surname with John Fitzgerald Kennedy as example. This shows a structure typical for English-speaking cultures (and some others). Other cultures use other structures for full names.

In some cultures, a surname, family name, or last name is the portion of a personal name that indicates a person's family, tribe or community.[1]

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. 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.[2] 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.[2] It was not until the 15th century that surnames were used to denote inheritance.[2]

Cultural differences

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

In some cultures, a surname, family name, or last name is the portion of a personal name that indicates a person's family, tribe or community.[1]

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. 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 be

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. 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.[2] 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.[2] It was not until the 15th century that surnames were used to denote inheritance.[2]

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 an individual's occupation or area of residence) and gradually evolving into modern surnames. In China surnames have been the norm since at least the 2nd century BC.[3]

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 (see §History below). 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, Lithuania and Latvia, for example, there are different family name forms for male and female members of the family. Issues of family name arise especially on the passing of a name to a newborn child, 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, upon marriage, use the surname of her husband, and that any children born would bear 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.[4] 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, 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 used her maiden name while married.

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., 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 an individual's occupation or area of residence) and gradually evolving into modern surnames. In China surnames have been the norm since at least the 2nd century BC.[3]

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 (see §History below). 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, Lithuania and Latvia, for example, there are different family name forms for male and female members of the family. Issues of family name arise especially on the passing of a name to a newborn child, 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, upon marriage, use the surname of her husband, and that any children born would bear 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.[4] 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, 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 used her maiden name while married.

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.

In many cultures (particularly in European and European-influenced cultures in the Americas, Oceania, etc., as well as West Asia/North Africa, South Asia, and most Sub-Saharan African cultures), the surname or family name ("last name") is placed after the personal, forename (in Europe) or given name ("first name"). In other cultures the surname is placed first, followed by the given name or names. The latter is often called the Eastern naming order because Europeans are most familiar with the examples from the East Asian cultural sphere, specifically, Greater China, Korea (Republic of Korea and Democratic People's Republic of Korea), Japan, and Vietnam. This is also the case in Cambodia, Laos, parts of South India, Sri Lanka, and Madagascar. But there are parts of Europe that also follow the Eastern Order, such as Hungary, Austria and adjacent areas of Germany (that is, Bavaria),[note 1] Albania, Kosovo, and Romania.

Since family names are normally written last in European societies, the terms last name or surname are commonly used for the family name, while in Japan (with vertical writing) the family name may be referred to as upper name (ue-no-namae (上の名前)).

When people from areas using Eastern naming order write their personal name in the Since family names are normally written last in European societies, the terms last name or surname are commonly used for the family name, while in Japan (with vertical writing) the family name may be referred to as upper name (ue-no-namae (上の名前)).

When people from areas using Eastern naming order write their personal name in the Latin alphabet, it is common to reverse the order of the given and family names for the convenience of Westerners, so that they know which name is the family name for official/formal purposes. Reversing the order of names for the same reason is also customary for the Baltic Fennic peoples and the Hungarians, but other Uralic peoples traditionally did not have surnames, perhaps because of the clan structure of their societies. The Samis saw no change or a transformation of their name. For example: some Sire became Siri,[5] Hætta Jáhkoš Ásslat became Aslak Jacobsen Hætta — as was the norm. Recently, integration into the EU and increased communications with foreigners prompted many Samis to reverse the order of their full name to given name followed by surname, to avoid their given name being mistaken for and used as a surname.

Indian surnames may often denote caste, profession, and village and are invariably mentioned along with the personal names. However, hereditary last names are not universal. In Indian passports the surname is shown first. In telephone directories the surname is used for collation. In North Indian states the surname is placed after given names where it exists. In parts of south India, especially in Telugu-speaking families, surname is placed before personal name and in most cases it is only shown as an initial (for example 'S.' for Suryapeth).[6]

In English and other languages like Spanish—although the usual order of names is "first middle last"—for the purpose of cataloging in libraries and in citing the names of authors in scholarly papers, the order is changed to "last, first middle," with the last and first names separated by a comma, and items are alphabetized by the last name.[7][8] In France, Italy, Spain, Belgium and Latin America, administrative usage is to put the surname before the first on official documents.[citation needed]

While the use of given names to identify individuals is attested in the oldest historical records, the advent of surnames is a relatively recent[when?] phenomenon.[9] A four-year study led by the University of the West of England, which concluded in 2016, analysed sources dating from the 11th to the 19th century to explain the origins of the surnames in the British Isles.[10] The study found that over 90% of the 45,602 surnames in the dictionary are native to Britain and Ireland, with the most common in the UK being Smith, Jones, Williams, Brown, Taylor, Davies, and Wilson.[11] The findings have been published in the Oxford English Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland, with project leader, Professor Richard Coates calling the study "more detailed and accurate" than those before.[10] He elaborated on the origins; "Some surnames have origins that are occupational – obvious examples are Smith and Baker. Other names can be linked to a place, for example Hill or Green, which relates to a village green. Surnames which are 'patronymic' are those which originally enshrined the father's name – such as Jackson, or Jenkinson. There are also names where the origin describes the original bearer such as Brown, Short, or Thin – though Short may in fact be an ironic 'nickname' surname for a tall person."[10]

By 1400, most English and some Scottish people used surnames, but many Scottish and Welsh people did not adopt surnames until the 17th century, or later. Henry VIII (ruled 1509–1547) ordered that marital births be recorded under the

By 1400, most English and some Scottish people used surnames, but many Scottish and Welsh people did not adopt surnames until the 17th century, or later. Henry VIII (ruled 1509–1547) ordered that marital births be recorded under the surname of the father.[9] In England and cultures derived from there, there has long been a tradition for a woman to change her surname upon marriage from her birth name to her husband's family name. (See Maiden and married names.) The first known instance in the United States of a woman insisting on the use of her birth name was that of Lucy Stone in 1855; and there has been a general increase in the rate of women using their birth name. This has gone through periods of flux, however, and the 1990s saw a decline in the percentage of name retention among women.[citation needed] As of 2006, more than 80% of American women adopted the husband's family name after marriage.[12]

Many cultures have used and continue to use additional descriptive terms in identifying individuals. These terms may indicate personal attributes, location of origin, occupation, parentage, patronage, adoption, or clan affiliation. These descriptors often developed into fixed clan identifications that in turn became family names as we know them today.

In China, according to legend, family names started with Emperor Fu Xi in 2852 BC.[13][14] His administration standardised the naming system in order to facilitate census-taking, and the use of census information. Originally, Chinese surnames were derived matrilineally,[15] although by the time of the Shang dynasty (1600 to 1046 BCE) they had become patrilineal.[15][16] Chinese women do not change their names upon marriage. They can be referred to either as their full birth names or as their husband's surname plus the word for wife. In the past, women's given names were often not publicly known and women were referred in official documents by their family name plus the character "Shi" and when married by their husband's surname, their birth surname, and the character "Shi".[citation needed]

In Japan, family names were uncommon except among the aristocracy until the 19th century.[17]

In Ancient Greece, during some periods, formal identification commonly included place of origin.[18] At other times clan names and patronymics ("son of") were also common, as in Aristides Lysimachu. For example, Alexander the Great was known as Heracleides, as a supposed descendant of Heracles, and by the dynastic name Karanos/Caranus, which referred to the founder of the dynasty to which he belonged. In none of these cases, though, were these names considered essential parts of the person's name, nor were they explicitly inherited in the manner that is common in many cultures today.

In the Roman Empire, the bestowal and use of clan and family names waxed and waned with changes in the various subcultures of the realm. (See Roman naming conventions.) The nomen, which was the gens name, was inherited much like last names are, but their purposes were quite different[how?]. In later[when?] Europe, last names were developed to distinguish between individuals. The nomen were to identify group kinship. The praenomen was the "forename" and was originally used like a first name today. In later times[when?], praenomen became less useful for distinguishing individuals as it was often passed down for males along with the nomen (like an entire culture where "John Smith, Jr." was the norm), and females, were often given no praenomen at all or functional names like Major and Minor ("Older" and "Younger") or Maxima, Maio, and Mino ("Biggest," "Middle," "Littlest") or ordinal numbers rather than what we might think of as names: Prima, Secunda, Tertia, Quarta, etc. Around this time,[when?] the nomen became followed by one or more additional names called cognomen. It became usual that one of these cognomen was inherited, but as the praenomen and nomen became more rigidly used and less useful for identifying individuals, additional personal cognomen were more often used, to the point that the first the praenomen and then the nomen fell out of use entirely.[when?] With the gradual influence of Greek and Christian culture throughout the Empire, Christian religious names were sometimes put in front of traditional cognomen, but eventually, people reverted to single names.[19] By the time of the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century, family names were uncommon in the Eastern Roman Empire. In Western Europe, where Germanic culture dominated the aristocracy, family names were almost non-existent. They would not significantly reappear again in Eastern Roman society until the 10th century, apparently influenced by the familial affiliations of the Armenian military aristocracy.[19] The practice of using family names spread through the Eastern Roman Empire and gradually into Western Europe, although it was not until the modern era that family names came to be explicitly inherited as they are today.

In Ireland, the use of surnames has a very old history. Ireland was the first country in Europe to use fixed surnames[citation needed].

In England, the introduction of family names is generally attributed to the preparation of the Domesday Book in 1086,[citation needed] following the Norman conquest. Evidence indicates that surnames were first adopted among the feudal nobility and gentry, and slowly spread to other parts of society. Some of the early Norman nobility who arrived in England during the Norman conquest differentiated themselves by affixing 'de' (of) before the name of their village in France. This is what is known as a territorial surname, a consequence of feudal landownership. In medieval times in France, such a name indicated lordship, or ownership, of the village. Some early Norman nobles in England chose[citation needed] to drop the French derivations and call themselves instead after their new English holdings.

Surnames were uncommon prior to the 12th century, and still somewhat rare into the 13th; most European surnames were originally occupational or locational, and served to distinguish one person from another if they happened to live near one another (e.g., two different people named John could conceivably be identified as 'John Butcher' and 'John Chandler'). This still happens, in some communities where a surname is particularly common.

In the Middle Ages, when a man from a lower-status family married an only daughter from a higher-status family, he would often adopt the wife's family name.[citation needed] In the 18th and 19th centuries in Britain, bequests were sometimes made contingent upon a man's changing (or hyphenating) his family name, so that the name of the testator continued. It is rare but not unknown for an English-speaking man to take his wife's family name, whether for personal reasons or as a matter of tradition (such as among matrilineal Canadian aboriginal groups, such as the Haida and Gitxsan); it is exceedingly rare but does occur in the United States, where a married couple may choose an entirely new last name by going through a legal change of name. As an alternative, both spouses may adopt a double-barrelled name. For instance, when John Smith and Mary Jones marry each other, they may become known as "John Smith-Jones" and "Mary Smith-Jones". A spouse may also opt to use their birth name as a middle name, and e.g. become known as "Mary Jones Smith".[citation needed] An additional option, although rarely practiced[citation needed], is the adoption of a last name derived from a blend of the prior names, such as "Simones", which also requires a legal name change. Some couples keep their own last names but give their children hyphenated or combined surnames.[20]

In medieval Spain, a patronymic system was used. For example, Álvaro, the son of Rodrigo would be named Álvaro Rodríguez. His son, Juan, would not be named Juan Rodríguez, but Juan Álvarez. Over time, many of these patronymics became family names and are some of the most common names in the Spanish-speaking world. Other sources of surnames are personal appearance or habit, e.g. Delgado ("thin") and Moreno ("dark"); geographic location or ethnicity, e.g. Alemán ("German"); or occupations, e.g. Molinero ("miller"), Zapatero ("shoe-maker") and Guerrero ("warrior"), although occupational names are much more often found in a shortened form referring to the trade itself, e.g. Molina ("mill"), Guerra ("war"), or Zapata (archaic form of zapato, "shoe").

During the modern era, many cultures around the world adopted family names, particularly for administrative reasons, especially during the age of European expansion and particularly since 1600. Notable examples include the Netherlands (1795–1811), Japan (1870s), Thailand (1920), and Turkey (1934). Nonetheless, their use is not universal: Icelanders, Burmese, Javanese, and many people groups in East Africa do not use family names.

Family names sometimes change or are replaced by non-family-name surnames under political pressure to avoid persecution.[[citation needed] Examples are the cases with Chinese Indonesians and Chinese Thais after migration there during the 20th century, or the Jews who fled to different European countries to avoid persecution from the Nazis during World War II.

The United States followed the naming customs and practices of English common law and traditions until recent[when?] times. Beginning in the latter half of the 20th century, traditional naming practices, writes one commentator, were recognized as "com[ing] into conflict with current sensitivities about children's and women's rights".[21] Those changes accelerated a shift away from the interests of the parents to a focus on the best interests of the child. The law in this area continues to evolve today mainly in the context of paternity and custody actions.[22]

Upon marriage to a woman, men in the United States can easily change their surnames to that of their wives, or adopt a combination of both names with the federal government, through the Social Security Administration. Men may face difficulty doing so on the state level in some states. 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).[23] Québec law permits neither spouse to change surnames.[24]

In 1979, the United Nations adopted the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women ("CEDAW"), which declared in effect that women and men, and specifically wife and husband, shall have the same rights to choose a "family name", as well as a profession and an occupation.[25]

In France, until 1 January 2005, children were required by law to take the surname of their father. Article 311-21 of the French Civil code now permits parents to give their children the family name of either 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.[26] Th

In France, until 1 January 2005, children were required by law to take the surname of their father. Article 311-21 of the French Civil code now permits parents to give their children the family name of either 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.[26] 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.[27] Similar measures were adopted by West Germany (1976), Sweden (1982), Denmark (1983) and Spain (1999). The European Community has been active in eliminating gender discrimination. Several cases concerning discrimination in family names have reached the courts. Burghartz v. Switzerland challenged the lack of an option for husbands to add the wife's surname to his surname, which they had chosen as the family name, when this option was available for women.[28] Losonci Rose and Rose v. Switzerland challenged a prohibition on foreign men married to Swiss women keeping their surname if this option was provided in their national law, an option available to women.[29] Ünal Tekeli v. Turkey challenged prohibitions on women using their surname as the family name, an option only available to men.[30] The Court found all these laws to be in violation of the convention.[31]

Basil Cottle classifies European surnames under four broad categories, depending on their origin: given name (patronymics), occupational name, local name (toponymics), and nickname.[32] This classification can be extended to surnames originating elsewhere. Other name etymologists use a fuller classification, but these four types underlie them.[33]

Derived from a given name

[33] They may be a first name such as "Wilhelm", a patronymic such as "Andersen", a matronymic such as "Beaton", or a clan name such as "O'Brien". Multiple surnames may be derived from a single given name: e.g. there are thought to be over 90 Italian surnames based on the given name "Giovanni".[33]

A family tree showing the Icelandic patronymic naming system.

The Icelandic system, formerly used in much of Scandinavia, does not use family names. A person's last name indicates the first name of their father (patronymic) or in some cases mother (matronymic). Many common family names in other Scandinavian countries are a result of this naming p

The Icelandic system, formerly used in much of Scandinavia, does not use family names. A person's last name indicates the first name of their father (patronymic) or in some cases mother (matronymic). Many common family names in other Scandinavian countries are a result of this naming practice, such as Hansen (son of Hans), Johansen (son of Johan) and Olsen (son of Ole/Ola), the three most common surnames in Norway.[34] This also occurs in other cultures: Spanish and Portuguese (López or Lopes, son of Lope; Álvarez or Álvares, son of Álvaro; Domínguez or Domingues, son of Domingo or Domingos; etc.); Armenian (Gregoryan, son of Gregor; Petrossyan, son of Petros; etc.); in English (Johnson, son of John; Richardson, son of Richard), etc.

Patronymic name conventions are similar in some other nations, including Malaysia (see Malaysian name) and other Muslim countries, among most people of the Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala (unlike another Indian state Andhra Pradesh, where ancestral origin village names have become surnames for the people), in Mongolia and in the Scottish Gaelic personal naming system. In Patronymic name conventions are similar in some other nations, including Malaysia (see Malaysian name) and other Muslim countries, among most people of the Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala (unlike another Indian state Andhra Pradesh, where ancestral origin village names have become surnames for the people), in Mongolia and in the Scottish Gaelic personal naming system. In Russia and Bulgaria, both patronymic and family name are obligatory parts of one's full name: e.g. if a Russian is called Ivan Andreyevich Sergeyev, that means that his father's name is Andrey and his family name is Sergeyev. A similar system is used in Greece.

In Ethiopia and Eritrea, a child adopts the given name of one of their parents, usually the father, as a pseudo-surname. For example, Abraham Mesfin's father's first name would have been Mesfin, while Abraham Mesfin's child might be called "Netsanet Abraham". Just as in Iceland, referring to Abraham Mesfin as "Mr Mesfin" would be erroneous: the correct term would be "Mr Abraham". Very rarely do children adopt their mother's given name, who in any case would retain their "pseudo-surname".

In traditional Hebrew patronymic names, a male's given name is followed by ben (Hebrew: בֶּן‎, son of), and the father's name, e.g. Ben Adam (Hebrew: בן אדם‎) or Abraham ben Abraham. A woman's given name is similarly followed by bath, "daughter of" (also transcribed as bat), as in "Elishevah bath Shemuel," where Elishevah's father's given name is Shemuel. Ben also forms part of Hebrew names, e.g. Benjamin. Some modern Israeli last names are formed by using the Aramaic version of ben, Bar-, e.g. Meir Bar-Ilan. In Israel, traditional patronymic forms have become European-style patrilineal surnames. For example, Yoram ben Yehudah or Hannah Bar-Ilan may not be literally the son and daughter of Yehudah and Ilan, but rather the male and female descendants of men called, respectively, ben Yehudah and Bar-Ilan.

There is a wide range of family name affixes with a patronymic function. Some are prefixes (e.g., Gaelic mac) but more are suffixes.

Occupational surname

Occupational names include such simple examples as Smith (for a smith), Miller (for a miller), Farmer (for tax farmers or sometimes farmers), Thatcher (for a thatcher), Shepherd (for a shepherd), Potter (for a potter), and so on, as well as non-English ones, such as the German Eisenhauer (iron hewer, later Anglicized in America as Eisenhower) or Schneider (tailor) – or, as in English, Schmidt (smith). There are also more complicated names based on occupational titles. In England it was common for servants to take a modified version of their employer's occupation or first name as their last name,[according to whom?] adding the letter s to the word, although this formation could also be a patronymic. For instance, the surname Vickers is thought to have arisen as an occupational name adopted by the servant of a vicar,[36] while Roberts could have been adopted by either the son or the servant of a man named Robert. A subset of occupational names in English are names thought to be derived from the medieval mystery plays. The participants would often play the same roles for life, passing the part down to their oldest sons. Names derived from this may include King, Lord and Virgin. The original meaning of names based on medieval occupations may no longer be obvious in modern English (so the surnames Cooper, Chandler, and Cutler come from the occupations of making barrels, candles, and cutlery, respectively).

Examples

Archer, Occupational names include such simple examples as Smith (for a smith), Miller (for a miller), Farmer (for tax farmers or sometimes farmers), Thatcher (for a thatcher), Shepherd (for a shepherd), Potter (for a potter), and so on, as well as non-English ones, such as the German Eisenhauer (iron hewer, later Anglicized in America as Eisenhower) or Schneider (tailor) – or, as in English, Schmidt (smith). There are also more complicated names based on occupational titles. In England it was common for servants to take a modified version of their employer's occupation or first name as their last name,[according to whom?] adding the letter s to the word, although this formation could also be a patronymic. For instance, the surname Vickers is thought to have arisen as an occupational name adopted by the servant of a vicar,[36] while Roberts could have been adopted by either the son or the servant of a man named Robert. A subset of occupational names in English are names thought to be derived from the medieval mystery plays. The participants would often play the same roles for life, passing the part down to their oldest sons. Names derived from this may include King, Lord and Virgin. The original meaning of names based on medieval occupations may no longer be obvious in modern English (so the surnames Cooper, Chandler, and Cutler come from the occupations of making barrels, candles, and cutlery, respectively).

Examples