surname


surname
n. /serr"naym'/; v. /serr"naym', serr naym"/, n., v., surnamed, surnaming.
n.
1. the name that a person has in common with other family members, as distinguished from a Christian name or given name; family name.
2. a name added to a person's name, as one indicating a circumstance of birth or some characteristic or achievement; epithet.
v.t.
3. to give a surname to; call by a surname.
[1300-50; ME (n.); see SUR-1, NAME; modeled on OF surnom]

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also called  family name, or last name 

      name added to a “given” name, in many cases inherited and held in common by members of a family. Originally, many surnames identified a person by his connection with another person, usually his father (Johnson, MacDonald); others gave his residence (Orleans, York, Atwood [i.e., living at the woods]) or occupation (Weaver, Hooper, Taylor). A surname could also be descriptive of a person's appearance (Little, Red) or his exploits (Armstrong).

 Surnames appeared at vastly different times in different cultures: in 2852 BC, the mythical Chinese emperor Fu Xi (Fu Hsi) was said to have decreed the adoption of hereditary family names. In England it was a gradual process, beginning about 1000 AD—when it was stimulated by a paucity of first names—and lasting about six centuries. In some cultures the generalized use of surnames did not occur until the 20th century: in 1935 a Turkish law went into effect making surnames mandatory. Jews were late in adopting surnames and often were compelled to do so. Because they were frequently barred from adopting names used by Christians, some simply chose compounds that sounded good, e.g., Rosenthal (“rose valley”). Others were assigned names expressive of the dominant culture's contempt (e.g., Eselskopf, “donkey's head”).

      Surname formation often reflects the history and biases of culture. In Spain, partisanship and family pride entered into the process: the first family names originated from the war cries of Christians during the Moorish invasion. Swedish surnames reflect the Swedes' love of nature, incorporating words such as berg (“mountain”) and blom (“flower”). In Russia, after the Revolution, many families shed the surnames derived from degrading peasant nicknames (e.g., Krasnoshtanov, “red pants”) and adopted names such as Orlov (“eagle”).

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Universalium. 2010.

Synonyms:

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  • Surname — Sur*name , v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Surnamed}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Surnaming}.] [Cf. F. surnommer.] To name or call by an appellation added to the original name; to give a surname to. [1913 Webster] Another shall subscribe with his hand unto the Lord,… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Surname — Sur name , n. [Pref. sur + name; really a substitution for OE. sournoun, from F. surnom. See {Sur }, and {Noun}, {Name}.] 1. A name or appellation which is added to, or over and above, the baptismal or Christian name, and becomes a family name.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • surname — early 14c., name, title, or epithet added to a person s name, from sur above (see SUR (Cf. sur )) + NAME (Cf. name); modeled on Anglo Fr. surnoun surname (early 14c.), variant of O.Fr. surnom, from sur over + nom name. An O.E. wor …   Etymology dictionary

  • surname — [sʉr′nām΄] n. [ME < sur (see SUR 1) + name, infl. by earlier surnoun < OFr surnom < sur + nom < L nomen,NAME] 1. the family name, or last name, as distinguished from a given name 2. a name or epithet added to a person s given name (Ex …   English World dictionary

  • surname — index call (title) Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • surname — [n] family name cognomen, last name, matronymic, metronymic, patronymic; concepts 268,683 …   New thesaurus

  • surname — ► NOUN ▪ a hereditary name common to all members of a family, as distinct from a forename …   English terms dictionary

  • Surname — Not to be confused with Suriname. 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. Many dictionaries define surname as a synonym of family name . In some Western countries, it is …   Wikipedia

  • surname — noun (esp. BrE) ADJECTIVE ▪ double barrelled (BrE) ▪ common ▪ Rossi is a common surname in Italy. VERB + SURNAME ▪ bear, have …   Collocations dictionary

  • surname — [[t]sɜ͟ː(r)neɪm[/t]] surnames N COUNT Your surname is the name that you share with other members of your family. In English speaking countries and many other countries it is your last name. She d never known his surname... The majority of British …   English dictionary