Definitions

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A name added to another name; surname.
  • n. A name in addition to the Christian name and surname of an individual, to distinguish him or her from others of the same name and usually indicating descent, place of residence, or some personal quality or attribute. Such to-names are often employed where the same families continually intermarry, and where consequently the same name is common to many individuals.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A name added, for the sake of distinction, to one's surname, or used instead of it.
  • prep. to name like and reference to.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A name added to another name; a surname; specifically, a name in addition to the Christian name and surname of a person, to distinguish him from others of the same name, and usually indicating descent, place of residence, or some personal quality or attribute.

Etymologies

From Middle English toname, tonome, from Old English tōnama ("surname"), equivalent to to- +‎ name. Cognate with West Frisian tanamme, Dutch toenaam, Middle Low German toname, German Zuname, Danish tilnavn, Swedish tillnamn. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Face-of-god was well-beloved of his kindred and of all the Folk of the Dale, and he had gotten a to-name, and was called Gold-mane because of the abundance and fairness of his hair.

    The Roots of the Mountains; Wherein Is Told Somewhat of the Lives of the Men of Burgdale

  • Her husband's real name was of as little consequence in life as it is in my history, for almost everybody in the fishing villages of that coast was and is known by his to-name, or nickname, a device for distinction rendered absolutely necessary by the paucity of surnames occasioned by the persistent intermarriage of the fisher folk.

    Malcolm

  • She was the daughter of Joseph Mair just mentioned -- a fisherman who had been to sea in a man of war (in consequence of which his to-name or nickname was Blue Peter), where having been found capable, he was employed as carpenter's mate, and came to be very handy with his tools: having saved a little money by serving in another man's boat, he was now building one for himself.

    Malcolm

  • "Our family names are so common in a Scottish house, that, where there is no land in the case, we always give a to-name [surname]."

    Quentin Durward

  • “Our family names are so common in a Scottish house, that, where there is no land in the case, we always give a to-name

    Quentin Durward

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