Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A name shared in common to identify the members of a family, as distinguished from each member's given name. Also called family name, last name.
  • n. A nickname or epithet added to a person's name.
  • transitive v. To give a surname to.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. 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.
  • v. To give a surname.
  • v. To call by a surname.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A name or appellation which is added to, or over and above, the baptismal or Christian name, and becomes a family name.
  • n. An appellation added to the original name; an agnomen.
  • transitive v. To name or call by an appellation added to the original name; to give a surname to.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. An additional name, frequently descriptive, as in Harold Harefoot; specifically, a name or appellation added to the baptismal or Christian name, and becoming a family name. See to-name.
  • To name or call by an additional name; give a surname to. See name.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

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

Etymologies

Middle English, partial translation of Old French surnom : sur-, sur- + nom, name.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English, from Old French sour-, sur-, from Latin super ("over, above, beyond"), from base Proto-Indo-European *uper (“over”), the comparative of the base Proto-Indo-European *upo (“under”); sur- +‎ name. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • His small stature was a bitter irony for someone whose surname translates as "Tall."

    Joseph Cao, the unlikely congressman from New Orleans

  • To this day Quisling's surname is shorthand for a politician willing to sell out his own country to the worst predators, if it looks like that might save his own interests.

    A Quisling Turkey

  • The 20-year-old Christophe Lemaitre (whose surname translates as 'The Master') recently became the first white sprinter to break the 10-second barrier with 9.98 sec in Valence.

    BBC News - Home

  • The Central Election Commission also registered as a presidential candidate a resident of Ivano-Frankivsk region, Vasyl Protyvsikh (whose surname translates as "Against Everybody"), who changed his surname from Humeniuk in early October 2009.

    www.kyivpost.com

  • Even Bev Perdue, whose friggin 'surname is French for "lost," probably won't.

    damnum absque injuria

  • John may be the reason that their surname is a brand name among political junkies, but "when he and I travel to the Middle East together, I'm cognizant of the fact that I'm traveling with royalty," John says.

    James Zogby, a Catholic of Lebanese descent, works to dispel myths about Arabs

  • (15-16 January 2010, Part 2) * In both instances, the surname is an anglicized derivation of the Irish surname Ó Tighearnaigh.

    "As if I had a choice...oh well."

  • * In both instances, the surname is an anglicized derivation of the Irish surname Ó Tighearnaigh.

    "As if I had a choice...oh well."

  • Wei, Ts'ai, Ts'ao, and T'êng, all of the imperial family name, or, as we say in English, "surname," and all lying between the Hwai and the Sz systems (T'êng was a "belonging state" of Lu).

    Ancient China Simplified

  • Sunshine and Calm (While our surname is legally Smith, we have adopted Hope-Sunshine and Paz Lake as love-names because we believe this more accurately describes our sons 'dispositions.)

    Pamela Alma Bass: Panicked Parents' Preschool Application

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • What's in a name? Guyana

    June 22, 2009