A family name (in Western contexts often referred to as a surname or last name) is typically a part of a person's name which has been passed, according to law or custom, from one or both parents to their children. The use of family names is common in many cultures around the world. Each culture has its own rules as to how these names are applied and used.
Having both a family name and given name ("first name", "forename", or "Christian name") is far from universal. In many countries it is common for ordinary people to have only one name (a mononym).
In many cultures (particularly in European and European influenced cultures in the Americas, Oceania, etc., as well as the Middle East, South Asia, and most African cultures), the family name is normally the last part of a person's name. In other cultures, the family name comes first. The latter is often called the Eastern order because Europeans are most familiar with the examples from East Asia, specifically China, Korea, Japan and Vietnam. The Eastern order is also used in Hungary, Romania and in parts of Africa. Since family names are normally written last in European societies (except in Hungary), the term last name is commonly used for family name, while in East Asia (with vertical writing) the family name may be referred to as upper name (as in Japanese ue-no-namae (上の名前?)).
In an English-speaking context, family names are most often used to refer to a stranger or in a formal setting, and are often used with a title or honorific such as Mr., Mrs., Ms., Miss, Dr, and so on. Generally the given name, first name, forename, or personal 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.
In this article, family name and surname both mean the patrilineal (literally, father-line) surname, handed down from or inherited from the father's line or patriline, 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. Matrilineal ('mother-line') surnames, passing from mothers to daughters, are discussed at matrilineal surname to avoid complicating this large article.
Other articles related to "family name, family, family names":
... With regard to the Carden (formerly Cawarden) family name according to Ormerod "at some point before the reign of Henry III (i.e ... before 1216) a family assumed the local name Carden." About 1450 a daughter of William de Cawarden married John Leche of Chatsworth, Derbyshire, who ... organised in Cheshire at Tilston in 1998 and attended by 150 family members ...
... come to distinguish relatives from the maternal side and respect her family as well as those from their father's side ... Circassian family names cannot be derived from women's names and of the name of female ancestors ...
Famous quotes containing the word family:
“I duly acknowledge that I have gone through a long life, with fewer circumstances of affliction than are the lot of most men. Uninterrupted health, a competence for every reasonable want, usefulness to my fellow-citizens, a good portion of their esteem, no complaint against the world which has sufficiently honored me, and above all, a family which has blessed me by their affections, and never by their conduct given me a moments pain.”
—Thomas Jefferson (17431826)