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A name suffix, in the Western English-language naming tradition, follows a person's full name and provides additional information about the person. Post-nominal letters indicate that the individual holds a position, educational degree, accreditation, office, or honor.
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Academic suffixes indicate the degree earned at a college or university. These include the bachelor's degree (A.B, B.A., B.S., B.E., B.F.A., B.Tech., L.L.B, B.Sc., etc.), the master's degree (M.A., M.S., M.F.A., LL.M, M.L.A., M.B.A., M.Sc., M.Eng etc.), the professional doctorate (J.D., M.D., D.O., Pharm.D., etc.), and the academic doctorate (Ph.D., Ed.D., D.Phil., LL.D, Eng.D., etc.).
In the case of doctorates, either the prefix (e.g. "Dr." or "Atty.") or the suffix (e.g. "J.D.", "M.D.", "D.O.", "D.C.", or "Ph.D.") is used, not both. In the United States, the suffix is the preferred format (thus allowing differentiation between types of doctorate) in written documentation.
Such titles may be given by:
- a monarch (for example, K.B.E., a suffix granted to Knights Commander of the Order of the British Empire);
- a university (as in a LL.D. (Doctor of Laws) given in recognition of a person's life achievements rather than their academic standing);
- a church or seminary, who may offer an honorary Doctor of Divinity (D.D.) to outstanding ministers or teachers.
The style Esq. or Esquire was once used to distinguish a man who was an apprentice to a knight and is used for a man of socially high ranking. In the United States, Esq. is used both socially and as a professional styling for a lawyer.
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Professional titles include Esq., often used for an attorney (but not necessarily) in the US who has passed a state bar examination, and CSA (casting) and ASCAP, which indicate membership in professional societies. The suffix CA is used for individuals who have completed the requirements to become a Chartered Accountant. The suffix CPA is also used for individuals who have completed the requirements to become a Certified Public Accountant. Similarly, Chartered Financial Analysts use the suffix CFA. Engineers that are certified as a Professional Engineer in his or her state will use the suffix P.E., Certified Professional Geologists use P.G., Certified Professional Logisticians use CPL, and Chartered Engineers use CEng. Likewise, Registered Architects sometimes use the suffix R.A., or more often a suffix such as AIA or RIBA that refers to their professional society. Examination Office personnel within the United Kingdom who are registered with the Examination Officers' Association use MEOA.
Project managers that have obtained certification as Project Management Professionals from the Project Management Institute may use the suffix PMP after their name. Similarly, individuals who hold certifications in the field of information security – e.g. CISA, CISSP, and/or CISM – may use them as suffixes.
The suffix PT is used by Physical Therapists to denote their state certification, but not to be confused with DPT (Doctor of Physical Therapy) which is a qualifying degree. UK physiotherapists prefer to use MCSP or SRP to denote membership to professional bodies. RN is used by qualified nurses as a suffix.
Officers and enlisted in the United States Military will add an abbreviation of the service frequently to disambiguate seniority, and reserve status. For example, Captain Smith, USN (O-6), outranks Captain Jones, USMC (O-3).
Members of religious institutes commonly use their institute's initials as a suffix. For example, a Franciscan friar uses the post-nominal initials "O.F.M.", derived from the Order's name in Latin, "Ordo Fratrum Minorum" (Order of Friars Minor). Equally, a Viatorian priest uses the suffix "C.S.V." from the name of his religious institute, "Clerici Santi Viatori", the (Clerics of Saint Viator). These initials are not considered by members of religious institutes as an equivalent to academic or honorary post-nominial initials, but rather as a sign of membership in a particular religious lineage, similar to the use of "Senior" or "Junior".
In some English-speaking countries, the arrangement of post-nominal letters is governed by rules of precedence, and this list is sometimes called the "Order of Wear" (for the wearing of medals).
Special legal entities are created with the addition of status terms: Estate, Deceased, Orphan, Widow, Feme Covert, etc.
Generational suffixes are used to distinguish persons who share the same name within a family. A generational suffix can be used informally (for disambiguation purposes, or as nicknames) and is often incorporated in legal documents.
In the United States the most common name suffixes are senior and junior, which are written with a capital first letter ("Jr." and "Sr.") with or without an interceding comma. In Britain these are more rare, but when they are used the abbreviations are "Jnr" and "Snr", respectively. The term "junior" is correctly used only if a child's first, middle, and last names are identical to his or her parent's names. When the suffixes are spelled out in full, they are always written with the first letter in lower case. Social name suffixes are far more frequently applied to men than to women (due to the common practice of women taking their husbands' surnames). In French, the designations for a father and son with the same name are père ("father") and fils ("son"). In Portuguese, common designations are Júnior (junior), Filho (son), Neto (grandson), and Sobrinho (nephew). In many other nations, it is considered highly unusual or even inauspicious to give a son the same first name(s) as his father, removing the need for such suffixes. Sons with a different middle name or initial may also be called Junior as a nickname (such as in the case of George Walker Bush and his father George Herbert Walker Bush), but unless the names are identical, the Jr. suffix is never used.
Alternatively, Jr's are sometimes referred to as "II". However, the original name carrier relative of a "II" can be an uncle, cousin, or ancestor (including grandfather). The suffix "III" is used after either Jr or II and like subsequent numeric suffixes, does not need to be restricted to one family line. For example, if Randall and Patrick Dudley are brothers and if Randall has a son before Patrick, he will call his son Patrick II. If Patrick now has a son, his son is Patrick Jr. As time passes, the III suffix goes to the son of either Patrick Jr or Patrick II, whomever is first to have a son named Patrick. This is one way it is possible and correct for a Junior to father a IV. Another example involves President Ulysses S. Grant and his sons Frederick, Ulysses Jr, and Jesse. When Frederick's son Ulysses was born in 1881, Ulysses Jr did not yet have a son named after himself. Therefore, Frederick's son was Ulysses III. Ulysses Jr's son, born afterwards in 1893, was Ulysses IV. Jesse's son Chapman was the father of Ulysses V, as neither Ulysses III nor Ulysses IV had sons named for themselves.
There is no hard-and-fast rule over what happens to suffixes when the most senior of the name dies. Etiquette expert and humorist Judith Martin, for example, believes they should all move up, but most agree that this is up to the individual families.
Although there are instances of daughters being named after their mothers and also using the suffix "Jr." (such as Anna Eleanor Roosevelt Jr., Winifred Sackville Stoner Jr., and Carolina Herrera Jr.), or after their grandmothers or aunts with the suffix "II", this is not common. Usually, the namesake is given a different middle name and so would not need a suffix for differentiation. Furthermore, once the woman marries, she would most commonly take the surname of her husband and thus do away with the generational suffix. The title "Jr." is sometimes used in legal documents, particularly those pertaining to wills and estates, to distinguish among female family members of the same name.
A wife who uses the title Mrs. would also use her husband's full name, including the suffix. In less formal situations, the suffix may be omitted. Mrs. Lon Chaney Jr. on a wedding invitation, but Mrs. L. Chaney or simply Shannon Chaney for a friendly note. Widows are entitled to retain their late husband's full names and suffixes, but divorcees may not continue to style themselves with a former husband's full name and suffix, even if they retain the surname.
Common nicknames for a junior or II include "Chip" (as in "chip off the old block") and "Bud" (predominantly in the American South). However, President James Earl "Jimmy" Carter Jr.'s second son James Earl Carter III goes by "Chip". Common nicknames for a III are "Trip(p)", "Trace", and "Trey" which denote that the name carrier is the third person to carry the name. Notable examples include Green Day drummer Frank Edwin "Tré Cool" Wright III, South Park co-creator Randolph Severn "Trey" Parker III, and Willard Carroll "Trey" Smith III, elder son of actor Willard Carroll "Will" Smith Jr.
- Robert W. Baird, Bob's Genealogy Filing Cabinet genfiles.com, Retrieved 17 April 2015
- Men's Names and Titles The Emily Post Institute, Inc. Retrieved 12 April 2015.
- Judith Martin (2005), "Continuing Names", Miss Manners' Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior (Freshly Updated) (illustrated ed.), W. W. Norton & Company, p. 54, ISBN 978-0393058741
- Emily Post Best Question Archive (For the week of 12 March 2007). Emily Post Institute.
- "James 'Chip' Carter". academyofachievement.org.