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WikiProject Anthroponymy (Rated C-class, Top-importance)
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If surname does not always (or usually) refer to a family name, what should be the content of this article? WhisperToMe (talk) 23:55, 10 December 2007 (UTC)

There probably is worthwhile information that could be put in a "surname" article, but I don't know anything about it. I'd suggest this page be deleted as essentially a dictionary definition, but there are so many articles that are just lists of people with a given surname that I do think there should be a general article about surnames. Propaniac (talk) 17:33, 27 December 2007 (UTC)
Don't usually edit stuff... but I passed by the article and thought that the introductory matter needed some serious help just in definition. The word is sur + name == over + name, meaning something like "common name" -- it historically identified your affiliation to some group, like family or clan.
Also, the construction "it is commonly synonymous with 'last name', since it is usually placed at the end of a person's given name" is a definition conveying incorrect information -- sequence has no relation to its synonymity. (That the "last name" is the family name is the reason, not it's position as the "last".) Duoas 2013 December 22 1:25 Z —Preceding undated comment added 01:24, 23 December 2013 (UTC)


Why is this page not connected with family name or last name? (Yes, I do the the topic above; however, my question was not answered.) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Sorchah (talkcontribs) 01:05, 7 April 2008 (UTC)

  • Because some surnames are not family names. WhisperToMe (talk) 20:20, 18 April 2008 (UTC)

Surname is not a synonym for family name[edit]

The article is distinct from family name because it's about all last names, not just the last names that are family names. Several hundred years ago, members of the same family could very well have been James [the] Cooper and Anne [the] Baxter, based on their professions rather than their family. Even today, some people have a last name that is not based on what family they belong to, e.g. Angelina Jolie or Elton John. Ariadne55 (talk) 17:51, 9 July 2008 (UTC)

No. This article is a small, worse-than-useless stub. Common usage, as described by this article, is that "surname" and "family name" are synonyms. Last name redirects to family name, not here. Family name describes many things which are not family names including Icelandic patronyms and Spanish surnames. And of course your assertion that surnames are last names is wrong too; Chinese surnames are certainly not last names, and some people have neither surnames nor family names nor patronyms nor any kind of inherited name, but still have a last name.
In any case, I have no idea what a surname is according to this article; all I know from it is that "family name" is sometimes defined as a synonym of "surname" and that some surnames are family names and/or vice versa. From your comment I am no more enlightened.
By keeping this article separate it gives the many people who think that surnames are the same things as family names the impression that Wikipedia has a useless discussion of surnames. This makes the article worse than useless because Wikipedia does have an excellent discussion of surnames at family name. (The article does of course have a link to family name but because this article has lots of useless links like father, German and synonym, I don't think the chance of someone clicking them is substantially reduced.)
I will redirect the article back to family name again. If you want me to stop doing that: (a) redirect family name to surname or (b) make this a useful article or, at the very least, a useless one. But whatever: It needs to stop being worse than useless.
Felix the Cassowary 05:20, 10 July 2008 (UTC)

Felix, you cannot give options to users about what you will do to a page. IF you want to redirect the page, a consensus MUST be reached. If you cannot reach a conensus, then the redirect will not happen. Undeath (talk) 05:31, 10 July 2008 (UTC)

At the very least we should move this discussion to Family name. That article is the larger article and therefore we're more likely to get more opinions and/or content for here. I do not care if an article remains here at surname however the current article is worse than later and therefore I do most definitely care that it is not this worse-than-useless one. I do not know if there is a correct procedure for moving the discussion from here to there. —Felix the Cassowary 06:31, 10 July 2008 (UTC) PS: You apparently can give me options about what users can do to pages, but I can't?
What I give is not the same type of options that you were giving. Your options stated that you were going to do something against other's intentions if they didn't do something you wanted them to do. You were not following the right procedures to move/redirect/merge a page. I was pointing that out. Undeath (talk) 22:13, 10 July 2008 (UTC)

While the article definitely needs work, and the concept of surname is closely intertwined with "family name" in most western cultures, there are some very real and important differences between a surname and a family name, both in minority western cultures and in non-western cultures. Besides possibly being a family name, a surname may also be a patronymic or matronymic, or something else. For example, for a time in Norway, many surnames were two names, the combination of a patronymic or matronymic and a "farm name", the place where they lived, and which would change if they moved. However, most historical Norwegian figures were upper-class plecting Rajesh Pilot's concerns. The information comes from the Icelandic names article, which had useful links and information on other languages as well. I think this shows a distinction between Surname and family name and justifies separate articles. ```` (talk) 01:03, 3 May 2009 (UTC)

==Jewish surname Place it in Family nithin Family name would muddy the latter's clear-flowing waters. Keeping Family name a purely patrilineal article would be less confusing for readers. For7thGen (talk) 20:49, 21 August 2009 (UTC)

Usually articles seem to be overly focused on a view point of someone living in the United States... however this article seems to focus on every culture but American and/or English. Also I don't understand why this isn't just part of the Family name article Fjf1085 (talk) 02:19, 18 January 2013 (UTC)

Order of names[edit]

At one point in this section it's talking about Uralic name order, then it disconcertingly launches into a diatribe on Sami name changes without an appropriate lead-in. It reads very copy and paste. As I myself don't know enough about the subject matter and the only citation is a unrelated blog post in Norwegian, I would suggest that if the Sami section isn't rewritten, the paragraph should be deleted. Philip72 (talk) 09:34, 24 January 2013 (UTC)

External Link[edit]

Is that external link to [1] really meritorious? If the page was linking to such material, there are a number of better sources. This would be better as a reference. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:18, 26 April 2013 (UTC)

Semitic languages[edit]

The section on Hebrew patronymic surnames could usefully be expanded to clarify whether the similar constructions in other Semitic languages (Aramaic bar-, Arabic ibn- and bin-) are also used as surnames, or only as true patronyms. AmirOnWiki (talk) 12:16, 20 November 2013 (UTC)


Just count the number of occurrences of "family name" in the surname article and vice-versa. Fgnievinski (talk) 13:26, 25 November 2013 (UTC)

Two separate, even though congruent in most of western society, and distinct concepts - articles do not need to be merged. Perhaps a little copy-editing to remove the repetitiousness? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Notwillywanka (talkcontribs) 22:51, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
Given the existing overlap, a single article highlighting the distinction, would be more appropriate. Fgnievinski (talk) 23:41, 1 December 2013 (UTC)
Only existing overlap, is in "Western" society. One concept is a position (order) of name, First/middle/last, the other is a hereditary name a family name, and it's "overlap" is that in western society the last name is the family name and the surname. A Surname is not necessarily a family name, a last name is not necessarily a family name, nor is a family name necessarily a last name. Wikipedia is a Worldwide encyclopedia, and it needs to be written with that in mind, not just one "society" view of something. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Notwillywanka (talkcontribs) 02:15, 2 December 2013 (UTC)
"In Chinese, last names come first" is perfectly straightforward to any native English speaker and rather belies your point (albeit you're right we wouldn't want to use last name as the main article space, owing to concern about WP:BIAS). I'm confused as to what you think "surname" means, though, since it's what they were actually talking about and since it has nothing to do with order. — LlywelynII 02:41, 20 December 2013 (UTC)
1) ...except They're not distinct concepts and it has nothing to do with "Western society" but with the English language. From the above comments, it seems some editors think that "last name" and "surname" are synonyms while "family name" is distinct; in fact, it's the opposite: "surname" and "family name" are synonyms and general, while "last name" is the one that is (on its face) Western-specific. Per the OED:
surname: The name which a person bears in common with the other members of his family...; a family name
family name: A hereditary name shared by members of the same family, as distinct from a given or personal name; a surname.
Here at the English Wiki, we should avoid WP:POVFORKs based on distinctions that simply aren't made in the English language and stick with using the WP:ENGLISH WP:COMMONNAMEs of our topics. They should simply be merged. Whether we should go to "surname" or "family name" depends on relative frequency of use; I like surname since it's shorter but if people really use "family name" more often these days, we should go with that. I understand that even though "last name" is certainly more common than either, there are sensible objections to using it in order to cover all surnames across all cultures. Still, per WP:CONCISE, we should just go with one and redirect from the others: there's really no need for something needlessly long like surnames, family names, and last names (names).
2) If there is some specialized sense of either term in anthropology (which I frankly doubt) and editors can find WP:RSes to vouch for them, they could be spun off to family name (anthropology) or some such... but even such sources don't alter the WP:PRIMARYTOPIC of these namespaces being the exact same.
3) Somewhat bizarrely, "last name" is the one of these that legitimately doesn't overlap with the other two and yet finds no defenders. I have no problem with it redirecting to the merged article (the primary sense is certainly surnames) but it (technically) covers straight patronyms, epithets, &c. that are not passed down within families. — LlywelynII 02:23, 20 December 2013 (UTC)
I'm going to move this conversation over to Family name, since regardless of "surname"'s equality, the other has a longer history, is bigger, and has more links and eyes at the moment. — LlywelynII 03:26, 20 December 2013 (UTC)
Nevermind, it would make the rfc messy. Here's the link, though. — LlywelynII 04:26, 20 December 2013 (UTC)
"Last name" was not proposed to be merged with these. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Notwillywanka (talkcontribs) 04:37, 23 December 2013 (UTC)

second meaning[edit]

Yes, some modification of [[last_name] will no doubt be in order after the merger has been completed. Another problem that will need to be addressed is the second dictionary sense of "surname," i.e. something between a nickname and a (needed) epithet. The textbook example used by Merriam-Webster is "da Vinci" and we can add "of Arabia" and "Barbarossa" or "Redbeard" and "the Great" and "the Conqueror" to this list. I was taught in school (in the United States) that "surname" applied in these cases and was a sort of nickname but called "surname" precisely to distinguish it from the "family name," which might be, say, Hohenstaufen. The intro to the new article should make some allowance for this. Initially it might link to byname.

I'll look forward to the merged version. - phi (talk) 17:10, 8 September 2014 (UTC)

"See Also" section of article[edit]

I added a link to the article on Naming Law. (This is in addition to the link to Surname Law which exists already.) The Naming Law article presently discusses mostly rules about what given names may be used in different countries, but some of its content may relate to surnames as well (e.g. bans on diacritical remarks in California, regulations about characters that may be used in a name). Moreover, the Naming Law article itself should probably be expanded to reflect general rules for names that apply to both given names and surnames, especially since many parents in the U.S. (and probably elsewhere) choose to name their child with a surname that is a combination or (and different from) the surname of either parent. [As a separate point, the articles on Naming Law and Surname Law should refer to each other and perhaps should be merged, especially since the current article on Naming Law has almost no content. I will add notes to those articles.]--WvomSaal (talk) 17:01, 2 February 2015 (UTC)

Seems strange[edit]

"A surname or family name is a name added to a given name. In many cases, a surname is a family name and many dictionaries define "surname" as a synonym of "family name"." How I read this: 1. SN (=FN)= N added to GN. 2. Often SN = FN, & many dictionaries say SN = FN. Seems weird to me because in 1, SN=FN but then in 2, SN OFTEN = FN. (talk) 22:15, 16 June 2015 (UTC)

Order of names: Austria[edit]

I don't have any sources for this right now but in Austria the surname is very rarely placed before the given name. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:56, 20 July 2015 (UTC)

Fuse these two articles, please[edit] — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:54, 27 September 2015 (UTC)