AskDefine | Define surnames

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. Plural of surname


  1. third-person singular of surname

Extensive Definition

A surname is a name added to a given name and is part of a personal name. In many cases, a "surname" is a family name; the family-name meaning first appeared in 1375. Many dictionaries use "surname" as a synonym of "family name."
Surnames are often influenced by common elements: the name of the person's father or mother, the person's geographical origin, the person's occupation, or a descriptive nickname for the person. When they were created, they answered one of the following questions: Who is this person related to? Where is this person from? What does this person do for a living? What is his or her most prominent feature?
For instance, the names Smith and Cooper may originate from the blacksmith and cooper metal work occupations, respectively. Names such as Cohen, may denote a prominent religious background; Cohen is a name usually found among male descendants of Jewish priests.


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