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90s Slang You Should Know


[noun sur-neym; verb sur-neym, sur-neym] /noun ˈsɜrˌneɪm; verb ˈsɜrˌneɪm, sɜrˈneɪm/
the name that a person has in common with other family members, as distinguished from a Christian name or given name; family name.
a name added to a person's name, as one indicating a circumstance of birth or some characteristic or achievement; epithet.
verb (used with object), surnamed, surnaming.
to give a surname to; call by a surname.
Origin of surname
1300-50; Middle English (noun); see sur-1, name; modeled on Old French surnom
Related forms
unsurnamed, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for surname
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Yes,” replied Ibarra absently, “we shortened the surname; it was too long.

    The Social Cancer Jos Rizal
  • The Alpe, or bullfinch, mentioned in the above lines, also survives as a surname.

    The Romance of Names Ernest Weekley
  • In course of time, a distinction arose in the conception of Aphrodite, expressed by the surname applied to her.

    Greek Women Mitchell Carroll
  • In those olden days a man did not have a surname that belonged to everyone in his family.

    Viking Tales Jennie Hall
  • If a widow is re-marrying, she uses the prefix "Mrs." with her Christian names and the surname of her deceased husband.

    Social Life Maud C. Cooke
British Dictionary definitions for surname


Also called last name, second name. a family name as opposed to a first or Christian name
(formerly) a descriptive epithet attached to a person's name to denote a personal characteristic, profession, etc; nickname
(transitive) to furnish with or call by a surname
Derived Forms
surnamer, noun
Word Origin
C14: via Anglo-French from Old French surnom. See sur-1, name
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for surname

early 14c., "name, title, or epithet added to a person's name," from sur "above" (see sur-) + name (n.); modeled on Anglo-French surnoun "surname" (early 14c.), variant of Old French surnom, from sur "over" + nom "name."

An Old English word for this was freonama, literally "free name." Meaning "family name" is first found late 14c. Hereditary surnames existed among Norman nobility in England in early 12c., among common people began to be used 13c., increasingly frequent until near universal by end of 14c. The process was later in the north of England than the south. The verb is attested from 1540s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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