- 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.
- to give a surname to; call by a surname.
Origin of surname
Examples from the Web for surnames
They did not even have surnames, other than patronymics ("son of" names).An Oscar Winner’s Secret History
Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
October 14, 2010
But the women were all young and pretty, and the men had no surnames.The Christian
Indeed, we have many pure Scandinavian surnames and place-names.The Little Manx Nation - 1891
Surnames of authors when ascertained, the abbreviation "Anon."A Book for All Readers
Ainsworth Rand Spofford
"The surnames of royalties don't matter, Monseigneur," she said, with a flourish.
They used no surnames beyond the name of the town in which they lived.Earl Hubert's Daughter
Emily Sarah Holt
- 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
- (tr) to furnish with or call by a surname
Word Origin and History for surnames
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.