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surname

[noun sur-neym; verb sur-neym, sur-neym]
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noun
  1. the name that a person has in common with other family members, as distinguished from a Christian name or given name; family name.
  2. a name added to a person's name, as one indicating a circumstance of birth or some characteristic or achievement; epithet.
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verb (used with object), sur·named, sur·nam·ing.
  1. to give a surname to; call by a surname.
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Origin of surname

1300–50; Middle English (noun); see sur-1, name; modeled on Old French surnom
Related formsun·sur·named, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for surnames

surname

noun
  1. Also called: last name, second name a family name as opposed to a first or Christian name
  2. (formerly) a descriptive epithet attached to a person's name to denote a personal characteristic, profession, etc; nickname
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verb
  1. (tr) to furnish with or call by a surname
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Derived Formssurnamer, 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

Word Origin and History for surnames

surname

n.

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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper