sur·​name | \ ˈsər-ˌnām How to pronounce surname (audio) \

Definition of surname

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : an added name derived from occupation or other circumstance : nickname sense 1
2 : the name borne in common by members of a family


surnamed; surnaming; surnames

Definition of surname (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to give a surname to

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Synonyms for surname

Synonyms: Noun

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Examples of surname in a Sentence

Noun judging from your surname, I'd guess that your family is Italian “da Vinci” was Leonardo's surname but not his family name, Vinci being the town near Florence where the great artist was born
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Henan province, who gave only his surname out of security fears, said a guard kept watch at his door. Washington Post, "Chinese workers allege forced labor, abuses in Xi’s ‘Belt and Road’ program," 30 Apr. 2021 She was beaten repeatedly for the offense of being a Jew with a German-sounding surname. Faith Bottum, WSJ, "An Auschwitz Survivor Dies in a New York Nursing Home," 31 Mar. 2021 An article on Tuesday about the loss of a congressional seat in New York misspelled the surname of a former state assemblyman. New York Times, "Corrections: April 29, 2021," 29 Apr. 2021 But later, using his real surname, Chapman became an even bigger personality. Michael Granberry, Dallas News, "Dallas radio legend Ron Chapman dies at 85," 26 Apr. 2021 What Milo only recently fessed up to was, also in the mid-2000s, scoring another 100 blots (including four wins) under the name Elwood Fitzner; the surname is from his wife’s family, the first name made up. Washington Post, "Style Conversational Week 1432: The winsome wisdom of Melissa Balmain," 15 Apr. 2021 Watson was asked if his club's new player should be called by his first name, his surname or his nickname. Jerry Zgoda, Star Tribune, "Minnesota United lands Argentine striker Ramon Abila," 7 Apr. 2021 Michelle is her middle name; her surname is Rodriguez. Vincent T. Davis, San Antonio Express-News, "Burgundy Woods is on the rise as home-grown fashionista, style influencer and champion of unsung fashion heroes," 29 Mar. 2021 For the first time in over six decades, no one with the Castro surname will be at the helm of Cuba’s government. Bianca Padro Ocasio,, "A Castro will no longer be leading Cuba. But there are relatives still in government.," 17 Apr. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'surname.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of surname


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


15th century, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for surname

Time Traveler

The first known use of surname was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

15 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Surname.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for surname



English Language Learners Definition of surname

: the name that is shared by the people in a family


sur·​name | \ ˈsər-ˌnām How to pronounce surname (audio) \

Kids Definition of surname

: the name that comes at the end of someone's full name James Smith's surname is Smith.

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