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

family name, last name

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Examples of surname in a Sentence


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

Names and surnames of suspects and witnesses are misspelled repeatedly, as are names of local places, brands and stores. David Luhnow, WSJ, "Mexicans, Hit by Murder Wave, Face Long, Often Futile Wait for Justice," 25 Dec. 2018 Prince George's name and surname are listed as: His Royal Highness Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "This Is Kate Middleton and Prince William's Third Child's Official Royal Title," 29 Mar. 2018 An official at the city government propaganda department, who gave only his surname, Gao, said the accident’s cause was still under investigation and no other information could be provided. Christopher Bodeen, The Seattle Times, "22 dead in blast outside northern China chemical plant," 28 Nov. 2018 Still, there are some things fans may not know about the star—for example, the origin of his interesting surname. Taysha Murtaugh, Country Living, "Tarek El Moussa of 'Flip or Flop' Has the Most Interesting Family History," 20 Sep. 2018 The officer, who only gave his surname, Guo, said on Wednesday that some of the agencies had purchased new tickets for their clients. Mike Ives, New York Times, "Chinese Fans Paid Dearly for World Cup Tickets That Never Materialized," 21 June 2018 Gabbard was previously married to Eduardo Tamayo (his surname appears on her uniform in some photos); she’s said her time away in the military strained their union to the breaking point. Celeste Katz, Glamour, "Tulsi Gabbard Wants to Put a Little ‘Aloha’ in the 2020 Race," 19 Jan. 2019 Not to butter you up, but that’s so sweet. — McDonald's (@McDonalds) June 12, 2018 As for McDonald's, the fast food granddaddy, the company still represents itself with the golden arches logo and Ronald's surname. Howard Cohen, miamiherald, "Burgers versus pancakes, Miami fast food chain reacts to IHOP's marketing gimmick," 12 June 2018 His father, Li Ke, had apparently invented his surname, partly to disguise his real genealogy and partly to forge a connection to the royal Li clan that ruled the Tang dynasty. Yunte Huang, WSJ, "‘The Banished Immortal’ Review: ‘Heaven Begot a Talent Like Me’," 11 Jan. 2019

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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Statistics for surname

Last Updated

30 Mar 2019

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Time Traveler for surname

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

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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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Comments on surname

What made you want to look up surname? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


having no equal

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