sur·​name | \ˈsər-ˌnām \

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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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

Prince Philip renounced his foreign titles, converted to Anglicanism, and took the British royal family's surname Mountbatten in order to marry the future Queen of England. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "Prince Louis's Christening Date Has a Special Meaning to the Royal Family," 20 June 2018 How often professors are called only by surnames And that kind of naming seems to affect the way outsiders think about a person. Katie Langin, Science | AAAS, "Male scientists are far more likely to be referred to by their last names, impacting status and awards," 25 June 2018 During his time at school and in the military, Prince Harry was known simply as Harry Wales, a surname that derived from his father’s official title. Megan Mccluskey, Time, "Meghan Markle's About to Get a New Royal Title. Here's Everything We Know So Far.," 14 May 2018 An article on Friday about the Chinese tennis player Li Na misspelled the surname of one of China’s junior players. New York Times, "Corrections: July 14, 2018," 13 July 2018 Weiner's unconventional spelling of the Russian surname reportedly reflects both the pronunciation and how it was spelled up until recently. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "The mini-series from Mad Men's Matthew Weiner is about the modern descendants of the Romanov family.," 2 July 2018 His awkward pronounciation of the 27-year-old star's surname tickled the internet, leaving many to question his true friendship with the star. Houston Chronicle, "PV CONCERT LIST 0504," 2 May 2018 Her surname came from her new father, Pablo Madrigal. James Badcock,, "Obstetrician's trial could unlock secrets of Spain's stolen babies scandal," 25 June 2018 Adopting her mother’s original surname for professional reasons, Ms. Wile worked as a singer, composer and lyricist. Sam Roberts, New York Times, "Joan Wile, a Grandmother Against the War in Iraq, Dies at 86," 23 May 2018

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

9 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for surname

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

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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 \

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).


playful or foolish behavior

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