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

An article on Monday about Lucas Silverio, a teenager who died after rescuing a child from an apartment fire in the Bronx, misstated the surname of Mr. Silverio’s cousin. New York Times, "Corrections: June 19, 2019," 19 June 2019 When the idea is to recognize both individuals, a correct alternative, which works whether or not the pair are married or share a surname, is to use two lines: Ms. Jane Doe/Mr. Judith Martin, The Mercury News, "Miss Manners: Please stop saying you’re ‘humbled’ if you don’t know what it means," 10 June 2019 Corrections & Amplifications An earlier version of this article misspelled Angela Dimayuga’s surname as Dimyuga. Howie Kahn, WSJ, "The Standard’s New Food Guru on Overhauling the Hotel’s Cuisine," 13 Feb. 2019 This story has been corrected to show the spelling of the senator’s surname is Bennet, not Bennett. Thomas Beaumont, The Seattle Times, "2020 Democratic contenders already eyeing top staff in Iowa," 21 Nov. 2018 Prosecutors accused the 48-year-old, whose surname wasn't provided for privacy reasons, of harming at least 27 patients, although earlier estimates put the number far higher. Fox News, "German pharmacist gets 12 years for diluting cancer drugs," 7 July 2018 While Cyrus will still use her own name professionally, Hemsworth was overjoyed that his wife had decided to take his surname. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Liam Hemsworth Revealed What Miley Cyrus' Married Name Is, & Prepare to Swoon," 9 Feb. 2019 Everyone else would take the surname Mountbatten-Windsor, as fans of The Crown will remember the controversial hyphenation chosen by the Queen for her descendents. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "Why Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's Kids Won't Be Princes or Princesses," 15 Oct. 2018 Valle is running for a congress seat for Rio de Janeiro state and uses Bolsonaro’s surname in her campaign. Mauricio Savarese, The Seattle Times, "Ex-wife of Brazil candidate denies he sent her death threats," 25 Sep. 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

22 Jun 2019

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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 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).


to take the place or position of

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