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

Fans of the royal wedding will recognize Nicholas van Cutsem's surname, as his daughter, Florence, was one of Meghan Markle's flower girls. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Who Are Prince Louis' Godparents? Here's Everything You Need to Know About Them," 9 July 2018 Part of the adoption process involves changing the child's surname on her birth certificate. Mark Curnutte,, "Girl who lost parents to heroin starts over: `I want a family'," 27 June 2018 On Thursday, the president ridiculed Flake's surname ahead of Flake's speech in the Senate on tariffs and free trade. Ronald J. Hansen, azcentral, "McCain, Flake push back on Trump's call for Russia to rejoin the G7," 8 June 2018 Fields dotted the landscape south of town, known simply by the surname, such as Nieto, Garza and Castillos. Roy Bragg, San Antonio Express-News, "Family-owned softball field brings back memories," 8 May 2018 Wearing the uniform that bears his surname, fraternizing with his 24 teammates and, in the sixth inning, facing the menacing meat of an Astros offense that, right now, thrashes whatever or whomever opposes it. Chandler Rome, Houston Chronicle, "Josh Reddick's pair of homers power Astros past White Sox," 21 Apr. 2018 Across Texas, Democratic primary results usually break down in predictable ways according to what can be inferred about a candidate’s ethnicity from their surname. The Economist, "Demography is not destinyBuilding a multiracial coalition is more difficult than it seems," 12 July 2018 The spelling of his family surname differed from his House of Lords title. Washington Post, "Lord Carrington, British statesman who served six prime ministers, dies at 99," 10 July 2018 An earlier version of this article incorrectly spelled his surname as Muilenberg. Robert Wall, WSJ, "Boeing to Take Over Embraer’s Commercial-Jet Business," 5 July 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

31 Aug 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

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an open space surrounded by woods

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