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sur·​name ˈsər-ˌnām How to pronounce surname (audio)
: an added name derived from occupation or other circumstance : nickname sense 1
: the name borne in common by members of a family


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surnamed; surnaming; surnames

transitive verb

: to give a surname to

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
The article also misspelled the surname of Hezbollah’s leader. New York Times, 16 Feb. 2024 Meghan Markle Wears Romantic Nods to Prince Harry on Valentine's Day — Including Return of Engagement Ring PEOPLE understands that Sussex is their family surname. Erin Hill, Peoplemag, 16 Feb. 2024 But there’s a floating nature to the surnames of royal family members. Martha Ross, The Mercury News, 15 Feb. 2024 The next step in the search was tracking down South Carolina enslavers with the surname Stark. Tracy Scott Forson, Smithsonian Magazine, 6 Feb. 2024 And as Kimmel noted, some people were simply thrilled that Ventimiglia's wife's maiden name is the same as his character Jess' surname on Gilmore Girls. Maureen Lee Lenker,, 26 Jan. 2024 Participants will learn to recognize surname traps and wrong assumptions. Linda McIntosh, San Diego Union-Tribune, 13 Jan. 2024 His great-great-grandfather, Ned Mills, was the first to adopt the family surname. Sydney Page, Washington Post, 6 Feb. 2024 According to media reports, the culprit was one of Lin’s own executives, a man with the surname Xu, who ran the company’s film division. James Hibberd, The Hollywood Reporter, 1 Feb. 2024
The Chengdu police used social media on Wednesday to report that a 39-year-old man surnamed Chen was arrested on suspicion of opening a casino. Patrick Frater, Variety, 22 Nov. 2023 The 39-year-old Chinese national, surnamed Hao, was a cadre at a ministry and had gone to Japan for studies, which was where the spying recruitment occurred, the ministry said. Reuters, NBC News, 21 Aug. 2023 Gandhi had asked in an election campaign speech, referring to two fugitive businessmen, both surnamed Modi. Reuters, NBC News, 4 Aug. 2023 The defense ministry said Wednesday that a lieutenant colonel surnamed Hsieh and other defendants were suspected of having been recruited by China to leak national defense secrets and other information. Time, 2 Aug. 2023 Police arrested the suspect, a 25-year-old man surnamed Wu, shortly after at around 8 a.m. Jessie Yeung, CNN, 10 July 2023 With stalwarts such as Bernie Sanders, Sheldon Whitehouse and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in Washington, as well as various people surnamed Biden, what could possibly go wrong? WSJ, 1 June 2023 The image of the employee, surnamed Han, was blurred in an interview with the state broadcaster and appeared to be wearing a prison uniform. Daisuke Wakabayashi, New York Times, 8 May 2023 The manager, surnamed Wag, said Sun did not buckle a safety belt prior to the routine, per the report. Abigail Adams, Peoplemag, 19 Apr. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'surname.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


15th century, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near surname

Cite this Entry

“Surname.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


: an added name : nickname
: the name held in common by members of a family
surname verb

More from Merriam-Webster on surname

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