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

Texas parents are also not required to give their children their surname, and can instead opt for a completely new one. Dallas News, "Can you add your partner’s last name and keep your maiden name in Texas? Curious Texas investigates," 3 July 2019 After a few years, Peter's great grandparents divorced and his great-grandmother married a Han Chinese man and adopted his surname, Dong. Don Giolzetti, CNN, "'Uncle Petrov' is the ethnic Russian streaming star making China question what it means to be Chinese," 22 June 2019 Born into slavery sometime around 1840, Mary Jane was briefly married to a man named Wilson Bowser, although only his surname, not hers, appears in the 1861 church annals listing their nuptials. Lois Leveen, Time, "She Was Born Into Slavery, Was a Spy and Is Celebrated as a Hero—But We're Missing the Point of the 'Mary Bowser' Story," 19 June 2019 That passenger, identified only by his surname, Song, was attempting to beat the line to de-board the plane by opening the emergency exit door by his seat once the plane had landed. Matt Mcnulty,, "Airplane Passenger Causes Major Delays After Mistaking the Emergency Exit for the Bathroom," 11 June 2019 In an apparent attempt to beat the queue to disembark, the passenger, identified by his surname, Song, opened an emergency door near his seat after his flight landed. Wire Service, The Mercury News, "Passenger opens plane emergency exit, mistaking it for the toilet," 10 June 2019 Then proceed to use it, honorific followed by surname, just as frequently as the other person does. Judith Martin, Washington Post, "Miss Manners: Guests feel anything but welcome," 8 June 2019 The following year my grandparents, father, aunt and uncle—known by their surname Motulsky—fled.... David Molton, WSJ, "My Family’s American Life Almost Wasn’t," 23 May 2019 But the baby's surname, Mountbatten-Windsor, requires a bit more explanation. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "The Complicated History of the Royal Family's Last Name, Mountbatten-Windsor," 12 May 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

6 Jul 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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