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

Japan adopted the first name before surname order for use in English about 150 years ago as a way to modernize and internationalize itself by imitating the Western style, according to the Agency for Cultural Affairs. Mari Yamaguchi,, "Japan to put surname first for Japanese names in English," 6 Sep. 2019 The new study, which used Y-chromosomal DNA profiling and surname prediction based on genealogical data ties JB 55 to a farmer named John Barber. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "New England ‘Vampire’ Was Likely a Farmer Named John," 5 Aug. 2019 An overwhelming majority of those killed had Spanish surnames. NBC News, "With no family in town, husband of El Paso shooting victim invites public to her funeral," 14 Aug. 2019 But bestowing the mother’s surname alone has yet to enter the collective consciousness as a viable alternative. Adrienne Brodeur, Glamour, "Our Children Have My Last Name. No, My Husband Doesn’t Mind," 13 Aug. 2019 Jamie even sports a purple jersey on game days with the Louisiana version of his surname, Burreaux, emblazoned on its rear. Ross Dellenger,, "Meet Joe Burrow: LSU's Toughest Renaissance Man and Maybe Savior at QB," 15 July 2019 Why do some people use the surname Windsor, without the Mountbatten? Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "The Complicated History of the Royal Family's Last Name, Mountbatten-Windsor," 12 May 2019 Shanghai police had earlier confirmed the detention of a man with the surname Wang but would not provide any other details. Steven Jiang, CNN, "Chinese real estate billionaire Wang Zhenhua arrested for alleged child molestation," 11 July 2019 The film presents viewers with two women: Chloe Wofford (Morrison’s birth name) and Toni Morrison (an alias adapted from her Catholic name, Anthony, and her ex-husband’s surname). Syreeta Mcfadden, The Atlantic, "A Documentary That Shows Another Side of Toni Morrison," 25 June 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

14 Sep 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).


concealment of treason or felony

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