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

Synonyms for surname

Synonyms: Noun

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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: Noun The Wall Street Journal agreed to withhold his surname. Yaroslav Trofimov, WSJ, 10 May 2022 Bolan copped his stage surname from glam-rock legend Marc Bolan. Matt Wake |, al, 3 May 2022 Marine’s campaign manifesto, M La France, avoids her surname where possible, and her official poster this year features only her image and first name. James Mcauley, The New Yorker, 22 Apr. 2022 An article on March 13 about the singer Doja Cat misspelled her surname. New York Times, 3 Apr. 2022 Watertown has numerous illustrious daughters and sons, including former Secretary of State John Foster Dulles and his brother, ex-CIA Director Allen Dulles, who've lent their surname to the 11-story state building near downtown. Heather Ainsworth For Cnn, CNN, 19 Mar. 2022 Evgeny, who also declined to reveal his surname for security reasons, planned to welcome three more refugees on Thursday. Washington Post, 1 Mar. 2022 In the United States, the passing down of the surname—traditionally from the father’s side in heterosexual partnerships—is the naming convention that stirs the most discussion. Maggie Mertens, The Atlantic, 29 Apr. 2022 Jerry Uelsmann misspelled the surname of one of his former wives. New York Times, 25 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

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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Time Traveler for surname

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

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Dictionary Entries Near surname




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Statistics for surname

Last Updated

15 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Surname.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for surname


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.

More from Merriam-Webster on surname

Nglish: Translation of surname for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of surname for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about surname


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