Surnames or family names are the part of a person’s name that is passed down through families, or given according to law or custom. Many cultures have different customs for how names are passed from generation to generation.
Surnames originate from the relatively "recent" medieval custom of bynames, or names given to differentiate people.
Recently we posted about interesting birth stories. As a follow-up, we've been thinking about our children's names and how we choose them.
There are several reasons why parents select a particular name for a child. Some choose to name after a deceased relative, or to honor a living person. Some simply like a certain name or its meaning.
Other factors are important when selecting a name. What will the child's initials spell? Would a name result in an embarrassing nickname?
Some countries prohibit using certain names and won't allow the registration of such names. Parents may want to avoid names that might get them in trouble with the law!
Many families use recurring names in each generation, as they name children after those in the previous one. This is very helpful in tracing some families, as an unusual given name can provide clues if the surname is common. Of course, in some families, it can offer another challenge as some given names are used so commonly that researchers may have trouble separating each generation from another.
How did your parents select your first name? Who were you named after? Do you have a story about your name? Share your story in the comments below.