9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[n. sur-neym; v. sur-neym, sur-neym] /n. ˈsɜrˌneɪm; v. ˈsɜrˌneɪm, sɜrˈneɪm/
the name that a person has in common with other family members, as distinguished from a Christian name or given name; family name.
a name added to a person's name, as one indicating a circumstance of birth or some characteristic or achievement; epithet.
verb (used with object), surnamed, surnaming.
to give a surname to; call by a surname.
Origin of surname
1300-50; Middle English (noun); see sur-1, name; modeled on Old French surnom
Related forms
unsurnamed, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for surname
  • Searching the family surname can be a good way to determine if part of your family tree has already been constructed.
  • B is the correct answer my real surname is unpronounceable to undergrad students in this region.
  • With a different surname, he could have a glittering career at another media firm.
  • Peculiar though her first name may be, her surname indicates to her countrymen that she was born to the media purple.
  • Another form of surname was derived from the name of a father or grandfather.
  • Thus, if you have only used another surname, enter it along with.
  • The first name and middle initial may be omitted to accomplish a surname search.
  • The indexes provide surname, first, and middle names or initials of the plaintiff and defendants involved in the civil case.
British Dictionary definitions for surname


Also called last name, second name. a family name as opposed to a first or Christian name
(formerly) a descriptive epithet attached to a person's name to denote a personal characteristic, profession, etc; nickname
(transitive) to furnish with or call by a surname
Derived Forms
surnamer, noun
Word Origin
C14: via Anglo-French from Old French surnom. See sur-1, name
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for surname

early 14c., "name, title, or epithet added to a person's name," from sur "above" (see sur-) + name (n.); modeled on Anglo-French surnoun "surname" (early 14c.), variant of Old French surnom, from sur "over" + nom "name."

An Old English word for this was freonama, literally "free name." Meaning "family name" is first found late 14c. Hereditary surnames existed among Norman nobility in England in early 12c., among common people began to be used 13c., increasingly frequent until near universal by end of 14c. The process was later in the north of England than the south. The verb is attested from 1540s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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