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A patronym, or patronymic, is a component of a personal name based on the given name of one's father, grandfather or an even earlier male ancestor. A component of a name based on the name of one's mother or a female ancestor is a matronymic. Each is a means of conveying lineage. Patronymics are still in use, including mandatory use, in many places worldwide, although their use has largely been replaced by or transformed into patronymic surnames.


In many areas around the world, patronyms predate the use of family names. Family names in many Celtic, English, Iberian, Scandinavian, Armenian and Slavic surnames originate from patronyms, e.g. Wilson (son of William), Powell (from "ap Hywel"), Fernández (son of Fernando), Rodríguez (son of Rodrigo), Carlsson (son of Carl), Ilyin (of Ilya), Petrov (of Peter), Stefanović (son of Stefan, little Stefan) and O'Connor (from "Ó Conchobhair", meaning grandson/descendant of Conchobhar). Other cultures which formerly used patronyms have switched to the more widespread style of passing the father's last name to the children (and wife) as their own.

Patronymics are required and are used instead of middle names in Russia. In Iceland family names are unusual; Icelandic law favours the use of patronyms (and more recently, matronyms) over family names.

In biological Gopherus agassizii, named by James Graham Cooper after Jean Louis Rodolphe Agassiz, and Acacia greggii, named by botanist Asa Gray after explorer Josiah Gregg.

Historical and current use


Traditionally Muslim and non-Arabic speaking African people, such as Hausa and Fulani people usually (with some exceptions) follow the Arab naming pattern, however the word "son of" is omitted. So Mohamed son of Ibrahim son of Ahmed is "Mohamed Ibrahim Ahmed", and Mohamed Ibrahim Ahmed's son Ali is "Ali Mohamed Ibrahim".


Ethiopians have no concept of family name and surname. If one is to refer to a person with a single name he/she will always use the person's given name. Ethiopians use a naming pattern very similar to the Arab naming pattern but a little bit different: with no suffix or prefix. The full name in Ethiopia is written as: First name (given name) followed by the father's name, and last by the grandfather's name. The grandfather's name is usually only used in official documents. The father's name is not considered a middle name. Instead, it is considered a last name. The same is true for females; they do not take their husband's last name. They go independently by their given name, followed by their father's name, and then their grandfather's name, even after marriage.


Some Kenyan communities used patronyms. As of 2010 the practice has largely dropped off with the use of just the father's last name as a surname. Kalenjin use 'arap' meaning 'son of'; Kikuyu used 'wa' meaning 'of'. Because of polygamy, matronyms were also used and 'wa' used to identify which wife the child was born of; Maasai use 'ole' meaning 'son of'; Meru use 'mto' abbreviated M' thus son of Mkindia would be M'Mkindia, pronounced Mto Mkindia.


Somalis also have a naming pattern based on the Arab naming pattern, very similar to the Ethiopian naming pattern. For example, the name Ahmed Mohamed Ali Farah means "Ahmed son of Mohamed son of Ali son of Farah"; a father and son or daughter never share the same surname as the naming goes father after father. Women never adopt their husbands' patronym, rather they keep theirs for life.

South Africa

Among the Zulu patronymics were used in the pre-colonial era. The prefix "ka" was attached to the father's name, for example Shaka kaSenzangakhona means Shaka son of Senzangakhona. The practice disappeared from everyday use with the introduction of the modern European style surname system but still remains part of traditional cultural practices, particularly in the case of chieftains and royalty where reciting lineages forms a part of many ceremonial occasions.



Yi people's son's given name is based on the last one or two syllables of father's name. Hani people also have patronymic customs.


Atayal people's son's name is followed by father's name.

India and South Asia

Patronymy is common in parts of India and Pakistan. For example, if a father is named Khurram Suleman (a Muslim masculine name), he might name his son Taha Khurram, who in turn might name his son Ismail Taha. As a result, unlike surnames, patronymics will not pass down through many generations.

In Tamil Nadu and parts of Kerala and Karnataka, patronymy is predominant. This is a significant departure from the rest of the country where caste or family names are mostly employed as surnames. This came into common use during the 50s and 60s when the Dravidian movement illegalised using one's caste as part of the name.

However, rather than using the father's full name, only the first letter—the initial—is prefixed to the given name. For example, if a person's given name is Saravanan and his father's Krishnan, then the full name is K. Saravanan and is seldom expanded, even in official records. Some families follow the tradition of retaining the name of the hometown, the grandfather's name, or both as initials. The celebrated Indian English novelist R. K. Narayan's name at birth was Rasipuram Krishnaswami Ayyar Narayanaswami, which was shortened at the behest of his writer friend, Graham Greene. Rasipuram, the first name, is a toponym and Krishnaswami Ayyar, the second name, is a patronym.

Nonetheless, the growing trend in cities in Tamil Nadu and among expatriates is to expand the father’s name and place it ahead of one’s given name. The name stated in the earlier example, K. Saravanan would become Krishnan Saravanan, making it similar to Asian naming conventions of family name before first name (compare Chinese names). In Kerala, the common practise is to have the given name of the father after one's given name. Following the above example for this tradition would render it as Saravanan Krishnan.

In Maharashtra and Gujarat, a very common convention among the Hindu communities is to have the patronymic as the middle name. Examples:

  • Cricketer Sunil Gavaskar's full name is Sunil Manohar Gavaskar, where Manohar is his father's given name. Sunil Gavaskar's son Rohan Gavaskar would be Rohan Sunil Gavaskar, and so on.
  • Cricketer Sachin Tendulkar's full name is Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar, where Ramesh is his father's given name.
  • First Deputy Prime Minister and first Home Minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel's full name is Vallabhbhai Jhaverbhai Patel, where Jhaverbhai is his father's given name.
  • India's 15th Prime Minister Narendra Modi, famously took oath of office as the Prime Minister of India as Narendra Damodardas Modi, where in Damodardas is his father's given name. He prefers to write his full name including his father's name as his middle name.

This system works for both boys and girls, except that after marriage, a woman takes her husband's given name as her middle name—her new middle name is no longer a patronymic.

Indians, particularly Tamils in Singapore, often continue the patronymic tradition; this entails having a single given name, followed by son / daughter of, followed by their father's name.

Malaysian Indians may also follow this custom with "son" or "daughter" of being replaced by "anak lelaki" or "anak perempuan", respectively.

Indians of the Muslim Isma'ili sect also have patronymic middle names which use the father's first name and the grandfather's first name plus a family name. Someone called "Ramazan Rahim Ali Manji" might call his son "Karim Ramazan Rahim Manji" and his granddaughter might be called "Zahra Karim Ramazan Manji".

Southeast Asia

In Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei, ethnic Malays generally follow the Arabic patronymic naming system of given name + bin/binti + father's name.

In Indonesia, there are a number of ethnic groups with different naming systems. The Batak of North Sumatra (Sumatra Utara) give every child the family's name. Sometimes the family's name is prefixed by Huta-, Batu-, etc., but most use Si-, such as Sitanggang, Sihombing, Sibutar-butar, Sinaga, or Sitohang. The family's name is given from the father's family. For example, if the father's name is Boggi Sinaga who married to Moetia Siregar then all children will be given family's name of Sinaga.

In Sunda culture a similar rule is used to that of the Batak. The family's name for sunda is -wijaya, but this isn't true for all Sundanese families.

Middle East


In Arabic, the word "ibn" (ابن) (or بن: "bin", "ben" and sometimes "ibni" and "ibnu" to show the final declension of the noun) is the equivalent of the "-son" suffix discussed above (The prefix ben- is used similarly in Hebrew). In addition, "bint" (بنت) means "daughter of". Thus, for example, "Ali ibn `Amr" means "Ali son of `Amr". In Classical Arabic, the word ibn is written as bn between two names, since the case ending of the first name then supplies a vowel. Consequently, ibn is often written as "b.", as bint is often written as "bt.," in name formulas rendered from Arabic into Roman characters. Thus Hisham ibn al-Kalbi is alternatively written as Hisham b. al-Kalbi. However, the pronunciation "bin" is dialectal and has nothing to do with either the spelling or pronunciation in Classical Arabic. The word "Abu" ("Aba" or "Abi" in different declensions) means "father of", so "Abu `Ali" is another name for "`Amr". In medieval times, an illegitimate child of unknown parentage would sometimes be termed "ibn Abihi", "son of his father" (notably Ziyad ibn Abihi.) In the Qur'an, Jesus (Isa in Arabic) is consistently termed "`Isa ibn Maryam" - a matronymic (in the Qur'an, Jesus has no father; see Islamic view of Jesus). An Arabic patronymic can be extended as far back as family tree records will allow: thus, for example, Ibn Khaldun gives his own full name as "`Abd ar-Rahman ibn Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn al-Hasan ibn Muhammad ibn Jabir ibn Muhammad ibn Ibrahim ibn `Abd ar-Rahman ibn Khaldun".

Patronymics are still standard in parts of the Arab world, notably Saudi Arabia; however, most of the Arab world has switched to a family name system. As in English, the new family names are sometimes based on what was formerly a patronymic. Another form widely used in the Arab world is the usage of both the patronymic and a family name, often using both the father's and paternal grandfathers given name in sequence after the own given name, and then the family name. In Iraq for example, full names are formed by combining the given name of an individual with the given name of their father (sometimes the father is skipped and the paternal grandfather's given name is used instead, sometimes both father and paternal grandfather are used), along with the town, village, or clan name. For instance, Hayder Muhammed al-Tikriti is the son of Muhammed named Hayder, and he is from the town of Tikrit.


In Aramaic, the prefix bar- means "son" and is used as a prefix meaning "son of". In the Bible, Peter is called Bar-Jonah in Matthew 16:17 and Nathanael is possibly called Bartholomew because he is the son of Tolmai. The titles can also be figurative, for example in Acts 4:36-37 a man named Joseph is called Barnabas meaning "son of consolation".


The Assyrians for centuries have used the patronymic bet or bit literally meaning "house" in Assyrian Neo-Aramaic; however, in the context of the name it means "from the house of [the father's name]."

Jewish usage

Jews have historically used Hebrew patronymic names. In the Jewish patronymic system the first name is followed by either ben- or bat- ("son of" and "daughter of", respectively), and then the father's name, mother's name, or both. Permanent family surnames exist today but only gained popularity among Sephardic Jews in Iberia and elsewhere as early as the 10th or 11th century and did not spread widely to the Ashkenazic Jews of Germany or Eastern Europe until the Middle Ages. While Jews now have permanent surnames for everyday life, the patronymic form is still used in religious life. It is used in synagogue and in documents in Jewish law such as the ketubah (marriage contract). Many Sephardic Jews used the Arabic ibn instead of bat or ben when it was the norm. The Spanish family Ibn Ezra is one example.

There is a strong cultural pressure for immigrants to modern Israel to Hebraize their names.[1] This practice has been especially common among Ashkenazic immigrants, because most of their names were taken over a period from the Middle Ages till a wave of edicts enforcing non-geographic surnames spread from the French Empire, German Confederation, Austrian Empire, Hungary, Prussia, Kingdom of Warsaw to the Russian Empire between 1787 to 1845.[1] For example, Golda Meir was born "Golda Mabovitch", took the name "Golda Meyerson" after her marriage to American Morris Meyerson, and, upon making Aliyah and at the urging of Moshe Sharett, Hebraized her last name to Meir.[2]


In Persian, patronymics پَتوَند are formed by names ending with the suffix "Poor" "پور" for men and "Dokht" "دُخت" for women. For example: Shahpoor (son of king), Sinapoor (Ebne sina), Pahlavanpoor, Ariadokht, Poorandokht, Azarmidokht, etc.

Western Europe

In Western Europe patronyms were formerly widespread but later became confined to Scandinavia.


In England, names ending with the suffix "son" were often originally patronymic. In addition, the archaic French (more specifically, Norman) prefix fitz (cognate with the modern French fils, meaning "son"), appears in England's aristocratic family lines dating from the Norman Conquest, and also among the Anglo-Irish. Thus there are names such as Fitzgerald and Fitzhugh. Of particular interest is the name "Fitzroy", meaning "son of king", which was used by illegitimate royal children who were acknowledged as such by their fathers.[3]

Irish, Scottish and Manx

The use of "Mac" in some form was prevalent in Scottish Gaelic, Irish and Manx, in all of which it denotes "son". "Mc" is also a frequent anglicisation in both Scotland and Ireland. In Ireland, the forms "Mag" and "M'" are encountered. The prefix "Mac" is used to form a patronym, such as "Mac Coinnich" – or the anglicized 'Mackenzie' – son of Coinneach/Kenneth. Less well known is the female equivalent of Mac, Nic, condensed from nighean mhic (in Scottish Gaelic) or iníon mhic (in Irish), both meaning daughter. For example, the Scottish Gaelic surname, Nic Dhòmhnaill meaning 'daughter of a son of Dòmhnall' (in English, Donald), as in Mairi Nic Dhòmhnaill, or Mary MacDonald.

At the north end of the Irish Sea, in Ulster, the Isle of Man and Galloway (indeed as far north as Argyll), "Mac" was frequently truncated in speech, leading to such anglicisations as "Qualtrough" (Son of Walter) & "Quayle" (son of Paul, cf. MacPhail) – usually beginning with "C", "K" or "Q". In Ireland, this truncation resulted in surnames such as "Guinness" (son of Aonghus, cf. MacAonghusa) beginning usually in "C" or "G" for patronymics prefixed with Mac, and in "H" (e.g. "Hurley" (descendant of Jarlath, cf. Ua hIarfhlatha/O'Hurley)) for surnames prefixed with "O". Colloquial Scottish Gaelic also has other patronymics of a slightly different form for individuals, still in use (for more information please see: Scottish Gaelic personal naming system).

Welsh and Cornish

Before the 1536 Act of Union, the Welsh did not generally employ surnames and instead used epithets (Selyf Sarffgadau, "Selyf the Battle-Serpent"), patronyms (Rhodri ap Merfyn, "Rhodri son of Merfyn"), and (much less often) matronyms (Rhodri ap Nest, "Rhodri son of Nest") to identify people. Welsh, as a P-Celtic language, originally used map or mab instead of the Q-Celtic mac employed in Ireland and Scotland. This was later simplified to the modern Welsh ap and ab. A common practice is to use ab before a father whose name begins with a vowel (e.g., Llywelyn ab Iorwerth), but they are also employed arbitrarily in many sources. Daughters were indicated by ferch or verch (mutated from merch, "girl, daughter"). Angharad verch Owain would be "Angharad, daughter of Owain".

After the Acts of Union, this led to many Welsh surnames being variants of their father or ancestor's personal name: ap or ab Ieuan often became "Evans"; ap Rhys, "Price"; ap or ab Owain, "Bowen"; ap Hywel, "Powell" or "Howell". In addition to these Anglicized baptismal and official names, patronyms continued to be commonly employed in Welsh until the Industrial Revolution, particularly in the north and west of Wales. Patronyms were sometimes employed within the English names as well by using the father's personal name as the sons' middle name.

Similar rules would apply in Cornwall were it not for the earlier inclusion into England and therefore patronyms (e.g.[m]ap Ros>Rouse, [m]ap Richard>Pritchard, Davies, Evans) are less common than toponyms (e.g. Tresillian, Trevithick, Nanskeval>Nankeville) or occupational surnames (e.g. An Gof; [An]Gove, Helyer.).


In Dutch, patronymics were often used in place of family names or as middle names. Patronymics were composed of the father's name plus an ending -zoon for sons, -dochter for daughters. For instance, Abel Janszoon Tasman is "Abel son of Jan Tasman", and Kenau Simonsdochter Hasselaer: "Kenau, daughter of Simon Hasselaer". In written form, these endings were often abbreviated as -sz. and -dr. respectively e.g. Jeroen Cornelisz. "Jeroen son of Cornelis", or Dirck Jacobsz. The endings -s, -se and -sen were also commonly used for sons and often for daughters too. In the northern provinces, -s, as genitive case, was almost universally used for both sons and daughters. Patronymics were common in the Dutch United Provinces until the French invasion in 1795 and subsequent annexation in 1810. As the Netherlands were now a province of France, a registry of births, deaths and marriages was established in 1811, whereupon emperor Napoleon forced the Dutch to register and adopt a distinct surname.[4] Often, they simply made the patronymics the new family names, and modern Dutch patronymic-based surnames such as Jansen, Pietersen and Willemsen abound. Others chose their profession or habitat as family names: Bakker (baker), Slachter (butcher), van Dijk (of dike) etc.


In France, the terms patronyme and nom patronymique had long been used interchangeably to designate the family name, meaning that it is inherited from the father. This usage is contrary to the international meaning as described in the rest of this article, and a law enacted in 2002 mandated not using these terms for nom de famille (lit. "name of family"), although "patronyme" was removed from most administrative documents decades before 2002.[1]

The tradition of patronymic lineage is still used among some Canadian descendants of French colonists: in the oral tradition of many Acadians, for example, Marc à Pierre à Gérard (lit. "Marc of Pierre of Gérard"), means "Marc, son of Pierre, grandson of Gérard".

Iberian peninsula

In the past, both in Spanish and Portuguese, the endings -ez and -es tended to be conflated since pronunciation was quite similar in the two languages. Today, Portuguese has been fully standardized to -es; Spanish is also standardized to -ez, but it is very common to see archaic endings in -es. For instance, Pires/Peres and Pérez are the modern forms of "Peterson" in Portuguese and Spanish.

In Portugal, there are some common surnames which had a patronymic genesis, but are no longer used in such way. For instance, Álvares was the son of Álvaro and Gonçalves was the son of Gonçalo (it was the case of Nuno Álvares Pereira, son of Álvaro Gonçalves Pereira, son of Gonçalo Pereira). Other cases include Rodrigues (Rodrigo) and Nunes (Nuno). In the same way the surname Soares means son of Soeiro (in Latin Suarius). It comes from Latin Suaricius (son of Suarius); the Latin genitive suffix -icius/a was used to indicate a patronymic. Later it became Suariz, Suarez and eventually Soares. Another theory attributes the Iberian -ez style patronymics to Germanic (Visigothic) rather than Latin influence.

Spanish patronyms follow a similar pattern to the Portuguese (e.g., López: of Lope; Hernández: of Hernán; Álvarez: of Álvaro). Common endings include -ez, -az, -is, and -oz. However, not all names with similar endings are necessarily patronymic. For example, Chávez is not the son of Chavo, but comes from Galician or Portuguese Chaves, meaning "keys", and its "s" stands for the plural form, as in key/keys in English.

Nordic countries

In Norse custom patronyms and matronyms were formed by using the ending -son (later -søn and -sen in Danish, Norwegian and German) to the genitive form of the father's name to indicate "son of", and -dóttir (Icelandic -dóttir, Swedish and Norwegian -dotter, Danish and Norwegian -datter) for "daughter of". This name was generally used as a last name although a third name, a so-called byname based on location or personal characteristic, was often added to differentiate people and could eventually develop into a kind of family name. Some Early Modern examples of the latter practice, where the patronymic was placed after the given name and was followed by the surname, are Norwegian Peder Claussøn Friis, the son of Nicolas Thorolfsen Friis (Claus in Claussøn being short for Nicolas) and Danish Thomas Hansen Kingo, the son of Hans Thomsen Kingo. Eventually, most Nordic countries replaced or complemented this system with the prevailing "international" standard of inherited family names. In Norway, for example, the parliament passed a family name act in 1923, citing the rising population and the need to avoid the confusion of new last names in every generation. The law does allow a person to retain a patronymic as a middle name in addition to the surname, as was common in Early Modern times; this is not a common practice, but does occur, a modern example being Audhild Gregoriusdotter Rotevatn. The Danish government outlawed the practice in 1856 and eased the regulations in 1904 to deal with the limited amount of patronymics. In Sweden the practice of children keeping their father's and wives keeping their husband's patronymic as a surname occurred in the 1700s but was first prevalent in the late 1800s, still present yet uncommon in the 1900s and finally abolished in 1966.

Matronyms were used exceptionally if the child was born out of wedlock or if the mother was much more high-born or well known than the father, a historical example being Sweyn Estridsson.

In Iceland, patronymics or matronymics are still used as last names and this is in fact compulsory by law, with a handful of exceptions. The father's name (occasionally with a minor alteration) for genitive plus the word son for sons, dóttir for daughters.[5][6] For example, Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir (to be read in English as "Jóhanna, daughter of Sigurð[ur]").

In Finland, the use of patronyms instead of family names was very common well into the 19th century. Patronymics were composed similarly as in Swedish language or other Scandinavian languages: the father's name and the suffix -n for genitive plus the word poika for sons, tytär for daughters. For example Tuomas Abrahaminpoika (to be read in English as "Tuomas, Abraham's son") and Martta Heikintytär (to be read in English as "Martta, Heikki's daughter").

Central and Eastern Europe


In Bulgarian, the patronymics are -ov/-ev and -ova/-eva for men and women, respectively. These are identical to the endings of family names in Bulgarian and some other Slavic family names (such as names in Russian and Czech). In Bulgarian official documents, the patronymic is inserted before the surname - e.g. Ivan Marinov Yordanov would be the son of Marin Yordanov.

Some South Slavic surnames (usually Serbian, Croatian or Bosnian) look morphologically identical to East Slavic patronymics, but do not change form between masculine and feminine: Milla Jovovich and not 'Jovovna'. In addition, these surnames cannot be contracted using the pattern described above, and generally carry the stress on a different syllable. Examples include Mikhail Andreyevich Miloradovich and Vladislav Khodasevich.



The use of patronymics was introduced in Armenia by Russians during the times of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union. Previously to that the use of patronymics was very limited. Patronymics are usually formed by addition of "i" ("of", pronounced as ee) to the father's name, e.g. if father's name is "Armen", the corresponding patronymic would be "Armeni" (of Armen). Russified version of the same patronymic would be "Armenovich" for males and "Armenovna" for females. After Armenia re-gained its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 a massive decline in the use of Russified patronymics occurred; nowadays few Armenians use patronymics.

Many Armenian surnames were once patronymics first used by distant ancestors or clan founders. These are characterized by the suffix "-ian" in Western Armenian, often transliterated as "-yan" in Eastern Armenian (derived from Persian, "ian" means "issued from"). These are appended to the given name, i.e. Kardashian, Asdvadzadourian, Hagopian, Khachadourian, Mardirosian, Bedrosian, Sarkissian, etc. Note that the suffix "-ian" was also appended to trades, as in Adakhtsakordzian (issued from the carpenter), Chalian (issued from the candlemaker, using the Turkish word "chal", meaning candle).

Of particular note are the surnames of the children of married priests, or kahanas. Though not as common nowadays, it was customary for a long time for these children (particularly the sons) to change their last names to the name-in-religion of their father. For example, the son of Ter (Reverend) Bartev would change his last name to Ter Bartevian.


In Azeri, patronymics are formed through -oğlu (sometimes transliterated as ogly) for males and qızı (often transliterated as gizi or kizi) for females. Prior to the late 19th–early 20th century, patronymics were used as an essential part of a person's full name, i.e. Sardar Ilyas oğlu ("Sardar, son of Ilyas") and Mina Nabi qızı ("Mina, daughter of Nabi"), since surnames were mostly non-existent before Sovietization (with the exception of the upper and some middle-class families). After surnames were commonly adopted in Azerbaijan in the 1920s, patronymics still remained parts of full names, i.e. Sardar Ilyas oğlu Aliyev ("Sardar Aliyev, son of Ilyas"). Nowadays in Azerbaijan, patronymics sometimes replace surnames in unofficial use. Normally in such case, they are spelled as one word (i.e. Eldar Mammadoğlu, Sabina Yusifqızı). Many Azeri surnames are also derived from Persian-style patronymics ending in -zadeh (Kazimzadeh, Mehdizadeh, etc.). They are found among both Caucasian and Iranian Azeris. However unlike the former, Azeris in Iran do not generally use patronymics in oglu / qizi. Azeri patronymics are not to be confused with Turkish surnames in -oğlu and Greek surnames in -ογλού (-oglou), which do not have specific female versions and do not reflect names of fathers.


In Georgian, patronymics, when used, come with the addition of s to the end of the father's name, followed by dze for a man and asuli for a woman. For example, Joseph Stalin's actual name was Ioseb Besarionis Dze Jugashvili. s in Georgian is a possessive, and dze and asuli mean male and female descendant. After collapse of the USSR Patronymics in Georgia are disused as part of Russian tradition. Georgian last names derive mostly from patronymics. nicknames and places of origin. Two common elements in Georgian last names, dze and shvili mean son of, and child, respectively.

Greek and Greek Cypriot

Most Greek surnames are patronymics by origin, albeit in various forms depending on ancestral locality. Diminutive suffixes which denote "son of", or more generally "descendant of", are produced as follows: starting with the given name Δημήτριος, Dēmétrios, for example, the patronymic surnames Dēmētrópoulos (Peloponnese), Dēmētrákos (Laconia), Dēmētréas (Messenian Mani), Dēmētrátos (Cephalonia), Dēmētrákēs (Crete), Dēmētriádēs/Dēmētr-ídēs (Pontus, Asia Minor), Dēmētréllēs (Lesbos), Dēmétroglou (Asia Minor) (identical to Turkish patronym -oğlu), or simply Dēmētríou (esp. common in Cyprus, the first name in the Genitive) are formed. The same principle can apply to surnames deriving from professions, for example from παπάς, papás, priest, one derives the surnames Papadópoulos, Papadákos, Papadéas, Papadátos, Papadákēs, Papadéllēs, Papazoglou etc., all of which signify a "priest's son". The same principle(s) may apply in combination, e.g. Papanikoláou, Papanikolópoulos, "the son of the priest Nikolaos". A daughter's family name is the same as the son's, but always declined in the Genitive, e.g. Dēmētropoúlou, Papanikoláou etc.

In addition to these surnames, actual patronymics are used in official documents as "middle names" preceding the surname. For example, the children of a Giánnēs Papadópoulos are, say, María Ioánnou Papadopoúlou and Andréas Ioánnou Papadópoulos (Ioánnou is the genitive case form of Ioánnēs, which is the formal form of the father's name, Giánnēs). Traditionally, a married woman would adopt her husband's family name. Now, however, this is optional, and many choose to keep their own names.


In Hungarian, patronyms were traditionally formed with the ending -fi (sometimes spelled as -fy or -ffy). This system is no longer in common use, though traces of it can still be found in some frequent present-day surnames such as Pálfi (son of Paul), Győrfi, Bánfi or in the name of the famous poet Sándor Petőfi (who chose this Hungarian form instead of his Slavic birth name Petrovics). In the Old Hungarian period (10th−16th century, see History of Hungarian), when surnames were not in common use, the full genitive was represented as in Péter fia András (Peter's son Andrew); these forms are in frequent use in charters and legal documents dated back to that time.


In Romanian, the endings -escu and -eanu were used, as in Petrescu, 'son of Petre (Peter)'; many modern Romanian family names were formed from such patronymics. Less commonly, matronymics formed with the genitive form (using the prefix a-) were used, as in Amariei, '(son/daughter) of Maria'.


In East Slavic languages, the ending -ovich, -yevich, -yich is used to form patronymics for men. For example, in Russian, a man named Ivan with a father named Nikolay would be known as Ivan Nikolayevich or 'Ivan, son of Nikolay' (Nikolayevich being a patronymic). For women, the ending is -yevna, -ovna or -ichna. For masculine names ending in a vowel, such as Ilya or Foma, when they are used as a base for patronymic, the corresponding endings are -ich (for men) and -inichna (for women).

In Russia, the patronymic is an official part of the name, used in all official documents, and when addressing somebody both formally and among friends.[7][8] Individuals are addressed by their given name followed by patronymic (e.g. 'Mikhail Nikolayevich') in many situations including on formal occasions, by colleagues at work, by acquaintances, or when addressed by someone younger in age.[7][9] It's becoming more common for younger individuals (under 50) to drop the patronymic at work.[9] In informal situations, if a person is called by a diminutive (such as Misha for Mikhail or Nastya for Anastasia), the patronymic is not required.[8]

In colloquial, informal speech, it is also possible to contract the ending of a patronymic: thus Nikolayevich becomes Nikolaich, and Stepan Ivanovich becomes Stepan Ivanych or simply Ivanych as the given name may be omitted altogether. In this case the contraction, if possible, is obligatory: Ivan Sergeyevich Sidorov may be called 'Sergeich' or, more rarely, 'Sergeyevich'. In contrast to male names, if a woman is called by her patronymic name without a given name, the patronymic is usually not contracted: 'Ivanovna' but 'Mar' Ivanna'; 'Sergeevna'/'Sergevna' is one exception, where both forms are fine. Typically, a patronymic name alone is a familiar form of addressing an older female.


Vuk Karadžić reported in the 19th century that Serbs sometimes used their old family names, and sometimes patronymics. Vuk Karadžić himself used patronymic Stefanović (son of Steven), and sometimes Karadzić, old family name. However, even this reportedly sporadic usage of patronymics has completely disappeared since. Nowadays Serbs use family names only.


In Turkish, the suffixes used to indicate paternal ancestry are -oğlu and -zade, which indicate the ancestry as coming from a certain man. Like many other patronymics in other languages, with the formalization of naming conventions by laws in the late modern contemporary age many turned into surnames. After the 'Surname revolution' on 1934, many people chose professions or habitat as surnames with or without the suffix -oğlu, such as Elbeyioğlu, Bakkaloğlu or Giritlioğlu and with -zade such as Beyzade, Mehmedzade, Yusufzade.


In Ukrainian, the female patronymic always ends with -івна (-ivna) or -ївна (-yivna).[10] The male patronymic always ends with -ович (-ovych) or -йович (-yovych).[10] Exception: Illia (Ілля) -> Illich (Ілліч) (e.g. Illia Illich Mechnikov), Sava (Сава) -> Savych (Савич), Iakiv (Яків) -> Iakovych (Якович)[11]

See also


  1. ^ The main reform of the 2002 law on French surnames was to allow free choice for children to be officially surnamed from either their father's or mother's surname, or both; this required explicitly banning the last uses of the outdated patronyme (since it alluded only to fathers).


  1. ^ a b Benzion C. Kaganoff (1996-06-01). A Dictionary of Jewish Names and Their History. Rowman and Littlefield Publishers.  p. 89
  2. ^ Neil Caplan (Spring 2002). "The 1956 Sinai Campaign Viewed from Asia: Selections from Moshe Sharett's Diaries". Israel Studies (Indiana University Press) 7 (1): 81–103.  
  3. ^ "Another Name Question [Archive] - Straight Dope Message Board". Retrieved 2013-04-23. 
  4. ^ "Decreet van Naamsaanneming (Napoleon, 18 augustus 1811)" (in Dutch). Retrieved 2009-04-29. 
  5. ^ Ian Steadman. "App to prevent 'accidental incest' proves a hit with Icelanders". Retrieved 2013-04-30. 
  6. ^ Alþingi Íslands. "Lög um mannanöfn" (in Icelandic). Retrieved 2008-04-02. 
  7. ^ a b Cubberley, Paul (17 October 2002). Russian: A Linguistic Introduction.  
  8. ^ a b Stakhnevich, Julia (2007). The Everything Learning Russian Book. Everything Books. p. 74.  
  9. ^ a b Smorodinskaya, Tatiana; Evans-Romaine, Karen; Goscilo, Helena, eds. (2007). Encyclopaedia of Contemporary Russian.  
  10. ^ a b Ukrainian:Lonely Planet Phrasebook by Marko Pavlyshyn, Lonely Planet, 2002, ISBN 978-1-74104-605-2 (page 52)
  11. ^ Потелло Н. Я. Теорія і практика ділового мовлення: Навч. посібник.— К.: МАУП, 1999.— 132 с.— Бібліогр.: с. 129.

External links

  • Danish Naming Traditions
  • What's the story with Dutch surnames?
  • 17th Century Dutch Surnames
  • "Welsh Patronymic Surnames". Archived from the original on 2006-10-15. 
  • Data Wales Surnames
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