Difference between Surname and First Name | Surname vs First Name

Key Difference: First name is the name given to a person and is used as the main identification attribute for the person. It is generally given at birth or baptism. First name is also known as forename. Surname is the family name and is preceded by middle name and first name. The most important different between a surname and a first name is that a first name could be anything, whereas one shares his or her surname with other family members.

Everyone has a first name and a surname. Both play a vital role in the identity of a person. Some people may get confuse between these both terms. Therefore, in this article we will discuss the differences between them. Let us consider definitions of both from Oxford Dictionary.

It defines first name as

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‘a personal name given to someone at birth or baptism and used before a family name’

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It defines surname as

‘a hereditary name common to all members of a family, as distinct from a forename or given name

For example- in the full name ‘John Taylor’, John is the first name as well as the forename. Taylor represents the family name or can be referred as the surname. However, in few countries like Japan, the surname comes before the given name.

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The first source for names used in Britain and throughout the English-speaking world is supposed to be the Bible – male names like Adam, Benjamin, David, Jacob, Joseph came into existence from this source and similarly female names like Deborah, Eve, Rebecca, Ruth, Sarah also got introduced. In India, a naming ceremony known as ‘naamkaran’ usually takes place after the birth of the child. In this ceremony, the name is decided for the child and is regarded a very auspicious event. Similarly, there are various traditions that are followed world wide related to naming ceremony of a child.

Family name is the name that we share with our family members. For example, John is the son of Mr. Peter Smith. John is the name that is given to him, therefore ‘John’ is his first name. His father has ‘Peter’ as his first name. ‘Peter’ precedes ‘Smith’ and therefore, Smith represents the family name. As John, is the son of Mr. Smith, he shares his family name with his father and therefore his full name would be John Smith. In the full name of John Smith, John denotes the first name and Smith denotes the family name.

Difference between Surname and First Name | Surname vs First Name

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