The etymology of last names is interesting to anyone who wants to learn more about his family or history. Last names are often referred to as surnames, part of a person’s names or even a family name. A last name shows what family a person belongs to and they are used widely across the globe. Many cultures use the family name at the very end of a person’s first name including cultures such as as American, Euro-American, Middle Eastern, South Asian and African. Other cultures such as China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam use their family name before their first name.
The etymology of last names tells us that last names, family names or surnames were not always a part of a person’s name. In fact, do you ever hear of Ancient Egyptians with last names? In small civilizations, last names were not necessary because it was unusual to have people bearing the same name. It was not impossible but unusual. Therefore, Isis, Osiris or even Anubis only had the one name. Modern scholars use Roman numerals to differentiate between the sons and the fathers such as Tutmosis II and Tutmosis III.
However, throughout life, names became more common. You began to find a significant amount of Marys, Pauls and Johns. As more towns started to gain more people with the same names, the need for last names became apparent.
The Chinese began to use surnames, about 5,000 years ago. They wanted to honor their forbearers by use of the name. However, their surname came first instead of last. Gradually, the rest of the world started to use surnames as well. In the 10th and 11th century AD, Venice began using the surname method. Slowly after that, the need for surnames or last names began to grow.
The Romans first started practicing the family name method in 300 B.C. These names started to form based off of different genres of life such as:
Other things in life helped give people a last names as well such as:
Other names told their own story within the name such as (Upthegrove, Freeholder, Lackland and Goodpasture.)
Last names were sometimes given when those who did not have one needed one, such as a lady-in-waiting for royalty. Last names were also sometimes invented by simply using a combination of words.
Throughout history, many last names were altered or even dropped altogether. However, some of the more popular names such as Brown, Taylor and Brook are still very popular names today. The etymology of last names shows us that surnames, last names, or family names are relatively new in terms of history. In earlier times, people did not need surnames or last names in order to be noticed. In today’s world, you cannot do much without proving that you are “John or Jane Smith” as you say you are.
The etymology of last names is important to learn and there are many ways that a person can find about their very own name. Typically, the best way to find out about one’s last name is to look it up on the Internet. A person can find out so much about their name such as how old it is, when it first was used, who used it, how it was given, why it was given and what it means.
Last names or surnames have not always been important. At one time they were not even necessary, but in today’s world they are very much necessary and are even special. It should be everyone’s goal to research his or her heritage and his or her last name to see where it came from and how long it has been around.
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