How can we say "the first name and the middle name"?

Omega Force

Senior Member

Is there a word to say "the first name and the middle name"?

Or a word that can mean either the first name or the middle name.

Or a simpler and more elegant way to say "the first name and/or the middle name"?

Thanks in advance for your answers.
  • JustKate

    Moderate Mod
    Can you tell us a little more, Omega Force? I am not sure I understand your question. I am guessing by "first name and middle name," you're referring to the first name and middle name of a person, but it would help a great deal if you explain a little more about what you're asking and if you give us the sentence in which you wish to use this.


    Senior Member
    USA English
    As we native English speakers become less xenophobic and we begin to learn more about cultures other than our Anglo one, we realize that our first-, middle- and last-name system isn't always appropriate.

    "First" and "last names" can cause problems, such as among Asians, where the first name is the surname In Hispanic cultures, i.e. your own, the last name is not your primary surname.

    Even among us Anglos, a person can have more than one "middle" name, e.g. former President George Herbert Walker Bush.

    I have no idea what you mean by "elegant," (which often is synonymous with "pretentious,":rolleyes:) but for accuracy and to avoid ambiguity, KB's "given names" is what I recommend as well.

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    The fact is that any of these systems can be misleading when applied to other cultures. Broadly speaking:
    • In Britain and America, the typical structure is given name + middle name(s) + surname (= family name). (The middle names are in fact also given at birth, insofar as they're not inherited.)
    • In China, Hungary and many other eastern countries, the order is reversed, and the first name is the surname.
    • In Muslim countries, first and second names are given; any surname is placed afterwards as ben/bint X.
    • In Russia there is a given name + patronymic + surname.
    I'm sure there are many variants and exceptions. The point I'm making is that the system given name + middle name(s) + surname is only valid as a generalisation in Britain and the USA.
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