Middle name.

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Senior Member
Hello everybody,

I want to ask about the middle name, its dictionary definition is " the name between a first name and a surname."

In Egypt we write our names as the following:

First name+ Father's name+ Granfather's name+ Family name (surname)

So, is the middle name here "Father's name+ Granfather's name" ?

And if not, can we call the father's name "the second name "?

Thanks in advance :)
  • travis1085

    Canada - English
    Names are written differently in different places. Probably in most English speaking countries, such as Canada or the US it is written "Given Name" "Middle name" and then "Family name".

    Traditionally, the family name is your father's surname that his wife takes when she is married to him. Though it is not always like this.

    A middle name is just a second given name. It does not have a relation to other surnames. Though, some people may opt to give their children's middle names after their grandfather's given name.

    And if not, can we call the father's name "the second name "?
    The father's name plays no role in western naming conventions.

    I hope I made this clear enough :)
    Last edited:


    Senior Member
    Thanks a lot Travis :)

    So, in your culture, the definition of the middle name is "Sometimes" the grandfather's name, right ?


    Senior Member
    polszczyzna warszawska
    If you need to point out that the name is a father's name perhaps father's name would do. :)



    Senior Member
    English (U.S.)
    So, in your culture, the definition of the middle name is "Sometimes" the grandfather's name, right ?
    What? I don't understand this question. The definition of the middle name in our culture is the one that goes between the first and last names. It can be based off of your grandfather's name (mine is actually my grandpa's middle name) but it would be weird to define it that way.


    Senior Member
    English, UK
    Hi Dr Suzy,
    In our culture, a child's middle name can be anything the parents want it to be. Sometimes they will use the name of a relative (often a grandparent) and other times they will choose a completely unrelated name. There is no established formula - it's just personal choice. That is why we generally use the neutral terms first name, middle name and surname/last name.


    Senior Member
    polszczyzna warszawska
    Thanks a lot Travis :)

    So, in your culture, the definition of the middle name is "Sometimes" the grandfather's name, right ?
    Say that my grandfather's name was John Smith (it's a father of my mum).
    And say that my father's name is George Thomson.
    My parents may have decided to name me:
    Thomas John Thomson

    John would be my middle name after my grandfather. It's not always done this way of course.


    George French

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    Why do we make it so difficult?
    The normal naming in the UK is,
    Given names (1 to lots) followed by Family name.

    You will find this often described as:-
    Christian names (1 to lots) and Surname. (Christian name is not used as much as it used to be and Surname seems to be becoming history.)

    There are lots of variants on this these days because there is a realisation that people from different societies use another naming convention and have different religions...

    I know many people who are known by their 2nd or third given name thus.

    1st given name, 2nd given name (known as name) Family name.

    It's quite logical... and it has got some other contenders... where the family name comes first....


    Middle names are the names between the first and last name, that's all. Family feuds exist because the given names of a child do not have the given (or family name) of some distant uncle....
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    Senior Member
    USA - English
    So, in your culture, the definition of the middle name is "Sometimes" the grandfather's name?
    If it is, it is by choice, and not by custom or requirement.

    Travis was mistaken when he made a general statement about 'western naming conventions'; the naming conventions of Spanish-speaking countries, for example, are very different from those of English-speaking countries.

    In English-speaking countries, a person has a family name. He also has his own, personal, individual name (or names, because you may have more than one). Those personal names may be given to you because your parents want to honor someone (a family member; a friend) who has that same name, but they do not have to be chosen for that reason. They might just be names that your mother thinks "sound nice". Some people have only one personal name, while others have two, or even more -- it is very common with royalty to give quite a few names (the Prince of Wales, for example, is actually named Charles Philip Arthur George.) Most people use the first name as the name they are usually called, but some people prefer to be called by their middle names. Many people never use their middle name or names at all, but those names are still on their birth certificates.

    A man named "John Joseph Smith" might name his son "Henry Smith", or "Henry William Smith", or "Henry William George Washington Encyclopedia Britannica Smith" as he chooses.


    New Member
    English- USA
    Hi Dr Susy,

    I believe that you are asking whether or not the father's name plus the grandfather's name in egypt can be called a "middle name". If you moved to the US, you would probably call that your middle name. In America, when a baby is born and the parents are naming him or her, they choose the first name and a middle name. They can choose one or more middle name or no middle name at all, but typically American children are given at one middle name. I know someone with 12 middle names and someone else without any middle names at all, but usually everyone has one middle name.

    My first name is Kayla and my middle name is Theresa. My parents chose Kayla because they liked the name and Theresa after my aunt who died.
    My sister's first name is Deanna and her middle name is Marie. They chose Deanna because they liked the name and Marie because they liked the name.

    Like Murphy said, there is no set "formula" for the "middle name". It can be whatever the parent wants, but if a person from Egypt came to America and someone asked them for their middle name, the two names between the first name and surname would be an acceptable answer.

    Hope I didn't confuse you more!


    Senior Member
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    So, in your culture, the definition of the middle name is "Sometimes" the grandfather's name, right ?
    You cannot compare this with English names, Dr. Susy. :)

    In your case, as you've described it for Egyptian, you only can say "first name - father's name - grandfather's name - surname/family name".

    This is a different naming tradition which has no equivalent in English - not even in cases the first name of father and/or grandfather are given as middle names because in Egyptian, I guess, this would be done automatically while in English this is only an option.

    The egyptian tradition easier compares to Russian (with a father name) or Iberian traditions (with two family names, that of father and that of mother). It has no parallel in English culture.

    Or, as ktn131 has explained: you may call your father's and grandfather's name "middle names" if for example you relocate to America; but you should be aware that both naming traditions are fundamentally different. ;)
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    Senior Member
    USA English
    Hi Dr Susy

    As you can see, you are delving into tradition as much or more than the English language. The ONLY thing you can assume about "middle" names is that they are not family names and are not the first name entered on a U.S. birth certificate and there are no boundaries or guidelines as to what they might be. Some people invent given names for their children.

    First of all, the common use of positional given names is unfortunate because it doesn't fit in all cases. For example:

    Chinese and some other Asian names have the family name in the first position.

    As GWB points out, the Hispanic culture has an entirely different convention and the "last" name is the mother's father's surname.

    One can have multiple "middle names", e.g.. former U.S. President George Herbert Walker Bush, or none at all, e.g. my wife.

    Some people prefer to use their "middle" name as their primary name or a combination of an initial and a "middle" name.
    Finally, some women, who have taken their husband's surname as their own (traditional, but not obligatory practice) choose to use their maiden, i.e. father's surname, as their own middle name.

    Finally, news reports and official documents often use all given names, along with the family name, to avoid duplication as much as is possible. For example, Lee Harvey Oswald gained infamy by gunning down former President John F. Kennedy, although we have no idea whether he ever actively used his middle name.


    Português (Brasil)
    This is a very interesting and educational discussion about naming.

    I would like to add that in Hispanic countries names are made up of "(baptism) name" + "father's family name" + "mother's family name".

    In Portuguese-speaking countries, however, the sequence is "(baptism) name" + "mother's family name" + "father's family name". The mother's last name is the middle name.

    The "(baptism) name" may be a composite of two or more, e.g. "Luís Inácio". This combination is the counterpart of "given name".

    In "Luís Inácio Lula da Silva", the father's family name should be Silva, Lula being his mother's family name.

    However, when the mother's last name is more "exquisite" than the father's, a person's family name, socially-speaking at least, may become the mother's name. That's why everyone calls this particular person Lula instead of Silva.

    Other than in a situation where a person has clearly chosen his mother's last name for family name, calling a person by the first name + middle name only, omitting the last name, which is the family name, may sound offensive and should be avoided.


    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    This thread is no longer about English.
    It is about naming customs in different countries and cultures.
    It is therefore out of scope for the English Only forum and has been closed.
    Not open for further replies.
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