family name

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family name (plural family names)

  1. Synonym of surname: a name designating a person as a member of a family.
    In the Chinese name Mao Zedong, Mao is the family name and Zedong is the given name.
  2. (uncommon) A given name common within a family or given because of another family member.
    Yeah, we named her Mildred. It's an old family name. Don't worry, though. She also has four middle names to choose from.

Usage notes


Although last name and surname are both in more common use, family name is sometimes preferred for its lack of cultural and gendered assumptions. In particular, it is more inclusive of East Asian names where the family name is placed first.