A patronym, or patronymic, is a component of a personal name based on the name of one's father, grandfather or an even earlier male ancestor. A component of a name based on the name of one's mother or a female ancestor is a matronymic. Each is a means of conveying lineage.

In many areas patronyms predate the use of family names. They are common as middle names in Russia, and in Iceland surnames are an exception, with the law in favour of[clarification needed] patronyms (or more recently, matronyms).

Many Celtic, English, Iberian, Scandinavian and Slavic surnames originate from patronyms, e.g. Wilson (son of William), Powell (from "ap Hywel"), Fernández (son of Fernando), Rodríguez (son of Rodrigo), Carlsson (son of Carl), Petrov (son of Peter), Stefanović (son of Stefan) and O'Connor (from "Ó Conchobhair", meaning grandson/descendant of Conchobhar). Other cultures which formerly used patronyms have switched to the more widespread style of passing the father's last name to the children (and wife) as their own.

In biological taxonomy, a patronym is a the second part of a binomial name which is derived from a Latinized surname. These often honor associates of the biologist who named the organism rather than the biologist himself. Examples include Gopherus agassizii, named by James Graham Cooper after Jean Louis Rodolphe Agassiz, and Acacia greggii, named by botanist Asa Gray after explorer Josiah Gregg.



Western Europe

In Western Europe patronyms were formerly widespread but later became confined to Scandinavia.

Nordic countries

In Norse custom patronyms and matronyms were formed by using the ending -son (later -søn and -sen in Danish and Norwegian) to indicate "son of", and -dóttir (Icelandic -dóttir, Swedish and Norwegian -dotter, Danish and Norwegian -datter) for "daughter of". This name was generally used as a last name although a third name, a so-called byname based on location or personal characteristic was often added to differentiate people and could eventually develop into a kind of family name. Some Early Modern examples of the latter practice, where the patronymic was placed after the given name and was followed by the surname, are Norwegian Peder Claussøn Friis, the son of Nicolas Thorolfsen Friis (Claus in Claussøn being short for Nicolas) and Danish Thomas Hansen Kingo, the son of Hans Thomsen Kingo. Eventually, most Nordic countries replaced or complemented this system with the prevailing "international" standard of inherited family names. In Norway, for example, the parliament passed a family name act in 1923, citing the rising population and the need to avoid the confusion of new last names in every generation. The law does allow a person to retain a patronymic as a middle name in addition to the surname, as was common in Early Modern times; this is not a common practice, but does occur, a modern example being Audhild Gregoriusdotter Rotevatn). The Danish government outlawed the pratice in 1856 and eased the regulations in 1904 to deal with the limited amount of patronymics. In Sweden the practice of children keeping their father's and wives keeping their husband's patronymic as a surname occurs in the 1700s but is first prevalent in the late 1800s, still present yet uncommonly in the 1900s and finally abolished in 1966.

Matronyms were used exceptionally if the child was born out of wedlock or if the mother was much more high-born or well known than the father, a historical example being Sweyn Estridsson.

In Iceland, patronymics are still used as last names and this is in fact compulsory by law, with a handful of exceptions[1]

In Finland, the use of patronyms instead of family names was very common well into the 19th century. Patronymics were composed similarly as in Swedish language or other Scandinavian languages: the father's name and the suffix -n for genitive plus the word poika for sons, tytär for daughters. For example Tuomas Abrahaminpoika (to be read in English as "Tuomas, Abraham's son") and Martta Heikintytär (to be read in English as "Martta, Heikki's daughter").


In Dutch, patronymics were often used in place of family names or as middle names. Patronymics were composed of the father's name plus an ending -zoon for sons, -dochter for daughters. For instance, Abel Janszoon Tasman is "Abel son of Jan Tasman", and Kenau Simonsdochter Hasselaer: "Kenau, daughter of Simon Hasselaer". In written form, these endings were often abbreviated as -sz. and -dr. respectively e.g. Jeroen Cornelisz. "Jeroen son of Cornelis", or Dirck Jacobsz. The endings -s, -se and -sen were also commonly used for sons and often for daughters too. In the northern provinces, -s, as genitive case, was almost universally used for both sons and daughters. Patronymics were common in the Dutch United Provinces until the French invasion in 1795 and subsequent annexation in 1810. As the Netherlands were now a province of France, a registry of births, deaths and marriages was established in 1811, whereupon emperor Napoleon forced the Dutch to register and adopt a distinct surname[2] Often, they simply made the patronymics the new family names, and modern Dutch patronymic-based surnames such as Jansen, Pietersen and Willemsen abound. Others chose their profession or habitat as family names: Bakker (baker), Slachter (butcher), van Dijk (of dike) etc.


In England, names ending with the suffix "son" were often originally patronymic. In addition, the archaic French (more specifically, Norman) prefix fitz (cognate with the modern French fils, meaning "son"), appears in England's aristocratic family lines dating from the Norman Conquest, and also among the Anglo-Irish. Thus there are names such as Fitzgerald and Fitzhugh. Of particular interest is the name Fitzroy, meaning "son of king", which was used by illegitimate Royal children who were acknowledged as such by their fathers. [3]

Ireland, Scotland and Wales

The use of "Mac" in some form, was prevalent in Scottish Gaelic, Irish and Manx. "Mc" is also a frequent anglicisation in both Scotland and Ireland. In Ireland, the forms "Mag" and "M'" are encountered. The prefix "Mac" is used to form a patronym, such as "MacCoinnich" – or the anglicized 'Mackenzie' – son of Coinneach/Kenneth. Less well known is the female equivalent of Mac, Nic, condensed from nighean mhic (in Scottish Gaelic) or iníon mhic (in Irish). For example, the Scottish Gaelic surname, Nic Dhòmhnaill meaning 'daughter of a son of Dòmhnall' (in English, Donald), as in Mairi Nic Dhòmhnaill, or Mary MacDonald. In Ireland, the use of Ó (and its feminine equivalent , from iníon uí), anglicised "O'" and meaning 'grandson' predominated over "Mc"[citation needed].

At the north end of the Irish Sea, in Ulster, the Isle of Man and Galloway (indeed as far north as Argyll), "Mac" was frequently truncated in speech, leading to such anglicisations as "Qualtrough" (Son of Walter) & "Quayle" (son of Paul, cf. MacPhail) – usually beginning with "C", "K" or "Q". In Ireland, this truncation resulted in surnames such as "Guinness" (son of Aonghus, cf. MacAonghusa) beginning usually in "C" or "G" for patronymics prefixed with Mac, and in "H" (e.g. "Hurley" (descendant of Jarlath, cf. Ua hIarfhlatha/O'Hurley)) for surnames prefixed with "O". Colloquial Scottish Gaelic also has other patronymics of a slightly different form for individuals, still in use (for more information please see: Scottish Gaelic personal naming system). An interesting crossover variation in the use of "O'" for grandson in Irish and "Ap" for son in Welsh, was that the West Waleian name Ho-well was derived from Ui'Well of old Irish, which then became O'Well... then Howell in their Welsh relatives. As for Ap Howell, that does mean, 'the son of the grandson of...Well'[citation needed].

In Wales, before the 1536 Act of Union all Welsh people used patronyms and matronym as the sole way of naming people. Welsh, as a P-Celtic language, used "Map" (Modern Welsh "Mab") in contrast to the Q-Celtic Scottish "Mac". Rhydderch ap Watcyn was Rhydderch son of Watcyn. Daughters were indicated by verch (from merch, meaning 'girl, daughter'), as in Angharad Verch Owain or 'Angharad, daughter of Owain'. This gave rise to names such as ap Hywel being — after the Acts of Union — used as Anglicised surnames; in this case the name ap Hywel became the surnames Howell/Powell. There are many such Anglicised surnames, such as Bowen from ab Owen, Protheroe from ap Rhydderch, and Pulliam from ap William. Up until the Industrial Revolution the use of patronyms was still widespread, especially in the west and north of Wales. A revival of patronyms during the 20th century continues today: for example, Ifan ab Owen Edwards, the academic, writer and film-maker, was the son of Sir Owen Morgan Edwards.


In France, the terms patronyme and nom patronymique had long been used interchangeably to designate the family name, meaning that it is inherited from the father. This usage is contrary to the international meaning as described in the rest of this article, and a law enacted in 2002 mandated not using these terms for nom de famille (lit. "name of family"), although "patronyme" was removed from most administrative documents decades before 2002.[4]

The tradition of patronymic lineage is still used among some Canadian descendants of French colonists: in the oral tradition of many Acadians, for example, Marc à Pierre à Gérard (lit. "Marc of Pierre of Gérard"), means "Marc, son of Pierre, grandson of Gérard".

Iberian Peninsula

In Portugal, there are some common surnames which had a patronymic genesis, but are no longer used in such way. For instance, Álvares was the son of Álvaro and Gonçalves was the son of Gonçalo (it was the case of Nuno Álvares Pereira, son of Álvaro Gonçalves Pereira, son of Gonçalo Pereira). Other cases include Rodrigues (Rodrigo) and Nunes (Nuno). In the same way the surname Soares means son of Soeiro (in Latin Suarius). It comes from Latin Suarici (son of Suarius); the Latin genitive suffix -icius/a was used to indicate a patronymic. After it became Suariz, Suarez and eventually Soares. Another theory attributes the Iberian -ez style patronymics to Germanic (Visigothic) rather than Latin influence.

Spanish patronyms follow a similar pattern to the Portuguese (e.g., López: of Lope; Hernández: of Hernando; Álvarez: of Álvaro). Common endings include -ez, -az, -is, and -oz. (Note: Not all names with similar endings are necessarily patronymic, i.e. Ramas, Vargas, Morales.)

In the past, both in Spanish and Portuguese, plus Catalan endings -ez, -es, -iz, -is tended to confound (since pronunciation was quite similar in the three languages). Nowadays, Portuguese has been fully standardized in -es and Catalan in -is, Spanish also is standardized to -ez but is very common to see archaic endings in -es. For instance, Pires, Pérez and Peris are the modern forms of "Peterson" in Portuguese, Spanish and Catalan.

Eastern Europe


Vuk Karadžić reported that in Serbia there were no last names "until our times", i.e. until the nineteenth century, and that patronymics were used in the traditional way.


In East Slavic languages, the ending -ovich, -yevich, -yich is used to form patronymics for men. For example, in Russian, a man named Ivan with a father named Nikolay would be known as Ivan Nikolayevich or 'Ivan, son of Nikolay' (Nikolayevich being a patronymic). For women, the ending is -yevna, -ovna or -ichna. For masculine names ending in a vowel, such as Ilya or Foma, when they are used as a base for patronymic, the corresponding endings are -ich (for men) and -inichna (for women).

In Russia, the patronymic is an official part of the name, used in all official documents, and when addressing somebody both formally and among friends. A Russian will rarely formally address a person named Mikhail simply as 'Mikhail', but rather as 'Mikhail' followed by his patronymic (i.e. 'Mikhail Nikolayevich' or 'Mikhail Sergeyevich' etc.).[citation needed] However, on informal occasions when a person is called by a diminutive (such as Misha for Mikhail resp. Nastya for Anastasia), the patronymic is rarely used. In colloquial, informal speech, it is also possible to contract the ending of a patronymic: thus Nikolayevich becomes Nikolaich, and Stepan Ivanovich becomes Stepan Ivanych or simply Ivanych as the given name may be omitted altogether. In this case the contraction, if possible, is obligatory: Ivan Sergeyevich Sidorov may be called 'Sergeich' or, more rarely, 'Sergeyevich', though such contractions are sometimes avoided as they tend to bring a shade of muzhik-style familiarity. Aleksandr Aleksandrovich (Александр Александрович) may be called San Sanych (Сан Саныч) and Pavel Pavlovich (Павел Павлович) may be called Pal Palych (Пал Палыч). A famous example of a contracted female patronymic is 'Mar' Ivanna' (Марьванна), short for 'Maria Ivanovna' (Мария Ивановна), a young female teacher who is a recurring character in Vovochka jokes. In contrast to male names, if a woman is called by her patronymic name without a given name, the patronymic is never contracted: 'Ivanovna' but 'Mar' Ivanna'. Male and female patronymic names derived from names ending in -slav (Vladislav, Yaroslav) have two possible forms: long, with -vovich/-vovna (Yaroslavovich, Yaroslavovna) and short, with -vich, -vna (Yaroslavich, Yaroslavna). A curious use of a Russian patronymic occurs in some Tom Clancy novels; the character Jack Ryan, whose father was Emmet Ryan, is addressed as Ivan Emmetovich by a Russian colleague, Sergei Nikolaich (Nikolaievich) Golovko. Similarly, the name of the Arabic genie from the Russian book Old Khottabych (Starik Khottabych) by Lazar Lagin was constructed from the genie's name 'Hassan Abdul-rahman ibn Khattab'.


In Ukrainian, the female Patronymic always ends with -івна (-ivna) or -ївна (-yivna).[5] The male Patronymic always ends with -ович (-ovych).[5]


In Bulgarian, the patronymics are -ov/-ev and -ova/-eva for men and women, respectively. These are identical to the endings of family names in Bulgarian and some other Slavic family names (such as names in Russian and Czech). In Bulgarian official documents, the patronymic is inserted before the surname - e.g. Ivan Marinov Yordanov would be the son of Marin Yordanov.

Some South Slavic surnames (usually Serbian, Croatian or Bosnian) look morphologically identical to East Slavic patronymics, but do not change form between masculine and feminine: Milla Jovovich and not 'Jovovna'. In addition, these surnames cannot be contracted using the pattern described above, and generally carry the stress on a different syllable. Examples include Mikhail Andreyevich Miloradovich and Vladislav Khodasevich.


In Hungarian, patronyms were traditionally formed with the ending -fi (sometimes spelled as -fy or -ffy). This system is no longer in common use, though traces of it can still be found in some frequent present-day surnames such as Pálfi (son of Paul), Győrfi, Bánfi or in the name of the famous poet Sándor Petőfi (who chose this Hungarian form instead of his Slavic birth name Petrovics). In the Old Hungarian period (10th−16th century, see History of Hungarian), when surnames were not in common use, the full genitive was represented as in Péter fia András (Peter's son Andrew); these forms are in frequent use in charters and legal documents dated back to that time.


In Romanian, the endings -escu and -eanu were used, as in Petrescu, 'son of Petre (Peter)'; many modern Romanian family names were formed from such patronymics. Less commonly, matronymics formed with the genitive form (using the prefix a-) were used, as in Amariei, 'son of Maria'.


Most Greek surnames are patronymics by origin, albeit in various forms depending on ancestral locality. Diminutive suffixes which denote "son of", or more generally "descendant of", are produced as follows: starting with the given name Δημήτριος, Dēmétrios, for example, the patronymic surnames Dēmētrópoulos (Peloponnese), Dēmētrákos (Laconia), Dēmētréas (Messenian Mani), Dēmētrátos (Cephalonia), Dēmētrákēs (Crete), Dēmētriádēs/Dēmētr-ídēs (Pontus, Asia Minor), Dēmētréllēs (Lesbos), Dēmétroglou (Asia Minor), or simply Dēmētríou (esp. common in Cyprus, the first name in the Genitive) are formed. The same principle can apply to surnames deriving from professions, for example from παπάς, papás, priest, one derives the surnames Papadópoulos, Papadákos, Papadéas, Papadátos, Papadákēs, Papadéllēs, Pappá etc., all of which signify a "priest's son". The same principle(s) may apply in combination, e.g. Papanikoláou, Papanikolópoulos, "the son of the priest Nikolaos". A daughter's family name is the same as the son's, but always declined in the Genitive, e.g. Dēmētropoúlou, Papanikoláou etc. In addition to these surnames, actual patronymics are used in official documents as "middle names" preceding the surname. For example, the children of a Giánnēs Papadópoulos are, say, María Ioánnou Papadopoúlou and Andréas Ioánnou Papadópoulos (Ioánnou is the genitive case form of Ioánnēs, which is the formal form of the father's name, Giánnēs). Traditionally, a married woman would adopt her husband's family name. Now, however, this is optional, and many choose to keep their own names.


In Turkish, the suffix used to indicate paternal ancestry is -oğlu, which indicate the ancestry as coming from a certain man. Like many other patronymics in other languages, with the formalization of naming conventions by laws in the late modern contemporary age many turned into last names. After the 'Surname revolution' on 1934, many people chose professions or habitat as surnames with or without the suffix -oğlu, such as Bakkaloğlu or Giritlioğlu.



Use of patronymics was introduced in Armenia by Russians during the times of Russian Empire and the Soviet Union. Previously to that use of patronymics was very limited. Patronymics are usually formed by addition of "i" (pronounced as ee) to the father's name, e.g. if father's name is "Armen", the corresponding patronymic would be "Armeni". Russified version of the same patronymic would be "Armenovich" for males and "Armenovna" for females. After Armenia re-gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 a massive decline in use of Russified patronymics occurred; nowadays few Armenians use patronymics. Many Armenian surnames, especially Western Armenian, are patronymics that were first used by distant ancestors or clan founders. These are characterized by the suffix "-ian" in Western Armenian, often transliterated as "-yan" in Eastern Armenian. These are appended to the given name, i.e. Asdvadzadourian, Hagopian, Khachadourian, Mardirosian, Bedrosian, Sarkissian, etc. Patronyms for individuals were common in the 20th century but have since fallen out of use.


In Azeri, patronymics are formed through oğlu (sometimes transliterated as ogly) for males and qızı (often transliterated as gizi or kizi) for females. Prior to the late 19th–early 20th century, patronymics were used as an essential part of a person's full name, i.e. Sardar Ilyas oğlu ("Sardar, son of Ilyas") and Mina Nabi qızı ("Mina, daughter of Nabi"), since surnames were mostly non-existent before Sovietization (with the exception of the upper and some middle class families). After surnames were commonly adopted in Azerbaijan in the 1920s, patronymics still remained parts of full names, i.e. Sardar Ilyas oğlu Aliyev ("Sardar Aliyev, son of Ilyas"). Nowadays in Azerbaijan, patronymics sometimes replace surnames in unofficial use. Normally in such case, they are spelled as one word (i.e. Eldar Mammadoğlu, Sabina Yusifqızı). Many Azeri surnames are also derived from Persian-style patronymics ending in -zadeh (Kazimzadeh, Mehdizadeh, etc.). They are found among both Caucasian and Iranian Azeris. However unlike the former, Azeris in Iran do not generally use patronymics in oglu / qizi. Azeri patronymics are not to be confused with Turkish surnames in -oğlu and Greek surnames in -ογλού (-oglou), which do not have specific female versions and do not reflect names of fathers.


In Georgian, patronymics, when used, come with the addition of s to the end of the father's name, followed by dze. For example, Joseph Stalin's actual name was Ioseb Besarionis Dze Jugashvili. s in Georgian is a possessive, and dze means son. Georgian last names derive mostly from patronymics. Two common elements in Georgian last names, dze and shvili mean son of, and child, respectively.

Middle East


In Arabic, the word "ibn" (ابن) (or بن: "bin", "ben" and sometimes "ibni" and "ibnu" to show the final declension of the noun) is the equivalent of the "-son" suffix discussed above (The prefix ben- is used similarly in Hebrew). In addition, "bint" (بنت) means "daughter of". Thus, for example, "Ali ibn `Amr" means "Ali son of `Amr". In Classical Arabic, the word ibn is written as bn between two names, since the case ending of the first name then supplies a vowel. Consequently, ibn is often written as "b.", as bint is often written as "bt.," in name formulas rendered from Arabic into Roman characters. Thus Hisham ibn al-Kalbi is alternatively written as Hisham b. al-Kalbi. However, the pronunciation "bin" is dialectal and has nothing to do with either the spelling or pronunciation in Classical Arabic. The word "Abu" ("Aba" or "Abi" in different declensions) means "father of", so "Abu `Ali" is another name for "`Amr". In medieval times, an illegitimate child of unknown parentage would sometimes be termed "ibn Abihi", "son of his father" (notably Ziyad ibn Abihi.) In the Qur'an, Jesus (Isa in Arabic) is consistently termed "`Isa ibn Maryam" - a matronymic (in the Qur'an, Jesus has no father; see Islamic view of Jesus). An Arabic patronymic can be extended as far back as family tree records will allow: thus, for example, Ibn Khaldun gives his own full name as "`Abd ar-Rahman ibn Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn al-Hasan ibn Muhammad ibn Jabir ibn Muhammad ibn Ibrahim ibn `Abd ar-Rahman ibn Khaldun".

Patronymics are still standard in parts of the Arab world, notably Saudi Arabia; however, most of the Arab world has switched to a family name system. As in English, the new family names are sometimes based on what was formerly a patronymic. Another form widely used in the Arab World is the usage of both the Patronymic and a family name, often using both the father's and grandfathers given name in sequence after the own given name, and then the family name. In Iraq for example, full names are formed by combining the given name of an individual with the given name of their father (sometimes the father is skipped and the grandfather's given name is used instead, sometimes both father and grandfather are used), along with the town, village, or clan name. For instance, Hayder Muhammed al-Tikriti is the son of Muhammed named Hayder, and he is from the town of Tikrit.


In Aramaic, the prefix bar- means "son" and is used as a prefix meaning "son of". In the Bible, Peter is called Bar-jonah in Matthew 16:17 and Nathanael is possibly called Bartholomew because he is the son of Tolmai. The titles can also be figurative, for example in Acts 4:36-37 a man named Joseph is called Barnabas meaning son of consolation.

Jewish usage

Jews have historically used Hebrew patronymic names. In the Jewish patronymic system the first name is followed by either ben- or bat- ("son of" and "daughter of", respectively), and then the father's name. (Bar-, "son of" in Aramaic, is also seen). Permanent family surnames exist today but only gained popularity among Sephardic Jews in Iberia and elsewhere as early as the 10th or 11th century and did not spread widely to the Ashkenazic Jews of Germany or Eastern Europe until much later. While Jews now have permanent surnames for everyday life, the patronymic form is still used in religious life. It is used in synagogue and in documents in Jewish law such as the ketubah (marriage contract). Many Sephardic Jews used the Arabic ibn instead of bat or ben when it was the norm. The Spanish family Ibn Ezra is one example.

Many immigrants to the modern Israel Hebraized their names. This was especially common among Ashkenazic immigrants, because most of their names were taken later and some were imposed by the German and Austro-Hungarian Empires. A prominent example of this is a stateswoman who had two patronymic names, before becoming known without one. Born Golda Mabovitch who married American Morris Meyerson, took the name Golda Meyerson, and upon making Aliyah and at the urging of Moshe Sharett Hebraized her last name to Meir.

A popular form to create a new family name using Jewish patronymics sometimes related to poetic Zionist themes, such as ben Ami ("son of my people"), or ben Artzi ("son of my country"), and sometimes related to the Israeli landscape, such as bar Ilan ("son of the trees").


Traditionally Muslim and non-Arabic speaking African people, such as Somali, Hausa and Fulani people usually (with some exceptions) follow the Arab naming pattern, however the word "son of" is omitted. So Mohamed son of Ibrahim son of Ahmed is "Mohamed Ibrahim Ahmed", and Mohamed Ibrahim Ahmed's son Ali is "Ali Mohamed Ibrahim".

Ethiopians also use similar system and there is no concept of family name and surname. If one is to refer to a person with a single name he/she will always use the person's given name.


Some Kenyan communities used patronyms. The practice has largely dropped of with the use of just the father's last name as a surname. Kalenjin use 'arap' meaning 'son of' Kikuyu used 'wa' meaning 'of'. Because of polygamy, there was also use of matronyms and 'wa' used to identify which wife the child was born of. Maasai use 'ole' meaning 'son of' Meru use 'mto' abbreviated M' thus son of Mkindia would be M'Mkindia, pronounced Mto Mkindia.

South Africa

Among the Zulu patronymics were used in the pre-colonial era. The prefix "ka" was attached to the father's name, for example Shaka kaSenzangakhona means Shaka son of Senzangakhona. The practice disappeared from everyday use with the introduction of the modern European style surname system but still remains part of traditional cultural practices, particularly in the case of chieftains and royalty where reciting lineages forms a part of many ceremonial occasions.


Indian subcontinent

Patronymy is common in parts of India and Pakistan. For example, if a father is named Khurram Suleman (a Muslim masculine name), he might name his son Taha Khurram, who in turn might name his son Ismail Taha. As a result, unlike surnames, patronymics will not pass down through many generations.

In Ancient India during the Vedic Age, when Sanskrit was the lingua franca, patronymics were common as last names. Sanskrit patronymics were the adjective form of the father's (or clan's forefather's) given name. This adjective is formed by Indo-European ablaut (a phonological process), which adds an additional /a/ to the first vowel in the patronymic: changing from short /a/ to ā, short and long /i/ and /ē/ to ai, and short and long /u/ and /ō/ to /au/. Sometimes a suffix, such as -ya, was also added. E.g.:

  • The very first mantra of the Rigveda has its seer named Madhuchchhandā Vaishvāmitra, meaning Madhuchchhandā, son of (or of the lineage of) the sage Vishvāmitra.
  • Buddha Shākyamuni had the patronymic Gautama due to his lineage from the sage Gotama.
  • The clan descended from Sage Agasti is called Āgastya.
  • The full name of Draupadi was Krishnā Draupadī, meaning Krishnā, daughter of Drupada.
  • As Krishna (Vishnu's avatar) was the son of Vasudeva, his name was Krishna Vāsudeva.
  • As Seetā (wife of Rāma, another of Vishnu's avatar) was the daughter of king Janaka, her name was Jānaki. As princess of the country of Videhā, she was also known as Vaidehi. She was also known as Maithili for having been born in the city of Mithilā (capital of Videha),

In southern India, Tamil Nadu and parts of Kerala and Karnataka, patronymy is predominant. This is a significant departure from the rest of the country where caste or family names are mostly employed as surnames.

However, rather than using the father's full name, only the first letter—the initial—is prefixed to the given name. For example, if a person's personal name is Saravanan and his father's Krishnan, then the full name is K. Saravanan and is seldom expanded, even in official records. Some families follow the tradition of retaining the name of the hometown, the grandfather's name, or both as initials. The celebrated Indian English novelist R. K. Narayan's name at birth was Rasipuram Krishnaswami Ayyar Narayanaswami, which was shortened at the behest of his writer friend Graham Greene. Rasipuram, the first name, is a toponym and Krishnaswami Ayyar, the second name, is a patronym.

Nonetheless, the growing trend in cities in southern India[citation needed] and among expatriates is to expand the father’s name and place it ahead of one’s given name. The name stated in the earlier example, K. Saravanan would become Krishnan Saravanan , bringing it partly in line with western naming conventions of first name, middle name and last name order.

In Maharashtra, a very common convention among the Hindu communities is to have the patronymic be the middle name. Examples:

  • Cricketer Sunil Gavaskar's full name is Sunil Manohar Gavaskar, where Manohar is his father's given name.
  • Cricketer Sachin Tendulkar's full name is Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar, where Ramesh is his father's given name.
  • Sunil Gavaskar's son Rohan Gavaskar would be Rohan Sunil Gavaskar, and so on.

This system works for both boys and girls, except that after marriage, a woman takes her husband's given name as her middle name—her new middle name is no longer a patronymic.

Indians, particularly Tamils in Singapore often continue the patronymic tradition; this entails having a single given name, followed by son / daughter of, followed by their father's name.

Malaysian Indians may also follow this custom with "son" or "daughter" of being replaced by "anak lelaki" or "anak perempuan" respectively.

Indians of the Isma'ili faith also have patronymic middle names which use the father's first name and the grandfather's first name plus a family name. Someone called "Ramazan Rahim Ali Manji" might call his son "Karim Ramazan Rahim Manji" and his granddaughter might be called "Zahra Karim Ramazan Manji".


Yi people's son's given name is based on the last one or two syllable of father's name. Hani people also have patronymic custom.


Atayal people's son's name is followed by father's name.

See also


  1. ^ Alþingi Íslands. "Lög um mannanöfn" (in Icelandic). Retrieved 2008-04-02. 
  2. ^ "Decreet van Naamsaanneming (Napoleon, 18 augustus 1811)" (in Dutch). Retrieved 2009-04-29. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ The main reform of the 2002 law on French surnames was to allow free choice for children to be officially surnamed from either their father's or mother's surname, or both; this required explicitely banning the last uses of the outdated patronyme (since it alluded only to fathers).
  5. ^ a b Ukrainian:Lonely Planet Phrasebook by Marko Pavlyshyn, Lonely Planet, 2002, ISBN 978-1741046052 (page 52)

External links

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  • Patronymic — Pa tro*nym ic ( n[i^]m [i^]k), a. [L. patronymicus, Gr. patrwnymiko s; path r father + o noma name: cf. F. patronymique.] Derived from ancestors; as, a patronymic denomination. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Patronymic — Pa tro*nym ic, n. [Gr. patrwnymiko n.] A modification of the father s name borne by the son; a name derived from that of a parent or ancestor; as, Pelides, the son of Peleus; Johnson, the son of John; Macdonald, the son of Donald; Paulowitz, the… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • patronymic — [pa΄trə nim′ik] adj. [LL patronymicus < Gr patrōnymikos < patēr,FATHER + onyma,NAME] 1. derived from the name of a father or ancestor 2. showing such descent [a patronymic suffix] n. 1. a name showing descent from a given person as by the… …   English World dictionary

  • patronymic — index call (title) Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • patronymic — (n.) 1610s, from L.L. patronymicum, from neut. of patronymicus derived from a father s name, from patronymos named from the father, from pater (gen. patros) father + onyma name …   Etymology dictionary

  • patronymic — patronymically, adv. /pa treuh nim ik/, adj. 1. (of family names) derived from the name of a father or ancestor, esp. by the addition of a suffix or prefix indicating descent. 2. (of a suffix or prefix) indicating descent. n. 3. a patronymic name …   Universalium

  • patronymic — 1. adjective Derived from ancestors; as, a patronymic denomination. 2. noun name acquired from ones fathers, grandfathers or earlier male ancestors first name. Some cultures use a patronymic where other cultures use a surname or family name;… …   Wiktionary

  • patronymic — noun Etymology: ultimately from Greek patronymia patronymic, from patr + onyma name more at name Date: 1612 a name derived from that of the father or a paternal ancestor usually by the addition of an affix • patronymic adjective …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • patronymic — noun (C) technical a name formed from the name of your father, grandfather etc patronymic adjective …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

  • patronymic — pat•ro•nym•ic [[t]ˌpæ trəˈnɪm ɪk[/t]] n. 1) ling. a name derived from the name of a father or ancestor, esp. by the addition of a suffix or prefix indicating descent, as Williamson (son of William) or Macdonald (son of Donald) 2) ling. (of a… …   From formal English to slang

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