Spanish and Portuguese names

From Academic Kids

In Spanish, Portuguese, and Catalan speaking regions of the world, people have at least two surnames. One is inherited from the father, the other from the mother. Parents pass on to their children the name they inherited from their father.

In Spanish speaking countries, the father's surname is in most cases written before the mother's surname, although there are occasional exceptions to this rule. Thus, for instance, Vicente Fox Quesada is Mr. Fox, not Mr. Quesada, and "Fox" is not his middle name.

In Portuguese speaking countries, the father's surname is in most cases after the mother's surname. In these countries, it is very frequent that children get two surnames from each of their parents, thus having usually the last surname of each of their grandparents.

The traditional naming conventions are now changing as attitudes toward gender equality throughout the Latin-speaking world evolve. In Portugal, since 1977, the child's last name can come either from the father or from the mother, but the latter is still very uncommon.


Spanish names

In Spanish-speaking countries, the name of the father is put before the name of the mother; these are then known as the apellido paterno ("paternal surname") and the apellido materno or segundo apellido (maternal or second surname).

In Latin American countries when a woman marries, she may choose to drop her own maternal surname and adopts her husband's paternal surname, with "de" ("of") inserted between. Thus if Ángela López Sáenz marries Tomás Portillo Blanco, she may style herself Ángela López de Portillo. This convention, however, is more a social styling than an official renaming such as takes place in English-speaking countries: on official documents, she will still be identified by her two maiden surnames. In many areas, however, this tradition is now seen as an antiquated form of discrimination against women (the de can be read as implying ownership) and is consequently on the decline. A more formal version is Ángela López, Sra. de Portillo ("Sra." is an abbreviation for "señora" ("Mrs.", "wife")).

If, as is very common in Spanish-speaking families, they choose to perpetuate their forenames into the next generation, their children would be Tomás Portillo López and Ángela Portillo López.

The order rule means that the surnames of the female branch get lost as generations pass. If the female surname is especially prestigious or the combination is improper, the order may be altered. While Spain has recently introduced legal provisions to allow parents to freely decide the order of surnames, the overwhelming majority of Spaniards continue to follow the traditional pattern of father's first and mother's second. A case of improper combination would be the folk case of Mr. Laca marrying Miss Gamos. Laca Gamos sounds like la cagamos, "we shit on it", an offensive phrase. They would name their children as Gamos Laca.

As is still the case with Catalan names, the option exists to connect the two surnames by means of y ("and"): one well known example of this is José Ortega y Gasset. Thus, Tomás could choose to style himself Tomás Portillo y Blanco, albeit at the risk, in most of the contemporary world, of appearing affected or self-consciously following a slightly antiquated use. This use of y though remains common practice in the Philippines, where it is used, among others, in keeping criminal records.

The prevalence of this custom of using two surnames varies. For example, Argentina is a Spanish-speaking country, but most Argentinians' identity is recorded at birth with only their paternal surname. Thus, one would only occasionally hear Jorge Luis Borges referred to as "Borges Acevedo", although a native Spanish speaker would certainly understand that usage.

Often, one specifies for brevity only one of the two surnames, usually the one inherited from one's father. Thus, if one were to shorten the name of Gabriel García Márquez, it should be "García", not "Márquez" (although in his case it is more likely to be his nickname "Gabo"). Occasionally, a person with a common paternal surname and an uncommon maternal surname becomes widely known by the maternal surname, as with the artist Pablo Ruiz Picasso, best known simply as "Picasso", or the poet Federico García Lorca, often known simply as "Lorca", or even the Spanish prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, best known as "Zapatero".

Not every surname is a single word. A particularly felicitious or renowned combination of paternal and maternal surnames may propagate to the following generation as a double-barrelled paternal surname, especially when the paternal surname alone would be considered "undistinguished". This was the case with former Mexican President José López Portillo, whose mother was a "Pacheco" and whose full style was "José López Portillo y Pacheco". Other double-barreled surnames derive from church names, as "San José".

It was also common for surnames originating from Castile and Álava to have the form "(patronymic) de placename". Hence for José Ignacio López de Arriortúa, "López de Arriortúa" is just one surname. This can cause confusion as both "López" and "de Arriortúa" can be found as single surnames. In Spain, unlike in neighboring France, the prefix "de" (meaning "of") on a surname does not typically indicate noble origin. It may be introduced just to mark a surname that can be misunderstood as a forename. Thus, Luis de Miguel Pérez marks that his forename is just Luis, not Luis Miguel. In short forms, the de may be included (Hernando de Soto is known as "de Soto") or not (Felipe de Borbón is a "Borbón", not a "de Borbón").

Although the use of double surnames renders the matter far less common than in the English-speaking world, a man who has the identical name to his father may suffix his name with "(h)" (standing for "hijo", meaning "son"), analogously to the English language "Jr.".

In Spanish, most surnames ending in "-ez" originated as patronymics. Thus "López" originally meant "son of Lope", "Fernández" meant "son of Fernando", etc. Other common examples of this are "Hernández" (from Hernando, a variant of "Ferdinand" / "Fernando"), "Rodríguez" (from "Rodrigo"), "Sánchez" (from "Sancho"), "Martínez" (from "Martín"), and "Álvarez" (from "Álvaro"). "Cortez" (e.g. Alberto Cortez), however, is a variant of "Cortés" (e.g. "Hernán Cortés").

After the recognition of co-official languages in Spain, the law allowed the translation or respelling of names to the official languages.

Regarding forenames, for religious (Christianity) reasons, in a custom that is in some decline but by no means a thing of the past, girls were commonly named after Mary, mother of Jesus (the Virgin Mary), with the addition of the name of one of her temples, a geographical location where someone had a vision of her, or a religious concept. To avoid confusion, a woman omits the "Mary of the..." part of her name and uses only the last, except on official documents and very formal ocassions. So, the real names of Ángeles, Pilar and Luz (literally Angels, Pillar and Light) are almost surely María de los Ángeles, María del Pilar and María de la Luz. Each of these is considered a single (composed) name. A girl could be named only María, however.

María can be part of a male name if prefixed by a masculine one: for example, José María Aznar. Conversely, a girl could be named María José (José referring to Saint Joseph, husband of the Virgin Mary). Other usages are possible, like José del Pilar, who could be called either José or Pilar; this usage for male names is falling rapidly out of use.

Number of names

Spanish official records keep at most two forenames and two surnames per person. However, people can be baptized with more than two forenames, which is a frequent practice among the royalty.

People can also keep track of more than two surnames. This is most frequent in Spain's Basque Country. For example, the founder of Basque nationalism, Sabino Arana, demanded several Basque surnames from his followers to certify that there was no admixture of "foreigners" in their ancestry.

Spanish surnames among Filipinos

On November 21, 1849 the Spanish administration of the Philippines, under the authority of Governor General Narciso Clavería, decreed a systematic distribution of family names for the use of the natives. With the Clavería decree the Catálogo alfabético de apellidos("Alphabetical Catalogue of Surnames") was produced; it was a collection of surnames mostly from Spain, though many were also native Filipino words of flora and fauna and Hispanicized Chinese numerals.

Surnames of Spanish nobility, as well as surnames belonging to the Spanish colonial administrators in the Philippines (which had acquired connotation of prestige in the archipelago) were explicitly excluded.

As a result of this decree, in the Philippines Spanish surname does not indicate Spanish ancestry. Around 1% of the Philippine population is composed of Spanish-Asian mestizos.

The colonial authorities implemented this decree mainly because so many early Christianized Filipinos named themselves after religious instruments and saints that it caused consternation among the Spanish authorities. Apparently, Christianization had worked much too well in that there were soon too many people surnamed "de los Santos", "de la Cruz", "del Rosario", "Bautista", etc, adding difficulty to administration efforts.

Another custom deemed unacceptable by the Spanish, and leading to the imposition of this naming system, was that Filipino siblings took different last names, as they always had done before the Spaniards. All these "problems" resulted in a less efficient system of collecting taxes.

It is also for this reason that so many Spanish-sounding Filipino surnames cannot be found among the peoples elsewhere in the Hispanic world, as most of these surnames are Hispanic only in sound.

See also: Hispanic culture in the Philippines.

Portuguese names

In countries where Portuguese is spoken, the pattern is similar to the Spanish one, except that the maternal surname is placed before the paternal surname. In some cases, people may have up to four different surnames. A woman may adopt her husband's surname (or surnames), but she still keeps her maiden names. For example, if Maria Melo Santos marries José Pereira Abreu, her name may become Maria Melo Santos Abreu. This used to be obligatory, but nowadays fewer women use their husbands' names. In Portugal, since 1977, husbands too can adopt their wives' surname, but this is infrequent. It has become increasingly common for women to adopt their husband's name officially, but not to use it in their professional or informal life.

It is not uncommon that a married woman has two given names and six surnames, the last two coming from her husband. In addition, some of these names may be composite (with more than one word), so that a full feminine name can have more than 10 words. For instance, the name 'Maria do Carmo Mão de Ferro e Cunha de Almeida Santa Rita' would not be surprising. 'Mão de Ferro' (iron hand) and 'Santa Rita' (Saint Margaret) count only as one surname each.

A child receives his or her maternal and paternal names, for example, Joana Santos Abreu, but many children receive two first names and several surnames, e.g. Joana Filipa Santos Abreu, Joana Filipa Santos Pereira Abreu or Joana Filipa Melo Santos Pereira Abreu. In every case, the maternal surnames are placed before the paternal surnames. This person will probably become known by her final (paternal) surname, Joana Abreu.

Because Maria was (especially in the past) extremely common as the first of two given names, women named Maria are commonly known by their second given name, which can even be a masculine name. For instance, women with the name 'Maria de Lurdes' are called 'Lurdes'. 'João' (John) is a masculine name, but many women have 'Maria João' as given names and are informally called only 'João'.

Catalan names

Catalan has very similar conventions to Spanish, except that a person's two surnames are usually separated by "i" ("and"). A real-world example would be the current (as of 2004) president of the Generalitat de Catalunya, Pasqual Maragall i Mira. Others are more commonly known only by a single last name; his predecessor is generally referred to simply as "Jordi Pujol", but is more properly "Jordi Pujol i Soley".

See also

External links

eo:Hispanaj kaj hispanlingvaj personaj nomoj nl:Iberische en Ibero-Amerikaanse namen


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