Given name  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

A given name, first name, Christian name, or forename is a personal name that specifies and differentiates between members of a group of individuals, especially in a family, all of whose members usually share the same family name (surname). A given name is a name given to a person, as opposed to an inherited one such as a family name. Strictly speaking, the term excludes names acquired by other means — such as changing one's name. This article does not generally assume the strict definition.

In most European countries and in countries that have cultures predominantly influenced by Europe (North and South America and Australia), the given name usually comes before the family name (though generally not in lists and catalogs), and so is known as a forename or first name (see usage below). But in many cultures of the world, for instance in some African and most of East Asia (e.g. China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam), and also in Hungary, given names traditionally come after the family name. In East Asia, even part of the given name may be shared among all members of a given generation in a family and the family's extensions, to differentiate those generations from other generations.

Under the common Western naming convention, people generally have one or more forenames (either given or acquired). If more than one, there is usually a main forename (for everyday use) and one or more supplementary forenames. But sometimes two or more carry equal weight. Beyond the fact that forenames come before the surname there is no particular ordering rule. Often the main forename is at the beginning, resulting in a first name and one or more middle names, but other arrangements are quite common.

Given names are often used in a familiar and friendly manner in informal situations. In more formal situations the surname is used instead, unless it is necessary to distinguish between people with the same surname. The idiom "on a first-name basis" (or "on first-name terms") alludes to the fact that using a person's given name betokens familiarity.

Related articles and lists

By culture

Indo-European
Central Asia, Altaic
Semitic / Near Eastern
East Asia
Africa




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Given name" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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