World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Spanish naming customs

Article Id: WHEBN0000665641
Reproduction Date:

Title: Spanish naming customs  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Filipino name, Hispanic American naming customs, Luis F. Álvarez, Portuguese name, Sephardi Jews
Collection: Catalan Culture, Names by Culture, Spanish Culture, Spanish Given Names, Spanish-Language Surnames
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Spanish naming customs

Spanish naming customs are historical traditions for naming children practised in Spain. They are similar to those in other Spanish-speaking countries or former Spanish territories, such as Equatorial Guinea, Philippines, Mexico, and Puerto Rico. In Spain, a person's name consists of a given name (simple or composite) followed by two family names (surnames). The first surname is usually the father's first surname, and the second the mother's first surname. In recent years, the order of the surnames can be reversed at birth if it is so decided by the parents.

Often, the practice is to use one given name and the first surname only, the full name being used in legal, formal, and documentary matters. For differences in Hispanic American usages, see Hispanic American naming customs.


  • Naming system in Spain 1
    • Forms of address 1.1
    • Forenames 1.2
      • María and José 1.2.1
      • Registered names 1.2.2
      • Marriage 1.2.3
      • Generational transmission 1.2.4
      • Navarrese and Álavan surnames 1.2.5
  • Nominal conjunctions 2
  • Denotations 3
    • Identity and descent 3.1
    • Foundlings 3.2
    • Foreign citizens 3.3
    • Flamenco artists 3.4
    • Spanish hypocoristics and nicknames 3.5
  • Spain's other languages 4
    • Basque names 4.1
    • Catalan names 4.2
      • Catalan hypocoristics and nicknames 4.2.1
    • Galician names 4.3
      • Galician surnames 4.3.1
      • Galician given names and nicknames 4.3.2
    • Ceuta and Melilla 4.4
  • Indexing 5
  • See also 6
  • Notes and references 7
  • External links 8

Naming system in Spain

Currently in Spain, people bear a single or composite given name (nombre) and two surnames (apellidos). A composite given name comprises two (not more) single names; for example Juan Pablo is considered not to be a first and a second forename, but a single composite forename. Traditionally, a person's first surname is the father's first surname (apellido paterno), and the second one is the mother's first surname (apellido materno). However, gender equality law has allowed surname transposition since 1999,[1] subject to the condition that every sibling must bear the same surname order recorded in the Registro Civil (civil registry), but there have been legal exceptions. From 2013, if the parents of a child are unable to agree on order of surnames, an official decides which is to come first.[2]

For example, if a man named Eduardo Fernández Garrido marries a woman named María Dolores Martínez Ruiz and they have a child named José, there are several legal options, but their child would most usually be known as José Fernández Martínez.

Each surname can also be composite, the parts usually linked by the conjunction y or e (and), by the preposition de (of) or by a hyphen. For example, a person's name might be Juan Pablo Fernández de Calderón García-Iglesias (John Paul Fernandez of Calderon Garcia-Iglesias), consisting of a forename (Juan Pablo), a paternal surname (Fernández de Calderón) and a maternal surname (García-Iglesias).

There are times when it is impossible, by inspection of a name, to correctly analyse it. For example, the writer Sebastián Juan Arbó was alphabetised by the Library of Congress for many years under "Arbó", assuming that Sebastián and Juan were both given names. However, "Juan" was actually his first surname. To resolve questions like this, which typically involve very common names ("Juan" is rarely a surname), one must consult the person involved, or legal documents.

Forms of address

A man named José Antonio Gómez Iglesias would normally be addressed as either Señor Gómez or Señor Gómez Iglesias instead of Señor Iglesias, because Gómez is his first surname. Furthermore, Mr. Gómez might be informally addressed as (1) José Antonio, (2) José, (3) Pepe (nickname for José), (4) Antonio (Anthony), or (5) Toño (nickname for Antonio) (6) "Jose" (plain word), (7) "Joselito, Josito, Joselillo, Josico or Joselín" (Diminutives of José), (8) "Antoñito, Tonín or Nono" (Diminutives of Antonio), (9) "Joseán" (Apocopation). Very formally, he could be addressed with an honorific as Don José Antonio or Don José.

Colombian writer Gabriel García Márquez is sometimes incorrectly referred to in English media as Mr. Márquez, when it should be Mr. García Márquez or, simply, Mr. García.

It is not unusual, when the first surname is very common, for a person to be referred to casually by his or her second surname. For example, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero (elected Prime Minister of Spain in the 2004 and 2008 general elections) is often called simply Zapatero, the name he inherited from his mother's family, since Rodríguez is a common surname and may be ambiguous. The same occurs with another former Spanish Socialist leader, Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, with the poet and dramatist Federico García Lorca, and with the painter Pablo Ruiz Picasso. By contrast, Adolfo Suárez González (Spanish prime minister 1976–1981) was usually referred to by his first surname (Suárez) which is slightly less common than his second (González).

It would be a mistake to alphabetize José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero as "Zapatero", or Federico García Lorca as "Lorca".

In an English-speaking environment, Spanish-named people sometimes hyphenate their surnames to avoid Anglophone confusion or to fill in forms with only one space provided for last name, thus: Mr. José Antonio Gómez-Iglesias. A practical option to spare an explanation is using a single surname composed of two separate words.


Parents choose their child's given name, which must be recorded in the Registro Civil (Civil Registry) to establish his or her legal identity.[3] With few restrictions, parents can now choose any name; common sources of names are the parents' taste, honouring a relative, the General Roman Calendar nomina (nominal register), and traditional Spanish names. Legislation in Spain under Franco legally limited cultural naming customs to only Christian (Jesus, Mary, saints) and typical Spanish names (Antonio, Laura, et al.). Although the first part of a composite forename generally reflects the gender of the child, the second personal name need not (e.g. José María Aznar). At present, the only naming limitation is the dignity of the child, who cannot be given an insulting name. Similar limitations applied against diminutive, familiar, and colloquial variants not recognized as names proper, and "those that lead to confusion regarding sex";[4] however, current law[5] allows registration of diminutive names.[6]

Spanish provincial surname concentrations: Percentage of population born with the ten most-common surnames for each province. (Source: Instituto Nacional de Estadística 2006)

María and José

Girls are often named María,[7] honouring the Virgin Mary, by appending either a shrine, place, or religious-concept suffix-name to María. In daily life, such women omit the "Mary of the ..." nominal prefix, and use the suffix portion of their composite names as their public, rather than legal, identity. Hence, women with Marian names such as María de los Ángeles (Mary of the Angels), María del Pilar (Mary of the Pillar), and María de la Luz (Mary of the Light), are normally addressed as Ángeles (Angels), Pilar (Pillar), and Luz (Light); however, each might be addressed as María. Also, parents can simply name a girl "María", or "Mari". Nicknames such as Maricarmen for María del Carmen, Marisol for "María (de la) Soledad" ("Our Lady of Solitude", the Virgin Mary), Lola for María de los Dolores ("Our Lady of Sorrows"), Merche for María de las Mercedes ("Our Lady of Mercy"), etc. are often used.

It is not unusual for a boy's formal name to include María, preceded by a masculine name, e.g. José María Aznar (Joseph Mary Aznar). Equivalently, a girl can be formally named María José (Mary Joseph), and informally named Marijose, Mariajo, Majo, Ajo, Josefa, Josefina, Fina, Pepa, Pepi, Chepi, Pepita, Marisé or even José in honor of St. Joseph. María as a masculine name is often abbreviated in writing as M. (José M. Aznar), Ma. (José Ma. Aznar), or M.ª (José M.ª Morelos). It is unusual for any names other than the religiously significant María and José to be used in this way.

Registered names

The Registro Civil (Civil Registry) officially records a child’s identity as composed of a forename (simple or composite) and the two surnames; however, a child can be religiously baptized with several forenames, e.g. Felipe Juan Froilán de Todos los Santos, and has no legal significance. Until the 1960s, it was customary to baptize children with three forenames: the first was the main and the only one used by the child; if parents agreed, one of the other two was the name of the day's saint. Nowadays, baptizing with three or more forenames is usually a royal and noble family practice.


In Spain, upon marrying, a woman does not change her surname. In some instances, such as high society meetings, and with no legal value, the husband's surname can be added after the woman's surnames using the preposition de. One Leocadia Blanco Álvarez, married to a Pedro Pérez Montilla, may be addressed as Leocadia Blanco de Pérez or as Leocadia Blanco Álvarez de Pérez. This format is not used in everyday settings and has no legal value.[8]

In chapter V, part 2 of Don Quixote (1605, 1615), Teresa Panza reminds her husband Sancho that, properly, she should be addressed as Teresa Cascajo, by her surname, not her marital surname: “Teresa I was named in baptism, a clean and short name, without addings or embellishments, or furnishings of dons and dans; ‘Cascajo’ was my father; and I, as your wife, am called ‘Teresa Panza’, but laws are executed”.[9]

Surname distribution: the most common surnames in Spain, by province of residence.

Generational transmission

In the generational transmission of surnames, the paternal surname’s precedence eventually eliminates the maternal surnames from the family lineage. Contemporary law allows the maternal surname to be given precedence, but most people observe the traditional paternal–maternal surname order. So the daughter and son of Ángela López Sáenz and Tomás Portillo Blanco are usually called Laura Portillo López and Pedro Portillo López, but also could be called Laura López Portillo and Pedro López Portillo. Regardless of the surname order, all children's surnames must be in the same order when recorded in the Registro Civil.

Patrilineal surname transmission was not always the norm in Spanish-speaking societies. Prior to the mid-eighteenth century, when the current paternal-maternal surname combination norm came into existence, Hispanophone societies often practised matrilineal surname transmission, giving children the maternal surname, and, occasionally, giving children a grandparent's surname (borne by neither parent) for prestige – being perceived as gentry – and profit, flattering the matriarch or the patriarch in hope of inheriting land. The Spanish naming customs include the orthographic option of conjoining the surnames with the conjunction particle y, or e (both meaning "and") before a name starting with 'I', 'Hi' or 'Y', e.g. José Ortega y Gasset, or Tomás Portillo y Blanco, or Eduardo Dato e Iradier, following an antiquated aristocratic usage.

Not every surname is a single word; such conjoining usage is common with doubled surnames (maternal-paternal), ancestral composite surnames willed to the following generations – especially when the paternal surname is socially undistinguished. José María Álvarez del Manzano y López del Hierro is an example, his name comprising a composite (two-word) single name, José María, and two composite surnames Álvarez del Manzano and López del Hierro. Other examples derive from church place-names such as San José. When a person bears doubled surnames, the means of disambiguation is to insert y between the paternal and maternal surnames.

In case of illegitimacy – when the child's father either is unknown or refuses to recognise his son or daughter legally – the child bears both of the mother's surnames, usually interchanged.[10]

Occasionally, a person with a common paternal surname and an uncommon maternal surname becomes widely known by the maternal surname. The artist Pablo Ruiz Picasso, the poet Federico García Lorca, and the politician José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero are examples. With similar effect, the foreign paternal surname of the Uruguayan writer Eduardo Hughes Galeano (his father was British) is usually omitted. (As a boy, however, he occasionally signed his name as Eduardo Gius, using a hispanicised approximation of the English pronunciation of "Hughes".) Such use of the second last name by itself is colloquial, however, and may not be applied in legal contexts.

Also rarely, a person may become widely known by both surnames, with an example being tennis player Arantxa Sánchez Vicario – whereas her older brothers Emilio and Javier, also professional tennis players, are mainly known only by the paternal surname of Sánchez in everyday life, although they would formally both be addressed as Sánchez Vicario as well.

Navarrese and Álavan surnames

Where Basque and Romance cultures have linguistically long coexisted, the surnames denote the father's name and the (family) house or town/village. Thus the Romance patronymic and the place-name are conjoined with the prepositional particle de ("from"+"provenance"). For example, in the name José Ignacio López de Arriortúa, the composite surname López de Arriortúa is a single surname, despite Arriortúa being the original family-name. This can lead to confusion, because the Spanish López and the Basque Arriortúa are discrete surnames in Spanish and Basque respectively. This pattern was also in use in other Basque districts, but was phased out in most of the Basque-speaking areas and only remained in place across lands of heavy Romance influence, i.e. some central areas of Navarre and most of Álava. To a lesser extent, this pattern has been also present in Castile, where Basque-Castilian bilingualism was common in northern and eastern areas up to the 13th century.

Nominal conjunctions

The particle “de” (of)

In Spanish, the preposition particle de (“of”) is used as a conjunction in two surname spelling styles, and to disambiguate a surname. The first style is in patronymic and toponymic spelling formulæ,[11] e.g. Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba, Pedro López de Ayala, and Vasco Núñez de Balboa, as in many conquistador names.[12]

Unlike in French, the Spanish spellings of surnames containing the prepositional particle de are ambiguous without a preceding patronymic, an orthographic style common to noble surnames, thus, the lower-case spellings de la Rúa (“of the street") and de la Torre (“of the tower”) and the upper-case spellings De la Rúa and De la Torre are equally correct.

Without a patronymic
Juan Carlos de Borbón. Unlike in French, Spanish orthography does not require a contraction when a vowel begins the surname, but de el (“of the”) becomes del, e.g. Carlos Arturo del Monte (Charles Arthur of the Mountain).
The patronymic exception
The current (1958) Spanish name law, Artículo 195 del Reglamento del Registro Civil (Article 195 of the Civil Registry Regulations) disallows a person’s prefixing the de particle to his or her surname – the exception is the clarifying addition of de to a surname (apellido) that might be misunderstood as a forename (nombre);[13] thus, a child would be registered as Pedro de Miguel Jiménez, to avoid the surname Miguel being mistaken as the second part of a composite name, as Pedro Miguel.

Bearing the de particle does not necessarily denote a noble family, especially in Castile and Alava, the de usually applied to the place-name (town or village) from which the person and his or her ancestors originated; however, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the usage of de spread as a way of denoting the bearer’s noble heritage to avoid the misperception that he or she is either a Jew or a Moor. In that time, many people, regardless of their true origins, claimed the right to use the particle, e.g. Miguel de Cervantes, Lope de Vega, et al.; moreover, following that fashion, high nobles, such as Francisco Sandoval Rojas, called himself Francisco de Sandoval y Rojas. During the eighteenth century, the Spanish nobility fully embraced the French custom of using de as a nobility identifier, however, commoners also bore the de particle, which made the de usages unclear; thus, nobility was emphasised with the surname’s lineage.

The particle “y” (and)

In the sixteenth century, the Spanish adopted the copulative conjunction y (“and”) to distinguish a person’s surnames; thus the Andalusian Baroque writer Luis de Góngora y Argote (1561–1627), the Aragonese painter Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes (1746–1828), the Andalusian artist Pablo Diego Ruiz y Picasso (1881–1973), and the Madrilenian liberal philosopher José Ortega y Gasset (1883–1955). In Hispanic America, this spelling convention was common to clergymen (e.g. Salvadoran Bishop Óscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez), and sanctioned by the Ley de Registro Civil (Civil Registry Law) of 1870, requiring birth certificates indicating the paternal and maternal surnames conjoined with y – thus, Felipe González y Márquez and José María Aznar y López are the respective true names of the Spanish politicians Felipe González Márquez and José María Aznar López; however, unlike in Catalan, the Spanish usage is infrequent.

The conjunction y avoids denominational confusion when the paternal surname might appear to be a (first) name; hence the physiologist Santiago Ramón y Cajal might appear to be named Santiago Ramón (composite) and surnamed Cajal, likewise the jurist Francisco Tomás y Valiente, and the cleric Vicente Enrique y Tarancón. Without the conjunction, the footballer Rafael Martín Vázquez, known as Martín Vázquez (his surnames) mistakenly appears to be named Martín rather than Rafael, whilst, to his annoyance, the linguist Fernando Lázaro Carreter occasionally was addressed as Don Lázaro, rather than as Don Fernando.

Moreover, when the maternal surname begins with an i vowel sound, written with either the vowel I (Ibarra), the vowel Y (Ybarra archaic spelling) or the combination Hi + consonant (Higueras), Spanish euphony substitutes e in place of y, thus the example of the Spanish statesman Eduardo Dato e Iradier (1856–1921).


To communicate a person’s social identity, Spanish naming customs provide orthographic means, such as suffix-letter abbreviations, surname spellings, and place names, which denote and connote the person’s place in society.

Identity and descent

h. (son of): A man named like his father, might append the lower-case suffix h. (denoting hijo, son) to his surname, thus distinguishing himself, Juan Gómez Marcos, h., from his father, Juan Gómez Marcos; the English analogue is “Jr.” (son).

–ez: Spanish surnames ending in -ez originated as patronymics denoting "the son of"[14][15]Fernández (son of Fernando), González (son of Gonzalo) – yet not every such surname is patronymic, because in many Spanish dialects the Spanish-language letters z and s are pronounced alike, leading to the same word being spelt with either "s" or "z". In Hispano-American Spanish, the -ez spellings of Chávez, Cortez (Alberto Cortez) and Valdez are not patronymic surnames, because they are variant spellings of the Iberian Spanish spelling with -es, as in the names of Manuel Chaves González, Hernán Cortés and Víctor Valdés. For more on the -z surnames in Spanish see Influences on the Spanish language.


Anonymous foundlings were a naming problem for civil registrars, but such anonymous children were often named toponymically, after the town where they were found. Because most foundlings were reared in church orphanages, they were often given the surnames Iglesia or Iglesias (church[es]) and Cruz (cross). Blanco (connoting "blank" here, rather than the more usual "white") was another option. A toponymical first surname might be followed as second surname by Iglesia or Cruz.

Foundlings often were surnamed Expósito/Expósita (Lat. exposĭtus, "exposed", connoting "foundling"), which marked them, and their descendants,[16] as of low caste and social class, people without social pedigree. In the Catalan language the surname Deulofeu ("made by God") was often given to foundlings. In 1921 Spanish law allowed the surname Expósito to be changed without charge.[17]

In Aragón, anonymous children used to receive as well the family surname Gracia ("grace") or de Gracia, because they were thought to survive by the grace of God.

Foreign citizens

In Spain, legal and illegal foreign immigrants retain use of their cultural naming customs,[18] yet upon becoming Spanish maiden name (her surname), as his maternal (second) surname. Formally, Spanish naming customs conflate his name “George” and his middle-name “Albert” to the composite name “George Albert”, and his sole surname, “Duran”, is duplicated as his paternal and maternal surnames.

Flamenco artists

Historically, flamenco artists seldom used their proper names. According to the flamenco guitarist Juan Serrano, this was because flamenco was considered disreputable and they did not want to embarrass their families:

We have to start with the history of the gypsies in Spain. They gained a bad reputation because of the minor crimes they had to commit to survive. They did not have any kind of jobs, they had to do something to live, and of course this created hostility. And Flamenco was the music of the Gypsies, so many high society people did not accept it – they said Flamenco was in the hands of criminals, bandits, et cetera. And the girls, that maybe liked dancing or singing, their parents said, "Oh no, you want to be a prostitute!".
— Juan Serrano, interview in Guitar International, Nov 1987

This tradition has persisted to the present day, even though Flamenco is now legitimate. Sometimes the artistic name consists of the home town appended to the first name (Manolo Sanlúcar, Ramón de Algeciras); but many, perhaps most, of such names are more eccentric: Pepe de la Matrona (because his mother was a midwife); Perico del Lunar (because he had a mole); Tomatito (son of a father known as Tomate (tomato) because of his red face); Sabicas (because of his childhood passion for green beans, from niño de las habicas); Paco de Lucía, born Francisco ("Paco") Gustavo Sánchez Gomes, was known from infancy after his Portuguese mother, Lucía Gomes (de Lucía = [son] of Lucía). And many more.

Spanish hypocoristics and nicknames

Many Spanish names can be shortened into hypocoristic, affectionate "child-talk" forms using a diminutive suffix, especially -ito and -cito (masculine) and -ita and -cita (feminine). Sometimes longer than the person’s name, a nickname is usually derived via linguistic rules.[19] However, in contrast to English use, hypocoristic names in Spanish are only used to address a person in a very familiar environment – the only exception being when the hypocoristic is an artistic name (e.g. Nacho Duato born Juan Ignacio Duato). The common English practice of using a nickname in the press or media, or even on business cards (such as Bill Gates instead of William Gates,) is not accepted in Spanish, being considered excessively colloquial. The usages vary by country and region; these are some usual names and their nicknames:

Spain's other languages

The official recognition of Spain's other written languagesCatalan, Basque, and Galician – legally allowed the autonomous communities to re-establish their vernacular social identity, including the legal use of personal names in the local languages and written traditions – banned since 1938[20] – sometimes via the re-spelling of names from Castilian Spanish to their original languages.

Basque names

The Basque-speaking territories (the Basque Autonomous Community and Navarre) usually follow Spanish naming customs. A bilingual Basque-Spanish speaker will not necessarily bear a Basque name, and a monolingual Spanish speaker can use a Basque name or a Basque hypocoristic of an official Spanish name.

Some Basque-language names and surnames are foreign transliterations into the Basque tongue, e.g. Ander (English: "Andrew"; Spanish: Andrés), Mikel (English: "Michael"; Spanish: Miguel), or Ane (English: "Anne"; Spanish: Ana). In some cases, the name's original-language denotation is translated to Basque, i.e. Zutoia and Zedarri denote the Spanish Pilar (English: "Pillar"). Moreover, some originally Basque names, such as Xabier and Eneko (English "Xavier" and "Inigo") have been transliterated into Spanish (Javier and Íñigo).

Recently, Basque names without a direct equivalent in other languages have become popular, e.g. Aitor (a legendary patriarch), Hodei ("cloud"), Iker ("to investigate"), and Amaia ("the end"). Some Basque names without a direct Spanish meaning, are unique to the Basque language, for instance, Eneko, Garikoitz, Urtzi. Basque names, rather than Spanish names, are preponderant in the Basque Country, countering the Spanish-name imposition of the Franco régime requiring people being given only Spanish names at birth. After Franco's death and the restoration of democracy in Spain, many Basque adults changed their Spanish names to the Basque equivalent, e.g. from Miguel to Mikel.

A source for modern Basque names is Sabino Arana's Deun-Ixendegi Euzkotarra ("Basque saint-name collection", published in 1910). Instead of the traditional Basque adaptations of Romance names, he proposed others he made up and that in his opinion were truer to the originals and adapted better to the Basque phonology. For example, his brother Luis became Koldobika, from Frankish Hlodwig. The traditionals Peru (from Spanish "Pedro"), Pello or Piarres (from French "Pierre"), all meaning "Peter", became Kepa from Aramaic כיפא (Kepha). He believed that the suffix -[n]e was inherently feminine, and new names like Nekane ("pain"+ne,"Dolores") or Garbine ("clean"+ne, "Immaculate [Conception]") are frequent among Basque females.

Basque surnames usually denote the patronymic house of the bearer; e.g. Etxebarria – "new house", from etxe (house) + barri (new), denotes "related to a so-named farmhouse"; in the same way, Garaikoetxea – "house in the heights", garai ("height") + etxe ("house"). Sometimes, surnames denote not the house itself but a characteristic of the place, e.g. Saratxaga – "willow-place", from saratze ("willow") + -aga ("place of"); Loyola, from loi ("mud") + ola ("iron smithery"); Arriortua – "stone orchard", from harri ("stone") + ortua ("orchard"). Before the 20th century all Basque men were considered nobles (indeed, some Basque surnames, e.g. Irujo or Medoza, were related to some of the oldest Spanish noble families), and many of them used their status to emigrate with privileges to other regions of the Spanish Empire, especially the Americas, due to which some Basque surnames became common to the Spanish-American world; e.g. Mendoza – "cold mountain", from mendi ("mountain" + hotza ("cold"); Salazar – "Old hall", from sala ("hall") + zahar ("old"). Until 1978, Spanish was the single official language of the Spanish civil registries and Basque surnames had to be registered according to the Spanish phonetical rules (for example, the Spanish "ch" sound merges the Basque "ts", "tx", and "tz", and someone whose surname in Standard Basque would be "Krutxaga" would have to write it as "Cruchaga", letter "k" also not being used in Spanish). Although the democratic restoration ended this policy, allowing surnames to be officially changed into their Basque phonology, there still are many people who hold Spanish-written Basque surnames, even in the same family: a father born before 1978 would be surnamed "Echepare" and his children, "Etxepare". This policy even changed the usual pronunciation of some Basque surnames. For instance, in Basque, the letter "z" maintained a sibilant "s"-like sound, while Spanish changed it; thus, a surname such as "Zabala" should be properly read similar to "sabala" (Basque pronunciation: ), although in Spanish, because the "z" denotes a "th" sound ([θ]), it would be read as "Tha-bala" (Spanish pronunciation: ). However, since the letter "z" exists in Spanish, the registries did not force the Zabalas to transliterate their surname.

In the Basque provinces of Biscay and Gipuzkoa, it was uncommon to take a surname from the place (town or village) where one resided, unless one was a foundling; in general, people bearing surnames such as Bilbao (after the Basque city of Bilbao) are descendants of foundlings. However, in the Basque province of Alava and, to a lesser extent, in Navarre, it was common to add one's birth village to the surname using the Spanish particle de to denote a toponymic, particularly when the surname was a common one; for instance, someone whose surname was Lopez and whose family was originally from the valley of Ayala could employ Lopez de Ayala as a surname. This latter practice is also common in Castile.

Basque compound surnames are relatively common, and were created with two discrete surnames, e.g. ElorduizapaterietxeElordui + Zapaterietxe, a practice denoting family allegiances or the equal importance of both families. This custom sometimes conduced to incredibly long surnames, for compound surnames could be used to create others; for example, the longest surname recorded in Spain is Basque, Burionagonatotoricagageazcoechea, formed by Buriona+ Gonatar + Totorika + Beazcoetxea.

Finally, the nationalist leader Sabino Arana pioneered a naming custom of transposing the name-surname order to what he thought was the proper Basque language syntax order; e.g. the woman named Miren Zabala would be referred to as Zabalatar Miren – the surname first, plus the -tar suffix denoting "from a place", and then the name. Thus, Zabalatar Miren means "Miren, of the Zabala family". The change in the order is effected because in the Basque tongue, declined words (such as Zabalatar) that apply to a noun are uttered before the noun itself; another example of this would be his pen name, Arana ta Goiritar Sabin. This Basque naming custom was used in nationalist literature, not in formal, official documents wherein the Castilian naming convention is observed.

Catalan names

The Catalan-speaking territories also abide by the Spanish naming customs, yet usually the discrete surnames are joined with the word i (“and"), instead of the Spanish y, and this practice is very common in formal contexts. For example, the current president of the Generalitat de Catalunya (Government of Catalonia) is formally called El Molt Honorable Senyor Artur Mas i Gavarró. Furthermore, the national language policy enumerated in article 19.1 of Law 1/1998 stipulates that "the citizens of Catalonia have the right to use the proper regulation of their Catalan names and surnames and to introduce the conjunction between surnames".

The correction, translation, and surname-change are regulated by the Registro Civil (Civil Registry) with the Decree 138/2007 of 26 June, modifying the Decree 208/1998 of 30 July, which regulates the accreditation of the linguistic correctness of names. The attributes and functions of Decree 138/2007 of 26 July regulate the issuance of language-correction certificates for translated Catalan names, by the Institut d'Estudis Catalans (Institute of Catalan Studies) in Barcelona. Nevertheless, there are Catalan surnames that conform to neither the current spelling rules nor to the traditionally correct Catalan spelling rules; a language-correction certification can be requested from the Institut d'Estudis Catalans, for names such as these:[21]

  • Casas to Cases
  • Farré to Ferrer
  • Gabarra to Gavarra
  • Dominique to Domenech
  • Jufré to Jofré
  • Mayoral to Majoral
  • Perpiñá to Perpinyà
  • Pijuan to Pijoan
  • Piñol to Pinyol

Catalan hypocoristics and nicknames

Many Catalan names are shortened to hypocoristic forms using only the final portion of the name (unlike Spanish, which mostly uses only the first portion of the name), and with a diminutive suffix. Thus, shortened Catalan names taking the first portion of the name are probably influenced by the Spanish tradition. The influence of Spanish in hypocoristics is recent since it became a general fashion only in twentieth century and specially since Francisco Franco's dictatorship; example Catalan names are:

Galician names

The Galician-speaking areas also abide the Spanish naming customs. Main differences are the usage of Galician given names and surnames.

Galician surnames

Most Galician surnames have their origin in local toponymies, being these either Galician regions (Sanlés < Salnés, Carnota, Bergantiños), towns (Ferrol, Noia), parishes or villages (as Andrade). Just like elsewhere, many surnames were also generated from jobs or professions (Carpinteiro 'carpenter', Cabaleiro 'Knight', Ferreiro 'Smith', Besteiro 'Crossbowman'), physical characteristics (Gago 'Twangy', Tato 'Stutterer', Couceiro 'Tall and thin', Bugallo 'fat', Pardo 'Swarthy'), or origin of the person (Franco and Francés 'French', Portugués 'Portuguese').

Although many Galician surnames have been historically adapted into Spanish phonetics and orthography, they are still clearly recognizable as Galician words: Freijedo, Spanish adaptation of freixedo 'place with ash-trees'; Seijo from seixo 'stone'; Doval from do Val 'of the Valley'; Rejenjo from Reguengo, Galician evolution of local Latin-Germanic word Regalingo 'Royal property'.

Specially relevant are the Galician surnames originated from medieval patronymics, present in local documentation since the 9th century, and popularized from the 12th century on. Although many of them have been historically adapted into Spanish orthography,[22] phonetics and traditions, many are still characteristically Galician; most common ones are:

  • Alonso (medieval form Afonso, from the latinicised Germanic name Adefonsus): Spanish 'Alfonso', 'Alonso'.
  • Álvarez (from médieval Alvares, from the Germanic name Halvar(d), latinicised as Alvarus).
  • Ares (from the name Arias'): Spanish 'Arias'.
  • Bermúdez (medieval form Vermues, from the latinicised Germanic name Veremodus + suffix -ici-).
  • Bernárdez (from the Frankish name Bernard + suffix -ici-).
  • Vieitez, Vieites (from the name Bieito, from Latin Benedictus + suffix -ici-): Spanish 'Benítez'.
  • Diz, Díaz (from the name Didacus + suffix -ici-): Spanish 'Díaz'.
  • Domínguez (medieval form Domingues, derived of the name Domingo, from Dominicus, + suffix -ici-).
  • Enríquez (medieval form Anrriques, from the Frankish name Henric + suffiz -ici-).
  • Estévez (medieval form Esteves, from the name Estevo, derived of Stephanus + suffix -ici-): Spanish 'Estébanez'.
  • Fernández (medieval form Fernandes, from the name Fernando, derived from the Germanic name Fredenandus + suffix -ici-): Spanish 'Hernández'.
  • Froiz (medieval form Froaz, from the Germanic name Froila 'Lord' + suffix -ici-): Spanish 'Flores'.
  • García (medieval form Garçia, from the name Garcia).
  • Giance (from the name Xian, old orthography Jiam, derived of Latin Iulianus + suffix -ici-), with no Spanish equivalent.
  • Gómez (medieval form Gomes, from the name Gomes).
  • González (medieval form Gonçalves, from the latinicised Germanic name Gundisalvus + suffix -ici-).
  • López (medieval form Lopes, from the Latin nickname Lupus 'wolf').
  • Lourenzo, Lorenzo (medieval form Lourenço, from the Latin name Laurentius).
  • Martínez, Martín, Martís (from the Latin name Martinus + suffix -ici-): Spanish 'Martínez'.
  • Méndez (medieval form Meendes, from the name Mendo, from Menendus + suffix -ici-): Spanish 'Menéndez', 'Méndez'.
  • Miguéns (from the name Miguel, derived of Michael + suffix -ici-): Spanish 'Miguélez'.
  • Núñez (medieval form Nunes, derived from the name Nunnus + suffix -ici-).
  • Paz, Paes, Pais (from the name Paio, derived from Pelagius + suffix -ici-): Spanish 'Peláez'.
  • Pérez (medieval form Peres, from the name Pero, derived of Petrus, + suffix -ici-).
  • Raimúndez (from the Frankish name Raimund + suffix -ici-).
  • Rodríguez (from the name Rodrigo, from the latinicised Germanic form Rodericus + suffix -ici-).
  • Rois (from the name Roi, nickname of Rodrigo + suffix -ici-): Spanish 'Ruiz'.
  • Sánchez (medieval form Sanches, from the name Sancho, derived from Latin Sanctius + suffix -ici-).
  • Sueiro, Suárez (medieval forms Sueiro, Suares, from the name Suarius, with and without suffix -ici-): Spanish 'Suárez'.
  • Vázquez (medieval form Vasques, from the name Vasco, from Velasco, + suffix -ici-): Spanish 'Velázquez'.
  • Yanes (medieval forms Eanes, Ianes. from Iohannes, Yohannes + suffix -ici-): Spanish Eáñes 'Yáñez'.

Galician given names and nicknames

Some common Galician names are:[23]

Nicknames are usually obtained from the end of a given name, or through derivation. Common suffixes include masculine -iño, -ito (as in Sito, from Luisito), -echo (Tonecho, from Antonecho) and -uco (Farruco, from Francisco); and feminine -iña, -ucha/uxa (Maruxa, Carmucha, from Maria and Carme), -uca (Beluca, from Isabeluca), and -ela (Mela, from Carmela).

Ceuta and Melilla

As the provincial Surname distribution map (above) indicates, Mohamed is an often-occurring surname in the autonomous Mediterranean North African cities of Ceuta and Melilla (respectively registered 10,410 and 7,982 occurrences),[24] Hispanophone Muslims use the Spanish "Mohamed" spelling for “Muhammad”. As such, it is often a component of Arabic names for men; hence, many Ceutan and Melillan Muslims share surnames despite not sharing a common ancestry. Furthermore, Mohamed (Muhammad) is the most popular name for new-born boys,[25] thus it is not unusual to encounter a man named Mohamed Mohamed Mohamed: the first occurrence is the given name, the second occurrence is the paternal surname, and the third occurrence is the maternal surname.[26]


According to the Chicago Manual of Style, Spanish and Hispanophone names are indexed by the family name. In case there are two family names, the indexing is done under the father's family name; this would be the first element of the surname if the father's and mother's or husband's family names are joined by a y. Depending upon the person involved, the particle de may be treated as a part of a family name or it may be separated from a family name. The indexing of Hispanophone names differs from that of Portuguese of Lusophone names, where the indexing occurs from the final element of the name.[27]

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ "Ley 40/1999, de 5 de noviembre, sobre nombre y apellidos y orden de los mismos". Agencia Estatal Boletín Oficial del Estado. 6 Nov 1999. Retrieved 13 Oct 2010. Si la filiación está determinada por ambas líneas, el padre y la madre de común acuerdo podrán decidir el orden de transmisión de su respectivo primer apellido, antes de la inscripción registral. Si no se ejercita esta opción, regirá lo dispuesto en la ley. El orden de apellidos inscrito para el mayor de los hijos regirá en las inscripciones de nacimiento posteriores de sus hermanos del mismo vínculo. If the affiliation is determined by both lines, the father and mother may by agreement determine the order of transmission of its respective first name before registration. If this option is not exercised, the provisions of law shall apply. The order of names registered for the eldest sibling governed the registration in subsequent siblings of the same link. 
  2. ^ Official determines order of surnames in case of dispute (Spanish)
  3. ^ Registro Civil in Spain
  4. ^ Rules applying in the name registering process in Spain
  5. ^ "LEY 3/2007, de 15 de marzo, reguladora de la rectificación registral de la mención relativa al sexo de las personas". Agencia Estatal Boletín Oficial del Estado. 15 March 2007. Retrieved 24 May 2010. Para garantizar el derecho de las personas a la libre elección del nombre propio, se deroga la prohibición de inscribir como nombre propio los diminutivos o variantes familiares y coloquiales que no hayan alcanzado sustantividad 
  6. ^ El Periódico, Una familia puede por fin inscribir a su hijo como Pepe tras dos años de papeleo, 17 April 2007.
  7. ^ÑA_100_mujeres!A1
  8. ^
  9. ^ Cervantes Saavedra, Miguel de. Don Quixote. 
  10. ^ "Ley 40/1999, de 5 de noviembre, sobre nombre y apellidos y orden de los mismos". Agencia Estatal Boletín Oficial del Estado. 6 Nov 1999. Retrieved 20 Dec 2010. En los supuestos de nacimiento con una sola filiación reconocida, ésta determina los apellidos, pudiendo el progenitor que reconozca su condición de tal determinar, al tiempo de la inscripción, el orden de los apellidos. In those cases where only one affiliation is recognised, it is this affiliation that determinas the surnames, being the recognising parent's right to choose, at the moment of inscription, the order of the surnames. 
  11. ^ Cardenas y Allende, Francisco de; Escuela de genealogía; Heráldica y Nobiliaria (1984). Apuntes de nobiliaria y nociones de genealogía y heráldica: Primer curso. (2nd ed.). Madrid: Editorial Hidalguía. pp. 205–213.  
  12. ^ Cadenas y Vicent, Vicente de (1976). Heráldica patronímica española y sus patronímicos compuestos: Ensayo heráldico de apellidos originados en los nombres. Madrid: Hidalguía.  
  13. ^ Article 195, Reglamento del Registro Civil: "On petition of the interested party, before the person in charge of the registry, the particle de shall be placed before the paternal surname that is usually a first name or begins with one."
  14. ^ Penny, Ralph (2002). A history of the Spanish language (2. ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 16.  
  15. ^ Moran, Steve. "LINGUIST List 15.1432". The LINGUIST List. Retrieved 13 September 2014. 
  16. ^ Coles Smith, Elsdon (2003) [1969]. American Surnames (4th ed.). MD, USA: Genealogical Publishing Company. p. 277.  
  17. ^ ETIMOLOGÍA – LÉXICO : EXPÓSITO from El Almanaque Portal Generalista (Spanish)
  18. ^
  19. ^ Margarita Espinosa Meneses, De Alfonso a Poncho y de Esperanza a Lancha: los Hipocorísticos, Razón Y Palabra, 2001
  20. ^ Mariño Paz, Ramón (1998). Historia da lingua galega (2. ed.). Santiago de Compostela: Sotelo Blanco. p. 353.  
  21. ^ Institut d'Estudis Catalans, Normalització de noms i cognoms (Catalan)
  22. ^ Vaquero Díaz, María Beatriz (2005). Libro das posesións do Cabido Catedral de Ourense (1453) (in Galego). Universidade de Vigo. pp. 175–208.  
  23. ^ Feixó Cid, Xosé (2003). Dicionario Galego dos Nomes (in Galego). Xerais.  
  24. ^ Territorial distribution of surnames (Register data on 1-Jan-2006). (People born to that first surname) + (people with it as second surname) – (people named "Mohamed Mohamed")
  25. ^ Most frequent names by date of birth and province of birth Born in the 2000s, 78,4 per mille in Ceuta, 74,3 per mille in Melilla
  26. ^ Luis Gómez, "El polvorín de Ceuta". El País, 18 May 2007
  27. ^ "Indexes: A Chapter from The Chicago Manual of Style" (Archive). Chicago Manual of Style. Retrieved on December 23, 2014. p. 27 (PDF document p. 29/56).

External links

  • Hispanic Heraldry – Information about Hispanic surnames (Spanish)
  • Nombres de Niñas – List of names in Spanish, with list of most popular names (Spanish)
  • Catalan Society of Heraldry – Information about Catalan surnames (Catalan)
  • Territorial distribution of surnames (Data from the Register on 1 January 2006) and several Excel tables about name and surname distribution by age and province, from the Instituto Nacional de Estadística (Spain).
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.