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Difference Between First Name and Last Name

Names are given to individuals by their parents for identification and as a form of adhering to cultural attributes. Some of the names given to individuals include the first name, optional middle name, and last name.

Difference Between First Name and Last Name

What is First Name?

The first name refers to the name given to an individual at birth or during baptism so that they can easily be identified among their family members. In many cultures, the first name is the given name and appears first in western cultures. However, its positioning may differ in other cultures, especially those in the Asian region.

Difference Between First Name and Last Name

What is Last Name?

The last name refers to the identification that an individual is given to represent the family name in the cultural system of many societies. The last name is common to all family members and is commonly referred to as the surname. The last name appears after the first name in western cultures and before the first name in Chinese cultures.

Difference between First Name and Last Name

  1. Definition

One of the primary difference between first name and last name arises in the definition of the two names. The first name is the name given to a child upon birth and upon baptism as a Christian name. In addition, the first name appears first when writing the name of a person.

On the other hand, the last name is the name that appears last when writing the name of an individual. Moreover, the last name represents the family name and is common to other members of the family.

  1. Cultural Aspects of First Name

In the western culture, the first name is the individual’s given name and appears first in western cultures and in other communities that have been assimilated into the western cultures.

Although the first name is the given name of an individual in western communities, in Chinese and Japanese cultures and the communities that have been assimilated by Asian cultures, the first name represents family name and is common to other family members

  1. Cultural Aspects  the Last Name

In the western cultures, the last name is the family name of an individual and is common to other family members. However, in the Chinese and Japanese cultures, the last name represents the given name and differentiates an individual from other members of the family.

  1. Formality

The first name, which is generally the Christian name, is used in a friendly but informal situation while the last name, which is the family name, is mostly used in formal and official circumstances.

Difference between First Name and Last Name

Summary of First Name Vs. Last Name

  • The first name is the name given to individuals upon birth and baptism and is mostly used for identification while the last name represents the family and is common to other members of the family.
  • In western cultures, the given name appears first followed by the family name while in the Chines and Japanese cultures, the family name appears first followed by the given name.
  • Other differences between the first name and last name are their application and formality in the daily activities of an individual.

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References :


[0]Blum, Susan D. "Naming practices and the power of words in China." Language in Society 26.3 (1997): 357-379.

[1]Breen, Richard. "Naming practices in western Ireland." Man (1982): 701-713.

[2]Dousset, Laurent. "Naming and personal names of Ngaatjatjarra-speaking people, Western Desert: some questions related to research." Australian Aboriginal Studies 2 (1997): 50.

[3]Image credit:

[4]Image credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:FML_names.png#/media/File:FML_names.png

[5]Image credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:XForms-input-field-width.jpg#/media/File:XForms-input-field-width.jpg

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