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Difference Between Jr and II

Jr vs II

It is human nature to want to have your offspring be like you or someone older in the family. The most common manifestation of this nature is naming a newborn after his father or another family member in the hopes that he would be as great as the one that preceded him. This is very evident in the name of old kings like Henry IV (the fourth), Henry V (the fifth), and so on. But, there is a bit of confusion in naming the second in line as it is possible to use II (the second) and JR (Junior).

Although these things are not set in stone, there are common rules in whether you should use II or JR in naming a child. JR is to be used when the child is going to have the same name as his father. The father would then have to add SR (Senior) to his name in order to distinguish between the two of them. It is also stated that the child must have and identical name to his father; including the middle name. It is also expected that the father still be living when naming the child JR.

On the other hand, II is to be used when the child would be taking the name of a family member other than his father. It could be an uncle, grandfather, great-grandfather, and so forth. It is not necessary that the child have the same middle name as the elder family member in order to be the second.

The need for these suffixes stemmed from the older times when naming was not as systematic as it is today. In modern society, there is no need to even follow these conventions and as previously said, there is no fixed rule about this and you can use either in naming a child.

Summary:

  1. Both are used to identify that the person is the second in the family to have the name
  2. Jr is used when the son has the same name as the father
  3. The second (II) is used when the elder family member is anyone other than the father

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14 Comments

  1. Ben:
    Thank you, but there needs to be two corrections.
    1. Sr is NEVER used by a man. Sr is used only by the widow of the father of a Jr and then only when the Jr has married.
    There is no guaranty that when a boy is born, he will become a father to boys. He is given a name and that remains his name for life. He is the original article and does not change his name. His wife may choose to use the name Mrs. (his name).
    When a son is born, if he is given an identical name, he becomes Jr and when the son marries, his wife may use Mrs. (his name) Jr..
    When the original dies, the son may choose to drop the Jr as may his wife. Now there is the potential for two living persons using the same name and the dowager widow takes on the Sr as a way to distinguish herself from the daughter-in-law.
    Repeat: A man NEVER uses Sr. It is only for widows.
    There are men who use the Sr incorrectly today but it is a mistake and shows a lack of understanding of the purpose of the suffixes and should be stopped at all costs.
    2. In order to use II, the names must be identical, including the middle name. The purpose of a suffix is only to clarify who people are when the names are the same. If the names are different, even if the middle initial is the same, there is no need for the suffix.

    Please feel free to contact me if you require further clarification.

    • I have a question ok my sons father just passed away before my son was Bjorn. I want to name him after him can he be a II?

      • Vanessa:
        I’m sorry for your loss.
        Your son, since he is the son of the original, would be a Jr.
        The II is used for the first born within a family who is not a direct link, typically a nephew of the original.
        I hope this helps.
        Andrew

    • I’m sorry, but that is not true at all. A man always takes Sr. I can give you many examples in celebrities. Steve Smith Sr. (Baltimore Ravens Wide Receiver), Dale Earnhardt Sr. (former NASCAR Driver), I could go on and on but Sr. is very commonly used with men.

      • Zack,
        Just because something is commonly used (misused) by a celebrity, doesn’t make it correct. I too can come up with many examples of the misuse of Sr.
        Unless Mr. Smith was given that suffix at birth, he is misusing it. He may be thinking that there will be some confusion between him and one of his young children, but as long as he gave his child the Jr suffix, there is no need, especially since they are not likely to ever be in the same occupation at the same time.
        Dale Earnhardt was born Dale Earnhardt and his son was born Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Dale, the father, misused the term as well but he never claimed it was his name. The Earnhardts and the racing world were forced into using it when Jr began competing in the same business with his father. They could just have easily started to call one Big Dale and Little Dale or Ralph and Dale. The use of Sr is still incorrect, but it was forced on them due to the dramatic similarities in their careers paths and the need for the world-wide media to keep straight two such well known and popular celebrities.
        Celebrities will misuse it when they worry the media will confuse parent and child, which could easily happen, but that doesn’t make it correct.

        This thread was created to help people understand the history and the correct use of suffixes.
        Sr is never used by a man and if you read through the thread you can see why it doesn’t make sense.

        Ultimately, however, as I said to Tony, you can name your child anything you want and you can call yourself anything you want. This thread is about the history and the correct use. Your can choose whatever path you want.

  2. I though II would also be used to replace JR when the JR. has their own child & names them identically to himself & his father, so Jr becomes the II, and Jr’s kid becomes the III.. Is that incorrect? My brother was a Jr [until he switched his name around] and I was told he would become the II if he names his kid the same as him and our dad…

    • Rich:
      No, that isn’t correct. When a Jr has a son, the son, if named identically, is a III. If upon the death of the original, the Jr. chooses to stop using the Jr, the III stays III. (If he didn’t, he would be confused with his father.) Furthermore, when the III dies, his son remains IV….and so on.
      The eldest may choose to drop the suffix, but everybody else, retains their number.

      Should a death occur in the middle, the same rule applies. For example, if Jr, III and IV are living and suddenly III dies, Jr remains Jr, and IV remains IV. Jr may choose to drop the suffix and even may have done so before III died, but IV is still IV. Then as time goes by and Jr dies, IV may then, and only then, change or drop the suffix.

      In other words, only the man living that is closest to the original may change or drop the suffix. Everyone else stays the same.

      Let me clarify one other point. Roman numerals, like III and IV have traditionally been reserved for monarchs and popes. Everyone else was to use the Arabic version, like 3rd or 4th instead. John Q. Smith, IV should be John Q. Smith, 4th. However, this rule has been amended because monarchs and popes use only a single name and everyone else uses at least a surname and a often a middle name. Therefore, there is little chance for confusion.

      Again, please don’t hesitate to contact me for further clarification.

      • Good grief.
        Looking back at this, after all this time, I realize I never answered the question completely.
        The suffix II is used only when a child is born into a family and given a name identical to someone who isn’t his father.
        For example, John Q. Smith names his first son is John Q. Smith Jr. and then names his second after his childless brother Robert F. Smith. The child would be Robert F. Smith, II.
        The genealogy fun starts when someone names a child out of order. Using the same fictional family, Robert’s first son would be Robert F. Smith Jr. Then we skip down a generation. The first child born to EITHER Robert, II or Robert Jr. becomes Robert F. Smith, III. If Robert, Jr. is the first to become a father to a boy and names his son Robert, III and then Robert, II has a son, Robert, II’s son will be Robert, IV.
        These days, it is less likely that three generations of a family will continue to live in a close community, but that wasn’t the case 100 years ago, which is where you are more likely to see this unusual situation appear. This could continue on such that Robert, III’s son could be Robert, V. Number three could be father to number five and number four could be the father to number six.

        Now, back to my first response, please lets all pledge to prevent men from using Sr. Friends don’t let friends misuse Sr.

  3. I named my son after myself and his suffix is II. You shouldn’t tell people they can’t do this. There is no law for this.

    Listen up people. Use what you want to name your kids.

  4. Tony,
    Of course.
    I’m not telling people what to do, but I am explaining the reasoning behind suffixes and why they are used.
    It makes a difference to some people but obviously does not to others.
    Whether or not you choose to follow tradition is entirely up to you. You can name your son anything you want and choose to use any suffix.

  5. So, let me see if I’ve got this straight.
    My great-grandfather was, say, Evel Knieval Jones. He had two sons: my grandfather, Noise Hatchet Jones, and my great-uncle (who died young and childless), Evel Knieval Jones, Jr. My father was named Noise Hatchet Jones, Jr. I ended up Blended Elixir Jones.
    Now, let’s say I have three sons and I want to give each of them a repeat family name. Would they be Evel Knieval Jones, III, Noise Hatchet Jones, III, and Blended Elixir Jones, Jr.?
    Thanks for any clarification or affirmation you can give!

    • Blended,
      You are technically correct in every way, sort of. You have the numbering system right.
      However, context makes a difference. Presumably Evel Knieval Jones, Jr. died long before your son was born. You would be correct in that the III is correct for the child with the same name born after the Jr, but with that much time….and maybe distance too, you could get away with dropping the III since there is very little chance they would ever be confused.
      It is much closer between Noise, Jr and your son, Noise. There is ample chance for them to be confused, even if only at family gatherings, but he (your son) would correctly be Noise Hatchet Jones, III.
      Again you are correct for little Blended. He is your son and is correctly called Blended Elixir Jones, Jr.
      Now, just to complicate things……
      1. Typically, but there is no rule, the oldest son is given the father’s name and the younger sons take the more distant family names. In that case, your first son would be Blended Elixir Jones, Jr. and the next two would be Noise and Evel in any order.
      2. What about your brother Pacifist Elk Jones? He named his oldest son Pacifist Elk Jones, Jr., but had his second son been born before your son, then he could have been Noise Hatchet Jones, III in which case your son would have been Noise Hatchet Jones, IV.
      3. Let’s face it, Pacifist has always been unfairly competitive. Had he had a son before you, he could have named it Blended Elixir Jones, II. Had he done that, your son would still have been Blended Elixir Jones, Jr. but the race between all your sons and and all his sons to be the father of Blended Elixir Jones, III would have been wide open. The next child named Blended Elixir Jones would have been III, regardless of who was the father.
      I hope that helps.

  6. Just had a son, what to name him after my dad and my elder brothers name his son Jr, that means my son would be the II. am i correct. Thaks

    • Kaagee,
      Congratulations!
      Once Jr has been used in the immediate family like this, the next suffix used is III. The suffix II only happens if the child is born before the Jr is born.
      If your son has the identical name as your brother and your brother’s son (who is already Jr.), then your son is III.
      This is then where the very unusual fun starts. If your nephew (Jr) and your son (III) grow up and have sons, the first born of that generation becomes IV, regardless of whether his father is Jr or III.
      Let me know if I can answer anything else.

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