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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.  Sr is used only by the widow of the father of a Jr and then only when the Jr has married.

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. In order to use II, the names must be identical, including the middle name.

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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45 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

        • If a parent and child are using the suffixes “Sr.” and “Jr.”, but the parent dies, then they are referred to merely as “(Name) I” / “(Name), the first” and “(Name) II” / “(Name), the second”. Should Barnabas Ludwig Johnson Sr. tragically die, his son would now be called Barnabas Ludwig Johnson II, and the deceased father would now be lovingly remembered by the name Barnabas Ludwig Johnson I. Continuing to call the son “Jr.” (unless “Junior” had simply become his nickname), would create confusion, as it would indicate that his father were still alive.

          – See more at: http://schmidtgen.com/wordpress/2013/10/20/how-to-use-jr-sr-ii-iii-etc-with-cartoons/#sthash.HsyaM47I.dpuf

    • 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.

        • there is no wrong in current usage. so, if people use Sr. as a current usage it is alright.

          • Eduard Jr.:
            You can use whatever you like. This thread is about the history and the traditional use of suffixes.
            While I am aware not everybody understands the history of suffixes, if a person is going to use a suffix, they should probably know what it means. To use a suffix without knowing what it means is a bit like getting a tattoo in a language you don’t know. Sure it may look good, but …it might have meaning you don’t intend.
            Suffixes serve a purpose and send a message. You can use anything you like, but the message you send, may not be what you intend.

        • I don’t know if my father was or wasn’t born with the suffix Sr. But I was with II. So my question is if I was born with the following suffix and my father is still alive am I correct that I used the suffix III, when my son was born?

          • Lawrence,
            If you are a II, then you are rare and it is extra nice to meet you.

            Yes, traditionally, you would use III for your son if you are a II.

            The only time III doesn’t follow II is if there were a Jr that had a son before II had a son. If that happens, then II has a IV, which is a very, very rare event.

            In any case, Congratulations on becoming a father and you are correct to use III.

    • Andrew, are there websites to back up your information? I absolutely hate the sports figures that put jr, Sr, II or anything like that on their jerseys. It annoys the living shit out of me. Thanks!

      • Ben,
        Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of genealogy websites but very few that cover suffixes specifically. That seems odd, but then again, given how many people misuse them, especially Sr, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.
        Suffixes are used to clarify between family members, when there is a chance for confusion. If there is no chance of confusion, like when people have different names, there is no need.

        Professional athletes are very rare, very highly trained and typically, young. It is extremely unlikely that a father and son or even uncle and nephew would be on the same field of play during the same decade, let alone game, so I would agree with you that adding a suffix is entirely unnecessary.

        The Manning brothers, both very well known and both holding the same occupation, have just Manning on their shirts because despite the similarity, nobody gets confused. That isn’t a case where a suffix would be used, but it illustrates how unnecessary a suffix can be for a pro athlete.

        In the case of Dale Earnhardt and his son, the son uses Jr properly to distinguish himself because there was a short time when that might have been confusing. He doesn’t need to continue to use Jr, but probably does to avoid confusion with his father for branding purposes.

        Once you understand the history and logic of suffixes, I admit it can be annoying to see them misused or used unnecessarily, but don’t let this drive you crazy. It isn’t worth it.

    • Legally, a person is not to use “Sr.” unless he has gone to court and had his name changed since it is not on his birth certificate.

      • Raymond W. Ryan, Jr.,
        You are correct in that nobody should use a suffix on legal paperwork that is not on their birth certificate. I wish more people agreed.

        However, there is one case…and only one case…when a suffix may be used without being on a birth certificate or part of a legal change and it is from a bygone era. Since this thread is about traditional use of suffixes, I’ll explain.
        A widow may use Sr in casual paperwork or conversation to distinguish herself from her daughter-in-law.

        In ye olden days, two things were common:
        1. women typically used Mrs with their husbands name.
        2. Men could drop their suffix if all the people who had the name before them were dead. For example, if George Washington, George Jr and George III were all dead, George IV could drop the suffix since it would have been likely that everyone they might have encountered would have been the same people who would have typically known the others were dead and there would have been no confusion.

        This meant that if a man dies, leaving a widow and the son had a wife, both women could use the same name. In the example from above, there might be two Mrs. George Washingtons. (If George died, George Jr could drop the suffix in non-legal paperwork.)

        This doesn’t sound confusing to our modern minds but years ago before social security numbers, credit cards, and the wonders of the internet, it could be confusing if two women used the same name. So, the widow would take on the Sr to mark her as the widow of the older. Sr is the equivalent of the word “dowager”.

        If you read this whole thread, you will know I would love men to stop using Sr. They think they are separating themselves from their sons, which is nice of course, but it is unnecessary. They are distinguished by having a different suffix or not having a suffix to begin with.

        Mr. Ryan, please join me in stopping the incorrect use of Sr and together maybe we can also stop people from using a suffix they don’t have on anything legal.

  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.

        • So I named my son after me. He has the exact first, middle and last name. My wife didn’t want him to be a jr so we named him the second. After reading your explanation it seems we didn’t follow the rules. He is now and will forever be the II on his birth certificate and I have no designation as the first on my birth certificate. Why is it not correct to name your son the II instead of jr?

          • Joe Frye,
            Naming your son II, is unusual but not wrong. The Jr suffix is used to denote the direct descendant of the original and II is traditionally used to denote a close but not direct descendant, typically a nephew.
            If back in ye olden days of yore, there hadn’t been the desire to designate “son of” as opposed to just “related to”, the Jr suffix would never have been created and the second person in the family, whether they were the son of or not, would have been II.
            Your son is the second person in your family, so II makes some sense.
            This thread is about the traditional use of suffixes and you can proudly name your son anything you want. The worst that can be said is that by using II instead of Jr people who only know your names, will likely think he was your nephew not son. That isn’t the biggest crisis and those people who do know you already know he is your son.
            In doing genealogy research, I read about a 19th Century family that had a first son to whom they gave the Jr suffix but who died as an infant. When the second son was born they gave him the II suffix. The traditional method of using suffixes developed over time to simplify understanding of who was who but the rules, traditional though they may be, are not set in stone. There is no correct or incorrect anymore. There is just traditional and untraditional.

            IIs are pretty rare and he will have many opportunities to talk about sharing his name with his father. That’s fun. My best to you both.

  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.

    • If the sons name is identical to the father the son should be the II. The father is the original the son the II then his son can become the III. that makes the most sense to me in the 21st century. jr should just be a nick name because it holds no place value. if your son is the II he is the II and he can be called jr informally. i think if you name your kid after anyone else but the father it should never be the II. im identical to my father and have always been II and now my son is identical and is the III. I don’t agree with any “rules” in naming your kid jr or II after another family member to become II by cheating but i do agree with my own opinion stated above because it just seems too logical to think otherwise.

      • Joseph,
        Yes, common sense would dictate that just numbers be used, if anything at all is used, especially in the 21st century since Social Security, driver’s licenses, and other ID numbers from all over the world, have become the final definitive way we are all organized and officially recognized.
        However, the use of Junior came before all that during a time when if you had a business or assets or holdings of any sort to pass on to your son, it was an advantage to the son to have a name that indicated a direct connection to the good reputation of the father. Junior meant a close connection that presumably meant that commerce with the son, in whatever form, could be relied upon to be the equivalent of commerce with the father. If the son used only II, what was the ‘proof’ that he was in fact the good and honest son and not the reprobate nephew?
        Junior was simply a way of clearing confusion before it happened.

        However, as I have said in other posts, all of this boils down to determining what is traditionally used. There is no law. You are free to use III for your son just as your father was free to use II for you. Following tradition, in this regard, is fun and interesting for some people and for some people it isn’t.

  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.

  7. Andrew,

    Many thanks for your clarifications above. I assume that if I want to, like George Foreman, name all my sons with the exact same name, I start with Jr. then III, IV, ad infinitum?

    • Steve,
      Yes and no. The Jr suffix represents a generational change. It is the equivalent of saying “son of”, which wouldn’t make sense between brothers. The numerical suffixes are the same idea but can skip back and forth between children of brothers, so there is less of a direct connection. You “could” do that but it would eventually lead to confusion, which I’m sure Mr. Foreman is going to have to deal with if he hasn’t already.
      On the other hand, if you were to name them all with the same first name but change up the middle name, it might be very, very cool. Confusing for their teachers, the DMV and probably risking chaos with the IRS, but if you are willing to take that on, why not? It might be fun for them as brothers to share something like that.

  8. One thing that was not brought up, I would like bring up.

    In case anyone is wondering. . .
    In a situation like George Forman’s children:
    People may notice his kids are George the 2nd Foreman, George the 3rd Foreman, and so forth..
    This input of the suffix in between first and last name occurs when you have children that all have the same name as the father. And from oldest to youngest would go 2nd, 3rd, and on from there.
    Just figured I’d point that out!

    • Mike,
      When you put something between the first and last names, it is no longer a suffix, but rather is now a middle name. There is no “traditional rule” involved because the full name is no longer the identical. Suffixes are used when the name, including middle name, is identical.
      I just checked Wikipedia and his boys are all George Edward Foreman, with suffixes Jr, III, IV, V and VI. It is unconventional but it is entirely correct from a traditional naming perspective.

      The true naming and genealogy fun will come when Mr. Foreman’s grandsons are named. I hope they are all George Edward Foreman too. Then, if they follow tradition, the numbers will start with VII and be in order of birth regardless of their fathers’s birth order.

  9. Hi! I named my son the II.. Because Jr. Was over used.. He has the exact same name as his father… And is his first born son.. Was it wrong to use II?

    • Toya,
      You were not “wrong”.
      What you did was, at worst, untraditional. The II suffix implies an identical name, but not directly descendant. In other words, IIs are typically nephews or grandchildren of the person who had the name first.
      Jr is the only suffix that implies direct descent. All the others from II on could be indirect.
      The only people who might ever care about your untraditional choice would be genealogists hundreds of years from now and even then, we leave such long paper trails in our lives in this century that those possible genealogists would have to be idiots to be confused.
      My best to you.

  10. Was the suffixes change due to the uses of the suffixes like, King “name” The Brave, The Great, The Just and so on? What about the prince changing their whole name to a former king after kingship?

    • Robert,
      That is an interesting question. The suffixes were the result of trying to distinguish father from son or uncle from nephew. My guess is that just as princes and royalty had to distinguish themselves from relatives, commoners had to do the same.

      Think of it this way: Say Bob lives by the bridge and another Bob moves into the farm down the road. Until the new guy came, Bob was just Bob and everybody knew who Bob was. Once the new Bob came into town, people had to explain which was which in conversation. They might have called one Bob Bridge and Bob Farmer. Now if Bob Bridge has a son who grows up and lives by the bridge with his father and begins to work/live in the village, there would be two Bob Bridges. That is just as confusing as when Bob Farmer came to town, so somehow, the suffix system was created so the younger Bob Bridge became Bob Jr. That is a silly example but you can see how even those far removed from Royalty could wind up with confusing names.

      In the case of princes becoming kings, a king’s death would have been widely known and if the new king took the same name, there would have been little confusion. The numeral after a monarch is generally used by everyone but the monarch since the monarch doesn’t need to understand who they are.
      The current English queen, Elizabeth is know as Queen Elizabeth II, but she signs her name just Elizabeth R.
      (R being for the latin word for queen).
      Andrew

  11. I have a question my husband has a son from previous relationship with the same name as him so his 1st son is a Jr. But now we are married and having a boy and wants him to have the same exact name. Would he be a II or III???? I’m so confused

    • April,
      Congratulations on your new baby!!

      The Jr suffix represents a generational change. It is the equivalent of saying “son of”, which wouldn’t make sense between brothers. The numerical suffixes are the same idea but can skip back and forth between children of brothers, so there is less of a direct connection.
      Your new husband could name both sons the same thing, adding III to your baby, but I am sure it will eventually lead to confusion.

      On the other hand, if you were to name the baby with the same first name but change up the middle name, perhaps keeping the same initial, it might be very, very cool. For example, William Jefferson Clinton and William Johnson Clinton.

      Either way, it will be confusing for their teachers, the DMV and probably risking chaos with the IRS, but if you are willing to take that on, why not? It might be fun for them as brothers to share something like that.

      Ultimately, the best name is the one that makes you both happy. Two sons with an identical name, even with one with the suffix Jr and the second having III, (III follows Jr) is very untraditional. Personally, I wouldn’t do it just because I wouldn’t want to risk the bureaucratic nightmare that might come of it, especially since they will have birth certificates with the same father. I worry that despite having different mothers, it might be seen by some government bureaucrat as fraud.
      My choice would be either entirely different names or slightly altered middle names.

      I wish great happiness for you and your family.

  12. I want to name my son after me, but I don’t want to use Jr I want to use II is that ok?

    • Tristan,
      Yes. It is okay. It isn’t traditional, but it is okay.
      If the traditional use doesn’t matter to you, then use II.
      Whatever you choose, I hope you have a happy, healthy child. Congratulations!

  13. Ok now people, this matter of suffix using is becoming a bit much don’t you think, I mean come on already..

    Ok my grandfather is infact a Sr, my father is a Jr, my older brother is the III, and my oldest son is the IV, there is no exact term for using the suffix the way some people us it… It’s their name that they infact were born with….

    • Jesseka,
      If your grandfather was named at birth with a Sr, then you are correct. That is his name. However, if he was not born with it, then I am afraid from a tradition point of view, he is not an Sr.

      Sr is an archaic suffix that is the equivalent of “dowager” and should not ever be used by men…..if you care about tradition. If you don’t care, then it doesn’t matter. This article and the series of questions and answers are about the traditional use.

      When a man is born he is given a name and there is no guarantee that he will grow up to father children, let alone father boys or even if he did, that he and the mother would choose to use the same name. He is the original article and doesn’t need a suffix at all because there is no need to distinguish him from anybody. Any subsequent sons, grandsons, etc…who have the same name have to distinguish themselves from the man who preceded them and so they have a suffix.
      Sometimes the is easier to explain using kings and queens. Queen Victoria was just Queen Victoria, without a suffix because she was the first queen named Victoria. They could have called her Queen Victoria II or III or even IV, but why would they? She was the first and so no explanatory suffix was needed. The current queen of England, Queen Elizabeth II, uses the II suffix because there was a previous Queen Elizabeth. The suffix is necessary to distinguish her from her ancestor.
      A man who is the first in his family with a name does not need a suffix. Everyone afterwards does.
      However, as the original or previous holders of the name die, the closest to the original can drop their suffix in casual conversation or situations. In other words, if your grandfather were to die, your father, (Jr), could drop the Jr when introducing himself, or something like that, because the presumption is that everyone would know your grandfather had died so the Jr would not be necessary. The idea is that whoever it was your father was talking to would be smart enough to know that the person they had just met wasn’t a dead person, so it must be the son, not the dead father. Your father, who has Jr as part of his legal name would still have to use it on his drivers license or passport, but for unofficial things, he wouldn’t need to use the Jr. Your brother though, he still needs to use the III, though because we need to distinguish him from your father and he already has the III on his name.
      (Just as a quick aside, nicknames serve much the same function as suffixes.)
      Here is the archaic part: In ye olden days, women were known by their husband’s name. Out in public, they would be addressed as Mrs. Husband’s Name. If a man died before his wife, she would still use his name. The son, would have the option of dropping the suffix and if the son did, the son’s wife would as well. Now you have two women, the wife of the original and the wife of Jr, both using the same Mrs name. How do you tell which was which???
      The wife of the original takes on Sr, both to distinguish her from her daughter in law and as a mark of respect for being the elder matriarch.
      Again, as Ive said before, all of this presumes fathers and sons (grandsons, etc) live or work in the same area with the same people. I am a Jr and my father and I live 1000 miles apart. While I use the Jr on my passport and license since it is part of my legal name, I can’t think of the last time I used the Jr, or even my middle initial, when introducing myself. There is no need since very few people know us both.
      I hope this helps. As for this becoming a bit much, well, that really depends on how closely you want to follow tradition.

  14. my son’s grandfather is a SR. this is what he uses as the suffix for his name. His son, my son’s father, has the same first middle and last name, so he is a JR. we are about to have another son and he wants this boy to have the same name as him and his father. would he be a 2nd or a 3rd?

    • Marisol,
      If a Jr has a son with an identical name, then the son would be a 3rd or III.
      Three asides:
      1. If someone else in the immediate family had chosen to use the name first, typically a nephew, they would have been III (or 3rd) and your new son would be a IV (or 4th).
      2. The II suffix is used for the second person in the family with the name but who is NOT the son of the person who originally had the name, typically a nephew.
      Which brings me to……
      3. Was this grandfather born with the SR or has he just started using it to distinguish himself from his son with the identical name, the JR? If he wasn’t born with it, he doesn’t need it. He is the original and not having a suffix is as much a distinguishing factor as having one. SR is reserved for widows and is unnecessary for men, despite being misused daily by obituary writers.
      Congratulations on your new son. Sharing a family name is an honor.

  15. Hi, My brother wants to name his second child which is a girl to our grandma. Our grandma’s name was Annie Marie. She died years before my little niece was born. Is it ok to name my niece Annie Marie II??

    • Nelson,
      The short answer is yes, if his new daughter and your grandmother have the same name including surname. As I’ve stated here many times, this is about what is traditional, not necessarily about what is “right”.

      If your grandmother is your grandmother via your mother, she would have had a different surname after marrying than the newborn will have. Her surname will be your mother’s maiden name. In this case, it wouldn’t make sense to use the II, since your grandmother and the newborn will have different surnames.

      Traditionally, women weren’t given suffixes when they were born. While it might seem strange to our modern ears, in the days when these came into use, women weren’t important enough because they very rarely worked independently outside the home. Their names were a reflection of who their father was or who they married.
      (Note: in previous posts I’ve discussed Sr, a suffix given to widows only that should never, ever, be used by men. This is extremely rare.)

      It would be very untraditional for your brother to give his daughter a suffix and there may be computer forms, maybe even government paperwork, that she may need to fill out that has no place for her to put her suffix, simply because nobody expects a woman to have a suffix. If she marries one day and takes her husband’s name, then she will have to drop the suffix because she no longer has the same name. If she does not take her husband’s name or she never marries, then the suffix can stay with her.

      That said, I personally think it is wonderful that your brother wants to honor your grandmother this way. He or she may have paperwork issues in the future but if he is willing to accept that, then there is no reason not to use II.

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