A personal name or full name is the set of names by which an individual is known and that can be recited as a word-group, with the understanding that, taken together, they all relate to that one individual. In many cultures, the term is synonymous with the birth name or legal name of the individual. In linguistic classification, personal names are studied within a specific onomastic discipline, called anthroponymy.
In Western culture, nearly all individuals possess at least one given name (also known as a first name, forename, or Christian name), together with a surname (also known as a last name or family name)—respectively, the Abraham and Lincoln in Abraham Lincoln—the latter to indicate that the individual belongs to a family, a tribe, or a clan. Where there are two or more given names, typically only one (in English-speaking cultures usually the first) is used in normal speech.
Another naming convention that is used mainly in the Arab culture and in different other areas across Africa and Asia is connecting the person's given name with a chain of names, starting with the name of the person's father and then the father's father and so on, usually ending with the family name (tribe or clan name). However, the legal full name of a person usually contains the first three names with the family name at the end, to limit the name in government-issued ID. The wife's name does not change after marriage, and it follows the naming convention described above.
Some cultures, including Western ones, also add (or once added) or . For instance, as a middle name as with Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (whose father's given name was Ilya), or as a last name as with Björk Guðmundsdóttir (whose father is named Guðmundur) or Heiðar Helguson (whose mother was named Helga). Similar concepts are present in Eastern world cultures.
However, in some areas of the world, many people are known by a single name, and so are said to be mononymous. Still other cultures lack the concept of specific, fixed names designating people, either individually or collectively. Certain isolated tribes, such as the Machiguenga of the Amazon, do not use personal names.
A person's full name usually identifies that person for legal and administrative purposes, although it may not be the name by which the person is commonly known; some people use only a portion of their full name, or are known by , , or other formal or informal designations.
It is nearly universal for people to have names; the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child declares that a child has the right to a name from birth. Text of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession by General Assembly resolution 44/25 of 20 November 1989 entry into force 2 September 1990, in accordance with article 49, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Some people (called anonyms) choose to be Anonymity, that is, to hide their true names, for fear of governmental prosecution or social ridicule of their works or actions. Another method to disguise one's identity is to employ a pseudonym.
For some people, their name is a single word, known as a mononym. This can be true from birth, or occur later in life. For example, Teller, of the magician duo Penn and Teller, was named Raymond Joseph Teller at birth, but changed his name both legally and socially to be simply "Teller". In some official government documents, such as his driver's license, his given name is listed as NFN, an initialism for "no first name".
The Inuit believe that the souls of the are one, so they traditionally refer to the junior namesakes, not just by the names ( atiq), but also by kinship title, which applies across gender and generation without implications of disrespect or seniority. In Judaism, someone's name is considered intimately connected with his fate, and adding a name (e.g. on the sickbed) may avert a particular danger. Among Ashkenazi Jews it is also considered bad luck to take the name of a living ancestor, as the Angel of Death may mistake the younger person for his namesake (although there is no such custom among Sephardi Jews). Jews may also have a Jewish name for intra-community use and use a different name when engaging with the goyim world.
Chinese children are called diminutive or pejorative names to make them appear worthless to evil spirits. They receive a definitive name as they grow up. Chinese emperor and receive .
In some Polynesian cultures, the name of a deceased chief becomes taboo. If he is named after a common object or concept, a different word has to be used for it.
The bare place name was used formerly to refer to the person who owned it, rather than the land itself (the word "Gloucester" in "What will Gloucester do?" meant the Duke of Gloucester). As a development, the bare name of a ship in the Royal Navy meant its captain (e.g., "Cressy didn't learn from Aboukir") while the name with an article referred to the ship (e.g., "The Cressy is foundering").
In contemporary Western societies (except for Iceland, Hungary, and sometimes Flanders, depending on the occasion), the most common naming convention is that a person must have a given name, which is usually gender-specific, followed by the parents' family name. In onomastic terminology, given names of male persons are called andronyms (from Ancient Greek ἀνήρ / man, and ὄνομα / name), while given names of female persons are called gynonyms (from Ancient Greek γυνή / woman, and ὄνομα / name).
Some given names are bespoke, but most are repeated from earlier generations in the same culture. Many are drawn from mythology, some of which span multiple language areas. This has resulted in related names in different languages (e.g. George, Georg, Jorge), which might be translated or might be maintained as immutable proper nouns.
In earlier times, Scandinavian countries followed patronymic naming, with people effectively called "X's son/daughter"; this is now the case only in Iceland and was recently re-introduced as an option in the Faroe Islands. It is legally possible in Finland as people of Icelandic ethnic naming are specifically named in the name law. When people of this name convert to standards of other cultures, the phrase is often condensed into one word, creating last names like Jacobsen (Jacob's Son). In Kafirstan (now part of Pakistan) "Children are named as soon as born. The infant is given to the mother to suckle, while a wise woman rapidly recites the family ancestral names; the name pronounced at the instant the baby begins to feed is that by which it is thereafter known."
There is a range of personal naming systems:
Different cultures have different conventions for personal names. This is a list of articles about particular cultures' naming conventions.
Within alphabetic lists and catalogs, however, the family name is generally put first, with the given name(s) following, separated from it by a comma (e.g. Smith, John), representing the "lexical name order". This convention is followed by most Western libraries, as well as on many administrative forms.
When East Asian names are transliteration into the Latin alphabet, some people prefer to convert them to the Western order, while others leave them in the Eastern order but write the family name in letter case. To avoid confusion, there is a convention in some language communities, e.g. French, to write the family name in all capitals when engaging in formal correspondence or writing for an international audience. In Hungarian, the Eastern order of Japanese names is officially kept and Hungarian transliteration is used (e.g. Mijazaki Hajao), but Western name order is also sometimes used with English transliteration (e.g. Hayao Miyazaki).
Chinese people, except for those traveling or living outside of China and areas influenced by China, rarely reverse their Chinese language names to the western naming order (given name, then family name), but some may have non-Chinese given names which may use a different order. Western publications usually preserve the Chinese naming order, with the family name first, followed by the given name. In regard to Japanese names, most foreign publications reverse the names of modern individuals, and most Japanese reverse their own names when creating materials for foreign consumption.Terry, Edith. How Asia Got Rich: Japan, China and the Asian Miracle. M.E. Sharpe, 2002. 632. Retrieved from Google Books on 7 August 2011. , . In popular journalism publications, western order is used for Japanese names.Saeki, Shizuka. "First Name Terms." Look Japan. June 2001. Volume 47, No. 543. p. 35.
Japanese names of contemporary people and Hungarian names are usually "switched" when people who have such names are mentioned in media in Western countries; for example, Koizumi Jun'ichirō is known as Junichiro Koizumi in English, and Puskás Ferenc is known as Ferenc Puskás. But Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese names are usually left in East Asian order; for instance, in English, Máo Zédōng is known as Mao Zedong or Mao Tse-tung.
Names of Japanese or Chinese sportspeople generally follow the above conventions. For Japanese examples, see Ichiro Suzuki instead of Suzuki Ichirō (although he is widely known simply as "Ichiro" in both Japan and North America), or Hidetoshi Nakata instead of Nakata Hidetoshi. As for Chinese sportspeople, Yáo Míng is Yao Ming and Liú Xiáng is Liu Xiang in the West.
Names of Korean sportspeople may be rendered in East Asian or Western order in Western countries, apparently depending on the sport. For example, names of Korean footballers and most Sportsperson are usually left in East Asian order (e.g. Ahn Jung-hwan, Hong Myung-bo, Park Ji-Sung, Sohn Kee-chung, Hwang Young-cho). Baseball, billiards, golf, and ice hockey players' names are usually changed to Western order (for example: baseball player Park Chan-Ho is referred to in the West as Chan-ho Park, and the female golfer Pak Se-ri is known in the West as Se-Ri Pak). Confusion can be avoided by noticing that in all the above cases, the words linked by a hyphen are the given name.
Mordvins use two names - a Mordvin name and a Russian name. The Mordvin name is written in the Eastern name order. Usually, the Mordvin surname is the same as the Russian surname, for example Sharonon Sandra (Russian: Alexander Sharonov), but it can be different at times, for example Yovlan Olo (Russian: Vladimir Romashkin).
Mongolians use the Eastern naming order (patronymic followed by given name), which is also used there when rendering the names of other East Asians and Hungarians. Russian and other Western names, however, are still written in Western order.
The name given to a pet may refer to its appearance The Best Pet Name Book Ever!, Chapter 1, By Wayne Bryant Eldridge or personality, The Best Pet Name Book Ever!, Chapter 2, By Wayne Bryant Eldridge or be chosen for endearment, The Best Pet Name Book Ever!, Chapter 4, By Wayne Bryant Eldridge or in honor of a favorite celebrity. What celebrity would you name your pet after?, by Margaret Lyons, 28 September 2009, Entertainment Weekly
Many pet owners give human names to their pets. This has been shown to reflect the owner having a human-like relationship with the pet. The Best Pet Name Book Ever!, Chapter 3, By Wayne Bryant Eldridge
In some cultures, or sporting are sometimes given names similar to human names. Other cultures, such as the Han Chinese, give animals nonhuman names because it would be seen as offensive and disrespectful to the person of the same name.