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I'm analyzing a bunch of late 16th century Hungarian names, and I need a word for those extra bits that sometimes get appended to names, like junior, senior, the late and the like. My "working title" has been prefix (because they generally come first in Hungarian), but that's inaccurate, because they're not actually attached to anything. I thought of appelation, but that's just another term for "name", and as such is too broad. Suggestions?

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

In English "Jr." and "Sr." and "M.D." and the like are called name suffixes. I don't think "widow" is ever used that way, though. And "the late" is simply an adjectival form, not a title.

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What's done in English names is pretty irrelevant to my question, unfortunately. And I don't think "name suffixes" is accurate, because as far as I know suffixes need to actually be attached to something, like -ful or -less. – JPmiaou Jun 4 '11 at 19:02
@JPmiaou: As the link shows, "name suffix" is an actual term. In many form fields, in fact, the label for that extra name component is simply "Suffix". – Robusto Jun 4 '11 at 19:17
"Widow" is occasionally used as if it were a title: "the widow Johnson". – dmckee Jun 4 '11 at 20:36
@JPmiaou: Wait, are you saying your question is actually off-topic? – Robusto Jun 4 '11 at 21:38
I've only ever heard these referred to as a suffix. If you're going to say suffix can't be right because it should be attached to a word, then you shouldn't be using prefix either, really. Agree with dmckee about the use of 'widow' though. – Loquacity Jun 5 '11 at 14:32

I think an adequate word could be epithet:

any word or phrase applied to a person or thing to describe an actual or attributed quality: “Richard the Lion-Hearted” is an epithet of Richard I.

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In some contexts I've used honorific for a prefix and title for a suffix.

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If it can be either a prefix or a suffix, then it is an affix. "Name affix" would cover both bases.

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You could call them name modifiers. That's kind of broad (as it seems as though it should also include epithets like Ivan the Terrible), but I can't think of any better terms.

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I'm already using "modifier" elsewhere (as a catchall term for things that, well, modify the broader patterns), but thanks for the suggestion. – JPmiaou Jun 14 '11 at 21:07

"title" is the closest you will find, I think. In English references, it's called the suffix, but as you have shown, that is a language-centric designation.

Richard's "epithet" would be "the Lionheart" because his PR popularized it. His title (in our context) is "II", being automatically given to the second king of England named Richard.


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