English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Sometimes I see names abbreviated sometimes as A. B. Lastname and some other times A.-B. Lastname. Is there a difference? Does the former means it is a middle name, and the latter means it is a part of first name?

share|improve this question
up vote 7 down vote accepted

A.-B. Lastname indicates a hyphenated first name. For example, Anne-Marie Slaughter might be referred to as A.-M. Slaughter.

A. B. Lastname is giving the initials of the first name and middle name.

share|improve this answer

I feel that @JohnBartholomew's answer is incomplete - it doesn't cover two-part unhyphenated first names. For example, it's possible that "A. M. Slaughter", short for "Anne Marie Slaughter", could be used EITHER when the first name is "Anne Marie" (and there's no middle name) OR when the first name is "Anne" and the middle name is "Marie".

Where I come from, two-part unhyphenated first names are relatively common. The two most famous examples that spring to mind are the politician Te Ururoa Flavell and the actor Te Kohe Tuhaka. But it's not just Māori names that this happens with - I once knew a woman whose first name was "Emma Louise", and who had no middle name.

So, to answer the question, "A. B. Lastname" could EITHER be the initials of the first name and middle name, OR the initials of two parts of the first name.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.