Why the complete name of British philosopher McTaggart, i.e. John McTaggart Ellis McTaggart, has such an strange form?

Edit: Considering @Lawrence concerns, I should note that, although strangeness is a somehow subjective matter, but it's objectively based on the lack of similar cases. In this case, I have never seen a compound proper name with a repeated part. I guess the two McTaggarts refer to two different persons (ex., the philosopher and his father). This theory may be confirmed/rejected by historical notes; or at least by providing more examples, one may reduce its degree of strangeness to non natives!

  • 2
    There are a lot of strange names in any country. I'm sorry but your question is not about English Language.
    – Centaurus
    Commented Feb 12, 2018 at 12:19
  • @Centaurus, Are you saying the structure of the proper names is not studied in the linguistics of the corresponding language? I think that's not the case. Ex. some languages allow proper names to be formed from the verbs, yet other from the sentences, and others from none of them. Some languages include the name of the clan or the father in the name of the child, others don't. Some proper nouns appear to be formed from colors, jobs, etc. So the syntactical and etymological questions apply to proper names just equally as their non proper sisters. Commented Feb 12, 2018 at 12:31
  • Different people sometimes consider different things to be strange. Please explain what you find strange about the name you're asking about.
    – Lawrence
    Commented Feb 12, 2018 at 12:33
  • 1
    No, I'm saying that there are so many cases like this (names that sound very strange) that if we try to answer your question, we will be encouraging more of the same.
    – Centaurus
    Commented Feb 12, 2018 at 12:35
  • You probably won't enjoy this poem then... 🙃 umiacs.umd.edu/~ridge/local/disobedience.html
    – Jelila
    Commented Feb 12, 2018 at 12:57

1 Answer 1


From Wikipedia

At birth, he was named John McTaggart Ellis, after his maternal grand-uncle, John McTaggart. Early in his life, his family took the surname McTaggart as a condition of inheritance from that same uncle.

So basically, they did it for the money.

  • So McTaggart's uncle's full name formed his first name? Commented Feb 12, 2018 at 12:52
  • 2
    His first name was John and his family name was Ellis. They added a middlename of McTaggart to honor his (presumably rich) grand-uncle. Then as a condition of inheritance the family took McTaggart as their family name (which was, therefore, added to the end of the existing name)
    – Steve Bird
    Commented Feb 12, 2018 at 12:57

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