Is there a single word to denote both first name and middle name/s, but not the last name?

That is, when we speak about J.R.R. Tolkien, we may say that Tolkien is a surname, and John Ronald Reuel is [the requested word]

(John is a first name; Ronald and Reuel are middle names).

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    This is going to vary a lot between cultures but I'd say "given names" for the first and middle and "family name/surname" for the last (at least where I live). Commented Jun 20, 2021 at 17:41
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    Ya' know...there are a lot of of us hi-rep users offering "real" answers, and only one up-vote for the Q. C'mon....if a question is worth answering, it is worth an upvote. Commented Jun 20, 2021 at 20:15
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    @Cascabel IKR! You'd think it would be common courtesy to upvote a question you answer, or upvote any answer to your question (unless you're in a strange situation wre you feel like you must answer a poor question, or the answer is just not good enough for your question.).
    – Mitch
    Commented Jun 20, 2021 at 20:21
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    @Mitch Granted SE votes are as meaningless as "reputation" on EBay, but unlike EBay there is no compulsion to upvote every "transaction". The pop-up over the upvote arrow says "This question shows research effort, is useful and clear". I would score that as 0 for research, maybe 1/2 for useful, and 1 for clear. That's average, at best. Not worth an upvote IMO.
    – alephzero
    Commented Jun 21, 2021 at 12:47
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    I think that votes should be voted just fair: otherwise, it would gradually lead to vote inflation. In this particular case, I think the question should have lesser number of votes, maybe 2, 3, or 5; not 16. I'm just a random guy from Russia and I don't try to teach there anyone, but I think this discussion about votes is completely off-topic.
    – user90726
    Commented Jun 21, 2021 at 13:36

5 Answers 5


given names

the name that is chosen for you at birth and is not your family name:

  • Ex. Her family name is Smith and her given names are Mary Elizabeth.


Merriam Webster and Wikipedia tend to agree.

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    Some people add further 'middle names' at say confirmation. Commented Jun 20, 2021 at 18:18
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    @EdwinAshworth - there is a story, possibly apocryphal, about an American called RB Jones, where the R and B stood for nothing but themselves, and was called 'Arbee Jones' by the IRS. He wrote an angry letter of correction saying 'My name is R (only) B (only) Jones' and started getting letters to Ronly Bonly Jones. Commented Jun 20, 2021 at 20:53
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    @MichaelHarvey - Possibly apocryphal? (-: Heard it from my old army sergeant <mumble> years ago. We did have in my unit a man with no middle name or initial. Of course this had to be reconciled with army forms and so for a brief time he became (say) George Nmi Jones.
    – Jim Mack
    Commented Jun 21, 2021 at 0:57
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    Given names does not quite work in Russian where, for example with Ivan Ivanovich Ivanov who has a given name of Ivan and a family name of Ivanov, plus a patronymic of Ivanovich (son of Ivan), the patronymic is automatic rather than given but is not the family name
    – Henry
    Commented Jun 21, 2021 at 8:55
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    @Henry: Given names does not have to work in Russian. We are in an English Language forum. Perhaps you meant to say "Russian names"? However, in spite of the fact that I know many Russian emigres and 1st gen, I've never heard one of them use the old patronymic fashion for names. AMOF, when I was working in Russia, I don't recall hearing the patronymic used. I have to wonder if the Soviets wiped out that fashion.
    – Mark G B
    Commented Jun 21, 2021 at 13:28

You might say forenames for first and middle names

forename - A person's first or ‘Christian’ name (OED)

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    I think this is the traditional answer.  (Though of course it might be a bit parochial, failing for cultures where the family name(s) come first.)
    – gidds
    Commented Jun 21, 2021 at 8:58
  • Yes @gidds, perhaps in those cases there is an equivalent 'aftername' ?
    – Dan
    Commented Jun 21, 2021 at 13:51
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    Someone on the phone asked me what my forenames were, and I said I didn't have that many...
    – Tim
    Commented Jun 21, 2021 at 15:01
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    @Dan In Dutch, people use "voornaam" ('before name') and "achternaam" ('after name') for given name and family name.
    – Abigail
    Commented Jun 23, 2021 at 10:23

In my lifetime, the two most common words used to describe names other than the family name are given names and Christian names. The latter has been steadily falling out of favor. Indeed, a google ngram view of the two shows exactly that phenomenon: n-gram of christian name, given name. Although, it should be noted, in common usage both labels are applied to mean the first name, or commonly used name (should it be other than the first) only. There is no single word, in English, that will automatically be understood by the recipient of a communication (verbal or written) to mean "all the names a person has not including their family name".

(Edit: for an interesting comparison, add forename to that n-gram view.)

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    Where do you live? I am quite surprised that in your lifetime the term "Christian names" was common. I assume you must live in a very christian part of the world, right? As your NGram shows, "christian name" has been steadily disappearing for more than 100 years. I would certainly never use it and would find it very jarring (borderline offensive, as would be other, similar expressions such as "speak Christian" or "christendom" to mean "world").
    – terdon
    Commented Jun 22, 2021 at 11:03
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    @terdon - I'm in the US, and you have to realize I am in my 7th decade. I agree that today many people would find "Christian name" jarring, at the least. Even so for the past 20-30 years, unless you are among the many amongst the evangelical and "born-again" persuasions. As for "very Christian" describing the US, I defer: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christianity_in_the_United_States
    – Mark G B
    Commented Jun 22, 2021 at 13:57
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    Yes, the US would certainly qualify as very Christian, no argument there, that would explain it. I am still surprised that the expression was common at some point in the last 70 years or so. I don't doubt you for a second, I am sure you're right, it's just not something I (in my 4th decade, all of which I've spent in various countries in Europe) have ever come across outside novels, so I thought I'd ask. Thanks!
    – terdon
    Commented Jun 22, 2021 at 14:02
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    Wow! The ngram changes dramatically when it's made case-insensitive... books.google.com/ngrams/…
    – Dan
    Commented Jun 22, 2021 at 21:12
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    When I worked in Saudi Arabia some 30 years ago, we always stayed alert for the unbearable solecism in which that one of the Westerners asked one of the locals: "What's your Christian name?" Everybody did it at least once. It never got old. Commented Jun 23, 2021 at 15:10

Try personal names

: a name (as the praenomen or the forename) by which an individual is intimately known or designated and which may be displaced or supplemented by a surname, a cognomen, or a royal name

Merriam Webster

  • I tried to re-format to improve aspect and presentation... if you are not happy you can always roll back... Commented Jun 23, 2021 at 22:02
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    It's fine, thanks Commented Jun 24, 2021 at 9:14

Full name

The Full Names of Everyone in the Royal Family
King George VI, born Albert Frederick Arthur George (1895-1952)
Queen Elizabeth II, born Elizabeth Alexandra Mary (1926-)

Now some might opine that full name suggests also a person's family/last name (surname) and it's a possibility, especially since middle names are becoming less frequent. Therefore, the clearest and simplest phrase is to say: first and middle names.

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    Just checking with OED which has 'full name' as "a person's whole name, including his or her first name and surname, and often any middle names".
    – Dan
    Commented Jun 20, 2021 at 23:51
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    I don't think this is correct - "full name" specifically includes all parts of the name, including the surname.
    – Marthaª
    Commented Jun 21, 2021 at 3:24
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    This is definitely not what was asked for. The term "full name" unambiguously includes a person's surname, but the question asked for a term which excludes a person's surname. Commented Jun 21, 2021 at 4:35
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    You can call it opining if you wish, but "Full Name" certainly includes the surname. Commented Jun 21, 2021 at 4:52
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    I was wrong. I was mistaken.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jun 21, 2021 at 6:02

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