In countries where English is common, people typically have names in the format <given name> <middle name> <family name>.

  • Is there a general term for this structure of name, as opposed to <family name> <given name>, which is sometimes used in Asia?
  • If I meet someone from Canada, who has a name in the <given name> <middle name> <family name>-format, should I say they have a "Canadian name", and "English name", a "Western-style name", or should I use some other term?
  • You can say "they have a middle name" or "they don't have a middle name". Leaving this as a comment, since there could be a good term.
    – Lawton
    Commented Jun 15, 2012 at 0:15

1 Answer 1


According to wikipedia, the appropriate terms are Eastern order and Western order. The wikipedia article says:

Since a name is made up of several parts, the order in which those parts are arranged can be significant. The order family-name given-name is commonly known as the Eastern order and is used in Hungary, parts of Africa, and East Asia (for example in China, Japan, Korea, Malaysian Chinese, Singapore, Taiwan, Southern India, and Vietnam). The order given-name family-name is commonly known as the Western order and is usually used in most European countries and in countries that have cultures predominantly influenced by Western Europe (North and South America and Australia and New Zealand). ...

The article doesn't address what use (or not) of a middle name is called, except for brief discussion of Patronymics and Matronymics and saint's names as middle names.

  • 1
    That only is with respect to order, not with respect to 2-part and 3-part. It doesn't clarify if someone has a middle name.
    – Lawton
    Commented Jun 15, 2012 at 0:21
  • 1
    Note, binominal clearly means "having two names", but trinominal refers to trinomials instead of to having three names. Commented Jun 15, 2012 at 0:44

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