40

In filling out forms, I'm starting to see a lot of this:

Firstname: xx

Lastname: yy

Is it generally acceptable to join the words like that? Or should we be sticking to:

First Name: xx

Last Name: yy

3
  • I would use Surname rather than Last Name and Lastname is not a word.
    – Baz
    Oct 2, 2016 at 17:17
  • 2
    The advantage of surname over last name is that it's more international. Not everywhere in the world the surname comes last. Mar 30, 2020 at 15:20
  • @palo good point. That never occurred to me
    – MFB
    Mar 30, 2020 at 21:36

3 Answers 3

63

It should be two words: "First Name"

There does appear to be an upward trend of lumping the words together, but it's still pretty small - and incorrect. I suspect some factors in that trend include:

  • Popularity of "username" leading people to think that all such uses can be smushed together into one word.
  • Accidental or automated use of naming conventions from variable names or database tables (which will usually not have spaces in them).
6
  • 1
    +1. The second factor is an easy trap to fall into into Visual Studio and some other IDEs as you type a variable called firstname, a SQL column called firstname, a form field called firstname so when you apply the label to the form field it's so easy to type firstname instead of "First name".
    – Wudang
    Aug 20, 2012 at 12:42
  • 3
    As an aside, here's the difference between username and user name: english.stackexchange.com/questions/43436/…
    – Hugo
    Aug 20, 2012 at 20:47
  • 17
    In fact it should be first_name or firstName in the code too
    – ecoologic
    Jul 11, 2013 at 23:03
  • German speakers also commonly make this mistake when writing in English. German is famous for its compound words, like "Vorname".
    – jlh
    Jan 30, 2018 at 8:32
  • 6
    I think a third non-negligible factor is that although firstname is "incorrect" strictly from the conventional perspective, it's arguably more semantically specific, consistent, and logic than first name. We already have username, nickname, forename, surname, byname, and a bunch of others that designate a "thing" (and may even have started as two words). And then... first name? As I said, inconsistent and illogical. Jun 5, 2018 at 19:07
9

Is it generally acceptable to join the words like that?

I think we are seeing the language evolving. The technology behind the webpage almost always uses firstname and lastname in the respective variable names. Many programmers (including those who are raised and schooled in the US) do not have strong English skills, and they are heavily exposed to the single word variation.

I'd argue it isn't wrong, it's just a new variation that may someday become acceptable.

4

I think the reason why it is written a lot like "firstname" is because in other languages first name is often one word (ex. dutch, french, german, Danish, Fins, Greek, ...). A lot of websites and forms are translated from other languages into English to go international. Everyone can read English. :)

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