A family name is a name shared by people in the same family. Children have the same family name as one or both of their parents. When a women gets married, she may change her family name or surname to be the same as her husband.
- For example, Mary Brown married John Smith and she changed her name to Mary Smith. They had two children, David Smith and Kate Smith. Smith is the family name shared by the parents Mary and John, and their children David and Kate. But, if David Smith died without having any children, and Kate got married and changed her last name, then the last name would have gone from the male line, so it has died out.
A family name is also called a surname.