Family name

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A family name is a name shared by people in the same family. Different cultures have different orders for a person's family name and given name. In English, the family name is always at the end, so it is also called a last name or surname. Children usually have the same family name as their father. A married woman often changes her family name 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 married and changed her last name, then the last name would have gone from the male line, so it has died out.

Many languages put the family name first. Some give a child the mother's family name. Some use more complex names that list the family name of both parents, and sometimes additional family relations. Some, such as Javanese, seldom give anyone a family name.

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