Difference Between Given Name and Surname

Two of the most important and essential identification attributes of a person are given name and surname. Depending on the country, culture, and tradition given names and surnames can have different relevance and importance.


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Given Name vs Surname

The difference between Given Name and Surname is that given names are names unique to each individual within a family while a surname is shared with the entire family. The given name is any name associated with a child at birth usually by parents while surname is the inherited family name, taken from fathers in most countries.

Given name vs Surname

We face difficulties when we have to fill in various official forms that require differentiation between the given names and surnames to be made.

For example,

  1. Manish Malhotra has Surname: Malhotra and Given Name: Manish
  2. Ashish Malhotra has Surname: Malhotra and Given Name: Ashish
  3. Lara Jean Covey has Surname: Covey and Given Name: Lara Jean


Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonGiven NameSurname
DefinitionA given name is any name that is associated with a child at birth by parents. It can also include a middle name.Surname is the family name that is shared by all the members of a group, family, or clan.
Based onThe Given name is often based on parents’ personal choice at the birth of a child. However, it can be changed later.Surname is always inherited. In most countries, surnames are derived from the surnames of fathers.
ImportanceGiven name is important to differentiate between people who have the same surnames. They are also very important for individual identity.Surnames are important to trace one’s origin and ancestry.
UsageGiven names are usually used in the informal environment in a friendly and familiar tone. They can be used in formal settings as well when people with the same surnames have to be differentiated.Surnames are used in formal settings to refer to seniors, associates, and colleagues.
ExampleFor example,
1)Maeve Wiley
First name: Maeve
2) Ayushman Khurana
First name: Ayushman
3) Karan Johar
First Name: Karan

In the same examples,
1)Surname: Wiley
2) Surname: Khurana
3) Surname: Johar


What is Given Name?

Also, known as first name or forename, given name is the personal name that distinguishes a person from the members of a group, family, or clan that share a common surname. It refers to the name associated with a child at birth usually by parents.

The given name mostly depends on the parents’ discretion at the birth of their child. However, children can change their names after they grow up.

Given names are most commonly used in informal settings and in a familiar and friendly manner. They can sometimes be used in formal events as well when need be to differentiate between people of the same surnames.

For example,

  1. Maeve Wiley- Maeve is the first name.
  2. Kanika Kapoor- Kanika is the first name.
  3. Sanjay Leela Bhansali- Sanjay Leela is the first (with middle name) name.
given name

What is Surname?

Surname also known as the last name or family name, refers to the part of one’s personal name that is derived from the family line. It is shared with all the members of the family, clan, group, or community depending on the culture.

Surname is always inherited and shared with one’s own immediate family members. In most countries, it is derived from the father at birth.

On formal events and occasions, the surname is most commonly used unless people of the same surnames have to be differentiated. It is important to distinguish between people of the same given names.

More important is the power to trace our origin, family lineage, type of work our ancestors did, etc,. depending on the time and culture of various places.

For example,

  1. Maeve Wiley: Wiley is the surname.
  2. Kanika Kapoor: Kapoor is the surname.
  3. Sanjay Leela Bhansali: Bhansali is the surname.

Main Differences Between Given Name and Surname

  1. Given Name is a name that is chosen by parents for their child at birth while surname is inherited by a child from his father in most countries and is shared by the entire group, family, and clan.
  2. Given Name is very important for an individual’s identity and to distinguish a person from others while surname is very important to trace one’s lineage, origin, and ancestry.
  3. Given Names are based on the discretion of one’s parents at the birth of their child while surname is inherited from the family line.
  4. Given Names are used in informal settings to refer to friends and familiar people while Surnames are usually used to refer to people in informal settings like colleagues, associates, collaborators, and managers. On a side note, given names can also be used in formal events when people with the same surnames have to be distinguished.
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