- Many Spanish last names are habitational, meaning they come from the names of villages, cities, states, etc. Here are some examples of habitational last names linked to a few familiar faces from the Spanish-speaking world. Several Spanish provinces have villages/cities called Almodóvar, and this habitational last name was borrowed from these.
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Feb 24, 2020 · Some Spanish geographic surnames refer to landscape features, such as Vega, meaning "meadow," and Mendoza, meaning "cold mountain," a combination of mendi (mountain) and (h)otz (cold) + a. Some Spanish geographic surnames also feature the suffix de, meaning "from" or "of."
Spanish Last Names. Like many cultures, last names of Spanish origin are derived from family names, place names, descriptive names or names of occupations. Spanish names, however, don't always follow a linear path. A person, for example may have two last names, one from their mother and one from their father.
- Transmission of Spanish Surnames
- The Four Categories of Surnames
- Spanish Surnames in Foreign Countries
- Foreign Surnames in Spanish-Speaking Countries
- Top 50 Most Common Spanish Surnames
- Prepositions “De” and “Y”
- Want More Free Spanish Lessons and Fun Content? You’Ll Love These
The two last names come from what is called a “generational transmission” from both parents. Currently, the two first surnames of each parent are combined. As stated above, the father’s surname is often first while the mother’s surname comes after. Interestingly, the paternal, or father’s, name will eventually eliminate the maternal name of the family line. An example of this is with two parents, Lucía López García and Jorge Rosales Castillo. Their child will most likely use the traditional order and hold a name such as Paola Rosales López. She will marry and her name will change to Paola Rosales Mendoza or Paola Rosales de Mendoza. As you can see, the maternal name has been dropped and replaced by the husband’s name. Nonetheless, the transfer of the father’s surname was not always the norm. Spanish-speaking societies once practiced the transmission of one Spanish surname, choosing between the mother or father.
When looking at Spanish surnames, a clear pattern emerges. History tells us that by the twelfth century, as populations grew, people needed a way to distinguish one name or family from another. They began to follow specific traditions that helped them understand which surname to use. Namely, four types of surnames appeared. They became the origin of most Spanish surnames we see today.
Entering into a foreign naming system often requires vigilance and necessary changes. One example is when a Spanish person lives under an English naming system. In order to avoid confusion, they may hyphenate their last name, turning Marcela Pérez Rubio into Marcela Pérez-Rubio. In view of the one-surname system used by English-speakers, there may be legal confusion and her name could become Marcela P. Rubio on a government document. This poses a big problem for her identity since, in her home country, her name would be abbreviated as Marcela Pérez R.
In Spanish-speaking countries, foreign immigrants keep using their cultural naming customs. However, if they choose to obtain citizenship, they must assume a name in the Spanish manner. If the person comes from a culture with a unique family name, they repeat it twice. As a result, an English name “William Stewart Mirren” turnsinto “William Stewart Mirrén Mirrén.” The law allows a person to adopt the mother’s maiden name if they choose to. Lastly, the Spanish custom connects the first and middle name making it the two first names for legal documents.
The chart below shows the top 50 most common Spanish surnames in Spain. As well, you will see the estimated population of how many people have this particular last name. Take a look at the chart and see how many names you recognize. Do you see which of the suffixes is most common among these names?
There are times that Spanish surnames include a preposition between the paternal and maternal surnames. Some people choose to use “de” and/or “y” for three main reasons. Firstly, it shows nobility, such as the name of Gabriel de la Cueva y Girón, who was a sixteenth-century nobleman and military leader. Secondly, it denotes location, as is the case for the name Lope Félix de Vega y Carpio (de Vega means “of the meadow”), a famous playwright of undistinguished origin. Lastly, it helps to distinguish between the first name and a surname that could be mistaken for a first name like Antonio Miguel y Morales. In this case, we understand that Miguel is not his second name, but instead the first of his surnames.
Obviously, Spanish surnames give us the chance to learn about a person’s family history. Not only is it fascinating to take a closer look at the meaning of a person’s surname, but it is also educational. By learning how these surnames were created, how they’re used in present day, and how to understand them, we can better comprehend their importance. Furthermore, it allows us to appreciate the complexity of the naming system in Spanish culture.
It is common in Spanish language cultures to have two surnames. One surname is from their father, and one is from their mother. Since each parent also has two surnames, a Spanish speaking person’s surname will usually be a combination of the first surname of each parent, with the mother’s first surname coming first.
Many Spanish last names are habitational, meaning they come from the names of villages, cities, states, etc. Here are some examples of habitational last names linked to a few familiar faces from the Spanish-speaking world.