Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ deals with questions about this website. There is a separate FAQ for questions specifically about names.

Why have you not responded to my email?

Every email is read. However, due to time constraints, all email cannot be answered.

Why is my surname not listed?

Have you made sure that the name is not yet on this site? If it is not, you can submit it from the submit-a-name page.

What are user-submitted names?

User-submitted names are names that have been added to this site by visitors. This collection is a supplement to the smaller main name collection, which is itself currated only by this site's main editor.

There is a small team of volunteers who make edits to submitted names and delete those that are not real. In general, these editors are long-time users of this site who are knowledgeable about names.

You can add a name from the submit-a-name page. For more information, see the guidelines.

What do the checkmarks under some names indicate?

User-submitted names have checkmarks indicating the level of editing and verification that has been applied to the name by the editors.

(not yet set)
basic formatting complete
listed usages are verified
description is verified
usages AND description are verified

Do I need to register for an account to use this site?

You can access most of the content on this site without a user account. However, there are some interactive features that require an account, including:

  • leaving comments about names
  • posting messages on the message boards
  • creating polls (on
  • maintaining personal name lists
  • sending and receiving private messages

In addition, an account gives you the option to fill out your profile and upload a picture, and lets you track your contributions to the site.

You can register for an account at the registration page.

I registered for a user account, why was the email not sent to me?

Please contact Mike using the email address you used to register and he will activate your account for you. There are many possible reasons the original email did not arrive, including a typo when you entered your email address, and emailing filtering software.

Why are my username and password not working?

  1. Make sure you type your password exactly as you originally typed it. It is case-sensitive.
  2. Make sure you have cookies enabled in your web browser.

How do I comment on a surname?

To leave a comment on a name you must be signed in. After you are signed in, view the name and go to the "Comments" tab.

Can I delete my comment, message board post, or user account?

Please contact Mike to request that one of your name comments, message board posts, or other content be removed.

You can remove your user account by using the "Deactivate" tab in the member settings.

On the message boards, what does NT, WDYT, NMS, etc mean?

NT stands for No Text. It means that the message is entirely within the subject line, and there is no point in reading the body of the message.

FN, LN and NN stand for first name, last name and nickname.

Other abbreviations you might see on the message boards are WDYT (what do you think?), NMS (not my style), CAF (create a family), DH/DW/DS/etc (dear husband, dear wife, dear son, etc) and BtN (Behind the Name, the title of this website).

Can I send you a list of surnames so you can put them on your website?

Yes, that would be much appreciated. If you are going to send the names in an attached file please ensure that it is a plain text file. It is also very helpful if you include the genders of the names.

Keep in mind there is no guarantee that your names will be used on the site.

How do I find a surname that means ...?

Enter the desired meaning into the search field in the menu bar at the top of any page. Do NOT push enter. A pop-up will appear. Select the "search name meanings" option.

Why do you not have more surnames from this language or culture?

Probably because there are few reliable reference materials about names from that language.

Why is this language not listed on your languages page?

That page only lists languages which are referred to by the name lists. If a language is not there it probably means there are no names from that language included on this website.

Does the colourful banner at the top of a name's page signify anything?

What sources did you use to construct this website?

See the references page.

Can I copy the definition of a surname to use in my homework?

That is not a problem as long as it is only a few names. You do not need to ask permission for this.

How do I list your site in my references?

If your teacher requires you to cite your sources you should use something like this:

Campbell, Michael D. "Behind the Name: the
   Etymology and History of Surnames."
   (25 April, 2024).

(where 25 April, 2024 is the date you accessed the site)

Can I copy the contents of your website and put them on my website or app?

No, sorry, that is not allowed. Please place a link to the site instead.

Can you supply me with a list of surnames for my project?

There are some files that can be downloaded from the data access page.