Your middle name is the name that comes between your first name and your last name. It is a common practice in many cultures to have a middle name, although it is not mandatory. Middle names can be given for various reasons, such as honoring a family member or as a way to distinguish individuals with the same first and last name. Some people may choose to use their middle name as their preferred name or include it on official documents, while others may not use it at all. Ultimately, whether or not you have a middle name is a personal choice.
There are many famous people who go by three names – their first, middle, and last. Examples include Alexander Graham Bell, Edgar Allan Poe, Jamie Lee Curtis, Johann Sebastian Bach, Martin Luther King, and Robert Louis Stevenson. These individuals are not only well-known for their accomplishments, but also for the fact that they have three names.
While we may be familiar with the middle names of famous individuals, we often don’t know the middle names of our own friends and family members. It is common for people to have middle names, but it wasn’t always this way. In fact, none of the pilgrims on the Mayflower had middle names, and only three of the first 17 presidents of the United States had middle names.
The practice of giving children three names has a long history. The term “middle name” can be traced back to a Harvard University publication from 1835, but the practice itself dates back even further. Historians have noted that the ancient Romans often gave multiple names to nobles and important individuals. This tradition was later revived in Europe during the Middle Ages, when European aristocrats gave their children lengthy names to denote their social status. Some common people adopted this practice to elevate their own status or to honor both a family name and a saint’s name.
In the 19th century, as the population grew, middle names became more common as a way to distinguish individuals from one another. By 1900, nearly all Americans had a middle name. In fact, middle names were so common that they were included in official government documents, such as the United States armed forces enlistment form during World War I.
Try It Out
If you’re interested in learning more about names, try the following activities with a friend or family member:
Exploring Names and Their Meanings
Have you ever wondered about the uniqueness of your middle name and if anyone else shares it? Conduct a poll among your classmates, neighbors, and family members to determine the most common middle names and identify individuals with the most unique middle names.
Although having children may not be on your mind right now, it’s interesting to think about the future when you’ll be choosing names for your own kids. Create a list of potential names that you might consider in the future. Would you prefer family names with significant meanings or opt for something more creative and uncommon? Share your list with a friend or family member and see which names they favor.
If you’re curious to explore the history and meaning behind your last name, you can use Ancestry.com’s convenient search feature online. Discover what you can about your last name and share your findings with a family member who shares the same last name.
- Find more information about names and their meanings at http://www.genealogy.com/articles/twigs/rhonda041802.html
- Learn about the history of middle names from http://time.com/4451977/history-of-middle-names/
- Explore the origin of middle names on the Ancestry.com blog at http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2015/03/20/middle-names-whered-they-come-from/