Portuguese name

Portuguese name

A typical Portuguese name is composed of one or two given names, and two family names. There is a division between given names and family names. The first surname is the same as the last surname in the mother's maiden name, and the second surname is the same as the last surname of the father. Married women may add their husband's surname to the end of their own name (without replacing any other name), but this is not mandatory. The same may happen with men, though the adoption of his wife's surname by the husband is extremely rare. In theory a person can choose to use any of their names in their personal or professional life.

General pattern

The Portuguese naming system is quite flexible. In theory, Law just establishes the need for a child to have one given name and one last name from either parent (although having only one last name is nowadays extremely uncommon). In fact, in ancient times it was a common practice that daughters would receive the mother's family name and sons would take their father's - for example, from Vasco da Gama's marriage with Catarina de Ataíde were born, accordingly, six sons who bore the surname "da Gama" and one daughter who took the surname "de Ataíde". Even these days, among older population, it is still not unusual to find siblings with fully different combinations of surnames among them.

To add to the "basic pattern", a second given name, or other father or mother surnames are optional for the parents to choose, till the limit of two given names, and four surnames (both limits are sometimes not respected, specially among families of the former aristocracy). So, at birth, a child can be given one or two given names and up to four surnames. Children usually receive surnames from both their parents. Usually, the mother's surname(s) precedes the father's, but the opposite is possible too.

Complete names are formed as it is generally practiced in Western Europe, i.e., by first names, followed optionally by one or more middle names, followed by the mother's family surname, followed by the father's family surname. Examples:
# "José Silva": the simplest configuration, with a first name and one family surname, either from the father or the mother. This simple configuration is rather rare, nowadays.
# "José Eduardo Silva": José Eduardo is the first name and Silva the one family name (however, note that Eduardo may be a valid family name: there is no way of knowing just by looking at the name). Again, not very common - this could happen in the case that both the child's parents have the same (final) last name.
# "José Eduardo Tavares Silva": in this case a second family name has been added -in theory the first surname (Tavares) would come from the mother and the second one (Silva) from the father (it could be reversed). Another possibility would be that Tavares Silva is a composite family name, this is relatively common in Portuguese surnames, i.e., both names are carried down to all descendants; again there is no way of knowing this. Hyphenated names are rare in Portuguese (i.e., Tavares-Silva, a convention which would dispel the confusion: sometimes is artificially forced by authors, politicians, etc., who want to be correctly cited in other countries. )
#"José Eduardo Santos Tavares Melo Silva": the most complete combination of names possible. In this case, the person could have two surnames coming from each parent or one coming from one parent and three from the other (the latter not being so common, it is impossible to tell for sure just by looking at the name).
#In males only, the complete name, if it repeats the name of a relative, e.g., father, grandfather or uncle, may be suffixed by: Júnior (abbreviated Jr.), Filho (meaning "son"), Neto ("grandson") or Sobrinho ("nephew"), always written with initial upper case and without a separating comma. Note that this practice is "extremely" unusual in Portugal, but not at all in Brazil where, although rare, one can find even people with the "Sobrinho Neto" (nephew grandson) and "Filha" (daughter) suffixes. Other relations of kin are not used. This convention doesn't apply to names of females, but the Brazilian law does not forbid the practice and one can find in Brazil a few women with the Filha (daughter) suffix. Note also that, with time, some of these relations of kin became actual family names (e.g., Neto and Sobrinho), and so they are transmitted to the next generation. But do not confuse the Netto family name with the Neto suffix; the first is an old surname of Italian origin, sometimes spelled with just one "t". Roman numerals, such as II, III, etc. for son, grandson, great-grandson are not used in Portuguese since the practice is not allowed by the law in Brazil and Portugal.
#Prepositions that can be used in Portuguese surnames are da, das, do, dos and de, such as in Luís de Sousa, Maria da Conceição, Osvaldo dos Santos, Luísa das Neves, etc. and mean "from" or "of". "Da", "dos", etc. are contractions of the preposition "de" and a definite article ("o", "as", etc.), therefore meaning "from the" or "of the". The current convention in Portuguese is that they be written in lower case. Differently from Italian surnames, these conjunctives are usually not part of a composite name (i.e., "Sousa" is not different from "de Sousa"). Therefore, it is not correct to refer to "Luís Inácio Lula da Silva" as "Mr. Da Silva", but rather "Mr. Silva". The conjunction "e" (and) is also common, e.g. "Maria Costa e Silva". In this case the person would be either "Ms Silva" or "Ms Costa e Silva".

For example, if "José Santos Almeida" and "Maria Abreu Melo" had a daughter, her name could simply be "Joana Melo Almeida" (given name + mother's last name + father's last name). However, they could very well give her two given names, for example "Joana Madalena" and combine their surnames in various ways, such has "Joana Madalena Melo Almeida", "Joana Madalena Abreu Melo Almeida" (two surnames from the mother, one from the father), "Joana Madalena Abreu Santos Almeida" (one name from the mother, two from the father) or even "Joana Madalena Abreu Melo Santos Almeida" (two names from each parent). It would also be possible to use surnames that are not part of either parent's legal name, but which the parents would be entitled to use (e.g., a surname from a grandparent or a great-grandparent that has not been transmitted to the father or the mother). This child would probably become known by her final surname, in this case "Joana Almeida".

However, her parents could decide to change the order of surnames and name her "Joana Almeida Melo" and so on. In this case she would probably become known by "Joana Melo".

Note that is quite common for a person to go by one of their surnames which is not the "last" one, especially if the other surname(s) are very common. For example, the Portuguese President Aníbal Cavaco Silva is commonly called "Cavaco", not "Silva". The same happens in Brazil, one notable example of this being Formula One great Ayrton Senna da Silva, who chose to be known as Ayrton Senna.

It should also be noted that some Portuguese family names are made of two words (most often not hyphenated), but are not composite names, as they were not the result of combining two family names on past past generations and, in fact, constitute a single logical unit. These include toponyms (e.g. Castelo Branco), religious references (e.g. Espírito Santo, Santa Rita) or other expressions (e.g. Corte Real, Mil-Homens). In this case both words must be cited (e.g. writer Camilo Castelo Branco is "never" referred to as Camilo Branco, and in alphabetical order goes under 'C').

"Middle names" (that is, second given names and surnames that are not the "last one", usually considered the most important) can be abbreviated, as well as suffixes, but usually not the first name and the surname (a notable exception was writer Ruben A., whose complete name was Ruben Andresen Leitão). Example: José E. C. Lima (Jr.). This differs from rules in Spanish names, which use the mother's family name at the end. Example: Norberto Garcia C.

Brazilian Specific Patterns

Naming Patterns of the Children of Immigrants

In Brazil, recent immigrants - especially Italians, Germans and Japanese using only their father's family name - usually do not follow the Portuguese pattern. Although there is no legal restriction to this practice, the pattern in succeeding generations may change to a traditional Portuguese pattern due to assimilation.

Today one can find people who use two Italian surnames (like "Guglielmo Bianchini") or two Japanese surnames (like "Sugahara Uemura") which is unusual in Italy or noexistent in Japan. Of course, two surnames of distant lands immigrants are usual (like "Sato Rahal", an Arab and a Japanese surname together).

For Spanish immigrants, the Spanish pattern is to use both the names of the father's and mother's family, therefore they just changed the order of the family names in order to comply with the Portuguese pattern.

Immigrant's Naming Pattern Around São Paulo State

A specific pattern developed among the descendants of 20th-century immigrants: they use only their father's surname and two given names, the first is a Portuguese given name and the second one is a given name from their father's original country.

This pattern is most used among Japanese and Syrian-Lebanese immigrants sons and grandsons. So one can find names like "Paulo Salim Maluf" where "Paulo" is a Portuguese given name, "Salim" is an Arabian given name, and "Maluf" is his father's surname; or "Maria Heiko Sugahara" where "Maria" is a Portuguese given name, "Heiko" a Japanese given name and "Sugahara" is her father's surname. This practice allows the person to be recognized as "Paulo Maluf" or "Maria Sugahara" (in the large Brazilian society) or as "Salim Maluf" or "Heiko Sugahara" (in the immigrants' social community).

This pattern became almost a general rule in São Paulo and other southern states. Miscegenation slowed down this use; but it is commonly used when both father and mother belong to the same ethnicity. Younger generations tend to use both the father and the mother family name, thus giving four names to their sons (like "Paulo Salim Lutfalla Maluf" or "Maria Heiko Sugahara Uemura").

Names of married women

In Portugal, a woman may adopt her husband's surname(s), but nevertheless she always keeps her birth names. For example, when "Maria Abreu Melo" marries "José Santos Almeida", she could choose to become "Maria Abreu Melo Almeida" or "Maria Abreu Melo Santos Almeida".The custom of a woman changing her name upon marriage was not a Portuguese tradition. It spread in the late 19th century in the upper classes, under French influence, and in the 20th century, particularly during the Estado Novo, it became socially almost obligatory. This sometimes caused some confusing situations, for example when a woman named "Ana Lima Silva" married a man named "João Lima", her name could legally become "Ana Lima Silva Lima", if she wished to avoid repeating the same surname in her signature, after marriage. Nowadays, fewer women adopt, even officially, their husbands' names, and among those who do so officially, it is quite common not to use it either in their professional or informal life.

In Portugal, since 1977, a husband can also adopt his wife's surname, and this is also becoming common. When this happens, usually both spouses change their name after marriage (for example, "José Santos Almeida" and "Maria Abreu Melo" could become "José Santos Melo Almeida" and "Maria Abreu Melo Almeida").

In Brazil until the recent reform of the Civil Law, women had to take their husbands' surnames; not doing so was seen as evidence of concubinage. The mandatory adoption of the new name led to unusual combinations, like in the (not uncommon) case of both spouses having the same surname. This custom has been fading since the 1970s and nowadays it is rarely found, due to the cumbersome need to update registries, documents, etc. after the name change and back again in the event of divorce. Recently, the new Civil Code stated that a woman has the option of whether or not to change her name after marriage and a man may choose to take his wife's surname.

Number of names

It is not uncommon that a married woman has two given names and six surnames, the last two coming from her husband. In addition, some of these names may be made of more than one word, so that a full feminine name can have more than 12 words. For instance, the name 'Maria do Carmo Mão de Ferro e Cunha de Almeida Santa Rita Santos Abreu' would not be surprising in a married woman. 'Mão de Ferro' (iron hand) and 'Santa Rita' (after Saint Rita of Cascia) count only as one surname each. In this case, 'Santos Abreu' would probably have come from this woman's husband.

In Portugal, the custom of giving a child four last names is getting popular, since this way a child can have each of their grandparents' last name. Some people view this as a sign of snobbery, since it used to be the noble families who had a large number of surnames (for instance, the 4th Duke of Lafões (1797-1851), whose full name was Caetano Segismundo "de Bragança e Ligne de Sousa Tavares Mascarenhas da Silva"). For the sake of simplicity, most Portuguese people have two surnames. Having only one surname is rare, and it usually happens when both the parents have the same last name (to avoid repetitive combinations such as "António Santos e Santos").

The name 'Maria'

Because Maria (like English "Mary", from Hebrew "Miryam", via Latin "Maria") was (especially in the past) extremely common as the first of two given names, women with a composite name starting with Maria are usually known by their second given name, which can even be a masculine name.

Combining the name Maria with a religious concept used to be extremely common, creating combinations such as Maria da Conceição (after Our Lady of Conception) Maria das Dores (after Our Lady of Sorrows), Maria das Neves (after Our Lady of Snows), and many more. Using a religious place (usually the place of a Marian apparition)) is also frequent: 'Maria de Lurdes' (after Lourdes), Maria de Fátima, Maria de La Salette, just to name a few. These women are likely to be addressed by just the second element of their name: Conceição, Dores, Fátima, etc. Adding a "nature-related" or a "virtue" word to Maria is also common: Maria do Céu (heaven or sky), Maria da Luz (light), etc.

Thus "Maria Madalena" (after St. Mary Magdalene) would be 'Madalena', "Maria Antónia" would be 'Antónia' and "Maria Teresa" would be 'Teresa' (see Teresa Heinz). The popular combination "Maria Ana" evolved to a single name, Mariana (by influence of the French Marianne). The same thing happens with the name "Ana" (Anne or Hannah), also very common in double-name combinations (especially in the younger generations): a "Ana Paula" would be called 'Paula', "Ana Carolina" would be 'Carolina' and so on - although this is not universal and (unlike with Maria) many of this woman go by Ana only.

It is also possible to attach a masculine name to Maria, creating composite feminine names such as Maria João, Maria José, Maria Manuel, Maria Luís, etc. A woman in these circumstances would be informally called João ("John"), Zé, Zezinha (short for José) and so on.More rarely, it is possible to create composite names honoring masculine Catholic saints, such as Maria de São José (Maria of Saint Joseph). This woman would be commonly known as "Zé" or even "São José".

A similar procedure occurs with masculine names; it is not unusual to find names like João Maria, José Maria, Manuel Maria, etc. In this case, Maria would always be the second given name, in honour of Virgin Mary, and the first name would be a masculine name. This custom is fashionable among the nobility and the upper classes.

The particle 'de' in Portuguese names

The particles "de" or "da", "do", "dos", "das" (= "de" + article "a", "o", "os", "as") are not considered part of the surname, and should "not" be alphabetized in name lists. João da Silva is "Mr Silva", not "Mr da Silva". António de Castro is alphabetized as "Castro, António dos Santos". The Angolan president is to be addressed as Mr. Santos, not Mr. Dos Santos.


When producing alphabetised lists of Portuguese names, generally the "full name" is used as the key. This occurs mainly in schools or official documents, and it is done mainly because many people prefer to use multiple surname combinations in their daily life, or do not use last surname at all - so it is difficult to order people by the surnames they use. A typical alphabetised list:

* António Borges Santos
* António Silva Abreu Melo
* Leonor Soares Henriques Pais
* Sofia Matilde Almeida Pais

However, in areas such as a telephone directory or bibliography, the practice of using the (last) surname as the key is preferred. The conjunctives and affixes preceding or following it, such as "da" and "Filho", should not be used. When a full composite surname is known, it is alphabetised according to the first name, even if it is not separated by a hyphen. When it is not known, the last name should be used (because of this many errors are committed in the alphabetisation of Portuguese surnames, such as in a telephone directory). For example:

* Chagas Filho, Carlos
* Siqueira Campos, Luis Pereira; or it could be also:
* Campos, Luís Pereira Siqueira
* Sousa, Luís de

Note, however, that these rules may change if the Portuguese name has been absorbed into a different culture, like in Anglo-Saxon countries. In the United States, for example, where many Portuguese immigrants established themselves since the 18th century around New Jersey and New Hampshire, alphabetising rules use "da" and "de" as part of the surname (the famous Portuguese-American author John Dos Passos, who is referred to as having the surname Dos Passos, is a good example).


Portuguese names are usually shortened by adding the diminutive suffix -"inho/a" or -"ito/a" - or in some cases "zinho(a)" or "-zito(a)" - to the actual name. For instance, "Teresinha" (meaning "little Teresa") or "Carlitos" ("little Carlos"), "Joãozito" (little João) or "Sofiazinha" (little Sofia).

Other practices include the repetition of a syllable ("Nônô" from Leonor , "Zézé" from José), a simple shortening of the name ("Fred" from Frederico, "Bea" or "Bia" from Beatriz), the contraction of the name (Manel or Mané from Manuel) or a fraction of it ("Beto" from Alberto or Roberto, "Mila" from Emília). Sometimes, a foreign language nickname is used for the corresponding Portuguese name ("Rick" for Ricardo, "Charlie" from Carlos, "Maggie" from Margarida). Most given names have one or more standard diminutives.

Some typical Portuguese hypocoristics:
* Afonso = "Afonsinho, Fonsi, Fon-Fon"
* Alexandra = "Xana", "Alex", "Sandra", "Xanda"
* Alexandre = "Alex", "Xandre", "Xano", "Xande"
* Alice = "Alicinha", "Cinha", "Cita", "Lili"
* Amélia = "Amelinha", "Melita", "Mel"
* Ana = "Aninha", "Aninhas", "Anita", "Anocas", "Nita", "Ninha", "Nana"
* António = "Tó", "Tom", "Toni", "Toninho", "Tim", "Tonico", "Tonho", "Tim"
* Bárbara = "Bá", "Babi", "Binha", "Barbie"
* Camila = "Mila", "Camilinha", "Miloca", "Mi"
* Carlos = "Carlinhos", "Carlitos", "Litos", "Charlie"
* Carlota = "Ló", "Lota"
* Carolina = "Carolininha", "Carol", "Ló"
* Cecília = "Cilinha", "Cila", "Cissa"
* Conceição = "Conça", "Concha"
* Cristina = "Cris", "Cristininha", "Tina"
* Daniel = "Dani", "Dan"
* Daniela = "Dani"
* Di
* Eduardo = "Edu", "Dudu", "Duda", "Du"
* Elisabete = 'Bete", "Elisa", "Bé", "Betinha", "Beta"
* Emília = "Emilinha", "Mila", "Milita"
* Fábio / Fabião / Fabiano = "Biano", "Bibi", "Fabí", "Bi", "Fá"
* Fernando = "Fernandinho", "Nando", "Fê"
* Fernanda = "Nanda", "Nan", "Nandinha", "Fê"
* Filipa = "Filipinha", "Pipa", "Lipa","Fi"
* Filipe = "Filipinho", "Pipo", "Lipe"
* Filomena = "Mena", "Lumena", "Filó"
* Francisca = "Francisquinha", "Chica", "Chiquinha", "Quica"/"Kika"
* Francisco = "Francisquinho", "Chico", "Chiquinho", "Quico"/"Kiko", "Cisco"
* Gabriel = "Gabi", "Biel"
* Gabriela = "Gabi", "Bibi"
* Gonçalo = "Gonçalinho", "Gongas", "Gonzo"
* Guilherme = "Gui", "Guiga", "Guilhas"
* Helena = "Lena", "Leninha"
* Inês = "Inesinha", "Nê", "Nênê"
* Isabel = "Isabelinha", "Bé", "Belinha", "Isa", "Bebel", "Bel",
* Jaime = "Jaiminho"
* Joana = "Joaninha", "Ju", "Jô", "Juju", "Jana"
* João = "Joãozinho", "Ju", "Jão", "John", "Juca"
** João Carlos = "Juca", "Joca", "Juquinha", "Joquinha"
* Joaquim = "Quim / Kim", "Joca", "Jaquim", "Quinzinho"
* Jorge = "Jorginho", "Jó", "Joca"
* José = "Zé", "Zézé", "Zeca"
** José Carlos = "Zeca", "Zequinha"
* Júlia = "Ju", "Julinha", "Juju", "Jujuba"
* Laura = "Laurinha", "Lau"
* Leonardo = "Léo", "Leozinho"
* Leonor = "Nônô", "Léo"
* Liliana = "Lili/Lily", "Lila", "Lilas"
* Lorena = "Lore", "Ló", "Loló"
* Luís = "Luisinho", "Lu", "Lula"
* Lúcia = "Lucinha", "Luci/Lucy", "Lu"
* Madalena = "Lena", "Madá", "Maddie'
* Mafalda = "Mafaldinha", "Mafuca", "Fuca"
* Manuel = "Manelinho", "Manel", "Manecas", "Neco", "Nelo"
* Manuela = "Manela", "Manu", "Mané", "Nelinha"
* Margarida = "Margaridinha", "Guida", "Guidinha", "Magui"/"Maggie"
* Maria = "Mariazinha", "Micas", "Mia", "Mimi"
* Mariana = "Marianita", "Marianinha", "Mari/Mary","Má"
* Mário = "Marinho"
* Marta = "Martinha", "Martita"
* Miguel = "Miguelinho", "Miguelito", "Micas", "Mike"
* Nicolau = "Nico", "Lalau"
* Patrícia = "Pati", "Patricinha", "Ticha"
* Paula = "Paulinha"
* Paulo = "Paulinho"
* Pedro = "Pedrinho", "Pedrito", "Peu", "Pêpê", "Pepas"
* Rafael = "Rafa", "Rafinha"
* Ricardo = "Ricardinho", "Ricky"
* Rita = "Ritinha", "Ri"
* Roberto = "Betinho", "Berto", "Beto"
* Rodolfo = "Rodas", "Rô"
* Rosa = "Rosinha", "Ró"
* Rui = "Ruizinho", "Ruca"
* Sebastião = "Sebastiãozinho", "Tião", "Bastião"
* Sofia = "Sofi", "Sô", "Su", "Fifi"
* Susana = "Susaninha", "Su", "Susi"
* Teresa = "Teresinha", "Té", "Tetê"
* Tiago = "Tiaguinho", "Ti", "Guinho"
* Tomé = "Tomezinho"
* Vera = "Verinha", "Veruca"
* Victor / Vítor = "Vitinho"
* Vitória = "Vivi", "Tória", "Vicky"

Note that a hypocoristics can receive the suffix -inho (meaning little) giving a more intense feeling of protection or intimacy, such as Chiquinho (from Chico, the hypocoristics for Francisco - Francis), Xandinho (from Xandre, for Alexandre - Alexander), Zequinha (form Zeca, for José = Joseph).

Origin of Portuguese Surnames

One single name or a name followed by a patronym was the most common way that the native pre-Roman people named themselves. The names could be Celtic (Mantaus), Lusitanian (Casae), Iberian (Sunua) or Conii (Alainus). The names were clearly ethnic and some typical of a tribe or region. A slow adoption of the Roman onomastic occurred after the end of the first century a.c. with the adoption of a Roman name or of the tria nomina:praenomen (given name), nomen (gentile) and cognomen. [Ferreira, Ana Paula Ramos ; Epigrafia funerária romana da Beira Interior: inovação ou continuidade?;II Parte - Catalogo epigráfico [http://www.ipa.min-cultura.pt/pubs/TA/folder/34/048.pdf] ] [ [http://kol.home.sapo.pt/nomes.html Principais nomes, patronímicos, derivados e apelidos usados pelos povos da Lusitânia e nações aliadas] ]

Most of Portuguese surnames have a patronymical, locative or religious origin.


Patronymics are names derived from the father's given name that, many centuries ago, began to be used as surnames. The most common names in the lands where Portuguese is spoken and also in many other languages.

In Portuguese, patronymics are surnames like Henriques, Rodrigues, Lopes, Nunes, Mendes, Fernandes, Gonçalves. Esteves and Álvares, where the ending -es- means ("son of"). In other languages, patronymics have other suffixes (-son, -sen, -sohn, -vitch) or prefixes (Mac, O', Fitz, Ibn, Bin, Ben) in surnames such as Johnson, MacDonald, O'Niel, Nielson, Fitzgerald, Johansohn, Jansen, Mendelessohn, Ben Gurion. Some people use patronymics only as a second given name, not as a surname, like Russian (Ivanovitch - son of Ivan, Ivanovna - daughter of Ivan) and Arab people (Ibn Hanna - son of Hanna); in Iceland, the small population allows that people do not use a surname, only the patronymic (Björnsson - son of Björn, Bjönrdottir - daughter of Björn).

In Portuguese almost all patronymics end with the "-es" suffix, that sounds similar, but not equal to the "-ez" suffix used in Spanish patronymics. But some family names with -es- endings are not patronymics such as Tavares, Pires, Cortes (in Spanish Cortés or Cortez) and Chaves (in Spanish Chavés or Chávez) that are toponymics, so not derived from a given name. The ending suffix -es- it is not always used in patronymics. Some of them influenced by or originated from Spanish have the ending -iz- like Muniz ("son of Monio") and Ruiz, ("son of Ruy", a short form of "Rodrigo").

In the beginning of the surname formation, the ending -es- was not used. So, "Joana daughter of Fernanda" could be called "Joana Fernanda", as like as "André João" meant "André son of João". One can find today in Portugal and Brazil people who still use surnames that for other people are just given names, although were passed from parents to sons for generations and do not have the ending -es-, such like Valentim, Alexandre, Fernando, Afonso (note the family name "de Melo Afonso") and Antonio (note "de Melo Antonio"). Names like Dinis, Duarte, Garcia and Godinho were originally given names, but today they are used in Brazil almost exclusively as patronymics, i.e. as surnames, without the suffix -es- (Duarte and Dinis are very common given names in Portugal, though). The surname "Mamede" is derived from the name of the holiest prophet of Islam - Muhammad -, certainly a patronymic of converted Muslims (observe the name "São Mamede" - Saint Muhammad - a famous winery region in Portugal).

Matronymics (surnames derived from female given names) are almost never used in Portugueses, but surnames such as "Catarino" (from Catarina) and "Mariano" (the original meaning is "son of Maria; that could be the name of a real mother or of a spiritual mother, the Virgin Mary).

Some patronymics are not easily recognized by the people who bear them for two main reasons. First, sometimes the original name (the given name) is very seldom or never used today such as Lopes (son of "Lopo"), Mendes (son of "Mendo" or son of "Mem"), Soares (son of "Soeiro" or "Suário"), Muniz (son of Muneo, Munio or Monio), Peres (son of Pero, an old form of the name Pedro), Sanches (son of Sancho). Second, sometimes the given names or the related patronymic changed through centuries - although always some resemblance can still be noted - such as "Antunes" ("son of Antão" or "Antonio"), "Marques" ("son of Marcos"), "Vasques" (son of "Vasco"), "Martins" (from "Martines, son of Martim" or "Martinho") and "Alves" (from "Alvares, son of Álvaro").

Locative Surnames

A large number of surnames are locative, describing the geographical origin of a person, like the name of a village, town, city, land, river. Such are surnames like Almeida, Andrade, Barcelos, Barros, Bastos, Castelo Branco, Cintra (from Sintra), Coimbra, Faria, Gouveia, Guimarães, Lima (the name of a river, not a fruit), Lisboa (Lisbon), Pacheco (from village of Pacheca), Porto (Oporto), Portugal, Serpa, etc.

Not all villages and towns that originated surnames exist, kept the same name or are inhabited today. This fact is easily understood in Portugal, but most of Brazilians do not know the meaning of their locative surnames because they do not know a city, town or village which has the same name.

Names of trees or plantations are also locative surnames that were used to distinguish people who lived near or inside this vegetation. Such are names like "Silva" (a kind of berry bushes, also meaning woods), "Silveira" (a place covered with silvas, a kind of berry bush), "Matos" (woods, forest), "Campos" (grass fields, prairie), "Vale" (valley, dale), "Teixeira" (a place covered with "teixos," a kind of tree), "Queirós" (a kind of grass), Cardoso (a place covered with cardos, i.e. with cardoons and thistles), Correa (a place covered with corriolas or correas, a kind of plant), "Macedo" (an apple tree garden), "Azevedo" (a forest of azevinho, i.e. a holly wood), "Cabral" (a field where goats graze).

Tree names are very common locative surnames - "Oliveira" (olive tree), "Carvalho" (oak tree), "Salgueiro" (willow), "Pinheiro" (pine tree), "Pereira" (pear tree), Moreira (from amoreira, i.e. mullberry tree), "Macieira" (apple tree), Figueira (fig tree) - always used to identify an ancestor who lived near or inside a plantation or a garden of these trees.

Some geological or geographical words were also used to name people like "Pedroso" (stony or full of peddles land), "Rocha" (rock), "Souza" (from Latin saxa, a place with seixos, i.e. peddles), "Ribeiro" (little river, brook), "Siqueira" or "Sequeira" (a non-irrigated land), "Castro" (castle or ruins of ancient buildings), "Dantas" (from d'Antas, a place with antas, i.e. prehistoric stone monuments or dolmens), "Costa" (coast of the sea). The name "Ferreira" and "Ferreiro" means (blacksmith, ironsmith), but also is a locative surname used by people who came from many towns and villages named Ferreira, i.e. a place where one can find iron ore - ferro. A surname like "Leão" (lion) means that an ancestor came from the old Spanish kingdom of Leon (today Northwestern Spain) or the French city of Lyon.

Religious Surnames

Surnames with religious meanings originated from an ancestor who converted to Catholicism, and intended or needed to demonstrate his new faith. Another source of religious names were orphans who were abandoned in the churches and raised in Catholic orphanages by priests and nuns, usually baptized with a name related to the date near when they were found or baptized. Religious names includes "de Jesus" (of Jesus), " dos Reis" (of the kings, from the day of the Epiphany of the Lord, the Day of the Wise Kings), "Ramos" (branches, from Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter), "Pascoal" (of Easter), "da Assunção" (of the Assumption of the Virgin Maryn), "do Nascimento" (of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary or the Nativity of Jesus - Christmas), "da Visitação" (of the Visitation of the Virgin Mary), "da Anunciação" (of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary), "da Conceição" (of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary), "Trindade" (from Trinity Sunday), "do Espírito Santo" (of the Holy Ghost, from the Feast of the Holy Ghost), "das Chagas" (of wounds, from the Feast of the Five Wounds of Christ), "Graça" (grace, from Our Lady of Grace), "Patrocínio" (patronage, from Our Lady of Patronage), "Paz" (peace, from Our Lady Mediatrix of Peace), "Luz" (light, from Our Lady of the Divine Light), "Neves" (snows, from Our Lady of the Snows), "Penha" (cliff, bluff, from Our Lady of the Bluff of France, that in Spanish is called Nuestra Señora de Peñafrancia), "das Dores" (of sorrows, from Our Lady of Sorrows), "Bonfim" (good end, from Our Lord of Good Death), "das Virgens" (of the virgins martyrs), "dos Anjos" (of angels, from the Archangels Michael, Raphael, and Gabriel day), "São João" (Saint John), "Santana" (Saint Ann), "Santos" (from 'Todos os Santos', i.e. from All Hallows or All Saints day) and "Cruz" (Cross, the most common surname among the Belmonte Jews).

An orphan with unknown parents or a converted (Jew, slave or Brazilian native) baptized with the name of a saint like "João Batista" (from Saint John Baptist), "João Evangelista" (from Saint John the Evangelist), "João de Deus" (from Saint John of God), "Antônio de Pádua" (from Saint Anthony of Padova), "João Nepomuceno" (from Saint John of Nepomuk), "Francisco de Assis ("from Saint Francis of Assisi), "Francisco de Paula" (from Saint Francis of Paola), "Francisco de Salles" (from Saint Francis de Salles), "Inácio de Loiola" (from Saint Ignatius of Loyola), "Tomás Aquino" (from Saint Thomas Aquinas), "José de Calanzans" (from Saint Joseph of Calasanz) or "José de Cupertino" (from Saint Joseph of Cupertino) usually passed only the name "Batista, Evangelista, de Deus, Pádua, Nepomuceno, Assis, de Paula, Sales, Loiola, Aquino", Calanzans or "Cupertino" to his sons as a surname.

Note that a surname like Xavier can be originated from someone baptized after Saint Francis Xavier or from the old Portuguese family Xavier.

Descriptive Surnames

Some surnames are descriptions of a peculiar characteristic of an ancestor, that is, originated from ancient nicknames.

Such are names like "Peixoto" ("little fish", applied to a nobleman who used a fish to trick his enemies during a siege), "Peixe" (fish, i.e. swimmer, or also fisherman or fishmonger), "Veloso" (wooly, i.e. hairy), "Ramalho" (full of tree branches, bushy, i.e. with a thick beard), "Barroso" (clay covered, i.e. with pimples), Lobo (wolf, i.e. fierce, savage), "Lobato" (little wolf, wolf cub), "Raposo" (fox, i.e. smart), "Pinto" (chick, i.e. gentle and kind), "Tourinho" (little bull, i.e. stout, strong), "Vergueiro" (that bends, i.e, weak), "Medrado" (grown-up, i.e. tall), "Tinoco" (short, small), "Porciúncula" (small part, small piece), "Magro" (thin), "Magriço" (skinny), "Gago" (stutterer, stammerer), "Galhardo" (gallant, chivalrous), "Terrível" (terrible), "Penteado" (hairdressing, the nickname of a branch of the German originated Werneck family whose members used to wear wigs), "Romero" (from romeiro, pilgrim, i.e. someone who had made a religious voyage to Rome, Santiago de Compostela or Jerusalem).

Profession and Occupation Surnames

Portuguese surnames originated from professions or occupations are very few, such as "Serrador" (sawman), Pastorinho (little shepherd), Monteiro (hunter of the hills or woods guard), Caldeira (cauldron, i.e. cauldron maker), Cubas (wooden barrels, i.e, barrel maker or cooper), "Peixe" (fish, for a fisherman or a fishmonger).

Foreign-Origin Surnames

Some Portuguese names originated from foreigners who came to live in Portugal or Brazil many centuries ago. They are so ancient that, despite the known foreign origin, they're every bit a part of Portuguese and Brazilian culture.

Most of these names are Spanish, such as "Toledo" (a city in Spain), "Ávila" or "Dávila" (a city in Spain) and "Padilha". Other common "foreign" surnames are Bittencourt (from Béthencourt , French), "Goulart, Goulard" or "Gullar" (French, original meaning is glutton), "Fontenele" or "Fontenelle" (French, from fountain), "Rubim" (from Robin, French), "Lencastre" (from Lancaster, English), "Drummond" (Scottish), "Werneck, Vernek" or "Berneque" (southern German, the name of the Bavarian city Werneck), "Wanderley" (from "van der Ley", Flemish), "Dutra" (from "De Ultra", a Latin name meaning "from beyond" assumed by the Flemish family "Van Hurtere"), "Brum" (from "Bruyn", Flemish), Bulcão (from "Bulcamp", Flemish), "Dulmo" (from "van Olm", Flemish) [CLAEYS, André. "Vlamingen op de Azoren in de 15de eeuw"; pp. 2. Brugge 2007.] , Acioli (Italian), "Doria" (Italian), "Cavalcanti" (Italian), "Mota" or "Motta" (Italian), "Netto" or "Neto" (Italian, not to be confused with the name suffix Neto - grandson - that is used in Portuguese to distinguish a grandson and grandfather who bear the same names).

The Question of Portuguese Jewish Surnames

People usually say that the Jews living in Portugal up to 1497, when they had to choose between forced conversion or expulsion, substituted their surnames with the names of trees that do not bear edible fruits, such as "Carvalho" (oak tree) and "Junqueira" (reed, bulrush, junk). Others say that they usually chose tree names such as "Pereira" (pear tree) or "Oliveira" (olive tree), in this case trees that bear edible fruits. However, these names were already used by Christians during the Middle Ages.

The Portuguese Jews up living in Portugal up to 1497 bore given names that could distinguish them from the Christian population. Most of these names are Portuguese versions of older semitic (arabian, hebrew, aramaic) names like "Abenazo, Aboab, Abravanel, Albarrux, Azenha, Benafull, Benafaçom, Benazo, Caçez, Cachado, Çaçom/Saçom, Carraf, Carilho, Cide/Cid, Çoleima, Faquim, Faracho, Faravom, Fayham/Fayam, Focem, Çacam/Sacam, Famiz, Gadim, Gedelha, Labymda, Latam/Latão, Loquem, Lozora, Maalom, Maçon, Maconde, Mocatel, Mollaão, Montam, Motaal, Rondim, Rosall, Samaia/Çamaya, Sanamel, Saraya,Tarraz, Tavy/Tovy, Toby, Varmar, Zaaboca, Zabocas, Zaquim, Zaquem, Zarco". Some were locative names like "Catelaão/Catalão "(Catalan)", Castelão/Castelhão "(Castilian)", Crescente "(crescent, from Turkey)", Medina "(Medinah)", Romano "(Roman)", Romão, Romeiro, Tolledam/Toledano "(from Toledo)", Vallency" (Valencia)" and Vascos "(Basque)"; some were patronymics from Biblical names like Abraão "(Abraham)", Lázaro "(Lazar)", Barnabé, Benjamim, Gabril "(Gabriel)", Muça "(Moses)" and Natam "(Nathan); some are profession names such as" Caldeirão "(cauldron)", Martelo "(hammer)", Pexeiro "(fishmonger)", Chaveirol "(locksmith)" and Prateiro "(silversmith); some are nicknames such as Calvo" (bald), Dourado" (golden, like the german Goldfarb), "Ruivo" (red-headed), "Crespo" (curly)," Querido" (beloved) and" Parente" (family relative). A few names are not distinct from old Portuguese surnames like "Camarinha, Castro, Crespim" [http://pwp.netcabo.pt/soveral/mas/judeusecristaosnovos.htm Subsídios para o estudo genealógico dos judeus e cristãos-novos e a sua relação com as famílias portuguesas] ] .

Some scholars proved that the converted Portuguese Jews usually chose a patronymic as their new surname and, when the conversion was not forced, they used to choose to bear the surname of their godfather.

Despite that, the Jewish-Portuguese community that flourished in the Netherlands and Hamburg, Germany, after their expulsion from Portugal used surnames that were usual among the old Christian Portuguese people such as Camargo, Costa, Fonseca, Dias, and Pinto. Maybe, most of them had parents or grand-parents that were forced to conversion in Portugal and after emigration to the Netherlands they embraced openly their Jewish faith, but kept using the surnames of their godfathers.

Some of the most famous descendants of Portuguese Jews who lived outside Portugal are the philosopher Baruch Spinoza (from Portuguese Bento de Espinosa), the classical economist David Ricardo, and the Nobel-prize-winning playwright Harold Pinter (from Portuguese Pinto). Other famous members of the Portuguese Synagogue of Amsterdam bore names such as Isaac Aboab da Fonseca, Isaac de Pinto, Menasseh ben Israel (whose original surname was Soeiro), and Uriel Acosta (or Costa).

The Belmonte Jews (crypto-Jews who live in the Belmonte region in Portugal) also bear surnames that cannot be used to distinguish them from the older Catholic Portuguese families.

One can take for sure that using tree names as surnames was not a common practice among converted or non-converted Portuguese Jews, before or after their expulsion in 1497.

Brazilian Names

Brazilian Surnames

Brazilians' Perception of their Portuguese Surnames

In a general sense, Brazilians do not realize the meaning of their Portuguese surnames. Even those locative surnames whose meaning are easily understood by the Portuguese people, sound meaningless to most Brazilians who bear them, because they do not know the places where their surnames originated. They are like foreign words.

For example, few Brazilians who bear the surname "Guimarães" know that it is also the name of a very important city in the history of Portugal. In the same way, although most Brazilians know that "Oliveira" - a very commom surname - is the name of a tree (olive tree), only those who travelled abroad could have seen one. So, names like "Faria" (a town), "Almeida" (another town), "Teixeira" (a place with "teixos") or "Cardoso" (a place with "cardos") are totally meaningless to almost all Brazilians.

Portuguese Surnames in Brazil

Due to the fact that some Portuguese families did not send immigrants or that some immigrants did not have descendants in their new country, the Portuguese surnames in Brazil show a lesser variation than in Portugal. There are surnames in Portugal that one cannot find in Brazil, such as "Boceta" that in Brazil is slang for vulva and whose original meaning - little box - is unknown by most Brazilian people.

Portuguese from the lower classes who had no surname and immigrated to Brazil during the golden rush of the XVII century, usually adopt as surname the name of the village or town where they came from ("Serpa, Guimarães, Almeida, Braga, Faria, Barros, Lisboa, Junqueira").

Giving Portuguese Surnames to Afro-Brazilians and Native Brazilians

Until the emancipation, slaves did not have a surname, only a given name. They were even forbidden to use their distinct African or Brazilian native names and were christened with a Portuguese given name. While slavery persisted, slaves need to have distinct names only within the plantation ("fazenda" or "engenho") to which they belonged.

It was a common practice to name the free slaves after their former owners, so all of their descendants have the Portuguese surnames of their former owner.

Indigenous people who were not slaves also chose to use their godparents' surnames as their own.

Religious names are also more common among people with African or Brazilian native ancestors than among people with just European ancestors. A slave who had just a given name like "Francisco de Assis" (Francis of Assisi) could use the partial name "de Assis" as a surname, since the connective -"de"- gives the appearance of surname.

The practice of naming Afro-Brazilians with religious surnames was proved even by some indirect approaches. Medical researchers demonstrated that theres is a statistical correlation between a religious name and genetic diseases related to African ancestry such as the sickle-cell disease. Due to miscegenation, the correlation exists even among white people that have a religious surname.

It was also common to name indigenous people and freed slaves with surnames which were already very common such as "Silva" or "Costa". That is why "Silva" is the most common surname in Brazil.

Surnames Originated from Native Brazilian Words

In the years following Brazil's independence, some Brazilians from wealthy and important families, intoxicated with patriotic feeling, changed their Portuguese family names to others that emphasized the new Fatherland. So they begin to use as surnames the words derived from Native Brazilian languages. These names includes:
* Native Brazilian Tribes: "Tupinambá, Tabajara, Carijó, Goytacaz, Guarany, Tamoio" (the last was a confederation of tribes that fought the first Portuguese settlers);
* Brazilian trees: "Jatobá", "Mangabeira" (mangaba tree), "Pitangui" (pitanga tree), "Saraíba", "Palmeira" (palm tree), "Coqueiro" (coconut tree), "Goiabeira" (guava tree);
* Typical Brazilian fruits: "Pitanga, Murici, Guaraná" (a Brazilian family with Dutch ancestors changed their surname from "Van Ness" to "Guaraná");
* Famous Brazilian native chiefs: "Caiubi", "Tibiriçá", "Paraguaçu" (big river, sea, in Tupi language), "Piragibe" (fish's arm, in Tupi language), "Arcoverde" (green bow, in Portuguese);
* Brazilian rivers: "Capibaribe" (capibaras' river in Tupi language), "Jaguaribe" (jaguars' river);
* Mountains: "Araripe";
* Brazilian places: "Suassuna" (black deer, in Tupi language), "Pirassununga" (snoring fish, in Tupi language), "Piratininga" (dried fish, in Tupi language).

Due to immigration, nowadays one can find these surnames even in Portugal.

Brazilian Locative Surnames

Some of Brazilian surnames, like some old Portuguese surnames, are locative surnames, that proudly state the original land where the ancestor, who first used it, was born or lived. Like the surnames originated from Native Brazilian words, this practice started in the patriotic environment of the years following Brazil's Independence.

These are surnames like "Brasil", (Brazil), "Brasiliense" (Brazilian), "Brasileiro" (Brazilian), "América", "Americano" (American), "Bahiense" (from Bahia city, today called Salvador), "Cearense" (from Ceará State)," Maranhão" (from Maranhão State), "Parahyba" (related to Paraíba do Sul river, not related to Paraiba State, Paraiba river or Paraiba city - today called João Pessoa) and "Carioca" (from Rio de Janeiro city).

Due to immigration, nowadays one can find these surnames even in Portugal.

Non-Portuguese Surnames in Brazil

Despite the lesser variation in Portuguese surnames, immigration from many other countries (Italy, Germany, Spain, Austria, Netherlands, Sweden, Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, Hungary, Syria, Lebanon, Japan, Korea etc) increased the variation of surnames in Brazil.

Some foreign surnames were misspelled after many generations and today cannot be recognized in their original country (the French-Swiss family name "Magnan" changed to "Manhães" after some decades). Some misspelled foreign surnames are hard for speakers of the original language to recognize: these include "Collor" from German "Koeller", "Chamareli" from Italian "Sciammarelli", "Branquini" from "Bianchini". Sometimes, different rules of romanization were applied to Japanese and Arabian names (like "Nacamura" and "Nakamura", "Ishigawa" and "Ichigawa", "Sabag" and "Sappak", "Bukhalil" and "Bucalil").

Thus there are extensively adapted or misspelled foreign surnames that become true Brazilian surnames, that used only by Brazilians or descendants of Brazilian immigrants.

Immigrants' Surnames

Although not so widely used as in the United States, immigrants used to change their surname to show assimilation or to avoid social discrimination in Brazil.

This practice was most used during World War II by Italian immigrants because Italy was an enemy country for a few years. The new Portuguese surname was chosen based on the original meaning of the foreign suname ("Olivetto", "Olivetti" or "Oliva" changed to "Oliveira"), but sometimes the new surname had only a phonetical resemblance ("Livieiro" changed to "Oliveira", "Salviani" to" Silva", "Jabarrah" to "Gabeira").

As Italians are Catholics, the practice is not perceived after a single generation, but one can find many translated names among the old Brazilian Jewish families, e.g., "Monteverde" ("Greenberg"), " Bento" (from "Baruch", meaning blessed in Hebrew), "Luz" (from Licht, a short form of "Lichtenstein"), "Lobo Filho" (Wolfsohn), "Diamante" (Diamant). "Dourado" can be a translation from "Goldfarb" or an ancient portuguese-jewissh name.

Respectful Treatment using Hypocoristics

In Brasil, until the first-half of the 20th century, very important people could be called in a very respectful - but not formal - way using a social or military title and a childish hypocoristics of their given name, such as "Coronel Tonico"(something like Coronel Tony), "Comendador Paulinho" (Comendador Little Paul), "Dona Chica" (Lady Little Frances"), "Sinhá Mariquinha" (Mrs. Little Mary, "sinhá" is a popular pronunciation of senhora, i.e. Mrs.). Although an American president could be called "Bill" (Clinton) or "Jimmy" (Carter) by the press, this practice was used in Brazil as a much more respectful treatment.

Some sociologists have suggested that that members of the Brazilian upper classes were often raised by slave women who gave them an informal name, and that childish name continued to be used in an respectful way when they grew up.

Today, this practice is not used formally, but one can find people informally, but respectfully, called "Seu Zé" (Mr Joe, "Seu" is a short Mister) or "Dona Ritinha" (Lady Little Rita).

Adding Given Names to Surnames

In Brazil, some descendants of famous people use a surname composed of both the given name and the surname of their ancestor, like "Ruy Barbosa", "Vital Brasil", "Miguel Pereira" and "Lafayette Rodrigues" families. Such practice allows them to be easily recognized by other people as descendants of their famous ancestor. Such a pattern is rare.

People Without Surnames

People without surnames can still be found in Brazil. Usually people who lived in the backlands or in the forests, far from civilization, lack proper civil registration.

Eventually, when forced by their migration to a civilized place, they are forced to civil registration and adopt a traditional Portuguese surname of their choice.

Given Names

Non-Portuguese Given Names in Brazil

In Portugal, a newborn children can only be named from a list of given names permitted by Civil Law. [See a List of Portuguese Given Names in [http://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lista_de_prenomes_portugueses the Portuguese language Wikipedia] ] . Names are required to be spelt according to the rules of Portuguese ortography and to be a part of Portuguese-language onomastic (traditionally names in Portugal were based on the calendar of saints). Thus in Portugal the given names show little variation, as traditional names are favoured over "modern" ones. Examples of popular Portuguese names are "António, João, José, Francisco, Pedro or Manuel" (for men) and "Maria, Ana, Isabel, Teresa or Joana" (for women). In recent decades there has been a popularity rise for ancient historical names such as "Gonçalo, Bernardo, Vasco, Afonso, Leonor, Catarina or Beatriz".

In Brazil, there is no legal restriction on naming a newborn child, unless the given name has a meaning that can humiliate or embarrass those who bear it. An immigrant can give a foreign first name to his or her child without bureaucratic procedures.

Brazilians living far from the big cities or lower-class people are prone to create new given names, joining together the given names of the parents or classical given names, changing the spelling of foreign names or even using foreign suffixes that - they may believe - give a sophisticated or modern sound to the new name (see Mauren - from Maureen - , Deivid - from David, Robison).

Foreign surnames are also widely used as given names such as "Wagner, Mozart, Donizetti, Lamartine, Danton, Anderson, Nelson, Emerson, Edison, Wilson, Washington, Jefferson, Jensen, Kennedy, Lenin" and "Rosenberg". These names showed the political ties or artistic admiration of the parents who first used them to name their sons.

Given Names Originating from Native Brazilian Names

During the realm of the second Emperor, Dom Pedro II, the Brazilian Native was used as the symbol of the Empire. At this time, Brazilian people started to use Native Brazilian names as given names. Some are among the most popular until nowadays.

These are names like "Araci, Caubi, Guaraci, Iara, Iberê, Ioná, Juçara, Jaci, Jandira, Juraci, Jurema, Janaína, Maiara, Moacir, Ubiratã, Ubirajara, Iracema" and "Peri" (the last three taken from José de Alencar's works).

Recently, Brazilians have started to use other given names of Brazilian native origin like "Rudá" (love), Cauã and "Cauê" (sun), although these are now very rare and their use connotes the hippy culture.


ee also

* Portuguese alphabet
* Spanish naming customs

External links

* [http://www.dgrn.mj.pt/civil/NomesAdmit.pdf Direcção Geral de Registos e Notariados - Nomes admitidos] - List of first names admitted by law (Portugal)

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