Many of us have middle names, and you might have a baby on the way and are considering finding the perfect middle name for them.
It seems quite normal to have a middle name, but how did middle names come about, and do we really need a middle name?
We have created a guide on everything you need to know about middle names, so keep reading to find out just about everything there is to know when it comes to middle names!
How Many Middle Names Can You Have?
Believe it or not, you can actually have as many middles names as you want, and there are no limits to the amount that you can have.
There is also no limit to the length of the middle names.
However, people who do have multiple middle names usually only put one or two down on legal documents or other forms.
All of the names will have to be on your birth certificate and SS card, but it does become quite tiring writing these out each time you write down your name.
For many people, middle names are passed down from family members, and this is often why some people have so many.
If you want to keep on this tradition, it is fine to have more than one middle name, and there is no law stopping you from doing this.
Just keep in mind that your child will have to learn how to spell all of these middle names, and that can be quite a bit to remember at first!
Do You Legally Need A Middle Name?
There is no legal requirement for you to have a middle name. It is completely optional, and there are many people who do not have middle names.
There are even people who have given names by no surname.
While there are some rules to follow when naming your child, these are usually to avoid offensive or inappropriate names and does not give any restriction to the number of names that you might have.
Middle names are completely optional, and it is up to the parents, or the person themselves, whether or not they wish to have a second name.
Why Do Middle Names Exist?
The origins of middle names can be dated all the way back to ancient Rome. Back then, most Romans had three names.
They had a personal name, a praenomen, a family name, a nomen, and a name indicating which branch of the family they were from, a cognomen.
The more names you had in Roman times, the more respected you were, and the higher your standing was in society.
However, this was only reserved for men, and women only ever had two names, and slaves mostly only had one name.
This tradition of multiple names continued, and eventually, in the 1700s this moved over to Western culture.
The rich aristocrats in the west began giving their children long names to indicate their high position in society.
Arabic and Spanish families would give their children middle names from their paternal or maternal family name so that they would better be able to keep track of the family tree in future generations.
Fast forward to today, our middle names come from an indecisiveness of Europeans in the Middle Ages, when they could not decide on whether to give their child the name of a saint, or a family name.
To solve this, they gave their child a given name first, a baptismal second name, and then the family name last.
This trend soon moved to America as more people settled there.
Most middle names now are not necessarily based on religious names, and often have to do more with a family name or the mother’s maiden name.
Many people also do not see the relevance of a middle name anymore and choose not to have one or give one to their child.
So, from origins in ancient Rome to biblical names, and then on to honoring family, middle names have come quite a long way!
Why Do We Have Middle Names?
Some families do choose to follow the tradition of giving their child a family name as a middle name.
This is often to pay respect to a family member or to make sure that the family name continues to be passed down.
However, it is becoming more popular to give your child a second name that you like the sound of, and that is completely fine.
Sometimes you might not be able to decide between two names, so you pick both as a first and second. You might also like the way two names sound together.
People are also giving their children second names that pay respect to someone famous, or parents use the second name to personalize their child’s name or give them a second name that represents an idea or a person that the parents find important or relevant.
A middle name is a very personal thing, and it is up to parents, and sometimes even the person themselves, as to what their personal name means, and whether or not they have one at all.
When Did Middle Names Become Common?
Middle names have been used since ancient Roman times, but they were usually reserved for aristocrats. In America, middle names only became popular in the 19th century.
This is when German immigrants arrived in America and continued the tradition of using middle names.
This tradition then only picked up in popularity, and the use of middle names continued to grow from the 19th century onwards.
It is interesting to note that more and more people are choosing to not pass down middle names to their children, as the relevance of a middle name is just not what it used to be.
What Is The Purpose Of Middle Names?
Nowadays, choosing a middle name is subject to many different influences.
Parents might choose to pass down the mother’s maiden name, a name that is popular in a certain family branch, a name in honor of a relative, or just a name that is interesting or meaningful.
The purpose of a middle name really is personal to the person or the family, and the purpose differs from each person.
Traditionally, a middle name was subject to your standing in society, but as we have done away with this, it is not the case any longer.
There is no proper purpose of a middle name anymore, other than to personalize a name and add some meaning to it.
How Do Middle Names Work?
Middle names are added to a child’s full name on their birth certificate when they are born. This could be a single middle name, or more than one if desired.
A middle name, written on a birth certificate, becomes part of that person’s legal name and needs to be used along with their other names for identification and legal purposes.
For this reason, many people are choosing to either not pass down a middle name, or keep middle names shorter, so that it does not become too much of an effort to use.
Some people even choose to go by their middle names, instead of using their first names.
This is perfectly legal, as long as you are not using this for fraudulent purposes.
You will also have to use your real name, or first name, for legal purposes, but otherwise, you are perfectly allowed to go by your second name.
How To Pick Middle Names?
Some people find it difficult to decide on a middle name.
Do you go traditional and use a family name, do you choose something meaningful to you, or do you pick a name that sounds nice when used with the first name?
Here are some tips on how to choose a meaningful middle name, no matter what it might represent:
- Choose a name that honors a family member. This family member could still be living, or someone that has passed. If you feel bad choosing only one family member to honor, you could have a double-barrel middle name and honor two.
- The middle name could give a nod to your heritage, by choosing a name from your heritage, or even from your own parent’s heritage. It might not necessarily be a family name, but it could be a traditional name of your culture.
- You could choose a name that is meaningful to you and your partner when you are deciding on a middle name. It could be in reference to the place you met, your favorite TV show, or simply something that is personal to you.
- The rhythm that the second name gives to the full name is also a deciding factor. The second name might not hold much meaning, but if it sounds strong, pretty, or whimsical when said with the first name and surname, then there is no reason you can’t choose the name.
Choosing A Middle Name
Middle names now hold more personal meaning, rather than being regarded as a symbol of status in society.
Parents have more freedom as to what middle name they can give to their child, and if they want to give them a second name at all.