Middle names — why do we have them?


Justine Phipps

While some believe it’s important to have a middle name, others find it useless.

Middle names: a part of one’s identity, or a useless addition to one’s name?

According to the article, “Why do we have middle names” on mentalfloss.com, the usage of middle names dates back to ancient Rome. Multiple names were common for the most important people, such as Gaius Julius Caesar.

Senior Jenna Mourad said, “I think the origin of middle names is interesting because I never exactly thought much about them before. It’s nice having a middle name because I think it really adds to making my name sound better rather than a bland first and last name.”

This fad continued throughout the 1700’s — aristocrats would give their children long names to show their status in society.

The typical three part name structure began in the Middle Ages when Europeans were torn between naming their children names from their family descent or a saint name. Since some could not decide between the two, they gave their children both names.

I don’t think it’s that important to have a middle name, but I really love the concept of names so I think it’s super fun to have one,”

— senior Andrew Wach

Soon enough, the fad of the middle name reached America as immigrants arrived. The addition of a three-part name soon turned into a sign of relating to a higher social class while nonreligious middle names (many times maiden names) eventually became a normal practice.

Senior Griffin Kimura said, “I’m appreciative of my middle name because of the fact that it’s my mom’s maiden name. I think it’s important in my case to have one because I believe it’s important to represent her side of the family, rather than just my dad’s.”

Though there are some important and meaningful ways of utilizing middle names, sometimes it doesn’t play as much of an active role in people’s lives.

“I don’t think it’s that important to have a middle name, but I really love the concept of names so I think it’s super fun to have one,” said senior Andrew Wach.

Senior Emma Lin said, “I don’t think having a middle name is that important, but it helps to differentiate yourself more from others who may have the same first or last name as you. [In my case,] my name feels pretty short without it.”

In some cultures, it can be very essential to have a middle name, while others don’t see having a three part name as very important.

“In my father’s Egyptian culture, it’s very common to have middle names while on my mother’s Texan side, it’s not as much of a popular thing. At the same time, I think it’s mostly up to the individual family on what they want,” said Mourad.

Kimura said, “My entire family has a middle name, but it doesn’t play a very big role in our lives. I’m not sure about other cultures, but I feel like most Asians don’t seem to care very much about middle names. I like to use my middle name whenever someone asks, but I rarely use it.”

Middle names can reflect a lot about one or their culture, however in the end the act of having one can primarily reflect from a family’s tradition and preference.

Do you have a middle name?

Yes, and I like it.
Yes, but I don’t feel like it’s important.
No, but I wish I had one.
No, and I don’t see a reason for one.

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