Brazilian Culture

Naming

  • Common given names are after older relatives (such as a great-grandparent) or after Catholic saints.
  • Brazil has adopted Portuguese naming patterns, meaning that it is typical for people to trace their ancestry back through both their maternal and paternal lines. This is reflected in their name, as they usually have two surnames; the mother’s paternal and father’s paternal surname (e.g. Luiz João PAZOS SILVA). 
  • Maternal family names are always placed before paternal family names.
  • When a female marries a male, she will usually add her husband’s surname as a replacement to her mother’s family name.
  • Family names may be written separately or joined by the conjunction ‘e’ (‘and’). For example, Joana Filipa SANTOS CUNHA or Joana Filipa SANTOS E CUNHA.
  • It is common to find Portuguese family names ending in -ES (e.g. LOPES), while many personal names usually end in -z (e.g. Luiz).
  • Brazilians often use ‘apelidos’ (‘nicknames’) to address one another. However, apelidos are mostly used among family and friends. Brazilians will create nicknames for most people, with some nicknames being short forms of first names, or based on an easily noticeable personal characteristic.
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