Portuguese Culture

Naming

  • Portuguese typically have two personal names. However, the first may be used on its own. For example, Luiz João may be simply known as Luiz.
  • Traditionally, godparents would name the newborn baby. However, it is more common today for parents to name their child.
  • Common given names are after older relatives (such as a great-grandparent) or after Catholic saints.
  • People will also often have at least two surnames. The most common format is to have one’s mother’s and father’s surname (e.g. Luiz João OLIVEIRA SILVA).
  • Maternal family names are always placed before family names.
  • Sometimes, the family name from the father will be used alone. However, it is rare for someone to use only their mother’s family name. For example, Luiz João OLIVEIRA SILVA may be known as Luiz João SILVA but rarely as Luiz João OLIVEIRA.
  • 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).
  • When a woman marries, she has many options as to the names she adopts. For example, she might keep her maiden names, add her husband’s family name to her own, add both husband’s family names to her own, or drop her maternal family name and replace it with her husband’s family name. As such, married women can have up to eight family names (two maternal family names, two family names and her husband’s family names).

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