A family name (in Western contexts often referred to as a surname or last name) is typically a part of a person's name which has been passed, according to law or custom, from one or both parents to their children.The use of family names is common in many cultures around the world.Each culture has its own rules as to how these names are applied and used.Having both a family name and given name ("first name", "forename", or "Christian name") is far from universal.In many countries it is common for ordinary people to have only one name (a mononym).In many cultures (particularly in European and European influenced cultures in the Americas, Australia, etc., as well as the Middle East, South Asia, and most African cultures), the family name is normally the last part of a person's name. The latter is often called the Eastern order because Europeans are most familiar with the examples from East Asia, specifically China, Korea, Japan and Vietnam.The Eastern order is also used in Hungary, Romania and in parts of Africa.
Generally the given name, first name, forename, or personal name is the one used by friends, family, and other intimates to address an individual.
It may also be used by someone who is in some way senior to the person being addressed.
This practice also differs between cultures; see T-V distinction.
In this article, family name and surname both mean the patrilineal (literally, father-line) surname, handed down from or inherited from the father's line or patriline, unless explicitly stated otherwise.
Thus, the term "maternal surname" means the patrilineal surname which one's mother inherited from either or both of her parents.