A given name is a name given to one by their parents, usually at birth. A person may have one or more given names. Generally, when a person has multiple given names, there is a primary one which is the

first name, and all secondary ones are known as middle names. A given name differs from a surname or family name in that a given name is not inherited. A given named is used to differentiate among people with the same last name.


A child's given name or names are usually assigned around the time of birth. In most jurisdictions, the name at birth� is a matter of public record, inscribed on the birth certificate or equivalent. In some jurisdictions, mainly civil-law� jurisdictions such as France, Quebec, the Netherlands or Germany, the functionary whose job it is to record acts of birth may act to prevent parents from giving the child a name that may cause him or her harm (in France, by referring the case to a local judge). Even spell-checking of the name is done.

Persons born in one country who immigrate� to another with different naming conventions may have their names legally changed accordingly. If the name is not assigned at birth it may be assigned at a naming ceremony� with families and friends attending.

In 1991, in protest of Swedish naming laws, two parents attempted to name their child Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb11116, claiming that it was "a pregnant, expressionistic development that we see as an artistic creation.".

Popularity distribution of given namesEdit

The popularity (frequency) distribution of given names typically follows a power law distribution.

Since about 1800 in England and Wales and in the U.S., the popularity distribution of given names has been shifting so that the most popular names are losing popularity. For example, in England and Wales, the most popular female and male names given to babies born in 1800 were Mary and John, with 24% of female babies and 22% of male babies receiving those names, respectively. In contrast, the corresponding statistics for in England and Wales in 1994 were Emily and James, with 3% and 4% of names, respectively. Not only have Mary and John gone out of favor in the English speaking world, also the overall distribution of names has changed significantly over the last 100 years for females, but not for males. This has led to an increasing amount of diversity for female names.