Posted by: Author | January 24, 2014

Friday Fact- January 24, 2014- Patronymic

A patronymic is a name derived from the name of a father or grandfather or other ancestor (it comes from Greek for father which is pater). It’s interesting to me that most every culture has these type of names. It is formed by adding with a prefix or suffix to a name. Here are some examples: Richardson is Richard + son, so initially, it was the son of Richard. Same suffix addition for Johnson, Smithson and Anderson. Cool, huh?

For Scottish names, add Mc or Mac- such as McDonald or MacArthur.

For some Hispanic names, add ez- Hernando’s son would be Hernandez.

Russians add ich or ovich for men and ovna or evna for women so the son of Pyotr (Peter) would be Petrovich and the daughter would be Petrovna- same kind of thing for Sergey- son= Sergeyevich and daughter= Sergeyevna.

The prefix Fitz in English started out as a surname for the illegitimate children of royalty- so if you know a Fitzpatrick or a Fitzwilliam, chances are, somewhere in their family line was a royal child born, as they say, on the wrong side of the blanket, to either Patrick or William.

My dad’s first name is Donald so back in earlier times, my name may have been Donaldson or had he been a cheating on his wife kind of king, perhaps Fitzdonald. LOL

What’s a patronymic you might have had?


  1. Interesting! The history or words and names is a fascinating subject. In genealogy the male line is so much easier to trace because of the continuity of names.

    • Amen, Flossie. As a member of the DAR, I have first hand knowledge of that! LOL! And yes, it’s totally fascinating.

  2. I had no idea about the “Fitz”. Interesting, thanks.
    The first that comes to mind is the Vikings.I remember learning in school that although they did not use last names per se, they were known by patronymics. I have been known to impress people by knowing Eric the Red’s “last name”.He was known as Eric Thorvaldson, and his oldest son was Thorvald Ericson. No one thinks about it even though everyone knows his younger son, Leif Ericson. So if anyone asks what Eric the Red’s father’s name was, it was Thorvald…(but I don’t know HIS patronymic!)

    • Interesting facts, Tonette!

  3. Really interesting. Both my maiden and married name is German so not sure how that would have worked. How would you add something to ‘Tryon’ or ‘Sprout’?

    • Here’s an interesting German patronymic article, Lavada: I couldn’t find any patronymics for your two names but I did find that Germans added either an s or an i to the end of the father’s name for patronymics as in Ahrend would be Ahrneds and Jakobi or Alberti for Jakob or Albert. Some German surnames came from geographical areas.

      • Thanks for the link. I’m with Laurie I think this may be one of my favorite Fact Fridays. This would be interesting for those tracing their genealogy.

      • Awesome Lavada. Glad you guys liked it so much. Makes me happy!


  4. Absolutely fascinating. I think this is my favorite of all your Friday facts. I learned A LOT today. Thanks!

    • Awesome Laurie. I was afraid to use it as I thought it might be well known. Glad to know it’s a favorite for you and that you learned from it. Yay.


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