Explain Your Middle Name

Photo courtesy of alphamom.com

This morning at breakfast my sister, brother-in-law (BIL) and BF got on the topic of middle names. Sister and BIL asked what BF’s middle name was.

A conversation ensued which got me thinking.And of course when I think, I tend to want other’s think with me. So, I asked them why they think we give people middle names.

“Catholics do it because it gives them a ‘Catholic’ name if they don’t already have one,” replies BIL.

Ok. That sounds like a legitimate reason. I know that when I got confirmed, all the candidates had to choose a Confirmation name that the preist would refer to you as when you received the sacrament. (Mine was Margaret).

But really, why do we have middle names? Has anyone ever thought about this before?

Of course, I took to the web to find the answer!

Photo courtesy of newdadtobe.com

Apparently, BIL was partly right! According to eHow.com, middle names are a relatively new custom in America brought over by German immigrants. They gave their children two names, one which was called a spiritual name, and the other, a secular name. The practice didn’t become popular among the masses until after the Civil War. Prior to that, upper class families were known to give their children middle names, however, it was still fairly uncommon.

Middle names also have roots as a sign of appreciation for others. Some parents give their child a middle name of a relative or close friend who was an influential and important person in their lives. Sometimes, middle names were used as a source of continuing on a family name, a family heirloom of sorts.

Interesting stuff, right? My middle name is actually my grandmother’s first name and my mother’s middle name. I get where mine comes from.

What’s the story behind yours?


  1. My middle name is my grandmother’s first name and my mom’s middle name too! Haha

  2. Cindy Cangelosi · · Reply

    Nice 🙂

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