What Is A Suffix In A Name?

A name suffix in the Western English language follows a person’s full name and gives us more information about a person.  A suffix in a name usually refers to either two things. The first would represent a position of authority, office, professional career, education level, or honor.

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The other example would be representative of a generational continuation, such as having the same name as a family member if you were a male. 

Most suffixes relating to the continuation of family names are solely for male heirs and are not used if a woman bore the same name as her mother or father. 

What is a Suffix in a Name?

What Is An Example Of A Name Suffix?

An example of a name suffix would be either a relative professional qualification or a continuation of a family name. Examples of these would be Jr or Sr if a father and son had the same first and last names.

An example of a professional suffix would be JD  (Juris Doctor), MBA (Master in Business Administration), or Ph.D. (Philosophical Doctor). Another suffix example would be II or ‘the second’ if a male family member had the same first and last name of another male in the family that was not his father. 

What Are Examples Of An Academic Suffix?

An academic suffix indicates a degree earned at a university or college. Usually, a suffix or a prefix would be used, but you don’t tend to use both as one would be redundant. For example, Dr. Matthew Smith JD wouldn’t be accurate, it would be Dr. Matthew Smith or Matthew Smith JD.

The list of suffixes for academics is huge and this is by no means an exhaustive list, but covers most of the basics –  bachelor’s degrees (AB, BA, BA (Hons), BS, BFA, BTech, LLB, BSc, etc.), master’s degrees (MA, MS, MFA, LLM, MLA, MBA, MSc., MEng), professional doctorates (JD, MD, DO, PharmD, DMin), and academic doctorates (PhD., EdD., DPhil, DBA., LLD, EngD)

What Is An Example Of A Professional Suffix?

Usually, a professional suffix would coalign with academic achievement but can also just be an abbreviation of the professional role for which you are employed for example if Matthew Smith was a personal trainer, his CV could say Matthew Smith PT but this wouldn’t be a legal name.

Generally, a professional suffix would not be used unless writing a signature or giving additional information or gravitas to a CV or professional communication.

A Master Sommelier who has trained and gotten accreditation would likewise be able to use the suffix MS at the end of their name, but again wouldn’t usually be used outside of a professional setting. 

Is Mr Or Mrs A Suffix?

No, Mrs and Mr are not considered suffixes. They go at the start of the name, not the end. In the USA, there is no ‘post-nominal’ (after the name) equivalent to Mr and Mrs, though in the UK the post-nominal equivalent would be esquire or Esq (though Esq can also be used as a professional suffix for a lawyer in the USA as well). 

Mr and Mrs are both referred to as honorifics as they denote the title of the person. Mrs refers to a married woman, and Mr is an honorific that refers to any man past childhood. 

Is Jr Or Sr A Suffix?

Yes, Jr and Sr are both suffixes. If someone, (usually a man), is named the same as his father, he has the suffix Jr, and his father would have the suffix Sr. When his father dies, he can remove the Jr suffix or keep it to stop him from getting confused with his late father.

This suffix is an explanation of the first name, not the last name- ‘Matthew Smith Jr’ if your name was Matthew Smith and your father was called Matthew Smith, would be referring to the fact you are both called Matthew, not that you both have the surname, Smith.

When a male child has the same name as his uncle, grandfather, or other male relation that is not his father, he can use the suffix II or ‘the second’ or III, and so on depending on how many repetitions of first names are in the family. 

Where Do You Put The Suffix When Listing The Last Name First?

Always write the last name first. This is mainly because when sorting files and searching for a name, the last name is what would be searched for first.

Then would come the first name, and finally the suffix. How this is written would depend on your style guide but the general rule of thumb is for the first name and suffix to be separated by a comma.

An example for Matthew Smith Jr would be Smith, Matthew, Jr. If you had a middle name, it would be abbreviated to a capital letter after the first name but before the suffix- for example- Matthew Alexander Smith Jr would be Smith, Matthew, A, Jr. 

Why Is It Useful To Know Suffixes?

The main use for knowing suffixes of a person would be finding out genealogy or ancestry. It can give us an insight into a person and lead to finding out more about the family.

For example, we could see that someone shared the same name as their father if they had the suffix Jr, and this could help us find out more about the family line.

It also just adds more chance of tracking down any signed or named documents by having a fuller name to trace. It gives us more information on someone’s career or qualifications and potentially a snapshot of the kind of social standing a person may have had, though this is, of course, more important in earlier generations than more recently.