Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
n. 1 A name between the given name and the family name or surname 2 (context figuratively English) A trait, activity, or action closely associated with or that excellently describes a person.
n. a name between your first name and your surname
People's names in several cultures include one or more additional names often but not necessarily placed between the first given name and the surname. Middle names can be either given names (as in Martin Luther King) or surnames (as in George Walker Bush).
In some English speaking countries such names are specifically referred to as middle name(s); in most European countries they would simply be regarded as second, third, etc. given names. In some countries there is usually only one middle name, and in the United States it is often abbreviated to the middle initial (e.g. Mary Lee Bianchi becomes Mary L. Bianchi, which is usually standard for signatures) or omitted entirely in everyday use (e.g. just Mary Bianchi). In the United Kingdom she would usually be referred to either as Mary Bianchi, M. L. Bianchi or Mary Lee Bianchi, or she may choose Lee Bianchi, and informally there may be familiar shortenings. An individual may have more than one given name, or none. In some other countries, the term middle name is only used for names that are originally last names, but not part of the last name of the bearer (for instance one can have one's mother's maiden name as a middle name).
It is debatable how long middle names have existed in English speaking countries, but it is certain that among royalty and aristocracy the practice existed by the late 17th century (and possibly earlier), as exemplified in the name of the Stuart pretender James Francis Edward Stuart (1688–1766).
Despite their relatively long existence in North America, the phrase "middle name" was not recorded until 1835 in the periodical Harvardiana.
The use of multiple middle names has been somewhat impeded recently by the increased use of computer databases that occasionally allow for only a single middle name or more commonly a middle initial in storing personal records, effectively preventing people with multiple middle names from being listed in such databases under their full name. This is worsened by longer compound names, like María del Pilar Pereyra or María de las Nieves García. Especially in the case of government records and other databases that are used for legal purposes, this phenomenon has sometimes been criticized as a form of discrimination against people who carry multiple middle names for cultural or religious reasons.
The abbreviation "N.M.N." (no middle name) or "N.M.I." (no middle initial), with or without periods, is sometimes used in formal documents where a middle initial or name is expected but the person does not have one. The middle name can also be a maiden name.
Since 1905, "middle name" has also developed a figurative usage meaning a notable or outstanding attribute of a person, as in the phrase "discretion is my middle name."
Usage examples of "middle name".
For patience is very much French's middle name and his always thorough investigations have proved him to be an expert manhunter with a unique ability to break seemingly unbreakable alibis.
The assistant researcher nodded and thought how much more he liked his first name rather than his seldom-used middle name, Marcus.
The assistant researcher nodded and thought how much more he liked his first name rather than his seldom used middle name Marcus.
Constantly taking Vitamin E, constantly grazing on fruits and vegetables for their beta carotene and potassium, I mean you wouldnt believe how much carrot-juice he drank, and as for potassium, hey, potassium could have been his middle name, he had a real obsession about it, he practically had grapes and bananas coming out of his ears.
You are no doubt aware-- your middle name implies it-- of the last words of the American Revolutionary War espionage agent named Nathan Hale.