National Whatever Day: March 10th

Today's National Whatever Day is Middle Name Pride Day.

People’s names in several cultures include one or more additional names placed between the first given name and the surname. Middle names could be either given names (like in Anthony Michael Hall) or surnames (like in George Walker Bush).

In Canada and the United States, 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 and Canada it is often abbreviated to the middle initial (e.g. James Ronald Bass becomes James R. Bass, which is usually standard for signatures) or omitted entirely in everyday use (e.g. just James Bass).

It is debated 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 much 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. Since 1905, “middle name” gained a figurative connotation meaning a notable or outstanding attribute of a person, as in the phrase “________ is my middle name.”

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 depriving persons with multiple middle names of the possibility to be listed in such databases under their full name. 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.

In the United States, the middle initial or a religious initial can be used to replace a middle name even if the name is not printed on a birth certificate. It is sometimes used in place of the middle name on identity documents, passports, driver licenses, social security cards, university diplomas, and other official documents. Examples of this form include George W. Bush and John D. Rockefeller. The abbreviation “NMN” (no middle name) or “NMI” (no middle initial) is sometimes used in formal documents where a middle initial or name is expected when the person does not have one. It is also common for people to use their middle name as the first name.

In the United States, upon marriage, individuals have the option of no longer using their middle name.


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