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"In English, my name means hope. In Spanish, it means too many letters."

Spanish is one of the most commonly spoken languages in the world (second to only Mandarin Chinese in the number of first-language speakers and only to English and Mandarin Chinese in the number of total speakers), being the official language of twenty countries. Moreover, the Hispanosphere has a long history of interaction (the good, the bad, the mixed, and the ambiguous) and still have frequent cultural and economic exchanges. It's thus no surprise that Latin/Hispanic cultures are among the most common non-Anglo cultures represented in English-language media. (And other European media — probably.) For these reasons, many may falsely assume that various Spanish cultures and traditions are similar or identical to Anglo-American ones, with only more drugs, crime, and really attractive people. However, this is not the case. One of the most obvious things to get wrong is the names you give to people being inappropriate for the time/location, misgendered, or just plain incorrect. The one thing many comedies, especially, often do get right is the length many names can be, typically for laughs. Unfortunately, a lot of media relies on reusing Stock Foreign Names without checking if they're appropriate. Hopefully, this page will help you out more than that.

We should note that the typical sample of last names is largely universal for all Hispanophone nations, with small regional variations in popularity. Some places (Cuba) retain more colonial names than the others, some (Barranquilla) have a lot of other cultural names, and some (the Basque) have names all their own. Also, though there are many rules in place, from the 21st century and liberalization of tradition these can be seen more as guidelines, and as long as you have more than one last name it's probably fine. And you must have more than one last name, even if you don't: all functions of society in many of these nations basically rely on being able to fill out two boxes for your surname, and they also enforce the Naturalized Name in that if you are a citizen of the nation your legal name, at least for the country, has to follow their conventions, so if you were to emigrate you might have to make up an extra given name or two and remember that people asking for your mother's maiden name just need it to look you up, not to steal your password.

Note: This page uses the sub-headings nombre (given name) and apellido (surnames). As you'll learn from reading on, however, "last name" and "first name" are barely accurate at all, really.

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    Common Hispanic last names 
Most Hispanophone nations have many surnames in common, see the list below.

Unless otherwise stated, the default for surnames is the Latin-America standard that a child will receive their father's first surname, their mother's first surname, their father's second surname, their mother's second surname in that order as their own full surname. So, Sr. AB and Sra. CD would have the son Srto. ACBD. Also unless otherwise stated, there will be no form of married name, nor will surnames be connected by hyphens or similar.

  • García — the most common surname in Spain, and second in Mexico, Cuba and the Philippines, it derives from an old word meaning "young"
  • Fernández — means "son of Fernando"
    • Peter Fernandez, American voice actor
    • Ramon Fernandez, Spanish actor working in American television
    • Angelines Fernández, Spanish-Mexican actress famous for her roles on Chespirito (Mexican SNL)
    • Fernando Fernán Gómez, legendary Spanish actor and director
    • María Teresa Fernández de la Vega, first female deputy prime minister in Spain
    • Leandro Fernández de Moratín, playwright and proponent of literary reform in 18th Century Spain
  • González — second most common surname in Spain, in the top 5 in Latin America, and 23rd in the United States, originally refers to fortifications but has been back-formed into the name 'Gonzalo' and so can now mean "son of Gonzalo"
    • Speedy Gonzales, the fastest mouse in all of Mexico
    • Alejandro González Iñárritu, Mexican filmmaker (though he now credits himself in the Anglosphere as Alejandro G. Iñárritu)
    • Eiza González, Mexican singer and actress, played "Darling" Castello in Baby Driver
    • Felipe González, former prime minister of Spain
    • Ricardo "Pancho" Gonzales (though the actual spelling was "González"), American tennis great of Mexican descent
  • Rodríguez — "son of Rodrigo", has noble ties as it was originally granted to the royal family of Castille
  • López — "son of Lope", with 'Lope' meaning "wolf"
  • Martínez and Martín — 'son of Martín', which derives from Mars, god of war
  • Diaz — "son of Jacob"; as in, Diego can translate as 'James' or 'Jacob', and in the old Diago variant that originated the surname, it meant 'Jacob'
    • Agustín Díaz Yanes, Spanish screenwriter and director
    • Agustín Díaz Pacheco, Spanish writer
    • Cameron Diaz, American actress (father of Cuban descent)
    • Porfirio Díaz, president of Mexico seven times between 1876 and 1911
  • Sánchez — the fifth most common surname in Spain
    • Arantxa Sánchez Vicario, Spanish tennis great, and also younger sister of three other pro tennis players (Marisa, Emilio, and Javier, all of whom chose to be known by only their father's surname outside the Hispanosphere)
    • Kiele Sanchez, American actress
    • Jose Rafael Cordero Sanchez, Venezuelan activist and voice actor
    • Fernando Sancho, Aragonese actor who did a lot of Spaghetti Westerns
  • Pérez — "son of Pedro", the surname is also popular in Jewish families and so very popular among Sephardi Jews, but the name is no indicator of either being Jewish or Sephardic
  • Aguilar — surname relating to eagles
    • Christina Aguilar, Filipino-Thai pop singer
    • Christina Aguilera, American pop singer
    • Japeth Aguilar, Filipino basketball player
  • Gómez — it comes from an old Germanic word meaning "man". Yep.
  • Domínguez — "son of Domingo"
    • Óscar Domínguez, Spanish artist
    • Juan Antonio Ramírez Domínguez, Spanish poet
    • Kristen Forrester Dominguez, character in The Bold and the Beautiful
  • Serrano — originally indicated people from a highland area
  • Hernández — "son of Hernando", related to 'Fernández'
    • Gérard Hernandez, French-Spanish voice actor
    • Cristina Hernández, Mexican voice actor and dub actor
    • Callie Hernandez, American actress
    • Peter Hernández, better known as Bruno Mars, American singer of Puerto Rican-Filipino descent
    • Xavi Hernández, Barça midfielder
    • Miguel Hernández, Spanish poet with ties to the Generation of '27
    • Shawn Hernandez, American professional wrestler usually known by his last name only
  • Ramírez — "son of Ramiro"
  • Ruíz — possibly comes from Rey, which means king, but even if not is typically a signifier of ancestral nobility
    • Lorenzo Ruiz, Filipino saint
    • Pablo Picasso, that Cubist guy
    • Bartolomé Ruiz, 15th Century Spanish conquistador, Christopher Columbus' pilot
  • Suárez — "son of Suero"
    • Adolfo Suárez, first Spanish prime minister
    • Luis Suárez, Uruguayan footballer famous for both his goal-scoring ability and penchant for biting opposing players
  • Velazquez and Velez — "son of Velasco"
  • Medina — most prominent in Spain, an Arab-Moorish name
    • Maxine Medina, Filipina actress and beauty pageant titleholder
  • Moreno — from words for "brown" and "dark"
  • Bravo — from the original meaning of "brave"
  • Pena or Peña — Spanish equivalent to various regional English "cliff"/"crag"/"rocky"
    • Enrique Peña Nieto, president of Mexico from 2012–2018
  • Cortés — "courteous"
    • The Cortez family in the Spy Kids films
    • Explorer Hernán Cortés
  • Delgado — the Spanish word for skinny or slender
    • Dayanara Torres Delgado, Puerto Rican actress and Miss Universe 1993
  • Grand or Grande — "big"
  • Vega — "(one who lives on/in) the open land"
    • Paz Vega, Spanish actress
    • Alexa Vega, actress from Spy Kidsnote 
    • María Teresa Fernández de la Vega, first deputy prime minister of Spain
  • Calderón — "tinker" (as in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy)
    • Felipe Calderón, president of Mexico from 2006–2012
    • Pedro Calderón de la Barca (y Barreda González de Henao Ruiz de Blasco y Riaño), writer of the Spanish Golden Age
  • Herrera and Herrero — "blacksmith"
  • Romero — "gypsy"
    • Luis Romero
  • Marqués — from the aristocratic station marquis
    • Marc Márquez, six-time MotoGP riders' champion
    • Melanie Marquez, Filipina former beauty queen and Miss International 1979
  • Mendoza and Mendez/Menendez — mendoza is the Basque word for "cold mountain", and is the root for the name 'Mendo' and its derivative 'Menendo', with Mendez being "son of Mendo"
    • Eva Mendes, American actress
    • Eduardo Mendoza, Spanish author
    • Maine Mendoza, Filipina actress
    • Robert "Bob" Menendez, U.S. Senator from New Jersey (of Cuban ancestry)
  • Morales — "son of those who live near fruitful bushes"
  • Torres — "towers", the 50th most popular surname in the United States
    • Gina Torres, American singer and actress
    • Grey's Anatomy has Callie Torres and her family
    • Diana Torres, Mexican writer and actress
    • Fernando Torres, footballer for Chelsea FC
    • Dara Torres, American Olympic swimmer
  • Iglesias — "churches", often given to orphans and those of low birth who were left to the care of the Church. Has a somewhat archaic variant form 'Yglesias' still in use in some regions and their descendants (e.g. Galicia).
    • Julio Iglesias and his son, Enrique Iglesias, famous Spanish singers
    • Álex de la Iglesia, Spanish director of cult films
    • Gabriel Iglesias, American comedian of Mexican ancestry
    • Jose Yglesias, Cuban American novelist and journalist, his son Rafael Yglesias, screenwriter and novelist,note  and his son Matthew Yglesias, journalist/pundit/Twitter troll. To confuse matters, both Jose and Rafael married Ashkenazi Jews, so Matthew is basically a New York Jew with a last name meaning "Church".
  • de la Cruz — "of the Cross", similar in nomination to 'Iglesias' as the people were believed to have been saved from juvenile death by the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross
    • Penélope Cruz, popular Spanish actress
    • Rafael Edward "Ted" Cruz, US Senator from Texas since 2013 (Cuban father of Canary Islands descent)
    • Luis de la Cruz y Ríos, an 18th/19th Century Spanish painter
    • José de la Cruz, also known as Huseng Sisiw, was a Filipino writer that was dubbed as the "King of the poets"
  • Ortiz and Ortega — "son of Orti" and "from the place of nettles", with the name 'Orti' deriving from the word for nettles
    • Lisa Ortiz, American actress
    • José Ortega y Gasset, Spanish philosopher
    • Daniel Ortega Saavedra, President of Nicaragua (1984-1990 & 2006-)
    • David Ortiz, aka "Big Papi", Dominican Hall of Fame baseball player, most notably with the Boston Red Sox
  • Castro — "Chester", with Chester being an Anglicization of the word, meaning fortified town
    • Rosalía de Castro, Galician Rexurdimento romanticist poet
    • Fidel Castro, the leader of Cuba until his death in 2016, and his brother Raúl Castro, the current leader
    • Raúl Héctor Castro, who is not Raúl Castro, but was a Mexican-born governor of Arizona
    • Julián and Joaquin Castro, identical twin brothers from San Antonio who were respectively the Mayor of San Antonio and then U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and U.S. Congressman representing much of San Antonio


Theoretically, Spain has it pretty simple. You get a given name, nombre, and two surnames, apellidos. But that's like saying verb rules are simple. A given name can comprise multiple names, to start with.

The two surnames is a simpler way of recording heritage than many other Hispanophone nations, which often use more family names, with Spain taking only the father's first surname and the mother's first surname. Usually, the father's becomes the child's first surname, with the mother's becoming the second — for example, if your parents were Joe Lopez Mendez and your mother Jane Rodríguez García, you would be Lopez Rodríguez — but the order is becoming more liberal. In common usage, only the given name and first surname are used, except for points of differentiation. This is why Federico García Lorca is known either with both surnames or, actually most usually, simply as "Lorca" — García is very common.

Another issue is that any single surname can itself already be a barrelled name. The Other Wiki uses the example of Juan Pablo Fernández de Calderón García-Iglesias, where "Fernández de Calderón" is one surname, and "García-Iglesias" is the other. This is something which does happen in other cultural naming practices, including English (though, whilst very common in Britain, it is largely uncommon in the United States). Because 'de' can function in given names and for signifying marriage, also, and because there is significant overlap in what may be used as a given name and surname, there are many situations where knowing what name is what name can be hard. Another connector of names in a surname is 'y' or 'i'note  or 'e'note , and can be used both between two single surnames or two barrelled surnames.

Regarding marriage, most commonly the woman does not take her husband's surname or any other configuration. In past years there were ways that it was incorporated depending on where you are from, for example if we have Joe and Jane above, she would become Sra. de Lopez Rodriguez (this form is not used anymore) or the more simple adding "de Lopez" to the end of the woman's surnames, which is sometimes done.

Many surnames were originally, like in many languages, patronymics: Ramírez would be son of Ramiro, López would be son of Lope, etc. Yes, this is for the surnames ending in '-ez'. They're not usually handed out like this anymore, but on occasion are.

Anyone born before 1999 will have their father's surname first. Although, it was still the legal default until 2017, when new laws came in that replace this with a legal agreement the parents have to sign indicating order. The biggest caveat is that all siblings to the same parents must have the same surname until they are adults, when they can individually choose their surname order.


Given names, as said, are theoretically singular. What this means to the Spanish, in reality, is pretty much that as long as you can say the given name in the amount of time it should take to say one name, it can contain as many names as it likes — like the character of Juan Antonio in Vicky Cristina Barcelona: Juan Antonio is his given name, not a first name and a middle name, made up of two names. And said quickly. Sometimes you may shorten your given name, but this may also be done in an unusual fashion. Say you were called Pedro Raúl, this might become Pedroúl or some other obscure portmanteau configuration.

Though this does happen with female names, too (in Vicky Cristina Barcelona there's also the character María Elena), boys are more commonly going to use the full given name even in casual situations, whereas girls may not. It is also not required for anyone to actually have a compound given name, though it is very common. However, if your character was born anywhere from 1940-1960, they are pretty much guaranteed to have at least a double name; if they're female, María will be in it.

If someone is born after the 1970s/80s or so, they are unlikely to have more than two or three names in their given name unless they are of the upper class, as it is now seen as a sign of wealth or nobility similar to how in the United States having more than one last name is seen in this way. However, children may be often still baptized (i.e. not on a legal birth certificate) with several holy names.


Some names come with predetermined nicknames. Some may be shortened forms of the name, such as "Rafa" for "Rafael". However, many would be diminutives or forms that are significantly different, in a similar way to "Robert" and "Bob", or "Jack" and "John" in English — and just be thankful it's not Russian.

  • Pepe — if you are called José, you will actually be called Pepe. That's it.
  • Jesús — boys called Jesús have several default nicknames. The most common are "Chus" and "Chechu".
  • Paco — if you are called Francisco and it's after the Regime, you will be called Paco, unless you're in Andalusia where you'll be a Curro. Paco started out as a nickname like the others above, but now has guaranteed usage (in Spain, less in other countries) because of Franco ruining a perfectly good name for people. The Mexican equivalent is "Pancho" and the Filipino equivalent is "Kiko".
  • Toño — if you're called Antonio... it also has its own other forms, "Toníno", "Nono" and "Toni".
  • Javi, Rafa, Dani, Gabi — this is pretty much a direct equivalent to the English Thomas → Tom; Javier → Javi, Rafael → Rafa, Daniel → Dani, Gabriel → Gabi. Note that it's a similar sound being elided in all three examples. There are actually not very many names that do this in Spanish, and it is always one where extra vowel sounds are encountered in an extra syllable.
  • Quique or Kike — if you are called Enrique, you will be called Quique (sometimes written in its Xtremely Kool Letterz version, Kike).
  • Chema — if you are called José María, you will be called Chema. There is also a much rarer variation, "Chelu", for those named José Luis.
  • Chelo — if you are named Consuelo or Consolación, you will be called Chelo.
  • -ito and -ita — literally this means that whatever it's been added to is smaller than usual (un pocoun poquito is equivalent to "little" → "tiny"*), however is more common to indicate affection. It also works for verbs and adverbs (e.g. despaciodespacito), but for names there are some common formations that are an almost guaranteed usage. The rule of thumb is that if it sounds wrong, it probably is. Also remember to cut down on your vowels: it's not Juan that becomes Juanita, it's Juana, but Miguel becomes Miguelito because it ends on a consonant.
    • This can continue to, for example, poquitito. This is most commonly seen with endearments that derive from general terms, like chica becoming chiquita, becoming chiquitita. The ABBA song uses chiquitita well, suggesting intimacy and empathy.
    • papito and mamita — more or less calling someone their father's son and their mother's daughter, used mostly by family members and sometimes it will be the only thing that relatives on that side of the family call you. This isn't as common in Spain as it is in America, though.
  • Ricky — an Anglicized nickname, although a confusing one: in Spain, it is a nickname for Ricardo, but in Latin America, it is one for Enrique. It is more popular in the Americas, as Spain uses Quique for Enrique instead, but has also some usage in Catalonia for Ricard, as in the case of current NBA player Ricky Rubio.

Other items to note

Other conventions include religion. This is particularly the case for girls, but also affects boys, too. The names of saints and other religious figures are present in most people's names. Though this was the law under Franco (religious and traditional names only), the country is still very Catholic and continues the practice, as do many Catholics worldwide.

  • María — referring to the Virgin Mary, often used in double names and very common. Girls with a double name where María is the first will often omit it, in the way Muslim boys called Mohammad do, and go by whatever succeeds it. Sometimes this comes in the forms of "María Elena" and "María del Carmen", for example, but can also be the long form "María de ... [something religious]" and the classic "María José" or "María Josefa". María José is rarely shortened, but the long form version has many ways of being shortened; if the name is María de la Soledad ("Our Lady of Solitude"), the girl will be called Marisol. The same portmanteau/apocopation process is available as with any other double name; also, the girl may use only the nickname of the second name, for example if the name is María de los Dolores ("Our Lady of Sorrows"), she may go by Lola, the nickname of Dolores.
  • José — referring to Joseph of Nazareth, foster father of Christ. Similarly to María it does get used a lot in compound given names, but will not have the long form version because Joseph is not as revered in Christianity as the Virgin Mary. Boys with this as their first given name usually go by "Pepe", unless they are called José María, see below.
  • María José/ María Josefa (antiquated) and José María — the first is a girls' name, as described above, but the latter is a boys' name. The name that goes first marks the gender: if José María, he is a José, and if María José, she is a María. Boys can have María in a given name not being José, but this is very rare nowadays and usually means their parents were really religious. Also note that these names will be written as "M.ª José" and "José M.ª". If a girl is called María José, she will likely use the nickname "Pepa" like in Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios (see Pepe, above, and because she has the name José). "José María" is commonly shortened to "Chema".
  • del San... — this refers to the practice of adding a Saint in the person's given name, sometimes including the temple or other religious symbols afterwards so that someone's given name could be Pedro Diego del San Juan de las Sacras del Evangelio de San Juan. Yes, really. How about a famous example? Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso. Many are not that extreme, though, and may include a saint, or a holy place related to the child (where they were blessed, the local Church, etc.), or similar. It is used equally for girls and boys, gender of child and saint disregarded.
    • Of course, some people just name their children after saints. Pedro, for example, is Peter as in Saint Peter. Pablo is Paul, Juan is John the Baptist. It's often inescapable, really.
    • An old practice was to make the child's third name that of the saint on whose day they were baptized, but that got kicked at the same time as Franco.
  • Pilar — a female name that was originally short for "Maria del Pilar" (Our Lady of the Pillar) that, yes, literally means 'pillar' but also has seen peculiar waves in popularity, though it is safe to say that it hasn't been particularly high on the list since the early '90s; perhaps it's time for another revival. It can be seen as quite a common name for women in their 30s and 40s. It is commonly shortened to "Pili".

There are some names that will not be used very often, however. Francisco is in decreasing usage, thanks to the dictator Francisco Franco who, for the unaware, was seen as a villan by Hitler, and was basically running Spain like a Toros y Flamenco version of North Korea. Similarly José Antonio used to be a common name during Francoism because it alluded to the founder of the Falange, José Antonio Primo de Rivera, but is no longer commonly used. Blanca is not very common in Spain, though it is in the Americas, and is a sure sign that a writer is American if it crops up. Similarly, Sofía is not particularly uncommon in Spain, but nowhere near as popular as it is in the Americas (where it's been solid at number one since about 2010). The girl's name Macarena fell out of favor after the song (it's not exactly complimentary), but was on the way out, anyway.

Also, if you're writing someone who is a flamenco dancer, they will use a stage name. This is supposedly because historically they were basically the strippers of Spain and the tradition continued even now that it's actually seen as very honorable.

    Common Spanish names 


  • Daniel — a religious name (Book of Daniel), meaning "God is my judge". Pronounced as "dan-ee-el" or "dan-yell". According to Spain's Statistics Department, this was THE most popular name for boys during the 2010s.
    • Five famous footballers: Daniel Aranzubia, Dani Güiza, Daniel Jarque, Dani Pacheco, Dani Parejo
  • David — again religious, from the King of Israel, means figuratively "to be beloved". Pronounced "da-beed". According to Spain's Statistics Department, this was THE most popular name for boys in the 70s, 80s and 90s, meaning that a lot of Spaniard Gen Xers and Millenials have this name. And it's still among the most popular to this day.
    • Among these would be famous Spaniard singers David Bisbal and David Bustamante, both of which became popular by participating in the first edition of Spanish Talent Show "Operación Triunfo" in 2001.
    • Águila Roja star, David Janer (not to confuse with voice actor David Jenner).
    • David Jenner, famous voice actor since his childhood, being Samwise Gamgee in The Lord of the Rings and MCU: Bucky Barnes his most famous roles.
    • Several fooball/soccer players, such as David Villa and David Silva.
  • Hugo — meaning "intelligent"; per the Spanish Language, the 'h' is silent
  • Alejandro — Spanish form of the Greek name Alexander, meaning "defender of men"
    • Alejandro Sanz, famous singer
    • Alejandro Amenabar, director (Mar adentro)
    • Alejandro Valverde, the road cyclist famous for wins in the Giro D'Italia, Vuelta a España, Tour de France, and for a previous 2-year doping ban
    • Alejandro Villanueva, retired Spanish–American NFL offensive tackle and former US Army Rangernote 
    • Five notable politicians: Alejandro Cercas, Alejandro Lerroux, Alejandro Muñoz-Alonso, Alejandro O'Reilly, and Alejandro Rebollo Álvarez-Amandi
  • Pablo — religious name and Spanish form of Paul, meaning "humble"
  • Álvaro — uncertain meaning, although clearly of Germanic origin. Theories abound, including several terms related to "warrior", "guardian", "bear" and "elf" in Old Norse or German
    • Álvaro Soler, singer of "Sofia", "El Mismo Sol", and "Agosto"
    • The Armada admiral, Marquis Álvaro de Bazán (de Santa Cruz), for whom many Spanish naval ships have since been named
    • The Spanish Álvaro de Luna, and his namesake the 15th century politician and King's favourite As King's favourite is a title, please don't change the spelling
    • An abundance of footballers, the Álvaros: Arbeloa, Cervera, Martínez Beltrán, Medrán, Mejía Pérez, Morata, Negredo, Novo, Tejero
    • Álvaro Navarro Serra, a player of Valencian pilota, which is like handball meets squash
    • Álvaro Quirós and Álvaro Velasco, professional golfers.
  • Diego and Jaime — more religious names, both of which are both Spanish equivalents to both James and Jacob, meaning 'one who follows'. Per the Spanish Language, Jaime is pronounced "hi may" or "chai may". Diego comes from a misinterpreting of Santiago as 'San Diego' instead of 'Sant Iago'. Iago, which was exported to Europe as Jacme and then Jaime, is from St. James the Greater, also known as St. Jacob, with Jacob a back-translated Latin form. Despite what the limited pop cultural presence (the American kids' cartoon adventurer, the Argentine foot*cough*hand*cough*baller, and the Mexican actor) would suggest, Diego is much more popular in Europe than America. It is also a reasonably popular Portuguese name. Jaime, on the other hand (that didn't cheat), seems to be about as popular in each country as the others, including the fictional Westeros in A Song of Ice and Firewhere he gets his hand cut off after serving as the Hand of the King.
  • Pedro — the next religious name, translates as Peter, and means "stone"
  • Carlos — translates as Charles, means "free man" or simply "man" in old German.
    • Many Spanish kings, among them Charles V and Charles II of Spain
    • Carlos Alcaraz, who's traded places with Novak Djokovic multiple times as the world number 1 in men's tennis in 2022 and 2023
    • Carlos Moyá, one of the most famous Spanish tennis players, former world number 1
    • The footballer known simply as Carlos (b. 1961)
    • The other footballer known simply as Carlos (b. 1995)
    • The footballer known simply as "Carlitos" (b. 1990)
    • The other footballer known simply as "Carlitos" (b. 1976)
  • Felipe/Philip — meaning "friend of horses" in Greek
    • Many more Spanish kings (coincidentally how they named the Philippines, in homage to Philip II), including the current one, King Felipe VI
    • Felipe González, longest-serving Spanish prime minister
    • Also the nickname of the Anti-Franco party Popular Liberation Front, in Spanish the Frente de Liberación Popular, which was shortened to FLP and pronounced Felipe, which can be seen as deliberate in support of the monarchy because of its historic tradition of installing Felipes
    • The footballer known simply as Felipe
  • Ferdinand and Fernando — meaning 'peaceful journey' in old German
  • Juan — religious name meaning 'grace of YHWH', pronounced 'hwan', translates as John (the name as represented Juan occurs all around the world, though, from being a Chinese women's name pronounced 't-shoe-en' to being the Manx (UK Isle of Man) version of John but pronounced 'dew-ann')
  • Julio — meaning 'July', but really just the Spanish form of "Julius"; unlike most of the rest of (Western)note  Europe, this name remains in relatively common use in Spain (and elsewhere in the Hispanosphere).
  • Leo — meaning 'lion', not as a nickname for Leonardo/Leopoldo
  • Antonio — translates as Anthony, theoretically means 'son of Hercules' (as in the literal son of the literal demigod), but this was claimed by Mark Antony and probably isn't true. The literal meaning is 'flower', so one can see why he'd make it up — didn't stop people from believing and repeating it for centuries, though.
  • José — also religious, translates as Joseph but pronounced 'hoe-say', meaning 'YHWH shall add'
    • Possibly the most stereotypical Spaniard that ever existed, the footballer María José Casamayor Arribas (literally translates as "Mary Joseph Bigger House Upstairs", which is also possibly the worst description of the Nativity ever). And, yes, he had the name arranged with María first, don't judge.
  • Javier — from the name Xavier, which comes from the place-name Javier, which was a transliteration of the Basque descriptor etxi berri, meaning "new home". Pronounced "have-ee-air".
  • Jorge — translates as George, meaning "farmer" in Greek
  • Sergio — translates as Sergius, a Roman surname of uncertain meaning
  • Miguel — translates as Michael, which is the translation of the Hebrew question "מִיכָאֵל", or, "who is like God?"
  • Ángel — means "angel", pronounced "an-hell"
  • Martín — from Mars, god of war, pronounced "mar-TEEN"
  • Mateo — another religious name, after Matthew, meaning "gift of YHWH"
  • Iker — actually a Basque name, but has become more popular, and was originated in the false history Deun-Ixendegi Euzkotarra by Sabino Arana, as an attempt to invent new Basque names to distance them from typical Latin names. It means something like "visitor", as in a bringer of good news.
    • Iker Casillas, the famous goalkeeper
    • Iker Jiménez, host of Cuarto Milenio
  • Jesús — the Spanish form of Jesus, pronounced kind-of ironically as "hey-zeus"; one does not have to be super religious to have the name, which literally means both "to rescue" and "to deliver"
  • Rafael — commonly Anglicized as Raphael, means "God has healed".
    • Rafael Nadal, Spanish tennis great
  • Asier — another Basque origin name, but this one wasn't made up. It means "the beginning"
  • Francisco — Not so common in Spain these days because of that Francisco, historically rather common and still common in Latin America. The name ultimately means "Freeman", but has a convoluted history: it arrived in Spanish to honor the 13th-century Italian Saint Francis of Assisi (in Spanish San Francisco de Asís, and yes San Francisco got its name from him); the saint's original Italian name ("Francesco") meant "French", because his father was a merchant who had great success in France; and France derives its name from the Franks, who themselves took their name from an old West Germanic word meaning "free".


  • Lucía — meaning "light", the most popular name in Spain, even above María, somewhat religious as it can come directly from Santa Lucía
    • Lucía Etxebarría, a Spanish writer. Though not Basque, her parents were, as the surname suggests (see Javier, above)
    • Lucía López, a Spanish hockey player
  • María (and Marta) — very religious name, see discussion above, and also very popular. In most usage it refers to Mary, the mother of Christ; in several of these usages it translates to "the Virgin" or "Our Lady" instead of Mary/Miriam/Marcia, etc. There's even more discussion at the Other Wiki if you're interested, including its many Central European (i.e. Latinate) combination names. It's also the name of the hurricane that nearly wiped out Puerto Rico in 2017. If you're writing a Spanish girls' name, María will probably be in it.
    • Many aristocratic figures, often married across Europe (e.g. María of Spain, Queen of France)
    • María José Martínez Sánchez, popular Spanish tennis player
    • María Valverde, a popular Spanish film actress
    • The footballer known simply as "Mariajo"
    • The other footballer known simply as "Maríajo"
    • María José Catalá, a Spanish politician from Valencia, not Catalunya, despite the surname
    • María José de las Mercedes Yéllici Sánchez, Spanish-born Venezuelan Miss Universe contestant
  • Paula — meaning "petite", may also be religious because there was a saint bearing the name. Pronounced "pow-la".
  • Daniela — feminine version of Daniel, above
  • Sara — meaning "independent woman" and/or "princess" and also suggests "gaiety" (happiness mixed with joy). Which is pretty badass. Comes from the Hebrew Sarah, who was wife of Abraham in the Bible and Tovah.
  • Carmen — has two separate origins in two languages: "song" in Latin and "God's vineyard" in Hebrew. Both could theoretically occur at the same time.
  • Josefa — feminine version of José, above
  • Ana — from the Hebrew Hannah, meaning "grace of God" (all related names derive from this), and who was the mother of Samuel. However, as said, all related names derive from this and so with Saint Anne as the mother of the Virgin Mary, it serves double duty as a powerful Christian name.
  • Elena — from the Greek Helen, meaning "light" and "beautiful". It is seen as a first or standalone given name frequently, though more commonly in the Americas than in Spain, but is also very frequently seen after María to form the given name María Elena. Usually written as Elena, but not impossible to get the form Helena either.
  • Isabella and Isabel — probably a form of the Hebrew name Elisabeth or Elisheva, meaning something vaguely like "I swear to God" (and in its original Hebrew origin "gift of God"). Others believe it might be a form of the Phoenician Ishbaal, meaning "daughter of Baal" or "Baal is good".
  • Teresa — used in referral to several famous saints, meaning "huntress", coming from a nickname for Artemis/Diana
  • Claudia — feminine form of the Roman Claudius, may also have come from the family name Claudia for relatives of men with the name
  • Margarita — meaning "daisy", translated as Margaret.
  • Andrea — from the word "man(ly)" through andros → Andreas. Used as the feminine form because of alternative translations of the Italian masculine name.
  • Alba — meaning "dawn" or "white" (note: in Scottish, it means Scotland, don't confuse the two)
  • Alma — meaning "soul"
  • Nerea — seems to come from Greek mythology, as one of the sea nymphs or possibly a translation of the species name. The Basque name Nerea is listed below.
    • Nerea Camacho, Spanish actress, nominated for a Goya age 12 for Camino
    • Maldita Nerea, the Murcian pop/rock band
    • Nerea Pérez Machado, footballer
  • Laura — meaning "laurel", pronounced "la-ow-ra"

Catalunya, Galicia, the Basque, and the Islas

Several autonomous regions of Spain have different language traditions than the rest of the country. Though most of the conventions are the same as the rest of Spain, what names people have differ. The largest of these differences is that in Galicia and the Basque country, there is heavy presence of the letter 'x' — in the local languages and dialects, it has an easier pronunciation than most other Hispanic languagesthe x, and these places also don't like Spain that much so may use it both for deliberate contrived difficulty and because the names also relate to local culture. Catalunya and the Islas have a (marginally) better relationship with Spain, but more importantly also speak languages where the 'x' is a difficult sound, so it is no more common in their names than in Spanish ones.

Surnames in the Basque region may also end with "de...", with the name that comes after being either the area that the person is from or an ancestral surname that has been overridden by a more recent marriage or the introduction of Castilian Spanish. Additionally, they may combine their two surnames into one by not marking a space in order to signify further the joining of the two families.

The Guanche language belonged to the native islanders of the Canarias before the Spanish conquistadors arrived in the 15th century. The language was maintained by these people for several centuries but has become extinct; however, remnants of it are still seen in Canarian Spanish, especially in the local names. The word Guanche itself means "man from Tenerife" (Tenerife is one of the larger of the Canarias). Canarian/Canárian may also be termed Canario.

Also, though Valencia and Aragon have their own languages, they are not as distinct from the rest of Spain and so do not have as large differences in naming conventions.

    Català, Mallorquín, Menorquinés, Canárian names 


  • Airam — from the name Hiram, meaning 'benevolent brother' in the original Phoenician (as in Phoenicia, not Phoenix) and 'high-born' in Hebrew, because it was traditionally only given to Phoenician kings
    • The footballer known simply as Airam (plays mostly in Tenerife).
    • The other footballer known simply as Airam (plays mostly in Andalusia).
  • Aday — from the Hebrew for 'brightness'. It's more famous as Meat Loaf's last name.
  • Yerai — from a Canarian place name originally derived from a Guanche word meaning 'grand'
    • The footballer known simply as Yerai.
    • The footballer known simply as Yeray.
    • And other footballers Yerai Darias and Yerai González.
  • Jonay — from a figure in the legend of Gara and Jonay of Guanche/Canarian lore, Jonay was the son of a Tenerife king. During a festival on La Gomera, Gara partook in a ritual where she was told to avoid fire as a personal bad omen. Jonay was also at the festival and they fell in love but when they announced their engagement Teide erupted. The couples' parents forced them to separate, but Jonay swam back to La Gomera and they hid on a mountain while the islanders searched for them, eventually becoming trapped and taking each others' life. Which is why the peak of Garajonay is inaccessible.
  • Beneharo — from an old Guanche word meaning 'one of the ancient people', commonly refers to the 15th century Tenerife king.
  • Ayoze — likely a Guanche form of José
    • A king of Fuerteventura
    • The footballer known simply as Ayoze (mostly plays in the USA)
    • The other footballer known simply as Ayoze (mostly played in the Islas)
    • The other other footballer known simply as Ayoze (mostly plays in the UK)
    • Another footballer, Ayoze Placeres
  • Nauzet — most prominent in the Canarias, probably unrelated to the Native American Nauset tribe
  • Rayco — probably a transliteration of the name Rico
  • Marc — the #1 name in Catalunya, it's the Catala form of Mark, from the Biblical Saint and Latin Marcus where it ultimately derives from Mars, god of war
    • Marc Gasol, Barcelona-born basketball player now winding down his career in Spain after a long NBA career; younger brother of Pau Gasol (below)
    • Marc Márquez, motorcycle racer and six-time MotoGP champion
  • Alex/Àlex — from Alexainder, etc. Note the accent grave, a Catala indication and vocalization
  • Eric/Èric — Catala form of Eric, meaning 'immortal king'
  • Pol and Pau — Catala forms of Paul. Pol doesn't seem to have suffered despite Pol Pot; Pau is also, separately, the Catala word for 'peace'
    • Pau Gasol, retired Barcelona-born basketball player with multiple NBA teams, most notably the Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Lakers
    • Pau Ribas, basketball player for Barcelona Lassa
    • Pau Casals i Defilló (more often known in the Anglosphere by the Castilian equivalent, Pablo Casals), virtuoso cellist and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom
    • Pau Audouard, photographer
    • Footballers Pau Cendrós and Pau Franch
    • Pol Antràs, Barcelona-born Harvard professor
    • Pol Amat, Barcelona Olympic hockey player
  • Biel — Balaeric (Mallor/Menor-) short form of Gabriel, now used as a given name rather than diminutive. Pronounced 'bee-ell', not 'beel'
    • Biel Ribas and Biel Medina, footballers
  • Arnau — Catala form of Arnold, as in the literal Germanic 'eagle power'
    • Arnau March, a 15th century knight
    • Arnau Riera, a footballer
  • Dídac — Catala form of Diego
    • The footballer known simply as Didac
    • The footballer known simply as "Didi"
    • Another footballer, Dídac Vilà
    • The little boy from the Mecanoscrit del segon origen story by Manuel de Pedrolo
    • Didac Costa, the first Catalan to sail the Vendée Globe
    • Didac Salas, Olympic pole vaulter


  • Naira and Nayra — from conquistadors' records, it was supposedly originally a Guanche male name for warriors meaning 'to guide'. It was revived in the 20th century as a feminine name
  • Idaira — unknown origin, possibly related to Naira. Grew in popularity because of the singer.
  • Yurena — from Guanche, meaning 'evil spirit'. Despite this, it is quite popular
    • Patricia Yurena Rodríguez, Tenerife actress and Miss Universe contestant; first openly lesbian contestant
    • The serial Only One Name singer Yurena (born in the Basque, borrowed the stage name)
  • Aina — Balaeric form of Ana (another version is Anaís, but this is less popular)
  • May — most likely from the Balearic and Catala usage referring to something bigger or greater, pronounced like 'my'
  • Adassa — from the Hebrew Hadassah, meaning 'bride' and also 'star' because of its origins as the name of a Persian Queen
    • The stage name of Colombian-American singer Adassa, the Reggaetón Princess
  • Dácil — meaning 'footprint' and 'step' in Guanche, often refers to the Tenerife princess who was married to a conquistador
    • Dácil Pérez de Guzmán, director of the 2013 film La última isla
    • Dacil Cabrera, a Paralympic swimmer
    • Dacil Lopez, a sambo (Soviet martial art) practitioner
  • Guacimara — possibly from the Guanche masculine adjective for 'strong/stable'
    • A character in the 1604 epic poem Antigüedades de las Islas Afortunadas by Antonio de Viana, the name supposedly used by the daughter of a Tenerife king
    • Guacimara Castrillo, a reporter for El Mundo
  • Chaxiraxi
    • A goddess of the Canarias, historically the Sun Mother of the Guanche, with the 'x' here part of the compound 'xi', pronounced like in 'Mexico' but softer.
    • Chijoraji is the name the Guanche use to refer to Jesus in the arms of the Virgin of Candelaria.
  • Julia or Júlia — various origins as feminine forms of similar names. Note that the Catala "Julià" is masculine (Saint Julian).
    • Julia Menéndez, hockey player from Barcelona
  • Martina — feminine form of Martín, also a Catholic martyr
  • Laia — Catala name, pronounced 'lie-ee-ah' or 'lah-ee-ah', may have originally been a short form of Eulalia that became its own name. It means 'fair of speech'/'well spoken'
    • Laia Sanz, a motocross racer
    • Laia Costa, actress (Victoria (2015), Newness, Life Itself)
    • Laia Marull, actress (Take My Eyes)
    • Laia Forcadell, Olympic hurdler
    • Laia MaLo, poet and musician
    • Laia Palau Altes, basketball player
    • Laia Abril, a postmodern artwork storyteller
  • Carla — feminine form of Carlos, popular on the Islas
    • Carla Suárez Navarro, tennis player from Gran Canaria
  • Montserrat — Catala, from the Virgin of Montserrat, and a very popular name in Catalan-language areas
  • Mireia — probably from the word 'to admire'
    • Mireia Belmonte, Olympic swimmer
    • Mireia García, also an Olympic swimmer
    • Mireia Riera Casanovas, a Paralympic swimmer
    • Mireia Lalaguna, the first Miss World from Spain
    • Mireia Gutiérrez, a skier from Andorra

    Gallego and Basque names 


  • Anxo — the Gallego and Languedocien version of Ángel. It is also an alternative name for a Basque mythological creature, either the Tartaro or the Basajaun. The Basque history suggests Anxo comes from the nickname Sancho.
  • Iago — Gallego version of Diego. Separately, a very common name in Celtic Wales.
    • The famous character from Othello
    • Iago from Aladdin
    • Footballer Iago Falque
  • Brais — Gallego for Blaise, an old saint but the name literally means 'to lisp'
    • Brais Méndez, footballer
  • Xosé — Gallego version of José
    • TV presenter Xosé Castro Roig, from popular game show Palabra por palabra
    • Xosé Quiroga Suárez, former Galician president
  • Markel or Mikel — very common Basque name. Markel comes from the Spanish Marcial, Mikel comes from the Anglo-German Michael.
    • Far too many footballers to list
  • Jon — Basque, presumably related to John
    • Golfer Jon Rahm, two-time major champion and frequent contender for world no. 1 in the 2020s
  • Ander — Basque form of Italian Andreas
    • Footballers: Ander Herrera Agüera, Ander Lafuente Aguado, Ander Gago Álvarez, Ander Garitano Urquizu, Ander Iturraspe Derteano, Ander Murillo García, Ander Olaizola Agirre,
    • Ander Elosegi, slalom canoeist
  • Oier — popular Basque name that means 'twisted'
  • Unai — Basque for 'shepherd'
    • Again, more than enough footballers
  • Urtzi or Ortzi — the name of an ancient Basque sky god
    • Urtzi Iriondo, footballer
    • Urtzi Urrutikoetxea, write, journalist, TV presenter, has probably won an award for having a stupidly difficult name
  • Garikoitz — a Basque given name taken from the surname of Saint Michel Garicoïts
    • The footballer simply known as "Gari"
    • Garikoitz Bravo, a road cyclist


  • Antía — Gallego form of Antonia
  • Iria — Gallego form of Irene, but also the name of a titular see (a.k.a. Iria Flavia) in Galicia
  • Amaia — Basque word for 'the end'. Not to be confused with the identical word from Castille y León that means 'mother', though there is massive overlap in usage and nomination. Has variations on spelling, and though Amaya is more popular worldwide, Amaia remains most popular in the Basque country.
  • Garbiñe — Basque for 'clean' and 'pure'
    • Tennis star Garbiñe Muguruza
  • Noa or Nora — From the Hebrew No'ah, which means 'motion'. Nora is likely a variation from attempting to pronounce the stop.
  • Uxía or Uxue — Uxía is a Galician name from the Greek for 'born good', Uxue is a Basque name from the Basque word for 'dove' and a small Basque town dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Both are apparently unrelated but trace their meaning to inherent goodness, so the Basque may have derived similarly but branched out from Uxía.
  • Nerea — different to the Spanish Nerea above (though, of course, massive overlap). Feminized form of the Basque word "nere", which means 'mine'.
    • Nerea Gabirondo, footballer
    • Nerea Pena, handballer
  • Ane — Basque form of Ana
  • June — Medieval Basque name that regained usage in the 20th century as an alternative form of Juncal. Pronounces as if you're saying "honey" with attitude.
  • Irati — popular Basque name, meaning 'fern field'
  • Nahia — Basque name, meaning 'desire', 'wish', 'will'. Not related to the Spanish name Naia, which comes from Greek mythology.
  • Izaro — Basque, meaning 'island', from an island off the Bay of Biscay
  • Itziar — also Basque, referring to a town called Our Lady of Itziar
    • The footballer Itziar Gurrutxaga Bengoetxea, another contestant for seriously, are you sure that's a Latin namenote 
    • The footballer Itziar Bakero Escudero, with a much friendlier name
    • Itziar Okariz, a modern artist of photography and multimedia
    • Itziar Esparza, Olympic swimmer


As the page for Spexico points out, Mexico has some surnames that haven't really taken off elsewhere, and are particularly out-of-place in Spain, these include Chavez and Salazar, which are very Mexican. Often the uniquely Mexican surnames may have one or two high-scoring Scrabble letters, but in a more conventional manner than Basque names; i.e. you can pronounce them without having to think about it.

Also, Mexico have a funny thing they do when women get married. Here, it is convention that women take their husband's surname when married, usually replacing her second surname with his first. They also may or may not use 'de' between the surnames. So, say you have Rosa Mendez Vales: when she marries Ivan Rosado Rivas, she can be known as Rosa Mendez Rosado or Rosa Mendez de Rosado. In this way, her surname is likely going to be the inverse of her children's, though it is now possible in Mexico also to swap the order of your child's surname as long as it is consistent for all your children.

Oh, and Mexicans are really proud of their names, so they will probably say the whole thing, often.


A lot of Mexican characters will be written as living in the United States, and most of these will be at least partly assimilated to American culture. That means that they may not, in fact, use two surnames, instead moving the second one (mother's/husband's depending on the person) to their collection of first names, using it as their last given name, like a middle name.


  • -illo and -illa — these are diminutive suffixes that are used by many Spanish-speakers the way they use "-ito/a", but they are not all that popular, being most common in Mexico, and specifically in Northern Mexico where they are actually more common that "-ito/a". So, instead of the burrito, we were gifted the quesadilla. Names become, obviously, Juana → Juanilla, and though it similarly just doesn't work for all names, you can have Juan → Juanillo.
  • Jesús — there is a larger variety of nicknames for boys called Jesús in Mexico, like "Chucho" and its diminutive "Chuy", on top of the longstanding "Zeus". Note: "chucho" is one of those colloquial Spanish words that can mean various different things depending on where you are, as demonstrated here, so... stick to Mexican.
  • Pancho — the Mexican nickname for boys called Francisco. Mexico doesn't have quite as much concern about the name, though. Some Mexican men named "Francisco" actually rather resent the nickname "Pancho", thinking it has hayseed associations (which, to be frank, it kind of does) and that it has been overly associated with a certain failed revolutionary (which it kind of has), and ask to be called "Franco" or even "Frank" instead.
  • Lupe — a nickname for Guadalupe, it may get given to many young girls regardless of their actual name, because of Our Lady of Guadalupe who is very important in Mexico.



Cuba is one of the countries that more commonly includes longer surnames in two ways: it retains a lot of the long singular names from colonial periods when many other Latin American countries have not, and it is one of the countries (along with much of Central America) that commonly includes grandparent/ancestral/lineage surnames in addition to father's and mother's.

Honestly, who let Cuba come up with their own rules? This gets messy. The short version is that the nation's tradition seems to be rooted in misogyny, as in practical usage most men go by an inherited family name and women go by either their father's name, their husband's name, or both. Ironically, actual full surnames are very hefty and can be strangely ordered. The base of taking surnames is the typical Latin American pattern of your father's, your mother's, your paternal grandmother's, your maternal grandmother's (which can be rephrased many ways because lots of your relatives will have all these names in various different orders), but something funny happens when it comes to marriage, at least traditionally and commonly persisting in several (even modern American) communities. The woman's first surname — the one from her father and his father, etc. — gets bumped to the end of her inherited names. This actually makes quite a lot of sense, at least in terms of women being viewed as property. The last 'name' to be seen, typically the easiest part to remember, will be [father's name] de [husband's name], which is in short saying that she belongs to these two men. At this point, the rest of the surname may be discounted or just fairly simple to use with the woman's given names, the ending now most important.
Take the example of the remake of One Day at a Time, about a Cuban-American family, and with a Cuban-American showrunner. Lydia is the mother of Penelope, who is the mother of Elena. We have Lydia's full name, Lydia Margarita Del Carmen Inclan Maribona Leytevidal de Riera, and Elena's full name, Elena Maria Alvarez Riera Calderón Leytevidal Inclan. In parts: [Inclan] [Maribona] [Leytevidal] de [Riera] and [Alvarez] [Riera] [Calderón] [Leytevidal] [Inclan]. Because Lydia has been married, her father's name is Leytevidal, which makes it Penelope's mother's (i.e. Lydia) name, so Penelope's name (since she has also been married) will start [Leytevidal]. From Elena's name, Alvarez is her father, Penelope's husband, so Penelope's name will end with de [Alvarez]; Lydia's husband's name is Riera, and this is also Elena's mother's name, so it is Penelope's father's name and will come before as [Riera] de [Alvarez]. From Elena's name, Calderón comes from her paternal grandmother, her father's side, and so won't appear in Penelope's name. Similarly, in Lydia's name, Maribona is her grandmother's surname and theoretically too far removed for Penelope to inherit it, though this isn't unheard of (and it is evident that Elena was given such a name, likely connecting with the matriarchy displayed in the show). Inclan is Penelope's grandmother's name, so it will appear 'last' in her name, as [Inclan] [Riera] de [Alvarez]. Unfortunately, we don't know Penelope's father's full name to work out what would come before Inclan, leaving her unmarried name as [Riera] [Leytevidal] [?] [Inclan], and her married name as [Leytevidal] [?] [Inclan] [Riera] de [Alvarez]. A fun (actually, difficult and taxing) exercise is to apply this to work out other peoples' names from their relatives; it also helps prove the point that 1. it works, 2. it's hard, 3. why, Cuba, why?!


  • -ico and -ica — Cuba does a funny thing where after the first diminuation, nicknames get weird. So, pocopoquito, but poquitopoquitito. It becomes poquitico. Chiquita becomes chiquitica, etc. Careful with the nicknames you give your Cuban characters, it may be safest to stick to close familiarity (the first diminuation) rather than going for the narm of the second diminuation.


Two Cuban musicians perfectly demonstrated why you should never assume Spanish names function like English ones — Dámaso Pérez Prado, the Cuban-born bandleader and "King of the Mambo", shortened his name to just Pérez Prado after he achieved fame in the US, in the 1940s. This led to him getting confused with his brother, bassist Pantaleón Pérez Prado, twice. In the 50s, Pantaleón pretended to be his more famous brother by touring Europe and billing himself as "Pérez Prado" (until Dámaso took him to court and made him stop). And when Pantaleón died in 1983, newspapers incorrectly reported the King of the Mambo's passing. This came about because Dámaso began using an American form of naming conventions where he used only one surname, and took the other as a patronymic given name; Pantaleón still used Cuban naming conventions and so his surname was the same as Dámaso's full name, but this is also the reason why Dámaso could take him to court: if they were each seen to only be using their surname as billing, Pantaleón likely would have been able to continue.

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States, so much of the culture and common names amongst Puerto Ricans in the US proper are very similar to those on the island. This means that they probably have names similar to what you expect. Still, there are cultural differences as well as Caribbean influence that create some differences, and of course different communities that maybe haven't had as much impact on US culture. As such, there are some French and classical names appearing as well.

Central America


In general, there are two factors that majorly affect Nicaraguan naming schemes: the ethnic diversity of the country, and politics. While the political elite is largely mestizo, there are to this day notable indigenous and Afro-descended groups that speak indigenous languages and creole English, mostly in the Eastern half of the country. While many families gave their kids conservative, biblical names akin to Francoist Spain until the Sandinista Revolution of 1979, since then Russian derived "communist" names — and in more recent times, "American" names — have become popular. However, it is often that not all Nicaraguans fully understand the cultural origin of the name and as such last names may be used as first names, uncommon spellings and mispronunciations abound.


It is often easy to at least somewhat pinpoint when somebody was born and which political leanings their parents had at the time. If they have a "pedestrian" Spanish name like José, Juan, Luis or the likes, they were likely born before the 1979 revolution. If they have a name like "Lenin", "Mijail" (varying spelllings, sometimes also "Mikhail") or the likes, they were likely born in the 1980s. If they have a name one cannot really place, they might've been born in the 1990s or later. These days it is not uncommon to give a "weird" first name and a "normal" middle name, such as "Beyton Francisco" or "Mayela Luisa". Younger couples also take to Portmanteau Couple Name for their kid, creating a new name by smoshing together the name of the parents. American names, or in some cases what Nicaraguans think are American names have also become popular since the end of the Contra War, giving rise to such bizarre concoctions as "Ruswel" (a phonetic spelling of a mispronunciation of Teddy or FDR). "Bismarck" is another not unheard of first name, as is Daisy.


Nicaragua has for a long time been some form of Hereditary Republic and as such "last names" carried a lot of weight. The unquestionably most important family on the national level were, for most of the 19th century and the early 20th century, the Chamorros, who had several of their number rise to the presidency or take high positions in business or journalism. The Somozas were initially the equivalent of minor nobility, but managed to eke out a family dictatorship from the 1930s to the aforementioned 1979 revolution. However, their family name is — for understandable reasons — mud. Nicaragua also had a small but significant German descendant minority, who primarily settled in the North of the country and got active in the coffee business. If somebody has a German sounding last name, they may be connected to that heritage. Somoza "fought" in World War 2 by expropriating many German-Nicaraguans for alleged or real Nazi sympathies.


Nicaraguans love getting nicknames, but due to the rather uncommon first names (and hence difficulty to use "standard" nicknames) and the often sprawling and tightly knit families making last name-based nicknames impractical, nicknames are often based on outwards appearance. They may be rather direct (ex-president Arnoldo Aleman is known as "El Gordo" due to his rotundness) and sometimes ironic, calling somebody exactly the thing they aren't. A common word that even casual white skinned visitors to Nicaragua are bound to hear is "chele", apparently derived from leche ("milk") with the syllables turned around, which is used for light-skinned people, particularly light-skinned foreigners or, in some cases, dark-skinned people in irony.

Southern Cone


In Argentina, the surname practice is the same as that of the United States for most; children take their father's surname, and people use only this one surname. A significant minority do use both parental surnames.


In Chile, surnames are used in the paternal first surname + maternal first surname format. There is one large difference to most Hispanophone nations, though, in that it is actually considered rather offensive to try to apply a married name to a woman's surnames. Chile also has quite a high number of Basque surnames, among many historically Spanish but relatively uncommon names (e.g. Contreras, Sepúlveda).


In Paraguay, there's a lot of Castilian influence, as well as some Portuguese names like Duarte being common.


In Uruguay, two surnames are used but the parents can choose which order these are used, like in Spain. There is also the provision for same-sex couples that if an agreement cannot be reached then it will chosen by random draw, otherwise if the parents can't agree then the father's goes first.


  • Cote — this is a nickname that is fairly common in most Hispanophone nations that is an affectionate name for girls called "María José" and "María Josefa". Whilst it is common in these other countries, though, there are typically other nicknames as well (e.g. Pepa) and they will not use Cote as if it is basically a replacement name in the way that, for example, Pepe is for José alone. In many South American countries, though, they do. An example would be the Chilean actress Cote de Pablo.

Andean States



Something unique to Colombia is the large presence of Middle Eastern names, especially in the Atlántico area. In the 20th century, a lot of people from the Middle East immigrated to Latin America, and a lot of these arrived in Barranquilla because it was a reasonably large but also very easy to access port city from the Atlantic, as well as being on a Northern coast and so convenient for gulf streams. Many of the most popular surnames in Atlántico are Middle Eastern, and there's also a Catalan presence because they, similarly, decided to up and leave an oppressive country for one that was realistically not much better until 2016. This can be seen in, for example, Shakira — the singer is from Barranquilla, with the full name she most often gives out being Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll: Mebarak is Lebanese and Ripoll is Catalan.

Colombia has some diversity in surnames, with the different regions seemingly split on names. Atlántico is described above, then you have Antioquia, which has a lot of surnames from jobs (e.g. Zapata) and locations in Eastern Spain (e.g. Restrepo, Montoya). Valle del Cauca also has these distinct Spanish locations, with Valencia being a popular surname in Cali, and towns called things like Andalucía. Comparatively, Bogotá basically has a random selection of the most common Spanish surnames (as in the list above) as its own popular ones — this says that Colombia has a lot of recent immigrants... except in its principal city. This might not be a class issue even though it seems to be: Bogotá is far inland, with the other areas surrounding it having coastlines, meaning the immigrants just didn't travel very far, especially since there are large cities across Colombia now and less political tension than in the capital. This is supported by the division in Medellín, a city in Antioquia but still very inland, in that it also has more of the common Spanish surnames than the rest of its region, with most of Antioquia being closer to the sea and even having ports, like at Turbo.



The most common last name in Ecuador is Zambrano, which you will find a lot. There are some interesting details, though, like the widespread Lebanese diaspora making these surnames common across the country, as well as names for people particularly in the East being in the form "de los X". This comes from the history of slavery, where plantation workers would be identified by where they worked (which takes the place of the 'X').


Besides Spanish, there's also a decent amount of English and Portuguese influence on Ecuadorian given names, including "Dayana" (Diana), Samantha, Michael, Josué, Fabiola, Jairo. The names Choez is also quite common as part of a compound name.


Ecuador has a lot of regional nicknames — like calling people New-Yorkers, but imagine it if you have a varied friend group then you would call the NY friend New-Yorker, the Canadian friend Moosey or Mountie or something, the Wisconsin friend Cheesey or Packers, you get the idea.

  • Mono — literally means monkey, but used as an Affectionate Nickname for people from the Guayaquil area and surrounding coast. Sometimes it can be racist, though, so be careful.
  • Guayaca/o — The technical nominative for people from Guayaquil is guayaquilaña/o, but using this is much more common if your friend is from Guayaquil. It's the word that would denote products of the area, but people typically won't take it that way.
  • Caramba — a slightly juvenile word that you'd use to call your friends/family that are mischievous. It's not very complimentary, so if you use it as a friendly nickname then they're probably very good friends.
  • Serrano — this is an actual Spanish word, and a surname, but is used as a nickname for people from the highlands (since that's what it means)
  • Taita — a word from Kichwa, used instead of papa as a nickname for your father. It's pronounced kind of like the "tater" in 'tater tots'.


Everyone in Peru has a double given name and a double surname, which does simplify it a bit. There's also a lot of Asian immigrants.


Peru sticks to the common names. However, it also has a lot of Asian immigrants and so there will be some of these surnames popping up. As mentioned, Peru only does two last names, one from each parent, but are a bit stricter at keeping your father's in front of your mother's. They also have no formal laws on married names, but strongly divided opinions.


Children in Peru have two given names. These usually follow stringent tradition, with the first often Biblical or the name of a dead relative. This also means that there are some more unusual religious-themed names appearing in Peru, like Selestino and Saturnin, and very English and Hebrew sounding names that aren't translated in the Bible, like Ruth. Luz is also a popular girls' name, not just meaning "light" but coming from the title Nuestra Señora/María de la Luz.

Also note that one of the more popular boys' name is Annie. Peru, man. More recently, there are also some English names that have had letters contrary to pronunciation being used, like Isac, Jefry, Katherin, Melisa, Aron, Stephany. The name Maverick has also become quite popular.

Because of the Asian immigrants, there are obviously also quite a few Asian names, too, with the Japanese Aika making it onto top lists.


Peruanos love giving nicknames. Seriously, you'll get a nickname and never hear your real name again. Here are some that will be used for people:

  • Beto — this is the nickname for boys called Adalberto or Alberto, or anything else ending "Berto", really
  • Francisco:
    • Paco — like in Spain, the nickname for Francisco... but it also refers to a parcel of drugs
    • Cisco — an alternative nickname for Francisco, probably because of the whole drugs thing
    • Frank — another nickname for Francisco, from Americanisms/Anglicisms becoming more prevalent
  • Sandro — along with the simple 'Alex', used for boys called Alejandro (or, more rarely, Alessandro). Similarly, 'Sandra' is the nickname for Alejandra and Alessandra.
  • Causa — how to refer to your close friends
  • Chato — for your short friends
  • Flaca/o — it means skinny, originally with negative implications but having become affectionate, and is also a common nickname for your significant other
  • Lorna — cute way of calling someone foolish, so if you give your friend the nickname Lorna she is probably frequently gullible
  • Monse and Calabaza — for someone who is The Ditz
  • Charapa — this is a species of turtle from the Amazon, and is used for people from the jungle regions of Peru, and if they're not your friend it will be taken as derogative.
  • Paisana/o — literally meaning 'countryman' or descriptor to the same effect, it refers to people from the flats and desert, usually fair-skinned
  • Fercho — if one of your friends has a car and the rest don't, they'll get this nickname. It's the syllables of chauffeur swapped.
  • Grone — used in a non-racist way to refer to black people (see the formation used directly above), with the other common usage being for Alianza Lima fans. There are other ways to be racist, this isn't one.
  • Ponja and Chino/a — the first is for your Japanese friends; the Spanish word for Japan is Japón. The second is for most other Asians.
  • Natacha — an offensive name to refer to a cleaning person or similar, and racist on the same level as using "Consuela" for the same thing in America
  • Chola/o — refers to Native people of Peru, and for a while was used by a lot of Peruanos to refer to all citizens but has at least in the 21st Century gained a kind of N-Word Privileges protection, so be careful. It may also have its syllables reversed to be called lorcho/a



Venezuelan law has been under criticism for trying to restrict names in a country that has always had a lot of eccentric freedom in naming. Many countries have similar laws, imposed to try to prevent bullying, but the Venezuelans also argued that particularly strict enforcers of the rule might forbid them from giving their children traditional names that could be misread or misheard as something worse. There's the example of Elvio Lado (approx. Elvis Next), which is perfectly fine; el violado, however, could be a way of shaming a person who has been raped. The argument wages on, as it does seem a bit unfair to take away the ability for Monica and Rubio Lado to name their son Elvio.

There was another proposal to instead permit a list of 100 names every year, so that many kids would have the same names and wouldn't get bullied. As mentioned above, Venezuelan people are used to being able to give lots of odd names, so this didn't go over well, either, and instead provoked people to expand their nominal vocabulary further. Then the rest of the world heard about the scandal and realised that there were quite a few names inspired by Communist leaders (which is not remarkable in Venezuela, but uncomfortable to a lot of the West), so there has been some dampening. This means that pre-2007, you will find some fantastic Russian and Chinese names (Maolenin was quite common, or the footballer Wuiswell — Roosevelt, it seems). Post-2007, you will likely find equally strange names, but inspired by Americanisms (there's at least one Juanjondre — an attempt to write one hundred — and people like Jhonen Vasquez with just odd names).

Besides this, the upper classes usually do stick to traditional Spanish names. The politicians of the country are a mix of traditionally-named and radically-named people, which at one point lead to some hierarchy and shaming within the government, and so the idea of reducing odd names may come from the government thinking that similar class identification and subsequent bullying occurs elsewhere, but in practice it doesn't seem to. This may be due to respect for social-climbing and the anthropological theory that having a foreign-sounding name is a form of being elite because in Venezuela, foreign things are highly valued (the ability to import is a marker of wealth, especially when surrounded by relatively poor countries).

Some parents also practice reversing their names and giving that to their kids. They also like to use letters like 'y' and 'k' to start names, which is typically uncommon in Spanish names, but in some cases is easier to say than the foreign sounds they replace.


Studies show that there is a lot of variation in surnames in Venezuela the closer you get to Caracas, with very rural areas having fewer surnames in total as well as little change in surnames over time. This isn't particularly unusual globally, but the notable trend suggests that regional movement is happening in Venezuela, but family ties are still very strong — this is something to consider when giving your characters and their families and friends surnames depending on their region and job.

Alternative Title(s): Spanish Names Are Really Long