A surname is a name added to a given name and is part of a personal name. In many cases, a surname is a family name. Many dictionaries define "surname" as a synonym of "family name". In the western hemisphere, it is commonly synonymous with "last name" and is usually placed at the end of a person's given name. In Spain and most Hispanophone and Lusophone countries, two or more last names (or surnames) are used. In Hungary, along with Madagascar, China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam and in many other East Asian countries, the family name is placed before a person's given name.
The style of having both a family name (surname) and a given name (forename or Christian name) is far from universal. In many countries it is common for ordinary people to have only one name or mononym.
The concept of a 'surname' is a relatively recent historical development, evolving from a medieval naming practice called a 'byname'. Based on an individual's occupation or area of residence, a byname would be used in situations where multiple people had the same name.