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Spanish naming customs are those practiced in Spain. They are similar to those in other Spanish-speaking countries or former Spanish territories, such as Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory since 1898. In Spain, a person's name consists of a given name (simple or composite) followed by two family names (surnames). The first surname is usually the father's first surname, and the second the mother's first surname. In Spain this order may now be reversed, according to a new gender equality law.
In most situations, the practice is to use one given name and the first surname only, the full name being used in legal, formal, and documentary matters. For differences in Hispanic American usages, see Hispanic American naming customs.
Currently in Spain, people bear a single or composite given name (nombre) and two surnames (apellidos). A composite given name comprises two (not more) single names; Juan Pablo is considered not to be a first and a second forename, but a single composite forename. Traditionally, a person's first surname is the father's first surname (apellido paterno), and the second one is the mother's first surname (apellido materno). However, gender equality law has allowed surname transposition since 1999, subject to the condition that every sibling must bear the same surname order recorded in the Registro Civil (civil registry), but there have been legal exceptions. From 2013, if the parents of a child are unable to agree on order of surnames, an official decides which is to come first.
For example, if a man named Eduardo Fernández Garrido marries a woman named María Dolores Martínez Ruiz and have a child named José, there are several legal options, but their child would most usually be known as José Fernández Martínez.
Each surname can also be composite, the parts usually linked by the preposition de (of) or by a hyphen. For example, a person's name might be Juan Pablo Fernández de Calderón García-Iglesias, consisting of a forename (Juan Pablo), a paternal surname (Fernández de Calderón) and a maternal surname (García-Iglesias).
A man named José Antonio Gómez Iglesias would normally be addressed as Señor Gómez instead of Señor Iglesias, because Gómez is his paternal surname. Furthermore, Mr. Gómez might be informally addressed as (i) José Antonio, (ii) José, (iii) Pepe (nickname for José), (iv) Antonio (Anthony), or (v) Toño (nickname for Antonio).
Colombian writer Gabriel García Márquez is sometimes incorrectly referred to in English media as Mr. Márquez, when it should be Mr. García Márquez or, simply, Mr. García.
In rare instances, when the first surname is very common, someone may be referred to primarily by their maternal surname. For example, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero (elected for terms as Prime Minister of Spain in the 2004 and 2008 general elections) is often called simply Zapatero, the name he inherited from his mother's family, since Rodríguez is a common surname and may be ambiguous. The same occurs with Spanish Socialist leader Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba.
In an English-speaking environment, Spanish-named people sometimes hyphenate their surnames to avoid Anglophone confusion or to fill-out forms with only one space provided for last name, thus: Mr. José Antonio Gómez-Iglesias. A practical option to spare an explanation is using a single surname composed of two separate words.
Parents choose their child's given name, which must be recorded in the Registro Civil (Civil Registry) to establish his or her legal identity. With few restrictions, parents can now choose any name; common sources of names are the parents' taste, honouring a relative, the Roman Catholic calendar of saints nomina (nominal register), and traditional Spanish names. Legislation in Spain under Franco legally limited cultural naming customs to only Christian (Jesus, Mary, saints) and typical Spanish names (Antonio, Laura, et al.). Although the first part of a composite forename generally reflects the gender of the child, the second personal name need not (e.g.José María Aznar). At present, the only naming limitation is the dignity of the child, who cannot be given an insulting name. Similar limitations applied against diminutive, familiar, and colloquial variants not recognized as names proper, and "those that lead to confusion regarding sex"; however, current law allows registration of diminutive names.
Girls are often named María, honouring the Virgin Mary, by appending either a shrine, place, or religious-concept suffix-name to María. In daily life, such women omit the "Mary of the ..." nominal prefix, and use the suffix portion of their composite names as their public, rather than legal, identity. Hence, women with Marian names such as María de los Ángeles (Mary of the Angels), María del Pilar (Mary of the Pillar), and María de la Luz (Mary of the Light), are normally addressed as Ángeles (Angels), Pilar (Pillar), and Luz (Light); however, each might be addressed as María. Also, parents can simply name a girl "María", or "Mari". Nicknames such as Maricarmen for María del Carmen, Marisol for "María (de la) Soledad" ("Our Lady of Solitude", the Virgin Mary), Lola for María Dolores, etc. are often used.
It is not unusual for a man's formal name to include María, preceded by a masculine name, e.g. José María Aznar (Joseph Mary Aznar). Equivalently, a girl can be formally named María José (Mary Joseph), and informally named Marijose, Mariajo, Majo, Josefa, Josefina, Fina, Pepa, Pepi, Pepita, Marisé or even José in honor of St. Joseph. María as a masculine name is often abbreviated in writing as M. (José M. Aznar), Ma. (José Ma. Aznar), or Mª (José Mª Morelos). It is unusual for any names other than the religiously significant María and José to be used in this way.
The Registro Civil (Civil Registry) officially records a child’s identity as composed of a forename (simple or composite) and the two surnames; however, a child can be religiously baptized with several forenames, e.g. Felipe Juan Froilán de Todos los Santos. This is usually a royal and noble family practice, and has no legal significance.
In Spain, upon marrying, a woman does not change her surname. In some instances, such as high society meetings, and with no legal value, the husband's surname can be added after the woman's surnames using the preposition de. One Leocadia Blanco Álvarez, married to a Pedro Pérez Montilla, may be addressed as Leocadia Blanco de Pérez or as Leocadia Blanco Álvarez de Pérez. This format is not used in everyday settings and has no legal value.
In chapter V, part 2 of Don Quixote (1605, 1615), Teresa Panza reminds her husband Sancho that, properly, she should be addressed as Teresa Cascajo, by her surname, not her marital surname: “Teresa I was named in baptism, a clean and short name, without addings or embellishments, or furnishings of dons and dans; ‘Cascajo’ was my father; and I, as your wife, am called ‘Teresa Panza’, but laws are executed”.
In the generational transmission of surnames, the paternal surname’s precedence eventually eliminates the maternal surnames from the family lineage. Contemporary law allows the maternal surname to be given precedence, but most people observe the traditional paternal–maternal surname order. So the daughter and son of Ángela López Sáenz and Tomás Portillo Blanco are usually called Laura Portillo López and Pedro Portillo López, but also could be called Laura López Portillo and Pedro López Portillo. Regardless of the surname order, all children's surnames must be in the same order when recorded in the Registro Civil.
Patrilineal surname transmission was not always the norm in Spanish speaking societies. Prior to the mid-eighteenth century, when the current paternal-maternal surname combination norm came into existence, Hispanophone societies often practised matrilineal surname transmission, giving children the maternal surname, and, occasionally, giving children a grandparent's surname (borne by neither parent) for prestige — being perceived as gentry — and profit, flattering the matriarch or the patriarch in hope of inheriting land. As with Catalan names, the Spanish naming customs include the orthographic option of conjoining the surnames with the conjunction particle y (meaning "and"), e.g. José Ortega y Gasset, or Tomás Portillo y Blanco, following an antiquated aristocratic usage.
Not every surname is a single word; such conjoining usage is common with doubled surnames (maternal-paternal), ancestral composite surnames willed to the following generations — especially when the paternal surname is socially undistinguished. José María Álvarez del Manzano y López del Hierro is an example, his name comprising a composite (two-word) single name, José María, and two composite surnames Álvarez del Manzano and López del Hierro. Other examples derive from church place-names such as San José. When a person bears doubled surnames, the means of disambiguation is to insert y between the paternal and maternal surnames.
Occasionally, a person with a common paternal surname and an uncommon maternal surname becomes widely known by the maternal surname. The artist Pablo Ruiz Picasso, the poet Federico García Lorca, and the politician José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero are examples. With similar effect, the foreign paternal surname of the Uruguayan writer Eduardo Hughes Galeano (his father was British) is usually omitted. (As a boy, however, he occasionally signed his name as Eduardo Gius, using a hispanized approximation of the English pronunciation of "Hughes".) Such use of the second last name by itself is colloquial, however, and may not be applied in legal contexts.
Where the Basque and Romance cultures linguistically cohabit, the surnames denote the father's name and the (family) house; thus the Romance patronymic and the place-name are conjoined with the prepositional particle de ("from", "provenance"), thus in the name José Ignacio López de Arriortúa, the composite surname López de Arriortúa is a simple surname, despite Arriortúa being the original family-name. This is a possibly confusing usage because the Spanish López and the Basque de Arriortúa are discrete surnames in the Basque and Romance cultures.
In Spanish, the preposition particle de (“of”) is used as a conjunction in two surname spelling styles, and to disambiguate a surname. The first style is in patronymic and toponymic spelling formulæ, e.g. Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba, Pedro López de Ayala, and Vasco Núñez de Balboa, as in many conquistador names.
Unlike in French, the Spanish spellings of surnames containing the prepositional particle de are ambiguous without a preceding patronymic, an orthographic style common to noble surnames, thus, the lower-case spellings de la Rúa (“of the street") and de la Torre (“of the tower”) and the upper-case spellings De la Rúa and De la Torre are equally correct.
Bearing the de particle does not necessarily denote a noble family, especially in Castile and Alava, the de usually applied to the place-name (town or village) from which the person and his or her ancestors originated; however, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the usage of de spread as a way of denoting the bearer’s noble heritage to avoid the misperception that he or she is either a Jew or a Moor. In that time, many people, regardless of their true origins, claimed the right to use the particle, e.g. Miguel de Cervantes, Lope de Vega, et al.; moreover, following that fashion, high nobles, such as Francisco Sandoval Rojas, called himself Francisco de Sandoval y Rojas. During the eighteenth century, the Spanish nobility fully embraced the French custom of using de as a nobility identifier, however, commoners also bore the de particle, which made the de usages unclear; thus, nobility was emphasised with the surname’s lineage.
In the sixteenth century, the Spanish adopted the copulative conjunction y (“and”) to distinguish a person’s surnames; thus the Andalusian Baroque writer Luis de Góngora y Argote (1561–1627), the Aragonese painter Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes (1746–1828), the Andalusian artist Pablo Diego Ruiz y Picasso (1881–1973), and the Madrilenian liberal philosopher José Ortega y Gasset (1883–1955). In Hispanic America, this spelling convention was common to clergymen (e.g. Salvadoran Bishop Óscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez), and sanctioned by the Ley de Registro Civil (Civil Registry Law) of 1870, requiring birth certificates indicating the paternal and maternal surnames conjoined with y — thus, Felipe González y Márquez and José María Aznar y López are the respective true names of the Spanish politicians Felipe González Márquez and José María Aznar López; however, unlike in Catalan, the Spanish usage is infrequent.
The conjunction y avoids denominational confusion when the paternal surname might appear to be a (first) name; hence the physiologist Santiago Ramón y Cajal might appear to be named Santiago Ramón (composite) and surnamed Cajal, like-wise the jurist Francisco Tomás y Valiente, and the cleric Vicente Enrique y Tarancón. Without the conjunction, the footballer Rafael Martín Vázquez, known as Martín Vázquez (his surnames) mistakenly appears to be named Martín rather than Rafael, whilst, to his annoyance, the linguist Fernando Lázaro Carreter occasionally was addressed as Don Lázaro, rather than as Don Fernando.
Moreover, when the maternal surname begins with an i vowel sound, written with either the vowel I (Ibarra), the vowel Y (Ybarra archaic spelling) or the combination Hi + consonant (Higueras), Spanish euphony substitutes e in place of y, thus the example of the Spanish statesman Eduardo Dato e Iradier (1856–1921).
To communicate a person’s social identity, Spanish naming customs provide orthographic means, such as suffix-letter abbreviations, surname spellings, and place names, which denote and connote the person’s place in society.
h. (son of): A man named like his father, might append the lower-case suffix h. (denoting hijo, son) to his surname, thus distinguishing himself, Juan Gómez Marcos, h., from his father, Juan Gómez Marcos; the English analogue is “Jr.” (son).
–ez: Spanish surnames ending in -ez originated as patronymics denoting "the son of"—Fernández (son of Fernando), González (son of Gonzalo)—yet not every such surname is patronymic, because in many Spanish dialects the Spanish-language letters z and s are pronounced alike, leading to the same word being spelt with either "s" or "z". In Hispano-American Spanish, the -ez spellings of Chávez, Cortez (Alberto Cortez) and Valdez are not patronymic surnames, because they are variant spellings of the Iberian Spanish spelling with -es, as in the names of Manuel Chaves González, Hernán Cortés and Javier Valdés. For more on the -z surnames in Spanish see Influences on the Spanish language.
Anonymous foundlings were a naming problem for civil registrars, but such anonymous children were often named toponymically, after the town where they were found. Because most foundlings were reared in church orphanages, they were often given the surnames Iglesia or Iglesias (church[es]) and Cruz (cross). Blanco (connoting "blank" here, rather than the more usual "white") was another option. A toponymical first surname might be followed as second surname by Iglesia or Cruz.
Foundlings often were surnamed Expósito (Lat. exposĭtus, "exposed", connoting "foundling"), which marked them, and their descendants, as of low caste and social class, people without social pedigree. In the Catalan language the surname Deulofeu ("made by God") was often given to foundlings. In 1921 Spanish law allowed the surname Expósito to be changed without charge.
In Aragón, anonymous children used to receive as well the family surname Gracia (Grace) or de Gracia, because they were thought to survive by the Grace of God.
In Spain, legal and illegal foreign immigrants retain use of their cultural naming customs, yet upon becoming Spanish citizens, they are legally obliged to assume Spanish-style names (a name and two surnames). If the naturalised person is from a one-surname culture, the actual surname is duplicated; therefore, the English name “George Albert Duran” becomes the Spanish name “George Albert Durán Durán”, yet the law optionally allows him to adopt his mother's maiden name (her surname), as his maternal (second) surname. Formally, Spanish naming customs conflate his name “George” and his middle-name “Albert” to the composite name “George Albert”, and his sole surname, “Duran”, is duplicated as his paternal and maternal surnames.
Historically, flamenco artists seldom used their proper names. According to the flamenco guitarist Juan Serrano, this was because flamenco was considered disreputable and they did not want to embarrass their families: 'We have to start with the history of the gypsies in Spain. They gained a bad reputation because of the minor crimes they had to commit to survive. They did not have any kind of jobs, they had to do something to live, and of course this created hostility. And Flamenco was the music of the Gypsies, so many high society people did not accept it — they said Flamenco was in the hands of criminals, bandits, et cetera. And the girls, that maybe liked dancing or singing, their parents said, “Oh no, you want to be a prostitute!”.'
This tradition has persisted to the present day, even though Flamenco is now legitimate. Sometimes the artistic name consists of the home town appended to the first name (Manolo Sanlúcar, Ramón de Algeciras); but many, perhaps most, of such names are more eccentric: Pepe de la Matrona (because his mother was a midwife); Perico del Lunar (because he had a mole); Tomatito (son of a father known as Tomate (tomato) because of his red face); Sabicas (because of his childhood passion for green beans, from niño de las habicas); and many more.
Many Spanish names can be shortened into hypocoristic, affectionate "child-talk" forms using a diminutive suffix, especially -ito and -cito (masculine) and -ita and -cita (feminine). Sometimes longer than the person’s name, a nickname is usually derived via linguistic rules. However, in contrast to English use, hypocorisms names in Spanish are not used to address a person but in a very familiar environment with the only exception of that name is used as artistic name (e.g. Nacho Duato born Juan Ignacio Duato). The common English use to address people in press and media or even in business cards, by their hypocorisms name (such Bill Gates instead of William Gates) is not accepted in Spanish to be very colloquial. The usages vary by country and region; these are some usual names and their nicknames:
The official recognition of Spain's other written languages — Catalan, Basque, and Galician — legally allowed the autonomous communities to re-establish their vernacular social identity, including the legal use of personal names in the local languages and written traditions — banned since 1938 — sometimes via the re-spelling of names from Castilian Spanish to their original languages.
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The territories under the influence of Basque culture, mainly the Basque Country and Navarre, usually follow Spanish naming customs. A bilingual Basque-Spanish speaker will not necessarily bear a Basque name, and a monolingual Spanish speaker can use a Basque name or a Basque hypocoristic of an official Spanish name.
Some Basque-language names and surnames are foreign transliterations into the Basque tongue, e.g. Ander (English: "Andrew"; Spanish: Andrés), Mikel (English: "Michael"; Spanish: Miguel), or Ane (English: "Anne"; Spanish: Ana). In some cases, the name's original-language denotation is translated to Basque, i.e. Zutoia and Zedarri denote the Spanish Pilar (English: "Pillar"). Moreover, some Basque names, such as Xabier and Eneko (English "Xavier" and "Inigo") have been transliterated into Spanish (Javier and Íñigo).
Recently, Basque names without a direct equivalent in other languages have become popular, e.g. Aitor (a legendary patriarch), Odei ("cloud"), Iker ("to investigate"), and Amaia ("the end"); finally, other Basque names, without a current direct Spanish meaning, are unique to the Basque language: Eneko, Garikoitz, Urtzi. Basque names, rather than Spanish names, are preponderant in the Basque Country, countering the Spanish-name imposition of the Franco régime requiring only Spanish names; after Franco's death and the democratic restoration, many Basque adults changed their Spanish names to the Basque equivalent, e.g. from Miguel to Mikel.
A source for modern Basque names is Sabino Arana's Deun-Ixendegi Euzkotarra ("Basque saint-name collection", published in 1910). Instead of the traditional adaptations of Romance names, he proposed others he made up and that in his opinion were truer to the originals and adapted to the Basque phonology. For example, his brother Luis became Koldobika, from Frankish Hlodwig. The traditional Peru (from Spanish "Pedro"), Pello or Piarres (from French "Pierre"), all meaning "Peter", became Kepa from Aramaic כיפא (Kepha). He believed that the suffix -[n]e was inherently feminine, and new names like Nekane ("pain"+ne,"Dolores") or Garbine ("clean"+ne, "Immaculate [Conception]") are frequent among Basque females.
Basque surnames usually denoted the patronymic house of the bearer; e.g. Etxebarria —"new house", from etxe (house) + barri (new), denotes "related to a so-named farmhouse"; in the same way, Garaikoetxea — "house in the heights", garai ("height") + etxe ("house"). Sometimes, surnames denoted not the house itself but a characteristic of the place, e.g. Saratxaga — "willow-place", from saratze ("willow") + -aga ("place of"); Loyola, from loi ("mud") + ola ("iron smithery"); Arriortua —"stone orchard", from harri ("stone") + ortua ("orchard"). Before the 20th century all Basquemen were considered nobles (indeed, some Basque surnames, e.g. Irujo, were related to some of the oldest Spanish noble families), and many of them used their status to emigrate with privileges to other regions of the Spanish Empire, especially the Americas, due to which some Basque surnames became common to the Spanish-American world; e.g. Mendoza — "cold mountain", from mendi ("mountain" + hotza ("cold"); Salazar — "Old hall", from sala ("hall") + zahar ("old"). Until 1978, Spanish was the single official language of the Spanish civil registries and Basque surnames had to be registered according to the Spanish phonetical rules (for example, the Spanish "ch" sound merges the Basque "ts", "tx", and "tz", and someone whose surname in Standard Basque would be "Krutxaga" would have to write it as "Cruchaga", letter "k" also not being used in Spanish). Although the democratic restoration ended this policy, allowing surnames to be officially changed into their Basque version, there still are many people who hold Spanish-written Basque surnames, even in the same family: a father born before 1978 would be surnamed "Echepare" and his children, "Etxepare". This policy even changed the usual pronunciation of some Basque surnames. For instance, in Basque, the letter "z" maintained a sibilant "s"-like sound, while Spanish changed it; thus, a surname such as "Zabala" should be properly read similar to "sabala" (Basque pronunciation: [s̻abala]), although in Spanish, because the "z" denotes a "th" sound ([θ]), it would be read as "Tha-bala" (Spanish pronunciation: [θaˈβala]). However, since the letter "z" exists in Spanish, the registries did not force the Zabalas to transliterate their surname.
In Biscay and Guipuzcoa, it was common to take a surname from the place (town or village) where one resided, unless one was a foundling. Basque compound surnames were created with two discrete surnames, e.g. Elorduizapaterietxe — Elordui + Zapaterietxe, a practice denoting family allegiances or the equal importance of both families. This custom sometimes conduced to incredibly long surnames, for compound surnames could be used to create others; for example, the longest surname recorded in Spain is Basque, Burionagonatotoricagageazcoechea", formed by Buriona+ Gonatar + Totorika + Beazcoetxea.
Finally, the nationalist leader Sabino Arana pioneered a naming custom of transposing the name-surname order to what he thought was the proper Basque language syntax order; e.g. the woman named Miren Zabala would be referred to as Zabalatar Miren— the surname first, plus the -tar suffix denoting "from a place", and then the name. Thus, Zabalatar Miren means "Miren, of the Zabala family". The change in the order is effected because in the Basque tongue, declined words (such as Zabalatar) that apply to a noun are uttered before the noun itself; another example of this would be his pen name, Arana ta Goiritar Sabin. This Basque naming custom was used in nationalist literature, not in formal, official documents wherein the Castilian naming convention is observed.
The Catalan-speaking territories also abide by the Spanish naming customs, yet usually the discrete surnames are joined with the word i (“and"), instead of the Spanish y, and this practice is very common in formal contexts. For example, the current president of the Generalitat de Catalunya (Government of Catalonia) is formally called El Molt Honorable Senyor Artur Mas i Gavarró. Furthermore, the national language policy enumerated in article 19.1 of Law 1/1998 stipulates that "the citizens of Catalonia have the right to use the proper regulation of their Catalan names and surnames and to introduce the conjunction between surnames".
The correction, translation, and surname-change are regulated by the Registro Civil (Civil Registry) with the Decree 138/2007 of 26 June, modifying the Decree 208/1998 of 30 July, which regulates the accreditation of the linguistic correctness of names. The attributes and functions of Decree 138/2007 of 26 July regulate the issuance of language-correction certificates for translated Catalan names, by the Institut d'Estudis Catalans (Institute of Catalan Studies) in Barcelona. Nevertheless, there are Catalan surnames that conform to neither the current spelling rules nor to the traditionally correct Catalan spelling rules; a language-correction certification can be requested from the Institut d'Estudis Catalans, for names such as these:
Many Catalan names are shortened to hypocoristic forms using only the final portion of the name (unlike Spanish, which mostly uses only the first portion of the name), and with a diminutive suffix. Thus, shortened Catalan names taking the first portion of the name are probably influenced by the Spanish tradition. The influence of Spanish in hypocoristics is recent since it became a general fashion only in twentieth century and specially since Francisco Franco's dictatorship; example Catalan names are:
The Galician-speaking areas also abide the Spanish naming customs. Main differences are the usage of Galician given names and surnames.
Most Galician surnames have their origin in local toponymys, being these either Galician regions (Sanlés < Salnés, Carnota, Bergantiños), towns (Ferrol, Noia), parishes or villages (as Andrade). Just like elsewhere, many surnames were also generated from jobs or professions (Carpinteiro 'carpenter', Cabaleiro 'Knight', Ferreiro 'Smith', Besteiro 'Crossbowman'), physical characteristics (Gago 'Twangy', Tato 'Stutterer', Couceiro 'Tall and thin', Bugallo 'fat', Pardo 'Swarthy'), or origin of the person (Franco and Francés 'French', Portugués 'Portuguese').
Although many Galician surnames have been historically adapted into Spanish phonetics and orthography, they are still clearly recognizable as Galician words: Freijedo, Spanish adaptation of freixedo 'place with ash-trees'; Seijo from seixo 'stone'; Doval from do Val 'of the Valley'; Rejenjo from Reguengo, Galician evolution of local Latin-Germanic word Regalingo 'Royal property'.
Specially relevant are the Galician surnames originated from medieval patronymics, present in local documentation since the 9th century, and popularized from the 12th century on. Although many of them have been historically adapted into Spanish orthography, phonetics and traditions, many are still characteristically Galician; most common ones are:
Some common Galician names are:
Nicknames are usually obtained from the end of a given name, or through derivation. Common suffixes include masculine -ito (as in Sito, from Luisito), -echo (Tonecho, from Antonecho) and -uco (Farruco, from Francisco); and feminine -ucha/uxa (Maruxa, Carmucha, from Maria and Carme), -uca (Beluca, from Isabeluca), and -ela (Mela, from Carmela).
As the provincial Surname distribution map (above) indicates, Mohamed is an often-occurring surname in the autonomous Mediterranean North African cities of Ceuta and Melilla (respectively registered 10,410 and 7,982 occurrences), due to immigration from Morocco. Hispanophone Muslims use the Spanish "Mohamed" spelling for “Muhammad”. As such, it is often a component of Arabic names for men; hence, many Ceutan and Melillan Muslims share surnames despite not sharing a common ancestry. Furthermore, Mohamed (Muhammad) is the most popular name for new-born boys, thus it is not unusual to encounter a man named Mohamed Mohamed Mohamed: the first occurrence is the name, the second occurrence is the paternal surname, and the third occurrence is the maternal surname.