Names in Gramps

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Please update or expand this section.

The name of a person is a central concept in genealogy. In Gramps, you can enter name information in the Person Edit Dialog and from the Names tab or the Edit icon at the top of this dialog, you can jump to the Name Edit Dialog.

Person Edit Dialog
Name Edit Dialog

Name Types

A name is of a certain type. Some types are predefined:

  • Birth Name: Name given at birth to a child
  • Married Name: Name one adopts after marriage. In many cultures it is the habit the officially used name of the wife changes to (a variation of) that of the husband.
  • AKA: Also known as: another name under which the person is known

One can add name types. Eg, for some cultures, a new name is adopted after (adult) baptizing. So one could just type in a new name type 'Baptized name', which from then onwards will be selectable in the name type for this family tree. Some people have a preference for 'Nick Name' nametype, instead of AKA.

Names in a Name Type

Within a name type, you have several fields to identify uniquely the name.

Family Name

The family name is the part of the name which, according to law or custom, is passed from parents to child. Gramps defaults to the patronymic option, labeled Father's surname, in the Display tab of the Preferences for Surname guessing.

In the People category view, people are sorted based on this family name. In the case of cultures which do not use family names, one can use the grouping feature in the Name editor to design a name under which to group people from the same family.


A Prefix is an optional modifier of the surname and describes the relationship to the surname. Prefixes are separate, spaced away from the surname and stores as a separate field. This field is ignored by sorting. Over time, some Prefixes become assumed to be integral to the Surname. In such a case, the Prefix is moved from the Prefix field and into the Surname field. Sometimes, the former Prefix is joined to the stem (the old surname) with a connector (such as a hyphen, space, or apostrophe) or simply abutted to the Surname without any space.

Some Prefixes can indicate that the surname is actually the Place from which a person (or family) originated or even directional proximity to such a place. It can denote royalty or nobility of the surname. It can mean 'child of' and indicate their gender. Other prefixes can denote the leader of an extended family or holding a superior position.

Given Name

The given name is the part of the name of a person which is chosen freely by the parents. Although the parents may feel constrained by regional or ethnic traditions to follow namesake conventions.

Call Name

The accuracy of this section is contested --DuncanNZ 09:49, 26 August 2008 (EDT)

We need to look in the email archive for a proper definition by the people who requested this feature.

The Call name feature is inspired by the German word Rufname -- a compound of the words "anruf name" which literally translates to "Call name." And there is a similar Swedish structured concept known as tilltalsnamn -- a compound form of "tilltals namn" translating to "heard name." However, Gramps originated as an English product where there is no directly comparable analogue to this "Call Name." That makes the "Call Name" both a source of confusion to that community and harder to describe in English.

It does not fall into the more universal concept of a nickname, nor is it necessarily the familiar name by which a person is most commonly referred by their closest associates. However, it is the part (or parts) of the Given Name by which the person is the officially identified. And, if the nickname is keyed off a formal name, the Call Name is the key to the name.

Among the formal forenames given at birth, some cultures pick out a particular one to use for official and normal public use: the Call Name. (Think of it as analogous to the ancient idea that a person's public name is not his 'real' secret name, knowledge of which would give power over him to others). One of the formal given birth forenames is taken (typically *not* the first) as the Call Name. In Germany, this official name is frequently underlined in official documents. The concept is common in Northern Europe; the first name is often a saint's name or that of an honoured relative; or the first name may be the 'spiritual' name, while the call name is a secular one. There are contrasting views on whether a shortened form of a person's name can also be a call name; some consider that to be a nickname; as an additional complication, for example in Sweden, the (official) call name may be a name that is different from any of the forenames given at birth.



Origin Attributes

  • UNKNOWN: Unknown origin
  • CUSTOM: Custom user defined origin
  • NONE: no given origin
  • INHERITED: name was inherited from parents
  • PATRILINEAL: name was inherited from father's family name
  • MATRILINEAL: name was inherited from mother's family name
  • GIVEN: name was bestowed on the individual
  • TAKEN: name was chosen by the individual
  • PATRONYMIC: name is derived from father's given name
  • MATRONYMIC: name is derived from mother's given name
  • FEUDAL: name refers to the holding of land in a fief
  • PSEUDONYM: name is fictitious
  • OCCUPATION: name follows from the occupation of the person


A title given to this person. Titles often accompany names on all official documents, eg Sir, Dr., ...

Handling names

The Edit Person Dialog has fields to enter the standard name of a person. In this, the call name can be entered directly here. To refine the info about this name, one can click on the Edit icon to bring up the name editor.

Furthermore, one can add extra names in the names tab of this editor. To switch a new name to be the standard name, one needs to use the context menu (right click on the name), and select 'Save as default name.'


Nicknames can be handled in two ways; either as a name type: Add Name, overwrite 'Birth Name' with 'Nickname' in the name Type, or use the AKA default name type.

Alternatively, one can save the nickname as a new Attribute as part of the person information.

Name Grouping

In the name editor, one can override the default grouping of a person in the person view based on his Family Name. This is done by entering grouping information.