Is it possible to call a child "Jack Watson Junior" if his father is called "Charles Watson"? Is it necessary that the father and the son have the same name to be called "Junior" and "Senior" or is it possible to name a child "Jack Watson Junior" in honor of his uncle, for example, or his grandfather who would be called Jack Watson? Are "Junior" and "Senior" only to be used for fathers and sons without any generation between them?

  • 1
    People can be informally called junior even if their names aren't exactly the same, e.g. the 43rd president being called "Bush junior", and even more informally, it can be used to suggest that someone is following in the footsteps of another, e.g. referring to the 41st president as "Reagan junior". But as far as someone's formal name is concerned, it's only used if they have the same name as their parent. – Acccumulation Sep 26 '17 at 23:05
  • Note that to be Jr. or Sr., the middle names are usually the same too. – Stephen S Sep 27 '17 at 2:40
  • Frank jr. jr. from Friends comes to mind... – I'm with Monica Sep 27 '17 at 11:15

I wanted to know if it was possible to call a child Jack Watson Junior if his father is called Charles Watson?

No; junior and senior are only used if the names are exactly the same.

Or is it possible to name a child Jack Watson Junior in honor of his uncle for example or his grandfather who would be called Jack Watson?

Technically, a child named after a relative who is not his father should be called "Jack Watson II" (pronounced "Jack Watson the second") instead of "junior". Then if there is a third Jack Watson in the family, he would be "Jack Watson III" ("Jack Watson the third"), and so forth.

(I actually did once know a person who was called "John Smith junior" even though the original John Smith was his grandfather and not his father, but this was unusual enough that people remarked on it, because it is not the normal way to do it.)

Also, junior or senior is almost always written as Jr. or Sr. instead of being spelled out.

Source: The Emily Post Institute, "Men's Names and Titles"

  • 6
    Worth noting that this generally apples to people in relation to all of their names... if someone has a middle name that is different than their father's (e.g. Charles Edward Watson vs Charles Michael Watson), they would not have the "jr" and "sr" suffixes. – Catija Sep 26 '17 at 21:44
  • I wonder if your friend John Smith, Jr. felt like he could make an exception to the standard rule simply because John Smith is such a common and generic name. Perhaps if his name (and his grandfather's name) was, say, Jared Horowitz, there would have been no thought of using the Junior designation. @Catija - Spot on. Actually, I have the same first name as my father, but a different middle name. When asked if I'm a "junior," the answer has always been "no." – J.R. Sep 26 '17 at 21:44
  • @J.R. the irony of your username makes me giggle. – Catija Sep 26 '17 at 21:47
  • 2
    The rigorous rules on "junior" and "the II" seem to be specific to the USA, rather than to Anglophone culture in general. – Euan M Sep 27 '17 at 2:26
  • 2
    @Catija although I did know an example of (name changed to protect the guilty) an Adam R. Valentine whose son was Adam J. Valentine Jr. The J was for "Junior". All cultural rules are inevitably broken :) – hobbs Sep 27 '17 at 4:32

This depends on country and culture. These suffixes are found much more commonly in the US than elsewhere, and I think most of the existing answers are US-specific.

In the UK it used to be common to refer to men and boys by surname alone; this probably survived in boys' schools for rather longer than it did in the outside world. Two brothers would then be referred to as Jones senior and Jones junior, regardless that they had different first names. But the suffix was never part of the name, just a way of distinguishing them.

  • In my reading, they were always Jones Major and Jones Minor, not Senior and Junior . If there was a third, he would be Minimus. I've never encountered this in the flesh, but I do know somebody who had two elder brothers who habitually called her Min, allegedly because of Minimus. – Colin Fine May 10 '20 at 9:38
  • You obviously went to a more expensive school than I did. – Michael Kay May 10 '20 at 14:15
  • As I say, I've never encountered this in the flesh. A few years earlier I probably would have met it at my school; but by the late 60s they'd made the momentous discovery that pupils had first names! – Colin Fine May 10 '20 at 14:40
  • In fact, come to think of it, I spent my first few years at that school wondering when we would be grown-up enough to start calling everybody by surname, the way they did in Jennings and Darbishire. – Colin Fine May 10 '20 at 14:44
  • First names? In my day schoolboys would have been mortified if anyone discovered their first name. It was almost as bad as your friends knowing you had a mother... – Michael Kay May 11 '20 at 11:15

Junior is used to refer to people that have the exact same name as their parent (usually dad). For example: my name is Rob Rouse Jr. (because my dad's name is Rob Rouse)

Your example with Charles & Jack wouldn't be the correct situation, because their first names are different.

You ONLY call someone Junior if their father has the exact same name, never in honor of somebody. Usually, when you want to honor someone's name, you typically use their name as the middle name of the child. For example: if you want to honor uncle Michael, then you'd name your child Jack Michael Watson

  • 1
    I was with you up to the last two sentences. Some people do honor a relative (or other person) by using their first name as the child's middle name. But plenty of people give a child a first name matching someone else's first name. (Including me: my first son's first name is the same as his grandfather's.) – Jay Sep 26 '17 at 21:47
  • @Jay but do you call him Junior? – The Dark Sep 27 '17 at 0:12
  • Mmm, yes, my Dad's named to honour his uncle, they have the same first name. Although maybe it makes a difference that his uncle had been killed in action three years before, during the second world war, and so was not alive at the time that names were being considered. Less confusing, certainly. – Matthew Walton Sep 27 '17 at 11:59
  • @TheDark No, we never called him "junior". I presume the idea of calling people junior and senior came up because otherwise it could get confusing when you live together. My son and my father never lived together, they were only together on occasional family get-togethers. – Jay Sep 27 '17 at 14:21

The convention of the "junior" suffix is there to easily distinguish between people who might be mixed up. Generally, there would be another close living relative of the same name to require the use of 'junior'.

The closer the generations are in age, and the more geographically proximate they live, the more likely it is that "Junior" will refer to a living grand-parent or living great-grandparent, rather than a parent.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.