According to western convention, full name is composed of three parts: first name, middle name, and last name.

For example:

Donald John Trump
George Walker Bush

Chris Devonshire-Ellis in the webpage:

Chris Devonshire-Ellis is the Founder of Dezan Shira & Associates and Chairman of the firms International Board of Equity Partners & Directors.

What does - mean in the man name Chris Devonshire-Ellis ?

  • I’m afraid your “first / middle / last name” model is grossly simplified, even if you are looking at “western” naming conventions (whatever that may be). The middle name is optional and the number of names may be significantly more.
    – Stephie
    Mar 23, 2018 at 11:51
  • See for example Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton, Harry S Truman, Henry Ford, George Herbert Walker Bush, or Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde. And that are just a few random examples.
    – Stephie
    Mar 23, 2018 at 12:02

2 Answers 2


The whole of the "Devonshire-Ellis" is the person's family name. In Britain such hyphenated names, sometimes called 'double-barrelled' names, usually come about because a couple decide that their child should inherit not just the father's name but also the mother's. Occasionally they result from a name change in later life, for example, a man might on marriage hyphenate his wife's name with his own family name.

In the British aristocracy childless wealthy landowners might leave their money to someone on condition that they change their name or take an additional hyphenated family name.

Hyphenated names at one time held a certain social cachet - the suggestion that the person might have grand aristocratic connections. In more recent times, however, a hyphenated name is sometimes given to a child when the parents, of whatever social class, are not married, or, if they are, if the mother has not adopted her husband's family name.

There is no limit on the number of names that can hyphenated together: for example, the full family name of the actor Ralph Fiennes is Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes, and Admiral the Hon. Sir Reginald Aylmer Ranfurly Plunkett-Ernle-Erle-Drax, was a British naval officer (his case is also an example of hyphenation being acquired in adult life).

  • In America, there was a bit of a trend towards hyphenated names in the 1980's and 1990's, where both the wife and the husband would change their last names to a hyphenated combination of both after getting married. Now that same-sex marriage is legal, this is not uncommon when two members of the same sex get married as well. Mar 23, 2018 at 13:44

The history about the Devonshire-Ellis family is here: http://www.devonshireellis.com Chris is also a Baron www.baronyofcoigach.com so he's come down the aristocratic route. He's an influential, much liked British expatriate businessman well known in China and Asia.

  • This does not answer the question. Maybe the answer is in the links you supply, but then please quote the relevant parts here (Your answer is in another castle)
    – user22427
    Apr 22, 2018 at 14:32
  • It answers the question because it gives the family background in this instance, And it refers to the aristocratic nature of hypenating referred to in one of the answers. The links provided add supporting material to the discussion. Which is also related to a specific individual in the title. Apr 22, 2018 at 14:54

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