I have a question regarding my name and how to write it in the United States application forms since I'm planning to undergo some exams there. I'm an Arabic National My first name is Omar My father name is Farok My grandfather name is Mohammed Jawad( double barreled name) So in my native language my full name is : Omar Farok Mohammed Jawad Forgive my lengthy introduction,, The problem is that my full name in the passport is : Omar Farok M. Jawad ( the shortened Mohammed into initial M.) and my surname is Mohammed Jawad .. So to be clear my First name is Omar and my Last name is Mohammed Jawad The problem is when I write the middle name is is just Farok or Farok M. Jawad?? This is creating a huge anxiety for me as the name is sensitive matter in every paperwork.

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    If your first name is Omar and your surname is Mohammed Jawad then your middle name must be Farok. We don't overlap names, but we often have two-word surnames such as St (Saint) John or Da Vinci. Commented May 13, 2021 at 16:59
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    To expand on what Weather Vane said: Sacha Baron Cohen, Helena Bonham Carter, Gabriel García Marquez, Simone de Beauvoir, Ludwig van Beethoven...two separate parts of the last name aren't common, but they're common enough that people should be able to handle them.
    – stangdon
    Commented May 13, 2021 at 17:38
  • It might help me to understand how your name is structured if you could tell us your father's full name. Was he named "Farok Mohammed Jawad" or did he have a grandfather name too? And if you had a son what might his name be?
    – James K
    Commented May 13, 2021 at 17:41
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    Is this a legal question in a language forum? I mean, is this about what counts as a legal name in a US jurisdiction? The phrasing "United States application forms" suggests a legal context. Commented May 13, 2021 at 18:05
  • What Americans call your 'first name' is your personal or given name. Your 'last name' (what we British call your surname) is your inherited family name. Commented May 13, 2021 at 18:51

2 Answers 2


For any sort of important or official paperwork I would classify Farok as your middle name. M. Jawad, or Mohammed Jawad would both be acceptable forms of last name/surname unless the form specifically requires "full name".

When it comes to more informal paperwork, it is common to omit the middle name. Even dual last name/surnames are often shortened to one or the other based on preference.

  • Thank you very much Sir, just bare with me, one of the US establishment wrote my name in this way: Omar Farok M. Jawad Mohammed Jawad. Would it perceived the same as Omar Farok Mohammed Jawad ?
    – Omar
    Commented May 13, 2021 at 20:57
  • I would actually advise against M. Jawad as the last name, because it is highly unusual to have an abbreviated last name under any circumstance, and M. is a lot closer to Mr. so someone will think it's a mistake of typing and probably remove it at some point in time.
    – Edwin Buck
    Commented May 13, 2021 at 21:06
  • @Matt Butler, they used M.Jawad as part of the middle name, the put my name like this Full name( as in the passport+ Surname as in the passpor) and the result was Omar Farok M.Jawad Mohammed Jawad. I argued that M.Jawad and Mohammed Jawad is the same person ( my grandfather) and they are just repeating it but I got answer yet!
    – Omar
    Commented May 14, 2021 at 8:29

One doesn't need to alter their name in English; it has a history of borrowing from other languages, and this includes borrowing words, phrases (sometimes translated, sometimes not translated), and naming patterns.

While English has this history of borrowing, it typically borrowed from Europe, where most of the languages fall into two major patterns

  • Romance languages, meaning "from the Romans", which collectively means all the languages which came from Latin.
  • Germanic languages, meaning "from the Germans" which collectively includes lots of languages that share roots going back to ancient regions near Germany.

Your name Omar Farok Mohammed Jawad is fine. But we do not extend middle names to include the other names. So your name will be seen as

  • First Name: Omar
  • Middle name: Farok
  • Surname: Mohammed Jawad

For some background information, there are two traditional naming patterns:

  • Your last name is the last name of your father's
  • Your last name is a compound name, being your mother's last name followed by your father's last name.

The first rule is far more common.

The second rule keeps names from growing too long by dropping the Grandmother's portion when you inherit compound names from your Mother or Father. There is an exception where the names aren't dropped, but those exceptions typically only apply to names of historical importance.

This means that you might find people who think your Mother's family name is Mohammed and your Father's family name is Jawad; but, such small things are easily explained away and not likely to create any issues for you. Compound names often use hyphens "-" to join the name, but it is not always necessary.

A "middle" name (mostly) comes from a different bit of history. For large regions, your profession was your surname. "Smith" is short for blacksmith, Kellogg (an altered form of Kill Hog) is for hog slaughters, Cartwright (wright is to build) was for cart builders, etc. Since many liked to take first names from the Bible, it became important to know the difference between two "John Smith" names. Middle names help in this area. This means that a middle names often don't have a profession or family relationship; but, some families tend to reuse names from within the family for middle names. For example, my Grandfather's first name is my middle name. In your case, you middle name is your Father's name.

This lack of shared history also means that there are many people without a middle name. There are also (fewer) people without a first name. And finally, there are a few people who lack last names. If you ever see a "NMN" name or a "NMI" name, these are not real names, they mean "No Middle Name" or "No Middle Initial" for computer systems that require an entry when the person doesn't have that kind of name.

And generally, you can change your name in any way, provided you do so in a court and the reason isn't to avoid debt or legal proceedings. I have a few friends that have names that don't share anything with their family names.

The real problems that come with compound last names is when someone creates a computer system that tries to handle names with an assumption that doesn't work for your name. If anyone indicates that they can't use Mohammed Jawad as a last name, you should probably provide Mohammed-Jawad, MohammedJawad, or Mohammedjawad as a last name, to prevent them from shortening it to Jawad (under the compound surname pattern, they're dropping what they would see as the Mother's last name).

Also, keep in mind that spelling of foreign names is something that many won't be good at. Offer to spell your name each time on official documentation, and try to pick a standard spelling within your near family (My wife, a Samie, has a sister that's a Samiee, a Father that's a Sammy, and a brother that's a Saamie because they didn't coordinate spellings).

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    I have a friend of the family who's family name is Long, mostly because when he arrived in the united states, they couldn't handle his family name (which was 72 letters long). For his Great-Grandfather, it wasn't important to get the name right, it was more important to get into the USA and integrate quickly. It never caused an issue, except for those who sometimes try to take genealogy up as a hobby.
    – Edwin Buck
    Commented May 13, 2021 at 17:33
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    I work with someone who is either Daoud, Daud, or Dawood depending on what system you look him up in. It's quite a nuisance.
    – stangdon
    Commented May 13, 2021 at 17:40
  • Relevant: kalzumeus.com/2010/06/17/…
    – randomhead
    Commented May 13, 2021 at 19:12
  • Thank you very much. Although one of the US establishment wrote my name in this way: Omar Farok M. Jawad Mohammed Jawad. Would it perceived the same as Omar Farok Mohammed Jawad ?
    – Omar
    Commented May 13, 2021 at 20:53
  • @Omar If your name was written Omar Farok M. Jawad Mohammed Jawad then it would not be considered the same as Omar Farok Mohammed Jawad. We in the USA don't always have rules that match other countries, but the only rules for "names being the same" is that sometimes a name can be shortened to an initial, and sometimes it is acceptable to omit the middle name (or occasionally the first and middle names) There is no rule for "removing some of a middle name" or "removing some of a last name, except for the compound name rule I mentioned before.
    – Edwin Buck
    Commented May 13, 2021 at 21:03

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