A person's last name is typically derived from the passing down, according to law or custom, of one or both of his parents' family names. This name is sometimes called a surname or family name in Western contexts.
Last names usually come from sources such as the first name of a father, names of local places or landmarks, a person's occupation, a distinguishing nickname, or an ornamental or decorative word.
The use of family names is prevalent in cultures around the world, with each culture having its own rules as to how these names are formed, passed down and used. However, the practice is not universal, with some cultures electing to forgo family names.