When Europeans first began assigning each other surnames to differentiate individuals in expanding urban areas, the names frequently referenced someone's appearance or the place that they were from. Names such as "Long,"... More »

Ethnicity is defined as the ethnic or cultural origins of an individual's ancestors. Ethnic groups are defined by a shared set of evolutionary features including bone structure, physical characteristics, skin tone and si... More »

Last names are traditionally derived from either a person's father's name, the geography near a person's home, an occupation or a nickname. Each language or dialect uses specific markers for these names, such as prefixes... More »

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Stereotypes are perpetuated when people are exposed to individuals with actions that confirm the appearance, values and behaviors of the stereotype. Stereotypes are reinforced when people justify the actions and behavior... More »

Society uses government to put in place laws designed to protect individuals and groups within society. Without laws, society would devolve into anarchy, with individuals seeking their own goals at the expense of others. More »

Most surnames originated with fathers' names, place names, occupations, social ranks or distinguishing personal characteristics. Surnames came into use in Europe in the Middle Ages as a means of distinguishing between pe... More »

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Information about the origin of common surnames is accessible at Ancestry.com. The subscription-based service offers free basic information that includes the surname's literal meaning and its country of origin. More deta... More »

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