"Junior/Senior" as Part of One's Name

Does anybody know about the usage of “Junior” and “Senior” tagged onto a person’s name?

I seem to recall rules about this: that one may only be a “junior” as long as the “senior” is still living; that the “junior” is not a legal part of the name (although you’d think that would depend on the exact wording of the birth certificate).

I can’t recall whether or not the rules I heard referred to legal recognition of the titles, or etiquette.

Any smart folks out there who know about this?

Although this has been traditionally used for men, it holds for women members of the family, as well.

“Junior” is the son of “Senior”, assuming they have the same first, middle, and last names. If the middle name is different, the correct usage is to refer to the person by all three names to differentiate.

The terms “II”, “III” and so on are used when there’s a skip in generations, or when there are more than two generations alive at the same time. They’re also used to show a family history – so Wentworth Covington IV and V could also be Senior and Junior at the same time.

If I recall correctly, the distinction between Senior and Junior stops with the death of the father, but the II, III, etc. can continue as long as the family chooses it.

And the distinction only applies to direct descendants, not cousins.

Traditionally (as opposed to smart or anything else) the Junior/Senior works as long as the Senior is alive. Wouldn’t think the birth certificate would matter unless they changed your last name to Junior and then you’d be good and stuck.

Seems like when the Junior becomes a trademark/image it would be hard to give up - Sammy Davis Jr. for example.

But in my observation the Junior gets dropped after Senior dies but it might take a while for the adjustment to be made. I’d wait for the individual to omit the Junior before I did.

Are you driving with your eyes open or are you using The Force? - A. Foley

I suppose that maybe legally the Junior is dropped when the Senior passes, but my brother (who is a Junior) has found it not to be true. Seems your name sticks around a lot longer than you do. My father passes away in 1990 and my brother still has to use the Junior. Regardless of how many people you tell it takes years and years for the Senior to be dropped. I named my son II simply because I don’t like Junior and I knew he would be called that.

I’ve learned that if someone says something unkind about me, I must live so that no one will believe it.

IIRC, legally you may go by whatever name you please, so long as you do not have the intent to defraud.

He’s the sort to stand on a hilltop in a thunderstorm wearing wet copper armor, shouting ‘All Gods are Bastards!’

My birth certificate says “III”. On legal documents, I still use that desiganation even though my ancestors are deceased. My mother’s will designated “III” as her executor, so that job fell to me; the probate court didn’t even flinch.

In the course of introducing myself to others, I don’t use it. I didn’t even use it in the past unless one of my ancestors was known to the other party.


Speaking as a Jr., I looked up my legal birth certificate, and it lists “Jr.” right next to my last name. I suppose that this means that legally my name ends with “Jr.” and that it would remain that way after my father dies.

On a similar note, I’ve named my son after myself, he is the “III”. We did this because both my father and I are still living. We didn’t follow what kunilou said about skips in generations. My father is the original, I’m the Jr., and my son is the “III”.

Makes sense to me.

“If God had meant for man to eat waffles,
he would have given him lips like snowshoes”
-Rev. Billy C. Wirtz

I’ll certainly defer to the greater experience of the “real” Juniors here. Since my grandfather, father and I all had different middle names, we didn’t bother with the qualifiers. In regular conversation we were simply known as “Grandfather Kunilou,” “Big Kunilou,” and “Little Kunilou.” The current Mrs. Kunilou finally put a stop to all this by insisting the next generation of Kunilou sons would have different first names.

I understand all the words, they just don’t make sense together like that.

I don’t know what the law says (I assume nothing), and I don’t know what common practice is, but I can tell you what Miss Manners says:

If you’re royalty, the I, II, III, … stay with you even after death. They may skip generations, so you can be William XII a couple generations after William XI, and long after William I is dead.

If you’re not royalty, the eldest living person is senior, his son is jr, grandson is III, etc. When the elder passes, jr becomes sr, III becomes jr, etc. Also, skipping generations isn’t allowed.

I know a few people who go by Joe IV, so I assume that these rules aren’t followed that well.

Miss Manners is so incredibly stuck up. Of course a PROPER person would never keep the “Jr.” on his name after his father passed away. That just wouldn’t be right… BALONEY! I intend on keeping the “Jr.” on my name after my dad kicks the bucket. It has been engrained into my personality and everybody knows it.

“If God had meant for man to eat waffles,
he would have given him lips like snowshoes”
-Rev. Billy C. Wirtz

I’m another of those “III” guys. I think the confusion arises because we’re going through a transition period. It used to be the rule that all those suffixes were just temporary, so that someone could progress from III to Jr. to Sr. over the years. For some reason, several generations ago it just became the practice that III or IV was henceforth permanent- if you were that at birth you would stay that the rest of your life. Jr. and Sr. seem to lag a little- for a couple generations the old rules still applied. Now, just relatively recently have they started to achieve lifelong permanence too.

BTW, pre 19th century Sr., Jr., etc. didn’t even necessarily imply a relationship- it was specific to locale. For example, if there were three adult males in a town all named John Smith, the oldest would be Sr., the next Jr., and the other III, regardless of whether they were directline, uncle/nephew, cousins, whatever, or even completely unrelated.

“Miss Manners is so incredibly stuck up.”

—And your definition of “stuck up?” My mother raised me to be a snob, and I’m glad—just don’t confuse snobbery with racism or bigotry. A “snob” (or someone who is “stuck up”) is simply someone who has high standards and does not wish to compromise them just to please the hoi-polloi.

—Eve (adjusting her lorgnette and preparing to say “Oh, Professor FIREfly!”)

My father’s birth certificate from Virginia proudly sports a “II,” and my own from another state has the designation “III,” as does my driver’s license, but not my social security card. It seems to still hold some legal force, although the SSN appears to be attempting to usurp traditional numerical designations.

But since I have a captive audience of IIs and IIIs here, I have a question of my own. Family tradition dictates that the inheritor of my ridiculous name never actually use it. Therefore, Dad is “Junior” and I am “Trey.” Should I actually decide to curse the world with a male spawn, what would be an appropriate nickname for # IV? “Quattro” just ain’t in the cards.

My son, DJ is a junior, Duane Jr. The way it was explained to me is that because it is on DJ’s birth certificate, it is his legal name. Husband, Duane, doesn’t have ‘Sr.’ as his LEGAL name, just as a way to differentiate between the two.

But according to DJ, there will be no III or any other numbers that he doesn’t like being a ‘junior’. Computers at his school continually cut it off, and we’re still concerned his diploma (hope! hope!) may just say ‘Duane Wright’ which as far as DJ is concerned is just his dad’s name, not his own. (I shoulda thought this out longer twenty years ago!! :slight_smile:

“Subconsciously there are many people you hate.” “Consciously,sir, consciously.” Yossarian corrected in an effort to help. “I hate them consciously.”

My dad was a junior and hated it. We had it drilled into our wee little heads never to name our children after ourselves. His anger comes from being addressed as “Junior” the whole time he lived in the small town he grew up in. So as an adult does he use his real name? Nope. Last name is Anderson and he goes by the highly original nickname of “Andy”.

We had some friends once who had a kid who was James Something-or-Other V. They called him “Cinco”.

“You have no choice but to be impressed.”
Tony Rothman and George Sudarshan
Doubt and Certainty

Only because this thread is already involved in the persnickety aspects of society and language, and I hope this will be taken in the proper (forbidding) spirit, I will break my usual habit regarding S&G and point out that hoi=the, therefore “the hoi-polloi” is equivalent to “the the unwashed.” (Polloi simply means people, but the context, of course, turns it into “those people that we view down the lengths of our noses.”)