Practical aspects of having multiple middle names in the US

I live in the US and am considering changing my name legally for reasons beyond the scope of this question. During this process, I have been, in addition to the change previously mentioned, considering taking a second middle name to honor an ancestor, but am concerned about the practicalities in having or using multiple middle names.

Note that I am not asking whether or not I can legally have multiple middle names (I would leave that to the judge to determine) or what the legally correct response is on an official government form that has a block for “First Name”, “Middle Name”, and “Last Name”, when you have more than one middle name but only one blank area on the form. I am looking for anecdotes and practical aspects to help me determine whether even seeking such would be practical or whether or not I would spend so much time speaking to attorneys about the correct way to fill out forms and filing objections with organizations that fail to include my second middle name in databases that it would clearly not be worth it.

My GF has two middle names, but on forms and such she’ll usually just put down one of them. Nobody’s ever noticed.

You can have whatever name you want that is approved by the court. However, the practicality of other bodies (schools, government agencies, organizations) recognizing all of your names is another matter. The primary reason for organizations getting your middle name is for identification purposes. While there may be two “John Smith’s” in your local chapter of the Lion’s Club , there is less of a chance that there are two “John Euclid Smith’s”, there typically is no need to have further information, like a second middle name, to distinguish the individual.

<Checks self to make sure he’s not DCnDC> Yeah, me too.

The government’s been handling multiple middle names for people on government documents for over 200 years. Why would there be a problem now?

It’s only an issue if you choose to make it an issue. It you insist on putting down every one of twenty middle names - and there are people who have more; I remember someone who has a middle name for every letter of the alphabet - then you might get annoying and need to seek advice.

Otherwise, you use your first middle name. Zilions of people have multiple middle names and you’d never know it. Goggle multiple middle names and you’ll see just how common a topic this is.

It didn’t stop Calvin Coolidge Julius Caesar Tuskahoma McLish.

Or even more recently: George Herbert Walker Bush.

We’ve given our new son two middle names. We don’t expect it to be a problem. The only issue I’ve seen so far is that on many forms there’s a place for only one middle initial.

My brother and my oldest son each have three given names. They don’t live in the U.S., but both have managed to visit the U.S. I’m not sure how they coped with U.S. Immigration documents, but they must have done it somehow.

My brother’s case is odder, because he usually goes by his second name. It’s a rare name – even rarer than Giles – and our parents gave him a much commoner first name, so that he could go with that if he chose. However, he was happy with the second name. So I’m really not sure how he copes with forms saying “first name” and “middle name”: I’ll have to ask him next time I talk to him.

My daughter has three middle names. The main problem thus far is that it exceeds the allowed number of characters for the front page of her passport. Her US passport leaves one of the middle names off and has a footnote to a back page with the full name. The UK passport (she is a dual citizen) didn’t bother - it just left the last middle name off entirely.

My daughter has a given name, middle name, family name and chinese name…all are shown, and her birth cert has the character also.

The format is different on different documents though.

In her Kiwi birth cert, the chinese name is listed as a middle name, in the singapore document its listed as per normal chinese custom (given, family, chinese)

I don’t even have one middle name. Occasionally a form gets bounced back to me, with a comment like “Surely you have a middle name; ***everyone ***has a middle name,” sometimes followed by questions about my religious upbringing. :rolleyes:

My mother doesn’t have a middle name either. I suppose she could use her maiden name as a middle name but she has never done so. As far as I know, it’s never been a problem for her.

As an aside, she told me that the reason she wasn’t given a middle name was that her parents had not expected her to live. Her mother had tuberculosis (which claimed her life when my mother was only 3), and a previous sibling had died shortly after birth. My mother will turn 87 in May.

She so almost got away with her slutty scam!:eek:

The notion that everyone will have exactly two names of which they will use only the first has caused Hamish a certain amount of grief. Hamish is his middle name, but his bank reacts to any attempt to be F. Hamish rather than Firstname H. as if he were trying to get off a Homeland Security watch list.

That seems odd. The F. Middlename Lastname pattern isn’t that unusual. Lots of people go by their middle names. Maybe it’s less common in Canada, but I doubt it.

You’re thinking logically. Try thinking like a bureaucrat. That reaction is very, very common. I don’t know why it bothers people so. I find it’s easier to pretend I only have one given name (Middlename) because if I use Q. Middlename Lastname, people freak right out.


First born males in my family, going back to the mists of time, get three names

  1. Their own in first place
  2. Their grandfather’s in second place
  3. Their father’s in third place
  4. Then, of course, the family name

So I carry more than the regulation number of names due to tradition.

It has not, in general, inconvenienced me. There has been the occasional incident where such is called for but such events are usually resolved with a short explanation.

A bigger problem has been having a first name with nine letters. At college, where they required full name, I had to truncate it. Sadly, that makes it appear feminine.

But still, the two middle name thing? Not a big deal.

Neither of my parents have middle names; it just wasn’t the usual thing in the part of Europe they were born in. Here in the U.S. it has only very rarely been an issue; there are a few government forms on which (NMI) for “No Middle Initial” was used.

Mexico has a pretty cool tradition for legal names.

Firstname Middlename Father’sSurname Mother’sSurname

Their last name is considered to be the fathers’s surname, but on all legal documents all four names are used.

There is no need for Jr’s or II or III, as normally the very last name (their mother’s surname will be different)