LINGUIST List 15.1432

Wed May 5 2004

Sum: -EZ Suffix on Spanish Surnames

Editor for this issue: Steve Moran <>


  1. Tom Flynn, -EZ Suffix on Spanish Surnames

Message 1: -EZ Suffix on Spanish Surnames

Date: Tue, 4 May 2004 17:26:09 -0400 (EDT)
From: Tom Flynn <>
Subject: -EZ Suffix on Spanish Surnames

Thank you to the two dozen or so interested parties who responded to
my query (Linguist 15.1346) about the -EZ suffix on Spanish
surnames. I summarize the consensus here.

All correspondents are agreed that the -EZ is a patronymic, indicating
''son of ROOT NAME''. Note that the root name is always a man's first
name, although this is sometimes deceptive because a first name may
have fallen into disuse since the family name was formed, or because
the first name has undergone phonetic changes. But, for example,
Alvarez means ''son of Alvaro,'' Perez means ''son of Pedro,'' and
Rodriguez means ''son of Rodrigo.''

Three origins for the ending have been suggested - the genitive
ending, -is, of Latin third declension names, Visigothic origin, and
Ligurian. Penny (A History of the Spanish Language, 2nd Ed., 2002,
p15f) supports the Visigothic origin. Kim Schulte cites Menendez
Pidal, 1952, ''Toponimia prerromana hisp´┐Żnica'', pp. 79, 81-83,
162-165 in support of a Ligurian origin.

Arista da Silva contends that not all -Ez suffixes are patronymic:

Chavez - from Portuguese ''chaves'' meaning ''keys''

Torrez - from Latin ''Turris'', meaning ''a person who lives in a

Alvarez - ''al'' from Arabic meaning ''the''; ''faris'' Arabic
''knight, cavalier''

Again, thanks to all who responded - apparently the topic is of
interest to a fair number of readers.

Tom Flynn,
English and Deaf Communications Instructor,
St. Louis Community College at Florissant Valley

Subject-Language: Spanish; Code: SPN 
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