Spanish Names

If you’re a gamer you have probably been stumped at one point trying to come up with a cool name for a character.  If you’ve been a game master you probably experienced writer’s block when naming various NPCs you created.  Hopefully this post will help if you are looking for Spanish names for an old western scenario/game/campaign played south of the border.  The following MS Excel spreadsheet provides 12,496 surnames, 734 male first names and 814 female names.  You and simply browse the list and pick what appeals to you or randomly select a name using a random number generator such as  Just put in your number range without commas and “roll”.   For example, I rolled four random numbers (2 surnames and 2 male first names: 8,902, 2,277, 485 and 452) and came up with Lalla Javiero Panales Bueras.  I also noted some Spanish naming practices below that I found in a March 2006 Interpol document entitled A Guide to Names and Naming Practices.  The names came from old U.S. census data that is commonly found on the internet entitled Appendix E Census List of Spanish Surnames.  Lastly, a small gallery of potential Spanish character sketches I found in some digital comic books and on the net.

Spanish Names

Spanish Naming Conventions:

1.  Basic Construction consists of  (1 to 2) personal name(s) + father’s paternal family name + mother’s paternal family name.  e.g. Jesús Marίa GONZALEZ LÓPEZ

2.  Hispanic names often have two personal names, although the first may at times be used on its own: e.g. Jesús Marίa may be known as Jesús, but never just Marίa.

3.  The two family names can be written separately or joined by ‘y’ (and). e.g. Juan ROMERO CONDE / Juan ROMERO Y CONDE.

4.  The family name from the father will often be used alone, but the mother’s family name will rarely be used in isolation.  e.g. Juan ROMERO CONDE may often be known as Juan ROMERO, but rarely as Juan CONDE.

5.  The family name is not always only one word, it can be a compound.e.g. Juan Luis LÓPEZ DE ARRIORTUA GARCÍA.

6.  The preposition ‘de’ with ‘el’, ‘la’, ‘los’ or ‘las’ appears in a number of Spanish names, e.g. DE LA TORRE. The prefix ‘de’ can also be used to mark a family name that could be misunderstood as a personal name: e.g. in Juan de MIGUEL LÓPEZ, the ‘de’ marks that MIGUEL is the first family name, not a second personal name.

7.  Many Spanish family names end in -EZ, e.g. LÓPEZ, and personal names, where applicable, usually end in -s, rather than -z, (e.g. Luis). NOTE:  This is the reverse of names in Portuguese, which have family name endings of -ES and personal names with -z:  e.g. Luis GONZALEZ would be Spanish and Luiz GONZALES would be Portuguese.
13.8 Spanish family name ordering is the reverse of that in Portuguese names (see 10).

8.  Upon marriage, women from Hispanic cultures have several options, but usually retain their paternal (first) family name.  e.g. if Marίa ARROYO GARCÍA married Miguel GONZALEZ LÓPEZ, she might be known as one of the following:
a. Marίa ARROYO GARCÍA: keeping her original family names. This will most often be used on official documents.
b. Marίa ARROYO DE GONZALEZ: replacing her maternal family name with her husband’s paternal (i.e. first) family name joined by the preposition ‘DE’.
c. Marίa ARROYO GARCÍA DE GONZALEZ: adding her husband’s paternal family name to her own names with ‘DE’.

9. A more formal version of a married woman’s name can include the title Sra., an abbreviation for ‘señora’ that translates to ‘wife/Mrs’:  e.g. Marίa ARROYO Sra. de GONZALEZ

10. A woman’s name may also include Vda., which is an abbreviation for ‘vuida’, meaning ‘widow’: e.g. Luisa ROMERO Vda. de VILLA.

11. The following titles are used in Spanish:
Mr: Señor / Sr. / Sr. don
Mrs: Señora / Sra. / Sra. doña
Miss: Señorita / Srta.

12. The letter ‘h’ is sometimes used after a man’s name as an abbreviation of ‘hijo’, meaning ‘son’. It is used to distinguish between a father and son with identical names, equivalent to the use of ‘Junior/Jnr.’ in English: e.g. Juan ROMERO CONDE H. would be the son of Juan ROMERO CONDE.

13. It is still common in Christian communities to give Spanish girls compound personal names derived from the Virgin Mary, i.e. the name María followed by the name of a religious location or concept, e.g. María de los Ángeles, María del Pilar, María de la Luz. To avoid confusion, a woman usually omits the María de and uses only the last part, except on official documents and very formal occasions. It is uncommon for a girl to be named only Marίa, however Marίa can be used as a middle name for men in Spain. This practice is also used in Portuguese-speaking countries.

14.  You can identify the gender of a person from the spelling of his/her given name. Typically, only male names end with “o” (e.g.: Pedro, Mario, Carmelo), and female
names end with “a” (e.g.: Pedra, Maria, Carmela).


About westerngames99

Retired Army.
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