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On the Goo thesaurus page, it says:

通常は「氏名」が使われるが、名前のつけ方そのものを問題にする場合は、「姓名」を使う。

I'm not really sure what 名前のつけ方 is referring to here. When exactly should one use 姓名 over 氏名?

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    Is this a context in which divination might be occurring? In that case, 姓名 can refer to divination based on the stroke count for one's name. That's basically the extent of what I understand.
    – A.Ellett
    Sep 26, 2021 at 19:17
  • The context is that it is a goo thesaurus page.
    – MegaZeroX
    Sep 26, 2021 at 23:30
  • In that case, I might suggest reading up on the different application of 氏 and 姓 and see whether they are somehow tied to rank or seniority in certain contexts.
    – A.Ellett
    Sep 27, 2021 at 1:29
  • As an example of usage: on my alien registration card, 氏名 is used where my name is entered. I'm not sure this is something that you'd seen in a context other than official documents. I could be wrong. But my guess is that these are not words you would typically use in a conversation. For that, 名前 works quite well.
    – A.Ellett
    Sep 27, 2021 at 1:30

1 Answer 1

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The representative phrase that contains 姓名 is 姓名判断, which is based on a superstition that the fate of a person is determined by the number of strokes of each kanji in their name. This is surely related to 名前のつけ方 or how to name [a child]. This is a fixed phrase, and you cannot replace 姓名 to 氏名 here.

Aside from this, 姓名 may be used in stiff and formal contexts where one wants to say "the surname AND the given name, not only just the surname" explicitly. For example, you may see 利用者の姓名を記録すること in a formal documentation. Technically 氏名 should be enough, but it sounds less explicit.

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  • I hadn't realized 名前のつけ方 was such a fixed phrase. (And of course now that I think about it, it makes sense.) The part of the quote that read 名前のつけ方そのものを問題にする場合は makes a lot more sense to me now too. Very helpful.
    – A.Ellett
    Sep 27, 2021 at 1:53

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