In such a case, the man will usually be referred to by his second name, if the third name is the patronymic.

Thus, most Malays do not use family names or surnames.

In this respect, Malay names are similar to Icelandic naming conventions.

Upon marriage, a woman does not change her name, as is done in many cultures.

In the past it was uncommon for a Malay to have more than one personal name, but in modern times Malay names may consist of two and sometimes three personal names.

Malaysia's National Registration Department doesn't allow names which they deem have negative or obscene meanings, such as Pendek which means short.

The Department additionally bans names with the meaning of colors, animals and natural phenomena.

The Malaysian Chinese are the only major ethnic group in Malaysia to use family names.

Most other groups, including the ethnic Malays, Orang Asli and the Bumiputera of Sabah and Sarawak, share a naming custom that includes the use of a personal name followed by a patronym name.

Some are taken from public figures around the world such as Mohammad Rifae Zidane, whose third personal name is taken from the famous footballer.

The majority of Malay males have as their first name Mohammad or Muhammad, after the Muslim prophet. Foreigners sometimes take this abbreviation erroneously for a middle initial.

Personal names in Malaysia are extremely useful in tracing a person's cultural and ethnic background as Malaysia comprises many ethnicities and cultures in which each has its own distinct system of names.