What Does It Mean When Your Boss Calls You by Your Last Name? (6 Possible Meanings!)

The office setting has a couple of rules that both workers and employers are meant to abide by. There are a lot of things to assume when your boss calls you by your last name.

It could stem from a place of insecurity on your side or you’re just overthinking. Nonetheless, there’s a possibility that you’re right by whatever you think but the problem lies when you get it all wrong.

Could your boss be showing signs of interest or is he just being the ‘boss’? How about you we get to the point where I unveil the real reasons why your boss calls you by your last name.

6 Meanings Why Your Boss Calls You by Your Last Name

As they say; nothing goes for anything. This statement creates a passageway to the meanings attached to it when your boss calls you by your last name.

However, you should know that your inquisition about what your boss means when he or she calls you by your last name is only what you presume. But, given the likelihood of things, it could surmount to be the main reason.

Nonetheless, let’s look at 6 possible meanings why your boss calls you by your last name.

  1. It means it is a show at exercising superiority
  2. It could be a sign of disrespect to you
  3. It might even be a possible advance in familiarity
  4. It portrays an edgy way of flirting
  5. It reflects the situation of a formal setting
  6. It could even be a form of teasing you

It Means It Is a Show at Exercising Superiority

Who doesn’t know the boss is meant to be revered? If you know about that, then it’s time you get in sync with that.

However, a boss who feels his presence is not felt amongst his employees or rather, his instructions do not carry enough weight, can start addressing them by their last name.

In this scenario, it has nothing to do with disrespect as he’s likely in his right to do that.

On the same note, a boss who likes throwing around his power as a payroll enforcer can and will call you by your last name.

This time around, it may not be a case of company policy or work etiquette but just his or her way of exercising superiority.

If you’re still puzzled by this, then you have to acknowledge the likelihood of this reason in a military setup.

USA boasts of having a high number of private military companies, and if you work in one, your boss will scream your last name just to beckon you to get files for him or her.

The law firm is another setting where I can pick out bosses showcasing superiority by using your last name. If you feel bad about this, just know it won’t change anytime soon, unless you quit your job which is an option, or is it?

It Could Be a Sign of Disrespect to You

Are you older than your boss? Have you guys been locking horns and arguing over minor disputes? It could be a case of a pay raise or promotion, or whatnot.

Whatever grudge sustained from a rift you have with your boss can be seen when he starts calling you by your last name.

Having you as an older person and he or she hasn’t been using that on you, you will be left with no other choice but to believe he’s doing that to throw shade at you.

Also, if you have any extra-judicial relationship with your boss outside of work, and it goes south, he or she can also switch to using your last name instead of your first name which was used prior.

Just as you’ve seen things from this direction, it means your boss wants to ‘put you in your place’ by capitalizing on your last name as leverage.

It Might Even Be a Possible Advance in Familiarity

Before you start with the guesswork, you may be right if you thought about the implication of the adage ‘familiarity breeds contempt.’

Well, indeed it does because I can count it as a good reason why your boss calls you by your last name. Although it sounds weird, your boss who wants to get acquainted with you can call you by your last name.

You do not have to see this as an advance, because he or she might just be trying to get you to come to visit their church or even join their political interest.

In a man-and-man situation, he may even want you to be a beer buddy or any other random thing that doesn’t have to give off a weird vibe.

It Portrays an Edgy Way of Flirting

What Does It Mean When Your Boss Calls You by Your Last Name

Instigating a relationship in the office or rather at work can be easier based on two coworkers. On the contrary, it is unethical for a boss to try that with his or her employee.

Conversely, we still have people who look beyond what seems like work ethics just to satisfy whatever idea, goal or urge they have up their sleeve.

So, with all nervousness, your boss can start calling you by your last name as a way of dropping hints that he likes you.

Remember you can’t know if it is genuine so it’s in your best interest to play safe. The best way is to keep keen attention on his or her movements.

Since the flirts are subtle and are not coming off as bold, you can dismiss them as nothing.

As a woman, if you’re asking why he is not man enough to front you, then you should know it could backfire which is why he’s taking his time.

It Reflects the Situation of a Formal Setting

As I mentioned earlier on, the behavioral ethics around a workplace is to enhance productivity and also curb any form of mishap.

However, enforcing these ethics can be hard for most employees because it is obvious that managing humans is a very difficult task.

Nonetheless, an employer can take it upon himself to do this which brings us to why your boss calls you by your last name.

This time, it has nothing to do with acting superior, but an effort to make sure there’s adherence to the rules guiding the way things go in the office.

Moreso, you may find this worrisome if you’re new to the firm and is yet to get yourself fully acquainted with how things go on around there.

For further clarification, you can ask a coworker to confirm if the boss extends this gesture to every other person at work. And if this is so, then you have your doubts cleared.

It Could Even Be a Form of Teasing You

There’s no place where teasing doesn’t happen in a workplace. Hence, your boss can address you by your last name as a form of teasing you.

You might want to hold this dear as a plausible reason or meaning to it if you have a very funny person as a boss.

When Should You Address Someone by Their Last Name?

Unlike what many people assume; the last name also known as the ‘surname’ is a very important component of a person’s life.

Some actual people would get flared up if you make a mockery of their surname, while they don’t mind if their first name is being dragged in the mud.

This is why you need to know when and how to use the last name. In this section, we’ll be looking at instances where you should address someone by their last name.

  • You can use it on paper, as a form of citation
  • You can address someone by their last name in an email
  • You can also use it in an office setting
  • You can address someone by their last name in the military

You Can Use It on Paper, as a Form of Citation

You can address someone by their last name on paper in the form of a citation. If you are conversant with academic writing or works, you’ll notice that there’s a particular formatting style that requires you to make use of only a person’s surname while addressing them.

This formatting style is known as the APA style of formatting academic works. In this type of formatting, you’re required to perform an in-text citation using only the person’s last name.

To do this, you are to place the in-text citation by placing the person’s last name in parenthesis (_) alongside the year of the person’s statement, book, documentary, or reference.

This form of addressing someone using their last name is formal and attracts a huge failure from the work supervisor if you fail to do things the right way.

You Can Address Someone by Their Last Name in an Email

What Does It Mean When Your Boss Calls You by Your Last Name

The formality of a person’s last name doesn’t end in the office; it also extends as far as sending email messages to people.

If you’re being casual while sending someone an email message, you won’t be wrong to use the person’s first name. However, using the last name is a good way if you’re to get started with being formal in emails.

On that note, you can use it to address someone by their last name if you were to send an email message to them.

You Can Also Use It in an Office Setting

The office setting is the best place to use a person’s last name. I’ve seen bosses use it, and even coworkers also do.

As a coworker, you can as well address your fellow workers by their last names. Likewise, if you occupy the position of the boss, you can employ the use of your employees’ last names to maintain formalities in the workplace.

While a couple of people might feel bad that you address them by their last name, I feel this is a good spot for you to use this name format.

You Can Address Someone by Their Last Name in the Military

The military is a popular place where you can use a person’s last name. Therefore, when you want to address someone in the Army, Navy, or Air force, you can use their last name.

Each personnel’s last name is written on the badge that is placed on their left chest as a way of identification.

FAQs on being called the last name

My Crush Calls Me by My Last Name; Is This Rude?

No, it is not rude. It could be his or her flirting strategy because he or she doesn’t want to come off too direct or blunt. Using your last name could even be a way of getting your attention.

He or she wants to get noticed, and they’re leveraging on your last name to do that. The thing is; they know calling you that will get you to talk and that way they have the opportunity to speak their mind and possibly get a date with you.

Calling a Woman by Her Last Name, Is This Rude?

Yes, to an extent it is considered crass to address a woman by her last name, especially when it is done with intended ridicule.

The reason for this is that a lot of jerks do this to get the attention of a woman even when she doesn’t want them.

Secondly, they also do this to any woman who did not acknowledge whatever feelings they have for her.

But mainly, I think the case of infusing ridicule and sarcasm while calling a woman by her last name is what makes it entirely rude.

When Someone Calls You by Your Full Name, Is This Rude?

No, there’s nothing wrong with someone calling you by your full name. If you do not like it, then consider it a case of personal preference.

That means you have a prejudice when someone calls you by your full name.

When a Girl Calls You Mr. Surname, Is This Rude?

No, on the contrary, there’s a good chance she is just being respectful with the absence of sarcasm.

But if it is accompanied by sarcasm then we can consider it as a rude gesture, other than that there’s nothing rude for a girl to call you Mr. Surname.

It might even be because you’re fond of addressing other people by their surname, like one of my teachers in high school.


You’re entitled to have any opinion when your boss calls you by your last name. It could mean anything, but your opinion could be wrong.

However, I have offered you a list of options to choose from and either of them is bound to be the cause for your boss’ preference of addressing you.

This article also informed you of good situations to use someone’s last name, while it answers some crucial questions relating to the subject matter.

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