Look up the meaning and origin of your last name. Browse surnames from A to Z and find out a little bit of your own family history.
How much do you know about your last name? Once it's time to give your baby a first name, you may become more interested in the origin of your family name. Perhaps you'd like to find a given name from your own family history, or maybe you just want to make sure the names flow and sound good together. And while you're at it, remember to think about what initials your little one will have too.
The Most Common Last Names
Smith, an English family name, is the most common last name in the United States, according to the Census Bureau. The U.S. Census also lists other common surnames in English like Johnson, Jones, and Miller.
Scottish and Welsh names also show up a lot throughout the United States because of our country's early immigration history.
Throughout the Western region we see plenty of Hispanic family names, reflecting the diverse makeup of the United States. The most common surnames in Spanish include Garcia, Rodríguez, and Hernandez. Torres is another frequent surname among Hispanic and Portuguese populations, and Nguyen is a Vietnamese family name seen quite often around the world.
List of 10 Most Common Last Names in the United States:
- Smith, English
- Johnson, English, Scottish
- Williams, English, Welsh
- Brown, English, Scottish, Irish
- Jones, English, Welsh
- Garcia, Spanish
- Miller, English, Scottish
- Davis, English, Welsh
- Rodriguez, Spanish
- Martinez, Spanish
Why Do We Have Last Names?
People didn't always have last names, and they were referred to simply by their given names. Last names originated when people needed to be referred to more specifically than simply by their first names.
Sometimes people were specified by listing the town one lived in after their name, such as "William of Elmwood". Sometimes locations developed into last names this way. However, as populations grew, there might have been five or ten different Williams in a single town, but only one who was "John's son", so he'd be called, "William, John's son". Thereby, the last name Johnson was born. These names are known as patronymic, which means "named for the father".
We also see a lot of occupational names like Miller, Smith, and Taylor. Many of these last names have roots in Old English because of time and place where family names developed.
Are you a Garcia, a Nguyen, or a Brooks? Or perhaps your family name is far less common. Look up the meaning and origin of your last name. Browse surnames from A to Z and find out a little bit of your own family history.