Arabic Last Names

Updated May 4, 2023

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The History of Arabic Surnames 

Arabic is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world, currently spoken by over 200 million people. While many Arabic speakers are found throughout the Middle East, Arabic is regarded as a holy language in the Islam religion and is spoken globally by Muslims.

 Like Hebrew, Arabic is also a member of the Semitic family of languages. 

Arabic is the official language of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Oman, Yemen, Kuwait, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Sudan, Libya, Morocco and Mauritania. 

The first wave of Arab immigrants to the United States came in the early 1880s when Christian Syrians fled to America to escape poverty caused by the declining silk trade.

But the first documentation of Arabs in America can be traced back as early as the mid-18th century, when a man named Wahab bound for New York was shipwrecked on Ocracoke Island, in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Most Popular Arabic Last Names on FamilyEducation: Abdul, Baghdadi Yasin, Zaman 

Arabic Naming Customs and Traditions

It is common in the Arab world to name a child after their father's given name and show this relationship. Therefore for Muslim boy names, the child's name will follow the pattern of given name + "ibn" (son of) + father's given name. For example, Bilal ibn Aziz would be the son of Azizi

Arabic girl names follow the same naming patterns using "bint" (daughter of). For example, Fatima bint Khalid is the daughter of Khalid

Many Arabic names also contain the prefix "al" which is the Arabic word for "the." Many popular surnames include the words "abd al" or Abdul which translates to "servant of the" or "slave of the." Therefore, the name "Abdul Hussein (slave of Hussein) refers to someone who serves the Islamic holy figure Hussein, grandson of Muhammad. 

Men talking outside and looking friendly, Nizwa, Oman

Image Credit: Getty Images

Unique Arabic Surnames with English Name Meanings 

These interesting Arabic last names have unique meanings and history behind them. 

  • Abadi - An Arabic and Jewish name denoting someone who descends from the Abbad tribe. 
  • Amin  - A last name from Arabic or Persian origins meaning "trustworthy” and “loyal."
  • Badawi - An Arabic surname that is more commonly found in Africa. This name means someone from the  Bedouin area and is the surname of human rights activist Samar Badawi. 
  • Darwish - A status name from Persian and Turkish origins that refers to a Sufi holy man.
  • Fadel - A common Arabic surname meaning “honorable, “generous” or “superior.”
  • Gaddafi -Gaddafi means "thrower" or "archer." This Arabic surname is most commonly associated with Libyan politician, Muammar Gaddafi.
  • Ghulam - Arabic word meaning “servant” or “assistant.”
  • Hafeez - Surname meaning “protector” in Arabic.
  • Iqbal - A personal name and surname meaning "good fortune." 
  • Jaziri - This last name means “independence” or “self-confidence”.
  • Karim - Karim is a common Arabic surname meaning "generous", "noble" and "honorable."
  • Qadir - Arabic surname meaning “capable and competent.” In Islam, al-Qādir is one of Allah's ninety-nine tribute names and it means "the all-powerful.”
  • Rashid - Rashid is a combination of two male Arabic given names Rāshid and Rashīd which both mean “rightly guided.”
  • Taleb - This surname translates to “student of Islam.”
  • Yusuf -Arabic surname origin "God increases."

The Most Common Arabic Last Names and Meanings

  1. Muhammed - The name of the prophet in Islam. This name means "holy" or "praised one."  Common variants of this name include Mohammed and Muhammad. This is the most common Egyptian last name and one of the most popular last names in the world.
  2. Habib - This name is taken from an Arabic word meaning "beloved." 
  3. Osman - This popular Arabic family name means “devoted servant of God”.
  4. Shariq - A popular Muslim name that means "the Sun which rises from the East." 
  5. Ali - This surname means "high" or "exalted." 
  6. Ahmad - A name meaning "praised one." Ahmad was one of the names of the prophet Mohammed found in the Quran.
  7. Rafiq - A name in Arabic meaning "companion" or "intimate friend." 
  8. Hadid - Hadid means "iron" in Arabic. Today, it is most commonly used in Iraq. 
  9. Abdullah - A religious surname meaning "servant of God or Allah." 
  10. Ebeid - A religious surname meaning "worshipper of God or Allah." 
Arabic last names
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