Skip to main content

Updated February 29, 2024

Table of contents

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.

Arabic Second Names: Customs and Traditions

When it comes to Middle Eastern last names, 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 ("servant 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

Most Popular Arabic Surnames and Meanings

Exploring the rich tapestry of Arab culture, one cannot overlook the significance of surnames, which carry the stories, heritage, and identity of families across generations—including these most popular Arabic last names.

  1. Abdul - A common prefix in Arabic names meaning "servant of" and usually followed by one of the 99 names of Allah, emphasizing a spiritual bond and servitude to God.
  2. Al-Fayed - Meaning "the winner" or "the success", this surname is known for its connotations of triumph and prosperity.
  3. Al-Saud - Literally translates to "the fortunate", this name has historical significance with the royal family of Saudi Arabia.
  4. Baghdadi - Signifying "from Baghdad", this surname denotes geographical origin, specifically from the capital city of Iraq, Baghdad. It embodies a rich history and cultural heritage.
  5. Haddad - Translates to "blacksmith" in Arabic, indicating ancestral profession, a common practice in naming.
  6. Khoury - Of Christian origin, meaning "priest" in Arabic, often used in Lebanon and Syria.
  7. Mansour - Means "victorious", a popular name that conveys strength and success.
  8. Rahman - Derived from one of the 99 names of Allah, meaning "the Merciful."
  9. Yasin - Inspired by Surah Yasin, the 36th chapter of the Quran; often referred to as the "heart of the Quran." This name is chosen for its spiritual significance and the belief in divine protection and guidance.
  10. Zaman - Translates to "time" or "era" in Arabic, this name reflects the philosophical notion of time's passage and could imply wisdom or historical legacy.

Unique Arabic Surnames and Meanings 

These interesting Arabic last names have unique meanings and history behind them, making them extra special. 

  1. Abadi - An Arabic and Jewish name denoting someone who descends from the Abbad tribe. 
  2. Amin  - A last name from Arabic or Persian origins meaning "trustworthy” and “loyal."
  3. 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. 
  4. Darwish - A status name from Persian and Turkish origins that refers to a Sufi holy man.
  5. Fadel - A common Arabic surname meaning “honorable, “generous”, or “superior.”
  6. Gaddafi - Gaddafi means "thrower" or "archer." This Arabic surname is most commonly associated with Libyan politician, Muammar Gaddafi.
  7. Ghulam - An Arabic word meaning “servant” or “assistant.”
  8. Hafeez - Surname meaning “protector” in Arabic.
  9. Iqbal - A personal name and surname meaning "good fortune." 
  10. Jaziri - This last name means “independence” or “self-confidence”.
  11. Karim - Karim is a common Arabic surname meaning "generous", "noble" and "honorable."
  12. 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.”
  13. Rashid - Rashid is a combination of two male Arabic given names Rāshid and Rashīd which both mean “rightly guided.”
  14. Taleb - This surname translates to “student of Islam.”
  15. Yusuf - Arabic surname origin "God increases."

Most Common Arabic Last Names and Meanings

Arabic last names hold not only a sense of identity but also a rich tapestry of history and meanings, reflecting the culture's deep-seated values and the ancestral lineage of its people.

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

Middle Eastern Last Names

Middle Eastern last names often carry deep meanings and historical significance, reflecting the family's ancestry, profession, or the place they come from. Names such as Almasi (meaning "diamond"), Haddad ("blacksmith"), Najjar ("carpenter"), and Sabbagh ("dyer") offer a glimpse into the trades and crafts prevalent within ancestral communities. Others like Al-Farsi ("the Persian"), Al-Amiri ("the prince"), and Al-Hakim ("the wise" or "the doctor") denote social status, origin, or professional expertise. These names are not just identifiers but serve as a connection to the family's heritage, profession, and societal role in Middle Eastern culture.

Tara Gunn

About Tara

Hailing from Canada, Tara is a graduate of Scotland's University of St. Andrews in creative… Read more

Join the Family

Your partner in parenting from baby name inspiration to college planning.