Basque Last Names and Meanings
The Basque country is an area of North-Eastern Spain that straddles the area between Spain and France. This beautiful part of Europe sits among the Western Pyrenees and along the Bay of Biscay. Despite being part of Spain, it is an autonomous region with its own language, culture, traditions, and names.
The Basque culture is one of the oldest communities in Europe, and its people share a strong sense of pride, cultural identity, and unity. Some Basque surnames stem back to the Roman conquest of Hispana; however, the use of surnames did not become widespread until the middle ages.
Like many cultures, a large number of Basque names follow patronymic lines and are passed down from father to child. There are also a large number of regional or toponymic names.
Patronymic Basque Names
There are some suffixes on Basque names that indicate a patronymic lineage. The most common suffix is -ez, which is common in Spanish surnames or apellidos, the Spanish word for surname, and indicates “son of.”
It is often tradition for Hispanic individuals to have two surnames; however, Basque culture sometimes expands to three, four, and even more than that! Depending on which part of the Basque territory a person stems from, their last name can become quite lengthy.
What are the Eight Basque Surnames?
The Eight Basque Surnames refers to an individual using the surnames of their mother and father, paternal and maternal grandparents surnames. A 2014 Spanish comedy with the English title Spanish Affair, directed by Emilio Martínez-Lázaro, makes light of the confusion that can come with using so many last names.
- Fernandez - Spanish. Son of Fernando. Fernando stems from the German word meaning brave traveler.
- Gomez - Spanish. Son of Gome.
- Gonzalez - Spanish. Son of Gonzalo. Gonzalo has Latin and German roots meaning war or battle.
- Hernandez - Spanish. Son of Hernando.
- Jimenez - Iberian/Basque. Son of Jimeno.
- Lopez - Spanish. Son of Lope. It derives from the Latin word Lupus for wolf.
- Marinelarena - Basque. Son of the sailor.
- Martinez - Spanish. Son of Martin.
- Ortiz - Basque. Son of Orti.
- Rodriguez - Spanish. Son of Rodrigo.
- Ruiz - Iberian/Basque. Son of Roderick. It comes from the German/Visigoth name Ruy which means powerful ruler.
- Sanchez - Spanish. Son of Sancho.
Toponymic Basque Surnames
Because Basque was an area many people traveled through on their journeys throughout Western Europe, there are many family names stemming from habitational or geographical features.
- Aramburu - Basque. Valley mill.
- Arana - Basque. From the valley.
- Ayala -- Spanish/Basque. A given name for people who came from Ayala, a province in the Basque region.
- Bidarte - Basque. Side road.
- Bolibar - Basque. Riverside mill.
- Duhalde - Basque. Beside the water shores.
- Echeverría - Basque. New house or dweller in a new house.
- Elizondo - Basque. A place name meaning near the church
- Etxeberria - Basque. The new house. It is a combination of the Baque words etxe for house and barri for new.
- Garay - Basque. A popular name in the Biscay area, it means high, height, or peak.
- Guevara - Basque. A place overgrown with ferns.
- Ibaiguren - Basque. The river’s edge.
- Ibarra - Basque. The valley.
- Lekubarri - Basque. New place.
- Leon - Spanish. Dweller at the sign of the Lion. It refers to someone who came from the kingdom of Leon, a region in Spain.
- Loila - Basque. Muddy place.
- Mendoza - Basque. Cold mountain.
- Mendulize - Basque. Cold mountain.
- Montoya - Basque/Spanish. If you love Princess Bride, you’ll be familiar with this name that means valley and hills.
- Navarro - Spanish. Navarro was a medieval Spanish kingdom. It means the plains. Another variation of this name is the French Navarre.
- Oros - A name with a somewhat debated meaning but is believed to mean city dweller or refers to a person from Orozco, a territory in Basque.
- Ramos - This common name has multiple origins, including Basque, Hebrew, Spanish and Portuguese. It is believed to be a nickname from Ram or Ramm, meaning lusty man.
- Ugarte - Basque. Between the streams or island.
- Urberoaga - Basque. The place of the hot water.
- Vasco - Basque. Used by Spanish, Italian, and Galacian cultures, it means someone from the Basque region.
- Vergara - Basque. This name has a beautiful meaning; a garden in the mountains.
- Zubiondo - Basque. Near the bridge.
- Zuloaga - Basque. Cave.
Other Popular Basque Surnames
There are other common surnames throughout the Basque region that stem from words, nicknames, and other languages or have religious origins.
- Azkarraga - Basque. Maple tree. It may have referred to people who lived near maple trees.
- Domingo - Latin. Of the Lord.
- Elizalde - Basque. Church
- Garcia - Spanish. Fox.
- Legzpi - Basque. Gravel or pebble.
- Salazar - Castilian. Old Hall.
- Torres- Latin. Tower. Torres was often adopted by Jewish people who were forced to convert to Christianity in the middle ages.
- Velasco - Basque. Crow.
- Ynigo - Basque. My little love.
- Zabala - Basque. The wide one.