Spanish Surnames

Spanish Surnames

More than a quarter of the Top 100 last names in the US are Spanish in origin. According to Census figures, three of the Top 10 American surnames have Spanish roots.

As with other European surnames, Spanish last names are often patronymics, drawn from the father’s given name. Martinez comes from Martin, Rodriguez from Rodrigo.

There are also habitational surnames, denoting a family’s home, such as Rivera for those who lived near a river. Occupational surnames, such as Chavez for keymaker, were inspired by the original person’s job.

And then there are nature names, such as Garcia meaning bear or Flores meaning flowers, plus a few religious names.

Here are all the Spanish surnames among the Top 100 last names in the US. The second number following the name refers to their standing on the US list.

1. Garcia, 6 — Nature name, “bear”

2. Rodriguez, 9 — Patronymic, son of Rodrigo, “famous ruler”

3. Martinez, 10 — Patronymic, son of Martin, “warlike”

4. Hernandez, 11 — Patronymic, son of Hernando, “explorer”

5. Lopez, 12 — Nature name, “wolf”

6. Gonzalez, 13 — Patronymic, son of Gonzalo, “saved from combat”

7. Perez, 22 — Patronymic, son of Pedro, “rock”

8. Sanchez, 26 — Patronymic, son of Sancho, “holy” or “saint”

9. Ramirez, 28 — Patronymic, son of Ramiro, “great judge”

10. Torres, 37 — Habitational name, “towers”

11. Flores, 40 — Nature name, “flowers”

12. Rivera, 46 — Nature or habitational name, “river”

13. Gomez, 51 — Patronymic, son of Gome, “man”

14. Diaz, 55 — Patronymic, son of Diego, the Spanish form of James, “supplanter”

15. Cruz, 57 — Religious name, “cross”

16. Reyes, 60 — Occupational name, “kings”

17. Morales, 63 — Nature name, “mulberry tree”

18. Gutierrez, 67 — Patronymic, son of Gutierre, a form of Walter, “army ruler”

19. Ortiz, 68 — Patronymic related to the Basque name Orti, meaning uncertain but may be “brave, strong” or “fortunate”

20. Ramos, 76 — Habitational name, “wooded place”

21. Chavez, 83 — Occupational name, “keymaker”

22. Mendoza, 88 — Habitational names, “cold mountain”

23. Ruiz, 89 — Patronymic, son of Ruy or Roy, “red-haired” or “king”

24. Alvarez, 92 — Patronymic, family of Alvaro, “elf warrior”

25. Castillo, 93 — Habitational name, “castle”  

26. Jimenez, 100 — Patronymic, son of Jimeno, which relates to Simon, “he has heard” or “flat-nosed”

About the Author

Pamela Redmond

Pamela Redmond

Pamela Redmond is the cocreator and CEO of Nameberry and Baby Name DNA. The coauthor of ten groundbreaking books on names, Redmond is an internationally-recognized baby name expert, quoted and published widely in such media outlets as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, The Today Show, CNN, and the BBC. She has written about baby names for The Daily Beast, The Huffington Post, and People.

Redmond is also a New York Times bestselling novelist whose books include Younger, the basis for the hit television show, and its sequel, Older. She has three new books in the works.