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Top Last Names in the US: Origins and Meanings

Top Last Names in the US: Origins and Meanings

The top last names in the US include a mix of origins, just like America itself. Most of the Top 100 last names are of English origin, but many common American last names are also Spanish.

Korean, Vietnamese, Irish, Portuguese,Scottish, and German origins are also represented among the most common American last names.

There are many patronymics: last names derived from the first name of the head of the family, such as Johnson meaning "John's son" or Jones, which designates the family of John.

Other common last names in the US are occupational names that denote the work of the original bearer and place names that stand for the area where the family lived. Some color names also rank among the top US surnames, which originally indicated the hair or skin tone of the original bearer.

Many common last names are used as first names in the US, an increasingly popular trend that is starting to include more non-Anglo surnames.

Here are the top 100 last names in the US and their meanings. When the origin is not indicated, the name is English.

1.    SMITH – Occupational names for a smith or craftsman.

 

2.    JOHNSON – Son of John.

 

3.    WILLIAMS – Family of William.

 

4.    BROWN – Color name, originating as a nickname for someone with dark complexion or hair.

 

5.    JONES – John’s family.  

 

6.    GARCIA – Spanish or Portuguese name meaning “bear”.  

 

7.    MILLER – Occupational name for a mill worker.  

 

8.    DAVIS – David’s family. David means “love”.  

 

9.    RODRIGUEZ – Spanish or Portuguese, son of Rodrigo.  

 

10.  MARTINEZ – Spanish or Portuguese, son of Martin.  

 

11.  HERNANDEZ – Spanish or Portuguese, son of Hernando.  

 

12.  LOPEZ – Spanish or Portuguese patronymic meaning “wolf”.  

 

13.  GONZALEZ – Spanish or Portuguese, son of Gonzalo.  

 

14.  WILSON – Son of William.

 

15.  ANDERSON – Son of Andrew.  

 

16.  THOMAS – Son of Thomas.

 

17.  TAYLOR – Occupational name, “tailor”.  

 

18.  MOORE – Place surname for someone who lived near a marsh.  

 

19.  JACKSON – Son of Jack.

 

20.  MARTIN – Derives from the god Mars, “warlike”.  

 

21.  LEE – Place surname for someone who lived near a meadow. Also, a common Chinese surname.

 

22.  PEREZ – Spanish or Portuguese, son of Pedro, “rock”.

 

23.  THOMPSON – Son of Thomas, “twin”.  

 

24.  WHITE – Color name, originating as a nickname for someone with light complexion or hair.  

 

25.   HARRIS – Son of Harry.  

 

26.   SANCHEZ – Spanish or Portuguese, son of Sancho.

 

27.  CLARK– Occupational surname for a clerk.  

 

28.  RAMIREZ – Spanish or Portuguese, son of Ramiro.  

 

29.  LEWIS – Family of Lewis or Louis, “renowned warrior”.  

 

30.  ROBINSON – Son of Robin, a variation of Robert.  

 

31.  WALKER – Occupational surname  

 

32.  YOUNG – Usually given to a junior.  

 

33.  ALLEN – Celtic name meaning handsome or cheerful.  

 

34.  KING – Ruler.  

 

35.  WRIGHT – Occupational surname for craftsman.

 

36.  SCOTT – From Scotland.  

 

37.  TORRES – Spanish or Portuguese place surname denoting a family who lived near a tower.  

 

38.  NGUYEN – Vietnamese surname related to a Chinese word for a musical instrument.  

 

39.  HILL – Place surname for someone who lived near a hill.  

 

40.  FLORES – Spanish or Portuguese, “flowers”.  

 

41.  GREEN – Color name or occupational name for a gardener.  

 

42.  ADAMS – Family of Adam.  

 

43.  NELSON – Son of Neil.  

 

44.  BAKER – Occupational surname.  

 

45.  HALL – Occupational or place surname, someone who works or lives in a hall.

 

46.  RIVERA – Spanish or Portuguese place surname, “river”.  

 

47.  CAMPBELL – Scottish, “crooked mouth”.  

 

48.  MITCHELL –Family of Michael.  

 

49.  CARTER – Occupational surname for a cart driver.  

 

50.  ROBERTS – Family of Robert.  

 

51.  GOMEZ – Spanish or Portuguese patronymic, “son of Gome”  

 

52.   PHILLIPS – Family of Phillip.  

 

53.   EVANS – Family of Evan.  

 

54.  TURNER – Occupational surname, “works with a lathe”.  

 

55.   DIAZ – Spanish or Portuguese patronymic, son of Diego. Diego is a form of James.  

 

56.  PARKER – Occupational surname, someone who works in a park.  

 

57.  CRUZ – Spanish or Portuguese, “cross”.  

 

58.  EDWARDS – Family of Edward  .

 

59.  COLLINS – Family of Nicholas or Colin.  

 

60.  REYES – Spanish or Portuguese, “kings”.

 

61.  STEWART – Occupational surname, “steward”.  

 

62.  MORRIS – Related to the Moors, meaning “dark-skinned”.

 

63.  MORALES – Spanish or Portuguese name meaning mulberry tree.

 

64.  MURPHY – Irish surname meaning “sea warrior.”  

 

65.  COOK – Occupational name for a cook/chef.  

 

66.  ROGERS – Family of Roger.  

 

67.  GUTIERREZ – Spanish patronymic relating to name Gutierre, a form of Walter.  

 

68.  ORTIZ – Spanish patronymic related to the Basque name Orti.

 

69.  MORGAN– Welsh surname meaning “sea-born.”  

 

70.  COOPER – Occupational surname for a barrel maker.

 

71.  PETERSON – Son of Peter, “rock”.  

 

72.  BAILEY – Occupational surname for a bailiff.  

 

73.  REED – Derives from the color red, probably originally referred to someone with red hair or complexion.  

 

74.  KELLY – Irish surname meaning “war” but might also refer to a redhead.  

 

75.  HOWARD – German, “brave heart”  

 

76.  RAMOS – Spanish or Portuguese place surname, refers to a wooded place.  

 

77.  KIM – Korean surname meaning “gold.”  

 

78.  COX– Occupational surname, from “cook”  

 

79.  WARD – Occupational surname, “guardian”   

 

80.  RICHARDSON – Son of Richard.  

 

81.  WATSON– Son of Walter

 

82.  BROOKS– Place surname, related to a brook or river.  

 

83.  CHAVEZ – Spanish occupational name, “key maker”  

 

84.  WOOD – Place surname related to the woods

 

85.  JAMES – Family of James.  

 

86.   BENNETT – Family of Benedict.  

 

87.  GRAY – Color surname for someone with gray hair.  

 

88.  MENDOZA – Spanish or Basque place surname, “cold mountain”  

 

89.  RUIZ– Spanish patronymic, son of Ruy or Roy.  

 

90.  HUGHES– Family of Hugh.  

 

91.  PRICE – Family of Rhys.  

 

92.  ALVAREZ – Spanish, family of Alvaro.  

 

93.  CASTILLO – Spanish place surname, “castle”  

 

94.  SANDERS – Family of Alexander.  

 

95.  PATEL– Indian surname meaning “Landowner.”  

 

96.  MYERS – German occupational surname for a Mayor.

 

97.  LONG – Surname for a tall person.  

 

98.  ROSS – Scottish surname from a place name referring to a peninsula.  

 

99.  FOSTER – Occupational surname, from forester.  

 

100.                 JIMENEZ – Spanish, son of Jimeno, which relates to Simon.

 

About the Author

Pamela Redmond

Pamela Redmond is the cocreator and CEO of Nameberry. and Baby Name DNA. The coauthor of ten bestselling baby name books, Redmond is an internationally-recognized 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. Redmond is also a New York Times bestselling novelist whose books include Younger, the basis for the hit television show, and its new sequel, Older.