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American Last Names as First Names

American Last Names as First Names

American last names used as baby names -- either first names or middle names -- is a popular trend in the U.S. Other Western cultures, including English-speaking ones, do not generally use last names as first names, which makes American last names particularly suited to this genre.

Some of these American last names have been used for a long time as first names, or even originated as first names, as with Thomas. Other American surnames are more recent entrants to the baby name pool, especially when used for girls: Taylor, for example, or Carter. And while non-Anglo last names have been slower to be adapted as first names, that is starting to happen too.

Especially stylish right now are last names ending with S: Brooks, Collins, Wells. Hilary Duff named her little girl Banks, and Emma Roberts' son is name Rhodes.

To gather typical American last names in one place, we drew all the names on this list from the Census Bureau's count of top last names in the U.S. They are ordered here not by how popular they are as last names in the US, but how popular they are as baby names among the visitors to Nameberry.

SmithHeart

  • Origin:

    English occupational name
  • Meaning:

    "blacksmith"
  • Description:

    Even if it is the Number one surname in the U.S.--with more than 2.5 million bearers--we still think that Smith would make a cool first or middle name, whether or not it has family history.

JohnsonHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "son of John"
  • Description:

    No competition for Jackson.

JonesHeart

  • Origin:

    English surname derived from John
  • Meaning:

    "God is gracious"
  • Description:

    Quintessentially common last name makes distinctive if problematic first, given to nearly 100 babies in the US in the most recent year counted.

MillerHeart

  • Origin:

    English occupational name
  • Meaning:

    "grinder of grain"
  • Description:

    Miller is an up-and-coming choice in the stylish occupational genre, chosen by Stella McCartney, Melissa Etheridge, and by Tea Leoni and David Duchovny.

DavisHeart

  • Origin:

    Surname derived from David, Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "beloved"
  • Description:

    Davis is a fresh way to say David. Some sources define it as "son of David," but we see it as a surname spin on the original. While David is an everyman name, Davis has some creative edge -- and still gets you to the classic guy nickname Dave.

WilsonHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "son of Will"
  • Description:

    Wilson is a substantive presidential choice far less prevalent than Taylor or Tyler, and with the advantage of being a new route to friendly nickname Will. We see Wilson growing in popularity as an alternative to William; and as a patronymic, it would make a conceivable (if possibly confusing) choice for a son of William.

AndersonHeart

  • Origin:

    Scandinavian
  • Meaning:

    "son of Anders"
  • Description:

    Anderson shot up quite a bit on the popular names list in the 2000's, no doubt in large part due to the prominence of white-haired cable newsman Anderson Cooper. Perhaps surprisingly though, Anderson was even higher on the list in 1880. Actress Edie Falco named her son Anderson in 2005. Though there haven't been many first-named Anderson namesakes, there have been countless notables bearing the surname, including Hans Christian, Marian, Maxwell, Sherwood, Gillian, Laurie, and Pamela.

ThomasHeart

  • Origin:

    Aramaic
  • Meaning:

    "twin"
  • Description:

    Thomas is the Greek variation of the Aramaic name Ta’oma’. It came about because there were too many apostles named Judas; Jesus renamed one Thomas—meaning "twin"—to distinguish him from Judas Iscariot and the Judas also known as Thaddeus. At first, it was used only for priests.

TaylorHeart

  • Origin:

    English occupational name
  • Meaning:

    "tailor"
  • Description:

    Taylor is one of the prime unisex surnames used for girls and has also been a soap opera favorite. Taylor was in the Top 10 for the last several years of the twentieth century, so that now it tends to feel a little nineties – though Taylor Swift is keeping it in the spotlight and Tay is a charming nickname. Garth Brooks and Bryan Cranston have daughters named Taylor; Taylor Schilling portrays lead Piper Chapman in Orange is the New Black.

MooreHeart

  • Origin:

    English place-name
  • Meaning:

    "the moors"
  • Description:

    Moore is recommended as a rich and satisfying middle name choice, whether it relates to your own family history or not. Of the numerous outstanding Moore-surnamed namesakes, count sculptor Henry, writers Clement, Marianne and Brian, entertainers Demi, Dudley, Garry, Roger, Julianne, Melba and Mary Tyler, and provocateur Michael.

JacksonHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "son of Jack"
  • Description:

    Cool name Jackson is one of the celebrisphere's top favorite boy names, having been chosen by, among others, Spike Lee, Poppy Montgomery, Carson Daly, Maria Bello, Natalie Maines, Scott Wolf, Maya Rudolph, and Katey Sagal. After a spectacular rise, this stylish presidential name has been in the Top 25 since 2010, overtaking John as one of the most popular boy names starting with J.

MartinHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "warlike"
  • Description:

    Martin is one of those names like Arthur and Vincent and George that is in the process of throwing off its balding middle-aged image to start sounding possible again, used in full without the dated Marty nickname.

LeeHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "pasture, meadow"
  • Description:

    The original brief, breezy name is somewhat out of favor now even as a middle name. The Leigh spelling has more substance and is more identifiable as female.

PerezHeart

  • Origin:

    Spanish from Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "to blossom"
  • Description:

    The newest surname names move beyond the Waspy, and this is an excellent example, associated these days with gossip blogger Perez (born Mario) Hilton.

ThompsonHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "son of Tom"
  • Description:

    Thompson is not as popular as Jackson or Harrison, but a novel way to circumvent Junior for the son of a Thomas.

HarrisHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "son of Harry"
  • Description:

    When Harrison is too much, but Harry isn't enough, try this stylish surname name with a touch of British flair. It briefly reentered the US Top 1000 for the first time since 1988 in 2016, but has since dropped just below the radar again.

ClarkHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "scribe, secretary, cleric, scholar, clerk"
  • Description:

    Clark seemed to have been Gone with the Wind, but parents looking for a short, strong boy's name are now beginning to appreciate its cool combination of Gable charm with Superman power.

LewisHeart

  • Origin:

    English variation of Louis
  • Meaning:

    "renowned warrior"
  • Description:

    Lewis is the best spelling to choose if you want this pronounced with the S. Lewis has been in the Top 5 in Scotland since 2000, and is one that parents in the U.S. are just beginning to rethink.