ABBOTT Surname Meaning and Family History

What Does the Last Name Abbott Mean?

Tintern Abbey, Monmouthshire, Wales
ianknowles / Getty Images

The Abbott surname means "abbot" or "priest," from the Old English abbod or Old French abet, which in turn derive from the Late Latin or Greek abbas, from the Aramaic abba, meaning "father." Abbott generally originated as an occupational name for the chief ruler or priest of an abbey, or for someone employed in the household or on the grounds of an abbot (since celibate clergy usually didn't have descendants to carry on the family name). According to a "Dictionary of American Family Names," it may also have been a nickname bestowed on a "sanctimonious person thought to resemble an abbot."

The Abbott surname is also common in Scotland, where it may be of English origin, or possibly a translation of MacNab, from the Gaelic Mac an Abbadh, meaning "son of the abbott."

Surname Origin: English, Scottish


Where in the World Is the Abbott Surname Found?

The Abbott surname is now most commonly found in Canada, especially in the province of Ontario, according to WorldNames PublicProfiler. Within the United Kingdom, the name is most common in East Anglia. The name is also fairly common in the U.S. state of Maine. Forebears surname distribution data places the Abbott surname with the greatest frequency in the former British Caribbean colonies, such as Antigua and Barbuda, where it is the 51st most common last name. It is then most commonly found in England, followed by Australia, Wales, New Zealand, and Canada.

Famous People With the Last Name ABBOTT

  • Berenice Abbott: American photographer and sculptor
  • Grace Abbott: American social worker best known for her work improving rights of immigrants and advancing child welfare
  • Edith Abbott: American social work pioneer; sister of Grace Abbott
  • Sir John Abbott: former prime minister of Canada
  • Jeremy Abbott: U.S. national figure skating champion
  • George Abbott: American director, producer, and playwright
  • Bud Abbott: comedian best known for playing the "straight man" of Abbott and Costello 

Genealogy Resources for the Surname Abbott

Abbott DNA Project

Individuals with the Abbott surname or any of its variations are invited to join this Y-DNA surname project of Abbott researchers working to combine traditional family history research with DNA testing to determine common ancestors.

The Abbott Family Genealogy

This site compiled and written by Ernest James Abbott collects information on primarily Americans with the Abbott surname and includes sections on authors, occupations, famous descendants, courses, and Abbotts in the military and ministry.

Abbott Family Genealogy Forum

Search this popular genealogy forum for the Abbott surname to find others who might be researching your ancestors, or post your own Abbott query.

FamilySearch - ABBOTT Genealogy

Explore over 1.7 million historical records and lineage-linked family trees posted for the Abbott surname and its variations on the free FamilySearch website, hosted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The Abbott Genealogy and Family Tree Page

Browse genealogy records and links to genealogical and historical records for individuals with the common Abbott last name from the website of Genealogy Today.


  • Cottle, Basil. Penguin Dictionary of Surnames. Baltimore, MD: Penguin Books, 1967.
  • Menk, Lars. A Dictionary of German Jewish Surnames. Avotaynu, 2005.
  • Beider, Alexander. A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from Galicia. Avotaynu, 2004.
  • Hanks, Patrick and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford University Press, 1989.
  • Hanks, Patrick. Dictionary of American Family Names. Oxford University Press, 2003.
  • Smith, Elsdon C. American Surnames. Genealogical Publishing Company, 1997.
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Powell, Kimberly. "ABBOTT Surname Meaning and Family History." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, Powell, Kimberly. (2020, August 27). ABBOTT Surname Meaning and Family History. Retrieved from Powell, Kimberly. "ABBOTT Surname Meaning and Family History." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 24, 2023).