ADAMS Surname Meaning and Family History

The Adams surname may derive from an ancient term for earth.

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From the Hebrew personal name Adam which was borne, according to Genesis, by the first man, the Adams surname is of uncertain etymology. Possibly from the Hebrew word adama meaning "earth," connecting to the Greek legend that Zeus fashioned the first human beings from earth.

The "s" ending generally indicates a patronymic surname, meaning "son of Adam."

Adams is the 39th most popular surname in the United States and the 69th most common surname in England.

Surname Origin: English, Hebrew

Alternate Surname Spellings: ADAM, ADDAMS, MCADAMS, ADAMSON (Scottish), ADIE (Scottish), ADAMI (Italian), ADAMINI (Italian), ADCOCKS (English) 

Famous People with the Surname ADAMS

  • John Adams - 2nd President of the United States
  • John Quincy Adams - 6th President of the United States
  • Michael Adams - U.S. astronaut; X-15 pilot
  • Yolanda Adams - urban Gospel artist
  • Douglas Adams - English author, best known for The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Where is the ADAMS Surname Most Common?

According to surname distribution data from Forebears, Adams is the 506th most common surname in the world. It is most common in the United States, where it ranks 35th, as well as in South Africa (43rd), Ghana (44th), England (57th), Wales (61st), Australia (67th), New Zealand (85th), Canada (90th) and Scotland (104th). On Norfolk Island, the Adams surname is born by 1 in every 64 people. It is also found in great density in the tiny South American country of Guyana, where 1 in 267 people have the Adams last name.

Within the United Kingdom, the Adams surname is most common in Southeast England and Northern Ireland according to WorldNames PublicProfiler

Genealogy Resources for the Surname ADAMS

100 Most Common U.S. Surnames & Their Meanings
Smith, Johnson, Williams, Jones, Brown... Are you one of the millions of Americans sporting one of these top 100 common last names from the 2000 census?

Massachusetts Historical Society: The Adams Family Papers
Genealogies, images of manuscripts and digital transcriptions from the Adams Family Papers, one of the most important collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society.

ADAMS Surname Y-DNA Project
The Adams Surname DNA Project and this web site have been founded as a place for Adams researchers to use the Y-DNA testing, now available to answer some questions about our ancestry. This is open to any person related to the surnames Adams, Adam or other possible variations.

Adams Family Crest - It's Not What You Think
Contrary to what you may hear, there is no such thing as an Adams family crest or coat of arms for the Adams surname. Coats of arms are granted to individuals, not families, and may rightfully be used only by the uninterrupted male-line descendants of the person to whom the coat of arms was originally granted.

Adams Family Genealogy Forum
Search this popular genealogy forum for the Adams surname to find others who might be researching your ancestors, or post your own Adams query. There is also a separate forum for the ADAM variation of the Adams surname.

FamilySearch - ADAMS Genealogy
Explore over 8.8 million historical records which mention individuals with the Adams surname, as well as online Adams family trees on this free website hosted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. - ADAMS Genealogy & Family History
Free databases and genealogy links for the last name Adams.

GeneaNet - Adams Records
GeneaNet includes archival records, family trees, and other resources for individuals with the Adams surname, with a concentration on records and families from France and other European countries.

The Adams Genealogy and Family Tree Page
Browse family trees and links to genealogical and historical records for individuals with the last name Adams from the website of Genealogy Today.


  • Cottle, Basil. Penguin Dictionary of Surnames. Baltimore, MD: Penguin Books, 1967.
  • Dorward, David. Scottish Surnames. Collins Celtic (Pocket edition), 1998.
  • Fucilla, Joseph. Our Italian Surnames. Genealogical Publishing Company, 2003.
  • Hanks, Patrick and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford University Press, 1989.
  • Hanks, Patrick. Dictionary of American Family Names. Oxford University Press, 2003.
  • Reaney, P.H. A Dictionary of English Surnames. Oxford University Press, 1997.
  • Smith, Elsdon C. American Surnames. Genealogical Publishing Company, 1997.
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Your Citation
Powell, Kimberly. "ADAMS Surname Meaning and Family History." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, Powell, Kimberly. (2020, August 27). ADAMS Surname Meaning and Family History. Retrieved from Powell, Kimberly. "ADAMS Surname Meaning and Family History." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 1, 2023).