ALI - Surname Meaning and Family History

What Does the Last Name Ali Mean?

Muhammad Ali, perhaps the most famous individual with the Ali surname, was actually born Cassius Clay.
Muhammad Ali, perhaps the most famous individual with the Ali surname, was actually born Cassius Clay. The Stanley Weston Archive / Getty Images

The Ali surname derived from the Arabic root ʕ-l-w, which literally means "high," "elevated," or "exalted." The Ali surname is especially common in Arab countries and the rest of the Muslim world.

Surname Origin: Arabic

Famous People with the ALI Surname

  • Muhammad Ali (born Cassius Clay) - American athlete, boxer and philanthropist
  • Laila Ali - athlete, boxer and television personality; daughter of Muhammad Ali
  • Tatyana Ali - American actress, model and R&B singer
  • Imtiaz Ali  - Indian film director and writer

Where is the ALI Surname Most Common?

According to surname distribution from Forebears, Ali is the 38th most common surname in the world—found most prevalently in India where over 1.1 million people bear the name. The Ali surname is among the ten most common last names in Bahrain (1st), the Maldives (2nd), Trinidad and Tobago (2nd), Sudan (3rd), Tanzania (7th), Algeria (7th), Chad (8th), Fiji (9th) and India (9th).

Surname maps from WorldNames PublicProfiler also show the Ali surname as especially common in India, but does not include data from most Arab countries. Other regions where the Ali surname is fairly common include Kosovo and several regions of England (South East, West Midlands, North West, and Yorkshire and Humberside.

Genealogy Resources for the Surname ALI

Ali DNA Project
This DNA project is connecting individuals with the Ali surname and variants such as Alaie, Aly, and Aulie, testing to help discover common Price or Pryce ancestors.

Ali Family Crest - It's Not What You Think
Contrary to what you may hear, there is no such thing as an Ali family crest or coat of arms for the Ali 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.

Ali Family Genealogy Forum
This free message board is focused on descendants of Ali ancestors around the world. Search or browse the archives for your Ali ancestors, or join the group and post your own Ali family query.

FamilySearch - ALI Genealogy
Explore over 1 million results from digitized historical records and lineage-linked family trees related to the Ali surname on this free website hosted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. - ALI Genealogy & Family History
Explore free databases and genealogy links for the last name Ali.

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

The Ali Genealogy and Family Tree Page
Browse genealogy records and links to genealogical and historical records for individuals with the Ali surname from the website of Genealogy Today.


References: Surname Meanings & Origins

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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