The Surname Alvarez: Its Meaning and Origin

This Familiar Spanish Last Name May Date Back to the Goths

The fishing village of Cudillero is in Asturias, Spain, one of the regions where the Alvarez surname originated.
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Alvarez is a patronymic (derived from the name of the father) surname meaning "son of Alvaro" and is thought to have originated with the Visigoths. The Visigoths were 5th-century German warriors who participated in the eventual fragmentation and collapse of the Western Roman Empire, and one of two main branches of the East Germanic tribe known as "Goths."

According to the Instituto Genealógico e Histórico Latino-Americano, the surname Alvarez originated in Spain, primarily from the regions of Andalucía, Aragón, Asturias, Galicia, León, and Navarra.

Alvarez Surname: Fast Facts

Famous People with the Surname Alvarez

  • Carlos Alvarez—Spanish opera singer
  • Luis Walter Alvarez—American experimental physicist, Nobel Prize winner in Physics
  • Luis Fernández Álvarez—Spanish American doctor and researcher; grandfather of Luis Walter Alvarez
  • Pedro Alvarez—Dominican American MLB baseball player
  • José Álvarez Cubero—Spanish sculptor
  • Jorge Montt Álvarez—Chilean Admiral and former President of Chile
  • Gregorio Álvarez—Argentine historian, physician, and writer; the Alvarezsaurus dinosaur was named for him.

Where Do People With the Alvarez Surname Live?

The surname distribution data at Forebears ranks Alvarez as the 212th most common surname in the world, identifying it as most prevalent in Mexico and with the highest density in Cuba. The Alvarez surname is the 10th most common surname in Cuba, 11th in Argentina, and 16th in Spain. Within Spain, Alvarez is found most commonly in the northwestern regions of Asturias, followed by Galicia and Castille Y León, according to WorldNames PublicProfiler.

Is There an Alvarez Coat of Arms?

Contrary to what you may hear, there is no such thing as an Alvarez family crest or coat of arms. 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. 

Resources for Exploring the Alvarez Surname

Genealogy and Resources for Spanish Surnames

Have you ever wondered about your Spanish last name and how it came to be? The 100 Most Common Spanish Surnames have unique naming patterns and origins. When researching your Hispanic heritage, it's best to start with the basics such as family tree research and country-specific organizations, genealogical records, and resources for Spain, Latin America, Mexico, Brazil, the Caribbean and other Spanish speaking countries.


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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Powell, Kimberly. "The Surname Alvarez: Its Meaning and Origin." ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, Powell, Kimberly. (2021, February 16). The Surname Alvarez: Its Meaning and Origin. Retrieved from Powell, Kimberly. "The Surname Alvarez: Its Meaning and Origin." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 24, 2023).