Humanities › History & Culture Meaning and Origin of the Surname Chavez Share Flipboard Email Print Alicia Llop/Getty Images History & Culture Genealogy Surnames Basics Genealogy Fun Vital Records Around the World American History African American History African History Ancient History and Culture Asian History European History Inventions Latin American History Medieval & Renaissance History Military History The 20th Century Women's History View More By Kimberly Powell Genealogy Expert Certificate in Genealogical Research, Boston University B.A., Carnegie Mellon University Kimberly Powell is a professional genealogist and the author of The Everything Guide to Online Genealogy. She teaches at the Genealogical Institute of Pittsburgh and the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy. our editorial process Kimberly Powell Updated April 06, 2019 Chaves is an ancient Portuguese surname that literally means "keys," from the Portuguese Chaves and Spanish laves (Latin clavis). Often an occupational surname was given to someone who made keys for a living. Chavez is also an alternate spelling of the Chaves surname, which in Portugal was often a habitational name from the town of Chaves, Tras-os-Montes, from the Latin acquis Flaviis, meaning "[at the] waters of Flavius." Chavez is the 22nd most common Hispanic surname. Surname Origin: Spanish, Portuguese Alternate Surname Spellings: CHAVEZ Famous People With the Surname Cesar Chavez: American civil rights leaderHugo Chavez: President of VenezuelaNicole Chavez: Hollywood celebrity stylist Where in the World Do People With the Surname Live? According to surname distribution data from Forebears, Chaves is the 358th most common surname in the world—found most commonly in Mexico, with the highest density of the surname present in Peru. Chavez is also a common last name in Bolivia, where it ranks 18th most popular in the nation, as well as Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Philippines, Honduras, and Nicaragua. WorldNames PublicProfiler also has the surname as most common in Argentina, especially Northwest and Gran Chaco, as well as New Mexico in the United States, and southwest Spain (Andalucia and Extremadura provinces). Genealogy Resources for the Surname CHAVES Family DNA ProjectA Y-DNA project focused on family and genetic relationships between the various Chaves families around the world. This includes the Chavez and Caceres surnames of Spain. Chavez Family Crest - It's Not What You ThinkContrary to what you may hear, there is no such thing as a Chavez family crest or coat of arms for the Chavez 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. Source: 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.