Collins Surname Meaning and Origin

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The Collins surname has a number of different possible origins:

  1. In England, the name may have originated as a double diminutive of Nicholas, or as a patronymic surname meaning "son of Colin," a short form of Nicholas. The given name Nicholas means "victory of the people," from the Greek νικη (nike), meaning "victory" and λαος (laos), meaning "people."
  2. In Ireland, a name derived from cuilein, meaning "darling," a term of endearment applied to young animals. The medieval Gaelic surname was Ua Cuiléin, most often seen today as Ó Coileáin.
  3. As a Welsh surname, Collins may derive from collen, signifying a hazel grove.
  4. The French name Colline, meaning "hill," is another possible origin of the Collins surname.

Collins is the 52nd most popular surname in the United States, the 57th most common English surname, and the 30th most common surname in Ireland.

Alternate Surname Spellings: Collin, Colling, Collings, Coling, Collen, Collens, Collis, Coliss, Coleson

Where Do People With the Collins Surname Live?

People with the Collins surname are most prevalent in Ireland, especially the southwestern counties of Cork, Limerick, and Clare, according to WorldNames Public Profiler. The name is also extremely common in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. Forebears surname distribution data has the name pegged as very common in Ireland, Liberia, Australia, the United States, and England. Within Ireland, Collins ranks as the 9th most popular surname in County Cork, 11th in Limerick and 13th in Clare.

Famous People With the Last Name Collins

  • Phil Collins - English singer, songwriter and musician.
  • Michael Collins - American astronaut, part of the Apollo 11 mission that first landed on the moon.
  • Michael Collins - The hero of the Irish struggle for independence.
  • Patricia Hill Collins - American feminist sociologist (Collins is her married name).
  • Marva Collins - American educator and civil rights activist (Collins is her married name).
  • Joan Collins - English actress, best known for her role in the television drama, Dynasty.
  • Suzanne Collins - Author of the popular book trilogy, The Hunger Games.
  • Anthony Collins - English philosopher.
  • Arthur Collins - English genealogist and historian.

Genealogy Resources for the Surname Collins


Over 320 group members belong to the Collins DNA surname project, working together to combine DNA testing with traditional genealogy research to sort out Collins ancestral lines. Includes individuals with Collins, Collings, and similar surname variants.

Contrary to what you may hear, there is no such thing as a Collins family crest or coat of arms for the Collins 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. 

Check out the Collins family genealogy forum at Genealogy.com, the popular genealogy forum for the Collins surname to find others who might be researching your ancestors, or use it post your own Collins query.

Use FamilySearch.org to access over 8 million free historical records and lineage-linked family trees posted for the Collins surname and its variations on this free genealogy website hosted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
RootsWeb hosts several free mailing lists for researchers of the Collins surname. You can also browse or search the list archives to explore over a decade of postings for the Collins surname.


Explore DistantCousin.com, which hosts free databases and genealogy links for the last name Collins.

The Collins page at GenealogyToday.com allows you to browse family trees and links to genealogical and historical records for individuals with the last name Collins around the world.

References

Cottle, Basil. "Penguin Dictionary of Surnames." Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1967.

Menk, Lars. "A Dictionary of German Jewish Surnames." Bergenfield, NJ: Avotaynu, 2005.

Beider, Alexander. "A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from Galicia." Bergenfield, NJ: Avotaynu, 2004.

Hanks, Patrick and Flavia Hodges. "A Dictionary of Surnames." New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.

Hanks, Patrick. "Dictionary of American Family Names." New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

Hoffman, William F. "Polish Surnames: Origins and Meanings." Chicago: Polish Genealogical Society, 1993.

Rymut, Kazimierz. "Nazwiska Polakow." Wroclaw: Zaklad Narodowy im. Ossolinskich - Wydawnictwo, 1991.

Smith, Elsdon C. "American Surnames." Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1997.