Common Australian Surnames and Their Meanings

Smith, Jones, Williams... Are you one of the millions of Australians sporting one of these top common last names from Australia? The following list of the most commonly occurring surnames in Australia includes details on each name's origin and meaning. It's interesting to note that the World Names Public Profile list of common Australian surnames, compiled primarily from telephone directories and electoral registers, is the first time that an Asian name -- Nguyen -- appears among the top 10 surnames in Australia.

* FPM = Frequency Per Million

1
SMITH

Flag of Australia
Steve Allen/Stockbyte/Getty Images

FPM: 12,254.2
Smith is an occupational surname for a man who works with metal (smith or blacksmith), one of the earliest jobs for which specialist skills were required. It is a craft that was practiced in all countries, making the surname and its derivations the most common of all surnames around the world.

2
JONES

Getty / Ronnie Kaufman / Larry Hirshowitz
FPM: 6,132.79
A patronymic name meaning "son of John (God has favored or gift of God)."

3
WILLIAMS

Getty / Looking Glass
FPM: 5,904.07
The most common origin of the Williams surname is patronymic, meaning "son of William," but there are also others.

4
BROWN

Getty / Deux
FPM: 5,880.77
A descriptive surname meaning "brown haired" or "brown skinned."

5
WILSON

Getty / Uwe Krejci

FPM: 5,037.98
An English or Scottish surname meaning "son of Will," a nickname for William.

6
TAYLOR

Getty / Rimagine Group Limited

FPM: 4,867.51
An English occupational name for a tailor, from Old French tailleur for "tailor" which comes from the Latin taliare, meaning "to cut."

7
NGUYEN

Getty / Jacques LOIC

FPM: 3,798.06
This is the most common surname in Vietnam, but is actually of Chinese origin, meaning "musical instrument."

8
JOHNSON

Getty / Ronnie Kaufman / Larry Hirshowitz

FPM: 3,571.02
An English patronymic surname meaning "son of John (gift of God)."

9
MARTIN

Getty / Cristian Baitg

FPM: 3,314.21
Patronymic surname taken from the ancient Latin given name Martinus, derived from Mars, the Roman god of fertility and war.

10
WHITE

Getty / LWA

FPM: 3,304.37
Generally a surname originally used to describe someone with very light hair or complexion.

11
ANDERSON

Anderson is a popular Australian last name that means
Getty / Matt Carr

FPM: 3,298.29
As it sounds, Anderson is generally a patronymic surname meaning "son of Andrew."

12
WALKER

Walker is an occupational surname for a
Getty / Karina Mansfield
FPM: 3,028.14
An occupational surname for a fuller, or person who walked on damp raw cloth in order to thicken it.

13
THOMPSON

The last name Thompson comes from a word meaning
Getty / James Woodson
FPM: 3,178.04
Son of the man known as Thom, Thomp, Thompkin, or other diminutive form of Thomas, a given name meaning "twin."

14
THOMAS

Thomas, meaning
Getty / Annmarie Young Photography
FPM: 2947.12
Derived from a popular medieval first name, THOMAS comes from an Aramaic term for "twin."

15
LEE

The popular Australian surname Lee means
Getty / Mark Gerum
FPM: 2,941.29
Lee is a surname with many possible meanings and origins. Often it was a name given to one who lived in or near a "laye," a Middle English term meaning 'clearing in the woods.'

16
HARRIS

The Harris surname derives from a given name meaning
Getty / Pigeon Productions SA
FPM: 2,771.59
"Son of Harry," a given name derived from Henry and meaning "home ruler."

17
RYAN

The Irish surname Ryan means
Getty / Adriana Varela Photography
FPM: 2,759.56
An Irish Gaelic surname meaning "little king," from the old gaelic word "righ" and the old Irish diminutive of "an."

18
ROBINSON

The name Robin means
Getty / Stanislaw Pytel
FPM: 2,709.85
The most likely origin of this surname is "son of Robin," although it may also derive from the Polish word "rabin," meaning rabbi.

19
KELLY

The surname Kelly means
Getty / mikkelwilliam
FPM: 2,683.19
A Gaelic name meaning warrior or war. Also, possibly an adaptation of the surname O'Kelly, meaning descendant of Ceallach (bright-headed).

20
KING

The King surname may have originated as a nickname for someone who behaved like royalty.
Getty / Joelle Icard
FPM: 2,665.97
From the Old English "cyning," originally meaning "tribal leader," this nickname was commonly bestowed on a man who carried himself like royalty, or who played the part of the king in a medieval pageant.