Common US Surnames and Their Meanings

Surname Ranks from the 2000 U.S. Census

Smith, Johnson, Williams, Jones, Brown... Are you one of the millions of Americans sporting one of these top 100 common last names from the 2000 census? The following list of the most commonly occurring surnames in America includes details on each name's origin and meaning. It's interesting to note, that since 1990, the only other time this surname report has been compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau, two Hispanic surnames -- Garcia and Rodriguez -- have risen into the top 10.

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USA, New York City, Time Square, people walking
Andy Ryan/Stone/Getty Images
Population Count: 2,376,206
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.
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Johnson is a patronymic surname meaning son of John.
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Population Count: 1,857,160
Johnson is an English patronymic surname meaning "son of John (gift of God)."

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Getty / Looking Glass

Population Count: 1,534,042
The most common origin of the Williams surname is patronymic, meaning "son of William," a given name that derives from the elements wil, "desire or will," and helm, "helmet or protection."

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The Brown surname generally originated as a nickname for someone with brown eyes, skin or hair.
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Population Count: 1,380,145
As it sounds, Brown originated as a descriptive surname meaning "brown haired" or "brown skinned."

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The Jones surname is basically a variant of the patronymic surname Johnson
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Population Count: 1,362,755
A patronymic name meaning "son of John (God has favored or gift of God)." Similar to Johnson (above).

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The Miller surname is occupational in origin, given to someone who worked milling grain or corn.
Getty / Duncan Davis
Population Count: 1,127,803
The most common derivation of this surname is as an occupation name referring to a person who worked in a grain mill.
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Davis is a patronymic surname meaning, son of David, a given name that means beloved.
Getty / Matt Carr

Population Count: 1,072,335
Davis is yet another patronymic surname to crack the top 10 most common US surnames, meaning "Son of David (beloved)."

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Garcia is the most common Hispanic surname in the United States.
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Population Count: 858,289
There are several possible origins for this popular Hispanic surname. The most common meaning is "descendant or son of Garcia (the Spanish form of Gerald)."

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Rodriguez is a patronymic surname meaning powerful or famous ruler.
Birgid Allig / Fuse / Getty Images

Population Count: 804,240
Rodriguez is a patronymic name meaning "son of Rodrigo," a given name meaning "famous ruler." The "ez or es" added to the root signifies "descendant of."

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Wilson, which means
Getty / Uwe Krejci

Population Count: 783,051
Wilson is a popular English or Scottish surname in many countries, meaning "son of Will," often a nickname for William.

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Population Count: 775,072
Yet another patronymic surname (because they are derived from common first names, these types of surnames are generally the most common), Martinez generally means "son of Martin."
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Population Count: 762,394
As it sounds, Anderson is generally a patronymic surname meaning "son of Andrew."
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Population Count: 720,370
An English occupational name for a tailor, from Old French "tailleur" for "tailor" which comes from the Latin "taliare," meaning "to cut."
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Population Count: 710,696
Derived from a popular medieval first name, THOMAS comes from an Aramaic term for "twin."
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Population Count: 706,372
"Son of Hernando" or "Son of Fernando."
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Population Count: 698,671
The surname Moore and its derivations has many possible origins, including one who lived at or near a moor, or a dark-complexioned man.
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Population Count: 672,711
Patronymic surname taken from the ancient Latin given name Martinus, derived from Mars, the Roman god of fertility and war.
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Population Count: 666,125
A patronymic name meaning "son of Jack."
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Population Count: 644,368
Son of the man known as Thom, Thomp, Thompkin, or other diminutive form of Thomas, a given name meaning "twin."
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Population Count: 639,515
Generally a surname originally used to describe someone with very light hair or complexion.
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Population Count: 621,536
A patronymical surname meaning "son of Lope." Lope comes from the Spanish form of Lupus, a Latin name meaning "wolf."
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Population Count: 605,860
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.'
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Population Count: 597,718
A patronymic name meaning "son of Gonzalo."
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Population Count: 593,542
"Son of Harry," a given name derived from Henry and meaning "home ruler."
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Population Count: 548,369
This surname was most often used by a cleric, clerk, or scholar, one who can read and write.
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Population Count: 509,930
Derived from the Germanic given name Lewis, meaning "reknowned, famous battle."
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Population Count: 503,028
The most likely origin of this surname is "son of Robin," although it may also derive from the Polish word "rabin," meaning rabbi.
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Population Count: 501,307
An occupational surname for a fuller, or person who walked on damp raw cloth in order to thicken it.
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Population Count: 488,521
The most common of several origins for the surname Perez, is a patronymic name derived from Pero, Pedro, etc. - meaning "son of Pero."
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Population Count: 473,568
A place name derived from various words for "large house," usually used to signify someone who lived in or worked in a hall or manor house.
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Population Count: 465,948
Derived from the Old English word "geong," meaning "young."
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Population Count: 465,948
From "aluinn," meaning fair or handsome.
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Population Count: 441,242
A patronymic derived from the given name Sancho, meaning "sanctified."
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Population Count: 440,367
An occupational name meaning "craftsman, builder," from the Old English "wryhta" meaning "worker."
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Population Count: 438,986
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.
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Population Count: 420,091
An ethnic or geographical name signifying a native from Scotland or a person who spoke Gaelic.
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Population Count: 413,477
Often refers to one who dwelled at or near the village green, or other similar area of grassy ground.
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Population Count: 413,351
An occupational name which originated in medieval times from the name of the trade, baker.
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Population Count: 413,086
This surname is of uncertain etymology, but is often considered to derive from the Hebrew personal name Adam which was borne, according to Genesis, by the first man.
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Population Count: 412,236
A patronymic surname meaning "son of Nell," a form of the Irish name Neal which means "champion."
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Population Count: 411,770
A name generally given to one who lived on or near a hill, derived from the Old English "hyll."
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Population Count: 388,987
A patronymic name meaning " son of Ramon (wise protector)."
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Population Count: 371,953
A Celtic surname meaning "crooked or wry mouth," from the Gaelic "cam" meaning 'crooked, distorted' and "beul" for 'mouth.'
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Population Count: 367,433
A common form or corruption of Michael, meaning "big."
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Population Count: 366,215
Generally a patronymic name meaning "son of Robert," or possibly directly derived from the Welsh given name Robert meaning "bright fame."
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Population Count: 362,548
An English occupational name for a carter, or transporter of goods by cart or wagon.
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Population Count: 351,848
A patronymic surname meaning "son of Phillip." Phillip comes from the Greek name Philippos which means "friend of horses."
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Population Count: 342,237
Often a patronymic name meaning "son of Evan."
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Population Count: 335,663
An English occupational name, meaning "one who works with a lathe."
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Population Count: 325,169
A name given to a person who lived in or near a tower, from the Latin "turris."
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Population Count: 324,246
A nickname or descriptive surname often bestowed on a man who worked as a gamekeeper at a medieval park.
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Population Count: 317,848
This Gaelic and English surname has many possible origins, but is most often derived from the personal name of the father, meaning "son of Colin." Colin is often a pet form of Nicholas.
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Population Count: 317,070
A patronymic name meaning "son of Edward." The singular form, EDWARD, means "prosperous guardian."
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Population Count: 312,899
An occupational name for a steward or manager of a household or estate.
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Population Count: 312,615
The origin of this common Spanish surname is uncertain, but many believe it derives from the given name Floro, meaning "flower."
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Population Count: 311,754
"Dark and swarthy," from the Latin "mauritius," meaning 'moorish, dark' and/or from "maurus," meaning moor.
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Population Count: 310,125
This is the most common surname in Vietnam, but is actually of Chinese origin, meaning "musical instrument."
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Population Count: 300,501
A modern form of the ancient Irish name "O'Murchadha," which means "descendant of sea warrior" in Gaelic.
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Population Count: 299,463
A Spanish surname for one who lived on a riverbank or near a river.
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Population Count: 294,795
An English occupational name for a cook, a man who sold cooked meats, or the keeper of an eating house.
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Population Count: 294,403
A patronymic name derived from the given name Roger, meaning "son of Roger."
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Population Count: 276,400
This Welsh surname derives from the given name Morgan, from "mor", the sea, and "gan," born.
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Population Count: 275,041
A patronymic surname meaning "son of Peter." The given name Peter is derived from the Greek "petros" meaning "stone."
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Population Count: 270,097
An English occupational name for one who made and sold casks, buckets and tubs.
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Population Count: 267,443
A descriptive or nickname signifying a person with a red face or red hair.
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Population Count: 265,916
A crown official or officer of the king in county or town. Keeper of a royal building or house.
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Population Count: 264,752
This surname developed in many different countries with a variety of meanings. On possible derivation is from the French "bel," meaning handsome or beautiful.
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Population Count: 263,590
Derived from the given name, Gome, meaning "man."
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Population Count: 260,385
A Gaelic name meaning warrior or war. Also, possibly an adaptation of the surname O'Kelly, meaning descendant of Ceallach (bright-headed).
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Population Count: 254,779
There are several possible origins for this common English surname, including "strong of heart" and "high chief."
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Population Count: 254,121
An occupational name for a "guard or watchman," from Old English "weard" = guard.
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Population Count: 253,771
Often considered to be a form of COCK (little), a common term of endearment.
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Population Count: 251,772
The Spanish surname DIAZ comes from the Latin "dies" which means "days." Also believed to have early Jewish origins.
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Population Count: 249,533
Like RICHARDS, Richardson is a patronymic surname meaning "son of Richard." The given name Richard means "powerful and brave."
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Population Count: 247,299
Originally used to describe a person who lived in or worked in a wood or forest. Derived from Middle English "wode."
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Population Count: 242,432
A patronymic surname meaning "son of Watt," a pet form of the name Walter, meaning "ruler of the army."
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Population Count: 240,751
There are many origins for this English surname, but most revolve around a "brook," or a small stream.
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Population Count: 239,055
From the medieval given name Benedict, originating from the Latin "benedictus" meaning "blessed."
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Population Count: 236,713
Nickname for a man with gray hair, or a gray beard, from Old English groeg, meaning grey.
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Population Count: 233,224
Patronymic name derived from "Jacob" and usually meaning "son of Jacob."
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Population Count: 232,511
From the Old French "rey," meaning king, Reyes was often bestowed as a nickname for a man who carried himself in a regal, or kingly, fashion.
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Population Count: 231,065
One who lived near a place where a cross was erected, or near a crossroads or interection.
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Population Count: 229,390
A patronymic surname meaning "son of Hugh." The given name Hugh is a Germanic name meaning "heart/mind."
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Population Count: 228,756
A patronymic name derived from the Welsh "ap Rhys," meaning "son of Rhys."
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Population Count: 224,824
This popular last name may be of German or English origin, with variant meanings. The German form means "steward or baliff," as in the magistrate of a city or town.
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Population Count: 223,494
A nickname often give to a man who was especially tall and lanky.
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Population Count: 221,040
Possible origins for this surname include one who fostered children or was a foster child; a forester; or a shearer or scissors maker.
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Population Count: 220,902
A patronymic surname derived from the given name "Sander," a medieval form of "Alexander."
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Population Count: 219,961
The Ross surname has Gaelic origins and, depending upon the origin of the family, could have several different meanings. The most common is believed to be someone who lived on or near a headland or moor.
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Population Count: 217,642
"Son of Moral," a given name meaning "right and proper." Alternatively, this Spanish and Portuguese surname may mean one who lived near a mulberry or blackberry bush.
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Population Count: 216,553
A contraction of the Welsh "Ap Howell," meaning "son of Howell."
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Population Count: 215,640
A descriptive surname meaning "hawk-eyed" or "one-eyed," from "suil," meaning 'eye,' and "ban," meaning 'fair-eyed.'
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Population Count: 215,432
A patronymic name derived from the given name "Rousel," old French for someone with red hair or a red face.
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Population Count: 214,683
A patronymic surname meaning "son of Orton or Orta."
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Population Count: 213,737
A double diminutive surname meaning "son of Jenkin," from the given name Jenkin which means "son of John" or "little John."
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Population Count: 212,905
A patronymic name meaning "son of Gutierre" (son of Walter). Gutierre is a given name meaning "he who rules."
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Population Count: 212,644
Generally used to describe a dweller near a pear tree or pear grove, from the Old English "pyrige," meaning 'pear tree.'
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Population Count: 210,879
An occupational surname derived from the Old French "bouteillier," meaning servant in charge of the wine cellar.
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Population Count: 210,426
Of the barn (barley house), this British surname is often derived from a significant barn in the local region.
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Population Count: 210,279
As it sounds, this is an occupational surname taken from the Old English "fiscare," meaning 'fisherman.'