Common US Surnames and Their Meanings

Surname Ranks from the 2000 and 2010 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 and 2010 censuses? 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, three Hispanic surnames—Garcia, Rodriguez, and Menendez—have risen into the top 10.

01
of 100

SMITH

USA, New York City, Time Square, people walking
Andy Ryan/Stone/Getty Images
  • Population Count 2010: 2,442,977
  • Population Count 2000: 2,376,206
  • Rank in 2000: 1

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.

02
of 100

JOHNSON

  • Population Count 2010: 1,932,812
  • Population Count 2000: 1,857,160
  • Rank in 2000: 2
    Johnson is an English patronymic surname meaning "son of John," and "John means "gift of God."
03
of 100

WILLIAMS

A knight's helmet

Looking Glass/Getty Images

  • Population Count (2010): 1,625,252
  • Population Count (2000): 1,534,042
  • Rank in 2000: 3

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."

04
of 100

BROWN

  • Population Count (2010): 1,437,026
  • Population Count (2000): 1,380,145
  • Rank in 2000: 4

As it sounds, Brown originated as a descriptive surname meaning "brown haired" or "brown skinned."

05
of 100

JONES

The Jones surname is basically a variant of the patronymic surname Johnson
Rosemarie Gearhart / Getty Images
  • Population Count (2010): 1,425,470
  • Population Count (2000): 1,362,755
  • Rank in 2000: 5

A patronymic name meaning "son of John (God has favored or gift of God)." Similar to Johnson (above).

06
of 100

GARCIA

  • Population Count (2010): 1,425,470
  • Population Count (2000): 1,166,120
  • Rank in 2000: 8

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)."

07
of 100

MILLER

The Miller surname is occupational in origin, given to someone who worked milling grain or corn.
Getty / Duncan Davis
  • Population Count (2010): 1,127,803
  • Population Count (2000): 1,161,437
  • Rank in 2000: 6

The most common derivation of this surname is as an occupation name referring to a person who worked in a grain mill.

08
of 100

DAVIS

David's Prayer, wood engraving, published in 1886
ZU_09 / Getty Images
  • Population Count (2010): 1,116,357
  • Population Count (2000): 1,072,335
  • Rank in 2000: 7

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

09
of 100

RODRIGUEZ

  • Population Count (2010): 1,094,924
  • Population Count (2000): 804,240
  • Rank in 2000: 9

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."

10
of 100

MARTINEZ

  • Population Count (2010): 1,060,159
  • Population Count (2000): 775,072
  • Rank in 2000: 11

Generally means "son of Martin."

11
of 100

HERNANDEZ

  • Population Count (2010): 1,043,281
  • Population Count (2000): 706,372
  • Rank in 2000: 15

"Son of Hernando" or "Son of Fernando."

12
of 100

LOPEZ

Timber wolf (Canis lupus) standing on a rocky cliff on an autumn day in Canada
Jim Cumming / Getty Images
  • Population Count (2010): 874,523
  • Population Count (2000): 621,536
  • Rank in 2000: 21

A patronymical surname meaning "son of Lope." Lope comes from the Spanish form of Lupus, a Latin name meaning "wolf."

13
of 100

GONZALEZ

  • Population Count (2010): 841,025
  • Population Count (2000): 597,718
  • Rank in 2000: 23

A patronymic name meaning "son of Gonzalo."

14
of 100

WILSON

  • Population Count (2010): 1,094,924
  • Population Count (2000): 801,882
  • Rank in 2000: 10

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

15
of 100

ANDERSON

  • Population Count (2010): 784,404
  • Population Count (2000): 762,394
  • Rank in 2000: 12

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

16
of 100

THOMAS

  • Population Count (2010): 756,142
  • Population Count (2000): 710,696
  • Rank in 2000: 14

Derived from a popular medieval first name, THOMAS comes from an Aramaic term for "twin."

17
of 100

TAYLOR

Tailor preparing bespoke suit jacket on tailors dummy
G. Mazzarini / Getty Images
  • Population Count (2010): 751,209
  • Population Count (2000): 720,370
  • Rank in 2000: 13

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

18
of 100

MOORE

  • Population Count (2010): 724,374
  • Population Count (2000): 698,671
  • Rank in 2000: 16

The surname Moore and its derivations has many possible origins, including one who lived at or near a moor, or a dark-complexioned man.

19
of 100

JACKSON

  • Population Count (2010): 708,099
  • Population Count (2000): 666,125
  • Rank in 2000: 18

A patronymic name meaning "son of Jack."

20
of 100

MARTIN

  • Population Count (2010): 702,625
  • Population Count (2000): 672,711
  • Rank in 2000: 17

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

21
of 100

LEE

  • Population Count (2010): 693,023
  • Population Count (2000): 605,860
  • Rank in 2000: 22

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.'

22
of 100

PEREZ

  • Population Count (2010): 681,645
  • Population Count (2000): 488,521
  • Rank in 2000: 29

The most common of several origins for the surname Perez is a patronymic name derived from Pero, Pedro, etc. - meaning "son of Pero."

23
of 100

THOMPSON

Elderly twin sisters sitting on sofa, smiling, portrait
Ryan McVay / Getty Images
  • Population Count (2010): 664,644
  • Population Count (2000): 644,368
  • Rank in 2000: 19

Son of the man known as Thom, Thomp, Thompkin, or other diminutive form of Thomas, a given name meaning "twin."

24
of 100

WHITE

  • Population Count (2010): 660,491
  • Population Count (2000): 639,515
  • Rank in 2000: 20

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

25
of 100

HARRIS

  • Population Count (2010): 624,252
  • Population Count (2000): 593,542
  • Rank in 2000: 29

"Son of Harry," a given name derived from Henry and meaning "home ruler."

26
of 100

SANCHEZ

  • Population Count (2010): 612,752
  • Population Count (2000): 441,242
  • Rank in 2000: 33

A patronymic derived from the given name Sancho, meaning "sanctified."

27
of 100

CLARK

Portrait Of Woman In Graduation Gown Standing Against Wall
Meng-Xuan Lin / EyeEm / Getty Images
  • Population Count (2010): 562,679
  • Population Count (2000): 548,369
  • Rank in 2000: 25

This surname was most often used by a cleric, clerk, or scholar, one who can read and write.

28
of 100

RAMIREZ

  • Population Count (2010): 557,423
  • Population Count (2000): 388,987
  • Rank in 2000: 42

A patronymic name meaning " son of Ramon (wise protector)."

29
of 100

LEWIS

  • Population Count (2010): 531,781
  • Population Count (2000): 509,930
  • Rank in 2000: 26

Derived from the Germanic given name Lewis, meaning "renowned, famous battle."

30
of 100

ROBINSON

A Rabbi prays at the Western Wall in Jerusalem for Passover

Paul Souders/Getty Images

  • Population Count (2010): 529,821
  • Population Count (2000): 503,028
  • Rank in 2000: 27

The most likely origin of this surname is "son of Robin," although it may also derive from the Polish word "rabin," meaning rabbi.

31
of 100

WALKER

  • Population Count (2010): 523,129
  • Population Count (2000): 501,307
  • Rank in 2000: 28

An occupational surname for a fuller, or person who walked on damp raw cloth in order to thicken it.

32
of 100

YOUNG

  • Population Count (2010): 484,447
  • Population Count (2000): 465,948
  • Rank in 2000: 31

Derived from the Old English word "geong," meaning "young."

33
of 100

ALLEN

  • Population Count (2010): 484,447
  • Population Count (2000): 463,368
  • Rank in 2000: 32

From "aluinn," meaning fair or handsome.

34
of 100

KING

  • Population Count (2010): 458,980
  • Population Count (2000): 440,367
  • Rank in 2000: 34

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.

35
of 100

WRIGHT

  • Population Count (2010): 458,980
  • Population Count (2000): 440,367
  • Rank in 2000: 35

An occupational name meaning "craftsman, builder," from the Old English "wryhta" meaning "worker."

36
of 100

SCOTT

  • Population Count (2010): 439,530
  • Population Count (2000): 420,091
  • Rank in 2000: 36

An ethnic or geographical name signifying a native from Scotland or a person who spoke Gaelic.

37
of 100

TORRES

  • Population Count (2010): 437,813
  • Population Count (2000): 325,169
  • Rank in 2000: 50

A name given to a person who lived in or near a tower, from the Latin "turris."

38
of 100

NGUYEN

  • Population Count (2010): 437,645
  • Population Count (2000): 310,125
  • Rank in 2000: 57

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

39
of 100

HILL

House on grassy hill
John M Lund Photography Inc / Getty Images
  • Population Count (2010): 434,827
  • Population Count (2000): 411,770
  • Rank in 2000: 41

A name generally given to one who lived on or near a hill, derived from the Old English "hyll."

40
of 100

FLORES

  • Population Count (2010): 433,969
  • Population Count (2000): 312,615
  • Rank in 2000: 55

The origin of this common Spanish surname is uncertain, but many believe it derives from the given name Floro, meaning "flower."

41
of 100

GREEN

  • Rank in 2000: 37

Often refers to one who dwelled at or near the village green, or other similar area of grassy ground.

42
of 100

ADAMS

  • Rank in 2000: 39

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.

43
of 100

NELSON

  • Rank in 2000: 40

A patronymic surname meaning "son of Nell," a form of the Irish name Neal which means "champion."

44
of 100

BAKER

Chef carrying tray of bread in kitchen
Phil Boorman / Getty Images
  • Rank in 2000: 38

An occupational name which originated in medieval times from the name of the trade, baker.

45
of 100

HALL

  • Rank in 2000: 30

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.

46
of 100

RIVERA

  • Rank in 2000: 59

One who lived on a riverbank or near a river.

47
of 100

CAMPBELL

  • Rank in 2000: 43

A Celtic surname meaning "crooked or wry mouth," from the Gaelic "cam" meaning 'crooked, distorted' and "beul" for 'mouth.'

48
of 100

MITCHELL

  • Rank in 2000: 44

A common form or corruption of Michael, meaning "big."

49
of 100

CARTER

Cropped Hand Of Man Shopping In Supermarket
Parinda Yatha / EyeEm / Getty Images
  • Rank in 2000: 46

An English occupational name for a carter, or transporter of goods by cart or wagon.

50
of 100

ROBERTS

  • Rank in 2000: 45

meaning "bright fame."

51
of 100

GOMEZ

  • Rank in 2000: 68

Derived from the given name, Gome, meaning "man."

52
of 100

PHILLIPS

Horse Running On Shore At Beach
Natalie Alexeeva (anakonda) / EyeEm / Getty Images
  • Rank in 2000: 47

A patronymic surname meaning "son of Phillip." Phillip comes from the Greek name Philippos which means "friend of horses."

53
of 100

EVANS

  • Rank in 2000: 48

Often a patronymic name meaning "son of Evan."

54
of 100

TURNER

Man standing at a woodworking machine in a carpentry workshop, turning a piece of wood.
Mint Images / Getty Images
  • Rank in 2000: 49

An English occupational name, meaning "one who works with a lathe."

55
of 100

DIAZ

  • Rank in 2000: 73

The Spanish surname Diaz comes from the Latin "dies" which means "days." Also believed to have early Jewish origins.

56
of 100

PARKER

  • Rank in 2000: 51

A nickname or descriptive surname often bestowed on a man who worked as a gamekeeper at a medieval park.

57
of 100

CRUZ

Vineyards and Sky
Andy Brandl / Getty Images
  • Rank in 2000: 82

One who lived near a place where a cross was erected, or near a crossroads or intersection.

58
of 100

EDWARDS

  • Rank in 2000: 53

A patronymic name meaning "son of Edward." The singular form, EDWARD, means "prosperous guardian."

59
of 100

COLLINS

  • Rank in 2000: 52

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.

60
of 100

REYES

Chess king on board
KTSDESIGN/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY / Getty Images
  • Rank in 2000: 81

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.

61
of 100

STEWART

  • Rank in 2000: 54

An occupational name for a steward or manager of a household or estate.

62
of 100

MORRIS

  • Rank in 2000: 56

"Dark and swarthy," from the Latin "mauritius," meaning 'moorish, dark' and/or from "maurus," meaning moor.

63
of 100

MORALES

  • Rank in 2000: 90

Means "right and proper." Alternatively, this Spanish and Portuguese surname may mean one who lived near a mulberry or blackberry bush.

64
of 100

MURPHY

  • Rank in 2000: 64

A modern form of the ancient Irish name "O'Murchadha," which means "descendant of sea warrior" in Gaelic.

65
of 100

COOK

Close-Up Of Chef Pouring Salt On Meat
Mallika Wiriyathitipirn / EyeEm / Getty Images
  • Rank in 2000: 60

An English occupational name for a cook, a man who sold cooked meats, or the keeper of an eating house.

66
of 100

ROGERS

  • Rank in 2000: 61

A patronymic name derived from the given name Roger, meaning "son of Roger."

67
of 100

GUTIERREZ

  • Rank in 2000: 96

A patronymic name meaning "son of Gutierre" (son of Walter). Gutierre is a given name meaning "he who rules."

68
of 100

ORTIZ

  • Rank in 2000: 94

A patronymic surname meaning "son of Orton or Orta."

69
of 100

MORGAN

  • Rank in 2000: 62

This Welsh surname derives from the given name Morgan, from "mor", the sea, and "gan," born.

70
of 100

COOPER

  • Rank in 2000: 64

An English occupational name for one who made and sold casks, buckets, and tubs.

71
of 100

PETERSON

  • Rank in 2000: 63

A patronymic surname meaning "son of Peter." The given name Peter is derived from the Greek "petros" meaning "stone."

72
of 100

BAILEY

  • Rank in 2000: 66

A crown official or officer of the king in county or town. Keeper of a royal building or house.

73
of 100

REED

Rear view of Caucasian woman with red hair
Dmitry Ageev / Getty Images
  • Rank in 2000: 65

A descriptive or nickname signifying a person with a red face or red hair.

74
of 100

KELLY

Gallic Warrior engraving 1890
THEPALMER / Getty Images
  • Rank in 2000: 69

A Gaelic name meaning warrior or war. Also, possibly an adaptation of the surname O'Kelly, meaning descendant of Ceallach (bright-headed).

75
of 100

HOWARD

  • Rank in 2000: 70

There are several possible origins for this common English surname, including "strong of heart" and "high chief."

76
of 100

RAMOS

  • Rank in 2000: none
77
of 100

KIM

  • Rank in 2000: none
78
of 100

COX

  • Rank in 2000: 72

Often considered to be a form of COCK (little), a common term of endearment.

79
of 100

WARD

Buckingham Palace Guard, London, UK
fotoVoyager / Getty Images
  • Rank in 2000: 71

An occupational name for a "guard or watchman," from Old English "weard" = guard.

80
of 100

RICHARDSON

  • Rank in 2000: 74

Like RICHARDS, Richardson is a patronymic surname meaning "son of Richard." The given name Richard means "powerful and brave."

81
of 100

WATSON

Toy soldiers war concepts
ilbusca / Getty Images
  • Rank in 2000: 76

A patronymic surname meaning "son of Watt," a pet form of the name Walter, meaning "ruler of the army."

82
of 100

BROOKS

small mountain stream
Dmytro Bilous / Getty Images
  • Rank in 2000: 77

Most revolve around a "brook," or a small stream.

83
of 100

CHAVEZ

  • Rank in 2000: none
84
of 100

WOOD

  • Rank in 2000: 75

Originally used to describe a person who lived in or worked in a wood or forest. Derived from Middle English "wode."

85
of 100

JAMES

Jacob and the Angel
duncan1890 / Getty Images
  • Rank in 2000: 80

Patronymic name derived from "Jacob" and usually meaning "son of Jacob."

86
of 100

BENNETT

  • Rank in 2000: 78

From the medieval given name Benedict, originating from the Latin "benedictus" meaning "blessed."

87
of 100

GRAY

Portrait of senior man holding bowl and preparing food
10'000 Hours / Getty Images
  • Rank in 2000: 86

Nickname for a man with gray hair, or a gray beard, from Old English groeg, meaning grey.

88
of 100

MENDOZA

  • Rank in 2000: none
89
of 100

RUIZ

  • Rank in 2000: none
90
of 100

HUGHES

  • Rank in 2000: 83

"heart/mind."

91
of 100

PRICE

  • Rank in 2000: 84

A patronymic name derived from the Welsh "ap Rhys," meaning "son of Rhys."

92
of 100

ALVAREZ

  • Rank in 2000: none
93
of 100

CASTILLO

  • Rank in 2000: none
94
of 100

SANDERS

  • Rank in 2000: 88

A patronymic surname derived from the given name "Sander," a medieval form of "Alexander."

95
of 100

PATEL

  • Rank in 2000: none
96
of 100

MYERS

Close-Up Of Statue
Alexander Kirch / EyeEm / Getty Images
  • Rank in 2000: 85

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.

97
of 100

LONG

  • Rank in 2000: 86

A nickname often given to a man who was especially tall and lanky.

98
of 100

ROSS

Path in the North York Moors National Park
David Madison / Getty Images
  • Rank in 2000: 89

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.

99
of 100

FOSTER

Little multi-ethnic children eating cotton candy at amusement park
wundervisuals / Getty Images
  • Rank in 2000: 87

Possible origins for this surname include one who fostered children or was a foster child; a forester; or a shearer or scissors maker.

100
of 100

JIMENEZ

  • RANK 2000: none