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.

1
SMITH

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.

2
JOHNSON

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)."

3
WILLIAMS

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."

4
BROWN

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."

5
JONES

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).

6
MILLER

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.

7
DAVIS

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)."

8
GARCIA

Garcia is the most common Hispanic surname in the United States.
Hill Street Studios/Stockbyte/Getty Images

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)."

9
RODRIGUEZ

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."

10
WILSON

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.

11
MARTINEZ

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."

12
ANDERSON

Population Count: 762,394
As it sounds, Anderson is generally a patronymic surname meaning "son of Andrew."

13
TAYLOR

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."

14
THOMAS

Population Count: 710,696
Derived from a popular medieval first name, THOMAS comes from an Aramaic term for "twin."

15
HERNANDEZ

Population Count: 706,372
"Son of Hernando" or "Son of Fernando."

16
MOORE

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.

17
MARTIN

Population Count: 672,711
Patronymic surname taken from the ancient Latin given name Martinus, derived from Mars, the Roman god of fertility and war.

18
JACKSON

Population Count: 666,125
A patronymic name meaning "son of Jack."

19
THOMPSON

Population Count: 644,368
Son of the man known as Thom, Thomp, Thompkin, or other diminutive form of Thomas, a given name meaning "twin."

20
WHITE

Population Count: 639,515
Generally a surname originally used to describe someone with very light hair or complexion.

21
LOPEZ

Population Count: 621,536
A patronymical surname meaning "son of Lope." Lope comes from the Spanish form of Lupus, a Latin name meaning "wolf."

22
LEE

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.'

23
GONZALEZ

Population Count: 597,718
A patronymic name meaning "son of Gonzalo."

24
HARRIS

Population Count: 593,542
"Son of Harry," a given name derived from Henry and meaning "home ruler."

25
CLARK

Population Count: 548,369
This surname was most often used by a cleric, clerk, or scholar, one who can read and write.

26
LEWIS

Population Count: 509,930
Derived from the Germanic given name Lewis, meaning "reknowned, famous battle."

27
ROBINSON

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.

28
WALKER

Population Count: 501,307
An occupational surname for a fuller, or person who walked on damp raw cloth in order to thicken it.

29
PEREZ

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."

30
HALL

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.

31
YOUNG

Population Count: 465,948
Derived from the Old English word "geong," meaning "young."

32
ALLEN

Population Count: 465,948
From "aluinn," meaning fair or handsome.

33
SANCHEZ

Population Count: 441,242
A patronymic derived from the given name Sancho, meaning "sanctified."

34
WRIGHT

Population Count: 440,367
An occupational name meaning "craftsman, builder," from the Old English "wryhta" meaning "worker."

35
KING

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.

36
SCOTT

Population Count: 420,091
An ethnic or geographical name signifying a native from Scotland or a person who spoke Gaelic.

37
GREEN

Population Count: 413,477
Often refers to one who dwelled at or near the village green, or other similar area of grassy ground.

38
BAKER

Population Count: 413,351
An occupational name which originated in medieval times from the name of the trade, baker.

39
ADAMS

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.

40
NELSON

Population Count: 412,236
A patronymic surname meaning "son of Nell," a form of the Irish name Neal which means "champion."

41
HILL

Population Count: 411,770
A name generally given to one who lived on or near a hill, derived from the Old English "hyll."

42
RAMIREZ

Population Count: 388,987
A patronymic name meaning " son of Ramon (wise protector)."

43
CAMPBELL

Population Count: 371,953
A Celtic surname meaning "crooked or wry mouth," from the Gaelic "cam" meaning 'crooked, distorted' and "beul" for 'mouth.'

44
MITCHELL

Population Count: 367,433
A common form or corruption of Michael, meaning "big."

45
ROBERTS

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."

46
CARTER

Population Count: 362,548
An English occupational name for a carter, or transporter of goods by cart or wagon.

47
PHILLIPS

Population Count: 351,848
A patronymic surname meaning "son of Phillip." Phillip comes from the Greek name Philippos which means "friend of horses."

48
EVANS

Population Count: 342,237
Often a patronymic name meaning "son of Evan."

49
TURNER

Population Count: 335,663
An English occupational name, meaning "one who works with a lathe."

50
TORRES

Population Count: 325,169
A name given to a person who lived in or near a tower, from the Latin "turris."

51
PARKER

Population Count: 324,246
A nickname or descriptive surname often bestowed on a man who worked as a gamekeeper at a medieval park.

52
COLLINS

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.

53
EDWARDS

Population Count: 317,070
A patronymic name meaning "son of Edward." The singular form, EDWARD, means "prosperous guardian."

54
STEWART

Population Count: 312,899
An occupational name for a steward or manager of a household or estate.

55
FLORES

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."

56
MORRIS

Population Count: 311,754
"Dark and swarthy," from the Latin "mauritius," meaning 'moorish, dark' and/or from "maurus," meaning moor.

57
NGUYEN

Population Count: 310,125
This is the most common surname in Vietnam, but is actually of Chinese origin, meaning "musical instrument."

58
MURPHY

Population Count: 300,501
A modern form of the ancient Irish name "O'Murchadha," which means "descendant of sea warrior" in Gaelic.

59
RIVERA

Population Count: 299,463
A Spanish surname for one who lived on a riverbank or near a river.

60
COOK

Population Count: 294,795
An English occupational name for a cook, a man who sold cooked meats, or the keeper of an eating house.

61
ROGERS

Population Count: 294,403
A patronymic name derived from the given name Roger, meaning "son of Roger."

62
MORGAN

Population Count: 276,400
This Welsh surname derives from the given name Morgan, from "mor", the sea, and "gan," born.

63
PETERSON

Population Count: 275,041
A patronymic surname meaning "son of Peter." The given name Peter is derived from the Greek "petros" meaning "stone."

64
COOPER

Population Count: 270,097
An English occupational name for one who made and sold casks, buckets and tubs.

65
REED

Population Count: 267,443
A descriptive or nickname signifying a person with a red face or red hair.

66
BAILEY

Population Count: 265,916
A crown official or officer of the king in county or town. Keeper of a royal building or house.

67
BELL

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.

68
GOMEZ

Population Count: 263,590
Derived from the given name, Gome, meaning "man."

69
KELLY

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).

70
HOWARD

Population Count: 254,779
There are several possible origins for this common English surname, including "strong of heart" and "high chief."

71
WARD

Population Count: 254,121
An occupational name for a "guard or watchman," from Old English "weard" = guard.

72
COX

Population Count: 253,771
Often considered to be a form of COCK (little), a common term of endearment.

73
DIAZ

Population Count: 251,772
The Spanish surname DIAZ comes from the Latin "dies" which means "days." Also believed to have early Jewish origins.

74
RICHARDSON

Population Count: 249,533
Like RICHARDS, Richardson is a patronymic surname meaning "son of Richard." The given name Richard means "powerful and brave."

75
WOOD

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."

76
WATSON

Population Count: 242,432
A patronymic surname meaning "son of Watt," a pet form of the name Walter, meaning "ruler of the army."

77
BROOKS

Population Count: 240,751
There are many origins for this English surname, but most revolve around a "brook," or a small stream.

78
BENNETT

Population Count: 239,055
From the medieval given name Benedict, originating from the Latin "benedictus" meaning "blessed."

79
GRAY

Population Count: 236,713
Nickname for a man with gray hair, or a gray beard, from Old English groeg, meaning grey.

80
JAMES

Population Count: 233,224
Patronymic name derived from "Jacob" and usually meaning "son of Jacob."

81
REYES

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.

82
CRUZ

Population Count: 231,065
One who lived near a place where a cross was erected, or near a crossroads or interection.

83
HUGHES

Population Count: 229,390
A patronymic surname meaning "son of Hugh." The given name Hugh is a Germanic name meaning "heart/mind."

84
PRICE

Population Count: 228,756
A patronymic name derived from the Welsh "ap Rhys," meaning "son of Rhys."

85
MYERS

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.

86
LONG

Population Count: 223,494
A nickname often give to a man who was especially tall and lanky.

87
FOSTER

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.

88
SANDERS

Population Count: 220,902
A patronymic surname derived from the given name "Sander," a medieval form of "Alexander."

89
ROSS

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.

90
MORALES

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.

91
POWELL

Population Count: 216,553
A contraction of the Welsh "Ap Howell," meaning "son of Howell."

92
SULLIVAN

Population Count: 215,640
A descriptive surname meaning "hawk-eyed" or "one-eyed," from "suil," meaning 'eye,' and "ban," meaning 'fair-eyed.'

93
RUSSELL

Population Count: 215,432
A patronymic name derived from the given name "Rousel," old French for someone with red hair or a red face.

94
ORTIZ

Population Count: 214,683
A patronymic surname meaning "son of Orton or Orta."

95
JENKINS

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."

96
GUTIERREZ

Population Count: 212,905
A patronymic name meaning "son of Gutierre" (son of Walter). Gutierre is a given name meaning "he who rules."

97
PERRY

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.'

98
BUTLER

Population Count: 210,879
An occupational surname derived from the Old French "bouteillier," meaning servant in charge of the wine cellar.

99
BARNES

Population Count: 210,426
Of the barn (barley house), this British surname is often derived from a significant barn in the local region.

100
FISHER

Population Count: 210,279
As it sounds, this is an occupational surname taken from the Old English "fiscare," meaning 'fisherman.'