COOPER Surname Meaning and Family History

What does the last name "Cooper" mean?

Coopers who made and sold casks and barrels often became known by the name of their occupation.
Getty / Leon Harris

The surname Cooper is an English occupational name for one who made and sold casks, buckets and tubs. The name derives from the Middle English couper, cowper, adapted from Middle Dutch kuper, a derivative of kup, meaning "tub" or "container." Cooper may also be an Anglicized version of a similar sounding surname such as the Dutch Kuiper, or the Jewish Kupfer or Kupper.

Origin and Popularity of COOPER

Cooper is the 64th most popular surname in the United States and the 29th most common surname in England. The prevalence of the surname is due to the cooper trade's importance during the Middle Ages throughout Europe. 

As a Dutch surname, Cooper may have originated as an occupational name for a buyer or merchant, from the Middle Dutch coper.

Surname Origin: English, Dutch


Famous People With the COOPER Surname

  • James Fenimore Cooper - 19th-century American novelist
  • Gary Cooper - American actor of the silent film era
  • Martin Cooper - American engineer who conceived the first mobile cellular phone
  • Peter Cooper - American industrialist and inventor; best known for designing and building the first steam locomotive in the United States
  • Jackie Cooper - American actor, director and producer
  • Bradley Cooper - American actor

Where Is the COOPER Surname Most Common?

Forebears identifies Cooper as the 927th most common surname in the world, with the greatest numbers of individuals with the name living in the United States, where the name ranks 61st. Based on surname density, Cooper is also a very common last name in England (where it ranks 35th in the country), Liberia (4th), Australia (43rd), New Zealand (37th) and Wales (67th).

While the Cooper surname is very common throughout the United Kingdom, WorldNames PublicProfiler shows it as most common in central England, especially in Staffordshire.

Genealogy Resources for the Surname COOPER

100 Most Common U.S. Surnames & Their Meanings
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?

Cooper Genealogy DNA Project
The Cooper DNA group project was begun in 2002 by Gary S. Cooper of Lexington, North Carolina, as a "tool to use in conjunction with other written documentation in genealogy research to help identify and define different Cooper-Lines and validate existing Cooper family history."

Cooper Family Crest - It's Not What You Think
Contrary to what you may hear, there is no such thing as a Cooper family crest or coat of arms for the Cooper 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.

Cooper Family Genealogy Forum
Search this popular genealogy forum for the Cooper surname to find others who might be researching your ancestors, or post your own Cooper query.

Explore over 6.7 million historical records which mention individuals with the Cooper surname, as well as online Cooper family trees on this free website hosted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

COOPER Surname & Family Mailing Lists
RootsWeb hosts several free mailing lists for researchers of the Cooper surname.

GeneaNet - Cooper Records
GeneaNet includes archival records, family trees, and other resources for individuals with the Cooper surname, with a concentration on records and families from France and other European countries.

The Cooper Genealogy and Family Tree Page
Browse family trees and links to genealogical and historical records for individuals with the last name Cooper from the website of Genealogy Today.


  • Cottle, Basil. Penguin Dictionary of Surnames. Baltimore, MD: Penguin Books, 1967.
  • Dorward, David. Scottish Surnames. Collins Celtic (Pocket edition), 1998.
  • Fucilla, Joseph. Our Italian Surnames. Genealogical Publishing Company, 2003.
  • Hanks, Patrick and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford University Press, 1989.
  • Hanks, Patrick. Dictionary of American Family Names. Oxford University Press, 2003.
  • Reaney, P.H. A Dictionary of English Surnames. Oxford University Press, 1997.
  • Smith, Elsdon C. American Surnames. Genealogical Publishing Company, 1997.
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Your Citation
Powell, Kimberly. "COOPER Surname Meaning and Family History." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, Powell, Kimberly. (2020, August 27). COOPER Surname Meaning and Family History. Retrieved from Powell, Kimberly. "COOPER Surname Meaning and Family History." ThoughtCo. (accessed May 28, 2023).