CORTEZ Surname Meaning and Origin

Low angle view of businessmen shaking hands
Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Commonly considered a variation of Cortés, Cortéz is a Spanish or Portuguese (Cortês) surname derived from the Old French corteis or curteis, meaning "courteous" or "polite." The descriptive surname was often bestowed as a nickname to a man of good education, or one who was considered "refined" or "accomplished." The Cortez surname is the Spanish/Portuguese equivalent of the English surname Curtis.

Cortes may also be a geographical, or habitational name from any of the many places in Spain and Portugal called Cortes, the plural of corte, meaning "a court of a king or sovereign."

Cortez is the 64th most common Hispanic surname.

  • Surname Origin: Spanish, Portuguese
  • Alternate Surname Spellings: CORTES, COURTOIS, COURTES, CURTIS 

Famous People With the Surname CORTEZ

  • Hernán Cortés / Hernando Cortés - Spanish conquistador of the Aztec empire, and Governor of New Spain (later to become Mexico) from 1521 to 1528.
  • Alfonso Cortés - Well-known Nicaraguan poet.
  • Gregorio Cortez – A Mexican American folk hero to Mexicans in the American Old West.

Where Do People With the Cortez Surname Live?

The surname distribution data at Forebears ranks Cortéz as the 984th most common surname in the world, identifying it as most prevalent in the Philippines and with the highest density in El Salvador. The Cortes spelling is more popular worldwide, ranking 697th. Cortes is found most prevalently in Mexico, and by the greatest percentage of the population in Chile. Cortes is also the spelling now more commonly found in Spain, according to WorldNames PublicProfiler, especially in the Extremadura region along the border with Portugal. 

Genealogy Resources for the Surname CORTEZ

100 Common Hispanic Surnames & Their Meanings: Garcia, Martinez, Rodriguez, Lopez, Hernandez... Are you one of the millions of people sporting one of these top 100 common Hispanic last names?

How to Research Hispanic Heritage: Learn how to get started researching your Hispanic ancestors, including the basics of family tree research and country specific organizations, genealogical records, and resources for Spain, Latin America, Mexico, Brazil, the Caribbean and other Spanish speaking countries.

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

The Genealogy of Hernando Cortes: A basic outline genealogy of some descendants of famous Spanish conquistador Don Hernando Cortes.

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

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

FamilySearch - CORTEZ Genealogy: Access over 1.8 million free historical records and lineage-linked family trees posted for the Cortez surname and its variations on this free genealogy website hosted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The Cortez Genealogy and Family Tree Page: Browse family trees and links to genealogical and historical records for individuals with the last name Cortez 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.
mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Powell, Kimberly. "CORTEZ Surname Meaning and Origin." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, Powell, Kimberly. (2020, August 27). CORTEZ Surname Meaning and Origin. Retrieved from Powell, Kimberly. "CORTEZ Surname Meaning and Origin." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 28, 2023).