Davis Surname Meaning and Origin

Black and white photograph of Sammy Davis, Jr. performing on stage.

NBC Television/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Davis is the 8th most common surname in America and one of the 100 most common last names in both England and Wales.

Surname Origin: Welsh, English

Alternate Surname Spellings: Davies (Welsh), David, Davidson, Davison, Daves, Dawson, Dawes, Day, Dakin

What Does Davis Mean?

Davis is a common patronymic surname with Welsh origins meaning "son of David," a given name that means "beloved."

Fun Facts

In the United States, Davis is one of the ten most common surnames. The variant Davies, however, is barely in the top 1,000 most common last names. In Great Britain, this surname popularity is reversed. There, Davies is the 6th most common surname overall, while Davis is the 45th most common surname.

Where Do People Named Davis Live?

According to WorldNames PublicProfiler, the Davis surname is most commonly found in the United States, especially in the southern states of Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, South Carolina, and Tennessee. It is also a common surname in Australia, the United Kingdom (especially southern England), New Zealand, and Canada. Forebears ranks Davis as the 320th most common surname in the world, with the highest numbers found in Jamaica, Anguilla, and the Bahamas, followed by the U.S., Liberia, and Australia.

Famous People with the Surname Davis

  • Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America.
  • Miles Davis, influential American jazz artist.
  • Angela Davis, political philosopher and Black power activist.
  • Captain Howell Davis, Welsh pirate.
  • Sammy Davis Jr., American entertainer.
  • General Benjamin O. Davis, leader of the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II.
  • William Morris Davis, father of American geography.


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"Davis Surname Definition." Forebears, 2012.

Hanks, Patrick. "A Dictionary of Surnames." Flavia Hodges, Oxford University Press, February 23, 1989.

Hanks, Patrick. "Dictionary of American Family Names." 1st Edition, Oxford University Press, May 8, 2003.

Hoffman, William F. "Polish Surnames: Origins and Meanings." First Edition, Polish Genealogical Society, June 1, 1993.

Menk, Lars. "A Dictionary of German Jewish Surnames." Hardcover, Bilingual edition, Avotaynu, May 30, 2005.

Rymut, Kazimierz. "Nazwiska Polakow." Hardcover, Zaklad Narodowy im. Ossolińskich, 1991.

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Powell, Kimberly. "Davis Surname Meaning and Origin." ThoughtCo, Jan. 11, 2021, thoughtco.com/davis-name-meaning-and-origin-1422493. Powell, Kimberly. (2021, January 11). Davis Surname Meaning and Origin. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/davis-name-meaning-and-origin-1422493 Powell, Kimberly. "Davis Surname Meaning and Origin." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/davis-name-meaning-and-origin-1422493 (accessed June 5, 2023).