FORD Surname Meaning & Origin

1905 Franklin car fording a river
Heritage Images/Getty Images / Getty Images

The Ford surname is generally believed to have originated as a name bestowed on someone who lived near a ford or river crossing, from the Old English ford, meaning "pass or crossing."

Ford may also have derived from English places named Ford, such as Ford in Northumberland, Ford in Somerset, Ford in Shropshire, Ford in West Sussex and Forde in Dorset. 

According to the "Dictionary of American Family Names," it is also possible that the use of the surname Ford arose in a particular family as an Anglicization of one of several Irish surnames, including Mac Giolla na Naomh (a personal name meaning "servant of the saints") and Mac Conshámha (a personal name comprised of the elements con, meaning "dog" and snámh, meaning "to swim"), whose final syllable was once wrongly thought to be the Irish áth, meaning "ford," as well as Ó Fuar(th)áin, meaning "cold little ford," derived from fuar, meaning "cold."

Surname Origin: English

Alternate Surname Spellings: FORDE, FFORDE, FOARD, FOORD

Where in the World is the FORD Surname Found?

While it originated in the Netherlands, the Ford surname is now most prevalent in the United States, according to surname distribution data from Forebears. However, it is also somewhat common in Chile and Columbia. The name was more common in the United States during the 1880s than it is now, especially in the states of New York and New Jersey.

The Ford surname is now most common based on percentage in the U.S. states of Alaska, Arkansas, New Jersey, Illinois, and Connecticut, according to WorldNames PublicProfiler.

Famous People with the Last Name FORD

  • Gerald Ford - 38th president of the United States
  • Tennessee Ernie Ford - American recording artist and television host
  • John Ford - American Academy Award-winning director, best known for Westerns
  • Glenn Ford (Gwyllyn Samuel Newton Ford) - Canadian-born American actor
  • Henry Ford - American industrialist and founder of the Ford Motor Company

Genealogy Resources for the Surname FORD

Ford Surname DNA Project
Over 300 members have joined this DNA surname project which uses Y-DNA, mtDNA and autosomal DNA to piece together various Ford lines back to common ancestors.

Common English Surnames: Meanings and Origins
Learn about the four types of English surnames, plus explore the meaning and origin of the 100 most common English last names.

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

FamilySearch - FORD Genealogy
Explore over 4 million historical records and lineage-linked family trees posted for the Ford surname and its variations on the free FamilySearch website, hosted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

FORD Surname & Family Mailing Lists
RootsWeb hosts several free mailing lists for researchers of the Ford surname. - FORD Genealogy & Family History
Explore free databases and genealogy links for the last name Ford.

The Ford Genealogy and Family Tree Page
Browse genealogy records and links to genealogical and historical records for individuals with the popular last name Ford from the website of Genealogy Today.

References: Surname Meanings & Origins

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. "FORD Surname Meaning & Origin." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, Powell, Kimberly. (2020, August 27). FORD Surname Meaning & Origin. Retrieved from Powell, Kimberly. "FORD Surname Meaning & Origin." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 7, 2023).