Hill Surname Meaning and Origin

Green foothills
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There are several possible origins for the common HILL surname.

  1. The most common origin of the surname Hill is as a topographic or place name for one who lives on or near a hill, derived from the Old English hyll.
  2. A corruption of the German hild, meaning "battle."
  3. From the medieval given name Hill, a short form of the personal name Hilary, from the Latin hilaris, meaning "cheerful" or "glad."

Hill is the 31st most popular surname in the United States and the 19th most common surname in Scotland.

Surname Origin: English

Alternate Surname Spellings: Hills, Hille, Hyll, Hylle, Hille Hillemann, Hillmann, Hilmann

Where People With the Surname Live

According to surname distribution data from Forebears, Hill is most prevalent in the United States, where one in 699 people bears the name (ranking it 37th most common). Hill is also a common last name in England (36th), Australia (35th), New Zealand (34th), Wales (32nd), Canada (70th) and Scotland (89th).

WorldNames PublicProfiler identifies the Hill surname as especially common in Nova Scotia, Canada, as well as New Zealand, and the West Midlands district of the United Kingdom. Within England, Hill is found most prevalently in Birmingham, Worchestershire, Herefordshire, Derbyshire, and Somerset.

Famous People

  • James J. Hill - Railroad magnate responsible for expanding railways into the U.S. Northwest during the late 19th century.
  • Benny Hill - British actor and comedian
  • Steven Hill - Jewish-American actor best known for his roles in Mission Impossible and on Law & Order.
  • Sir Geoffrey William Hill - British poet

Genealogy Resources

Contrary to what you may hear, there is no such thing as a Hill family crest or coat of arms for the Hill 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. 

If you're looking for ancestors or interested in connecting with others who share the last name Hill, the following resources can help:

  • HILL Family Genealogy Forum: Search this popular genealogy forum for the Hill surname to find others who might be researching your ancestors, or post your own Hill genealogy query.
  • FamilySearch: Explore over 9 million historical records which mention individuals with the Hill surname and variants, as well as online Hill family trees.
  • HILL Surname and Family Mailing Lists: RootsWeb hosts several free mailing lists for researchers of the Hill surname.


  • 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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Powell, Kimberly. "Hill Surname Meaning and Origin." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, thoughtco.com/hill-last-name-meaning-and-origin-1422528. Powell, Kimberly. (2020, August 27). Hill Surname Meaning and Origin. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/hill-last-name-meaning-and-origin-1422528 Powell, Kimberly. "Hill Surname Meaning and Origin." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/hill-last-name-meaning-and-origin-1422528 (accessed May 30, 2023).