The Significance and Origin Behind the Surname "Howard"

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The surname Howard possibly comes from the Norman name Huard or Heward which derives from German elements like hug 'heart', 'mind', 'spirit' and hard 'hardy', 'brave', and 'strong.' While the origins of the surname are unclear, it is theorized that it holds an English background from the Anglo- Scandinavian name Haward with derives from Ol Norse elements like há ‘high’ + varðr meaning 'guardian' and 'warden'.

"Huard" or "Heward" is also thought to be one of the origins of the Norman-French personal name of the Norman Conquest of England in the 11th century. Additionally, there is a background of the surname Howard in relation to Irish with Gaelic notations. Howard is the 70th most popular surname in the United States. One popular alternate surname spelling is Hayward. Discover genealogy resources, famous notable people, and three other possible surname origins aside from English below.

Surname Origins

Several possible origins for the Howard surname include the following:

  1. Derived from the Old Germanic name "hugihard," denoting one strong of heart, or very brave.
  2. Derived from Germanic term howart, meaning "high chief," "warden," or "chief warden."
  3. From "hof-ward," the keeper of a hall

Notable Persons

  • Ron Howard: American actor, producer, and director who got his start on The Andy Griffith Show and Happy Days.
  • Dwight Howard: American NBA basketball player playing center for the Houston Rockets.
  • Bryce Dallas Howard: Daughter of the film director Ron Howard and actress known for her role on the show Parenthood, directed by her father.

Genealogy Resources

To look for the meaning of a given name, use the resource First Name Meanings. If you are unable to find your last name listed, you can suggest a surname to be added to the Glossary of Surname Meanings and Origins.

References: Surname Meanings and Origins

  • Cottle, Basil. Penguin Dictionary of Surnames. Baltimore, MD: Penguin Books, 1967.
  • Menk, Lars. A Dictionary of German-Jewish Surnames. Avotaynu, 2005.
  • Beider, Alexander. A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from Galicia. Avotaynu, 2004.
  • Hanks, Patrick, and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford University Press, 1989.
  • Hanks, Patrick. Dictionary of American Family Names. Oxford University Press, 2003.
  • Smith, Elsdon C. American Surnames. Genealogical Publishing Company, 1997.
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Powell, Kimberly. "The Significance and Origin Behind the Surname "Howard"." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, Powell, Kimberly. (2020, August 27). The Significance and Origin Behind the Surname "Howard". Retrieved from Powell, Kimberly. "The Significance and Origin Behind the Surname "Howard"." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 31, 2023).