Johnson: Name Meaning and Origin

Getty / Ronnie Kaufman / Larry Hirshowitz

Johnson is an English patronymic name meaning "son of John (gift of God)." The name John derives from the Latin Johannes, which is derived from the Hebrew Yohanan meaning "Jehovah has favored."

The suffix meaning "son," creates several different variations of the Johnson surname. Examples: English son, Norwegian sen, German sohn, and Swedish sson. Jones is the common Welsh version of this surname.

The JOHNSON surname may also be an Anglicisation of the Gaelic surname MacSeain or MacShane.

Johnson was a very popular name among Christians, given the many saints named John, including St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist.

Surname Origin: English, Scottish

Alternate Surname Spellings: Johnston, Jonson, Jonsen, Johanson, Johnstone, Johnsson, Johannsan, Jensen, MacShane, McShane, McSeain

Fun Facts About the Johnston Surname

Johnston/Johnstone combined was the 10th most frequent surname at the General Register Office of Scotland in 1995.

Famous People with the Surname Johnson

  • Andrew Johnson - America's 17th President
  • Lyndon B. Johnson - America's 36th President
  • Caryn Elaine Johnson - AKA Whoopie Goldberg, African American Actress
  • Shawn Johnson - 2008 Olympics gymnastics gold medalist

Genealogy Resources for the Surname Johnson

Search Strategies for Common Last Names
Use these strategies for locating ancestors with common names like Johnson to help you research your JOHNSON ancestors online.

100 Most Common U.S. Surnames & Their Meanings
Smith, Johnson, Williams, Jones, Brown... Are you one of the millions of Americans sporting one of these top 100 common last names from the 2000 census?

Johnson Johnston Johnstone Surname DNA Project
Johnsons around the world are having their DNA tested in order to learn more about their family origins, and connections to other Johnson and Johnston families.

History of the Johnston/Johnstone Clan
There were a number of "John's towns" in Scotland but the earliest record of the surname is a John Johnstone at the end of the 12th century.

Johnson Name Meaning & Family History
An overview of the Johnson surname meaning, plus subscription-based access to genealogical records on Johnson families around the world from

FamilySearch - JOHNSON Genealogy
Explore over 37 million historical records and lineage-linked family trees available for the Johnson surname, and variations such as Johnston, on this free website hosted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Johnson Family Genealogy Forum
Search this forum for the Johnson surname to find others who might be researching your ancestors, or post your own Johnson query. There's also a separate forum for the Johnston surname. - JOHNSON Genealogy & Family History
Free databases and genealogy links for the last name Johnson.

The Johnson Genealogy and Family Tree Page
Browse genealogy records and links to genealogical and historical records for individuals with the Johnson surname from the website of Genealogy Today.

-- Can't find your last name listed? Suggest a surname to be added to the Glossary of Surname Meanings & Origins.


References: Surname Meanings & 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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Your Citation
Powell, Kimberly. "Johnson: Name Meaning and Origin." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, Powell, Kimberly. (2020, August 27). Johnson: Name Meaning and Origin. Retrieved from Powell, Kimberly. "Johnson: Name Meaning and Origin." ThoughtCo. (accessed February 6, 2023).