King Surname Meaning and Origin

King generally comes from the Old English cyning, originally meaning "tribal leader." This nickname was commonly bestowed on a man who carried himself like royalty, or who played the part of the king in a medieval pageant.

Occasionally, the King surname was used by a man who served in a royal household.

King is the 35th most popular surname in the United States and the 36th most common surname in England.

Surname Origin:


Alternate Surname Spellings:


Famous People with the KING Surname:

  • Dr. Martin Luther King - American civil rights leader
  • Stephen King - popular American author, best known for his horror books
  • B.B. King - American blues guitar legend

Genealogy Resources for the Surname KING:

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?

King Genealogy of Colonial Virginia
A Web site dedicated to using DNA to prove/disprove that the parents of Thomas King (1714-1798) of Louisa County, Va. were William Alfred King (1685-1779) and Sophia Burgess of Stafford County, Va.

King Family Genealogy Forum
Search this popular genealogy forum for the King surname to find others who might be researching your ancestors, or post your own King query.

FamilySearch - KING Genealogy
Find records, queries, and lineage-linked family trees posted for the King surname and its variations.

KING Surname & Family Mailing Lists
RootsWeb hosts several free mailing lists for researchers of the King surname.

Cousin Connect - KING Genealogy Queries
Read or post genealogy queries for the surname King, and sign up for free notification when new King queries are added. - KING Genealogy & Family History
Free databases and genealogy links for the last name King.


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. "King Surname Meaning and Origin." ThoughtCo, Jan. 29, 2020, Powell, Kimberly. (2020, January 29). King Surname Meaning and Origin. Retrieved from Powell, Kimberly. "King Surname Meaning and Origin." ThoughtCo. (accessed February 5, 2023).