Knight Surname Meaning and Origin

Heraldic knights in a medieval field, whose servants would often take the surname Knight
Neil Holmes / Getty Images

The common surname Knight is a status name from the Middle English knyghte, meaning "knight." While it may refer to someone who was actually a knight, it was a name often taken by servants in a royal or knightly household, or even to one who won a title in a contest of skill.

The Knight surname may have originally derived from the Old English criht, meaning "boy" or "serving lad," as an occupational name for a domestic servant.

  • Surname Origin: English

Where People With the KNIGHT Surname Live

According to surname distribution data from Forebears, the Knight surname is most commonly found in the United States, where it ranks 204th and is most prevalent in the Falkland Islands, where it ranks 20th. WorldNames PublicProfiler puts the Knight surname as most popular in southern England, and Knight is the 90th most common surname in England. Knight is also a common last name in Australia, Jamaica, New Zealand and the Isle of Man.

Famous People With the KNIGHT Last Name

  • Newton Knight - American farmer, soldier, and southern Unionist
  • Bobby Knight - retired American basketball coach
  • Daniel Ridgway Knight - American artist

Genealogy Resources for the Surname KNIGHT

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

Records for different Knight families exist all over the world and online. Examples include the genealogy of Joseph Knight Sr. and his wife, Polly Peck, of New Hampshire and New York, including both ancestors and descendants. You can find research on the history of the family of Charles Knight, of Virginia, Georgia, and Louisiana.

Search this popular genealogy forum for the Knight surname to find others who might be researching your ancestors, or post your own Knight genealogy query. GeneaNet's Knight Records include archival records, family trees, and other resources for individuals with the Knight surname, with a concentration on records and families from France and other European countries. You can also browse family trees and links to genealogical and historical records at the Knight genealogy and family tree at Genealogy Today.


  • 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. "Knight Surname Meaning and Origin." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, Powell, Kimberly. (2020, August 27). Knight Surname Meaning and Origin. Retrieved from Powell, Kimberly. "Knight Surname Meaning and Origin." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 10, 2023).