Last Name Meaning and Origin of Moore

A small lake in the Ribnitzer great moorland, near the German Baltic sea. Images

Moore is a common surname in many countries, with several possible origins:

  1. One who lived at or near a moor or marshy bog, from the Middle English more (Old English mor), meaning "moor, marsh, or fen"
  2. From the Old French more, derived from the Latin maurus, a term that originally denoted a native of northwestern Africa but came to be used informally as a nickname for someone who was "dark-complexioned" or "swarthy."
  3. From the Gaelic "O'Mordha", with O meaning "descendant of" and Mordha derived from Mor meaning "great, chief, mighty, or proud."
  4. In Wales and Scotland, the name Moore was often bestowed as a nickname for a "big" or "large" man, from the Gaelic mor or the Welsh mowr, both meaning "great."

Moore is the 16th most common surname in America, the 33rd most common last name in England, and the 87th most common surname in Scotland.

Surname Origin: English, Irish, Welsh, Scottish

Alternate Surname Spellings: MORES, MORE, MOARS, MOOR, MOAR, MOORER, MUIR

Famous People With the Surname

  • Demi Moore - American actress
  • Clement C. Moore - author of "A Visit from St. Nicholas"
  • Ann Moore - Inventor of the Snugli baby carrier
  • Mandy Moore - pop singer and actress
  • Gordon Moore - co-founder of Intel which introduced the world's first single-chip microprocessor

Where Is the Surname Most Commonly Found?

The Moore surname is most commonly found today in Northern Ireland, according to WorldNames PublicProfiler, followed closely by the United States, Australia, United Kingdom, and New Zealand. Within Northern Ireland, the Moore surname is found in greatest numbers in Londonderry. Within the United States, Moore is found most frequently in the southern states, including Mississippi, North Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas, South Carolina, and Kentucky.

Forebears rank Moore as the 455th most common surname in the world and includes historical data from 1901 when Moore was more frequent in the Northern Ireland counties of Antrim (7th most popular surname), although followed fairly closely by Down (ranked 14th) and Londonderry (ranked 11th). During the period 1881–1901, Moore also ranked highly in Isle of Man (4th), Norfolk (6th), Leicestershire (8th), Queen's County (11th), and Kildare (11th).

Genealogy Resources for the Surname

Moore Genealogy - Western NC, SC, and North GA
A site documenting Moores living in Western North Carolina, Upper West South Carolina, and North Georgia through ca 1850.

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


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. "Last Name Meaning and Origin of Moore." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, Powell, Kimberly. (2020, August 27). Last Name Meaning and Origin of Moore. Retrieved from Powell, Kimberly. "Last Name Meaning and Origin of Moore." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 22, 2023).