The Meaning and Origin of the Last Name 'Morales'

The Morales surname most commonly derives from the Spanish word mora, meaning mulberry tree or blackberry bush.
Getty / Lyndel Rowe / EyeEm

Surnames can tell us a lot about our family and where they came from. In some languages, surnames reference family occupations or kinship with other families. Sometimes surnames can even point to the particular town or region of a country that a family hails from. Finding out what your name means and where it originates from can be a fun start to exploring your genealogy. You can start here with the name Morales which is common among Hispanic people.

The common Hispanic Morales surname has several possible derivations:

  1. A topographical surname was given to someone who lived near a mulberry or blackberry bush, from mora, meaning "mulberry" or "blackberry." The "es" ending indicates a patronymic surname, so more specifically the name Morales means "son of Moral," or son of someone who lived near a mulberry or blackberry tree.
  2. A name used to indicate someone "from Morales," the name of several Spanish towns.

While Morales is the 94th most common surname in the United States and the 16th most common Hispanic surname.

The name originates from Spanish but is also common in Portuguese as well. 

Alternate surname spellings of this common name are Moralez, Moral, Moreira, Mora, and Morais.

Where People With the Morales Surname Live

According to WorldNames public profiler, individuals with the Morales surname are most commonly found living in Spain and Argentina. In Spain, the surname is most prevalent in the Canary Islands. In Argentina, the surname is most common in the Cuyo region. However, people with this surname can live anywhere in the world. 

Famous People with the Surname Morales

  • Erik Morales: professional American boxer
  • Esai Morales: American TV and film star
  • Leo Morales: holds the world record for deep-diving with a disability
  • Evo Morales: Bolivia's first Indian president

Genealogy Resources for the Surname Morales

  • 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?
  • Morales Family Genealogy Forum: Search this popular genealogy forum for the Morales surname to find others who might be researching your ancestors, or post your own Morales query.
  • FamilySearch: Explore over 3.4 million historical records and lineage-linked family trees for individuals with the Morales surname and its variations, including census records, vital records, military records, church records, and more.
  • Morales Surname & Family Mailing Lists: RootsWeb hosts several free mailing lists for researchers of the Morales surname. Search the archives or post a question about your own Morales family research.
  • DistantCousin.com: Explore a variety of free databases and genealogy links for the last name Morales.