MURPHY Surname Meaning and Family History

What is the Meaning of the Last Name Murphy?

The Murphy surname means valiant sea warrior.
Ken Scicluna / Getty Images

The common Irish surname Murphy is a modern form of the ancient Irish name "O'Murchadha," which means "descendant of sea warrior," or "strong, superior," from the Gaelic muir meaning "sea" and cath meaning "battle."

The surname Murphy (including its variant forms) is the most common surname in Ireland. Murphy is also popular in the United States, where it is the 58th most common surname based on 2000 census data.

Surname Origin: Irish


Famous People with the Surname MURPHY

  • Eddie Murphy - American actor and comedian
  • George Murphy - actor and U.S. Senator
  • Ryan Murphy - American producer, screenwriter and director
  • John Murphy - Irish Roman Catholic priest; one of the leaders of the Irish Rebellion of 1798
  • Michael Murphy - Irish Roman Catholic priest; United Irishman leader during the Irish Rebellion of 1798

Where is the MURPHY Surname Most Commonly Found?

Forebears ranks Murphy as the most popular surname in Ireland, and the 9th most common surname in Northern Ireland. Murphy is also fairly common in Australia (45th), Canada (46th) and the United States (53rd). Within Ireland, Murphy is most common in Cork and Wexford. Data from WorldNames PublicProfiler agrees, identifying the Murphy surname as most common in southern Ireland.

Genealogy Resources for the Surname MURPHY

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?

Murphy Family Crest - It's Not What You Think
Contrary to what you may hear, there is no such thing as a Murphy family crest or coat of arms for the Murphy 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.

Murphy Family DNA Project
Individuals with the Murphy surname and variations are invited to join this project dedicated to combining the results of DNA testing with genealogy research to identify various Murphy family lines.

The Murphy Family: Genealogical, Historical and Biographical
Free, online edition of a 1909 book on the Murphy Family by Michael Walter Downes. From Internet Archive.

Murphy Clan
Learn about Murphy genealogy, the Murphy coat of arms, clan history, and more.

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

FamilySearch - MURPHY Genealogy
Explore over 6 million historical records which mention individuals with the Murphy surname, as well as online Murphy family trees on this free website hosted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

MURPHY Surname & Family Mailing Lists
RootsWeb hosts several free mailing lists for researchers of the Murphy surname. - MURPHY Genealogy & Family History
Explore free databases and genealogy links for the last name Murphy.

GeneaNet - Murphy Records
GeneaNet includes archival records, family trees, and other resources for individuals with the Murphy surname, with a concentration on records and families from France and other European countries.

The Murphy Genealogy and Family Tree Page
Browse family trees and links to genealogical and historical records for individuals with the last name Murphy from the website of Genealogy Today.


References: Surname Meanings & Origins

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.

>> Back to Glossary of Surname Meanings & Origins

mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Powell, Kimberly. "MURPHY Surname Meaning and Family History." ThoughtCo, Jul. 30, 2021, Powell, Kimberly. (2021, July 30). MURPHY Surname Meaning and Family History. Retrieved from Powell, Kimberly. "MURPHY Surname Meaning and Family History." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 8, 2023).