What Does the Last Name Nuñez Mean?

Research the origins and genealogy of this popular Spanish surname

A grandfather and his grandchild
Grandfather is just one of several possible interpretations for the meaning of the Nunez and Nunes surname.

Jamie Grill / JGI / Getty Images

While Nuñez is a very common last name in Spanish, it has an interesting story—although it's not entirely clear what it means. Nuñez is a patronymic surname, meaning it was created by adding letters to the name of a paternal ancestor. Nuñez comes from the given name Nuño and is accompanied by the traditional patronymic suffix -ez. Nuño is of uncertain derivation, although it may be from the Latin nonus, meaning "ninth," nunnus, meaning "grandfather," or nonnus, meaning "chamberlain" or "squire."

Fast Facts on the Nuñez Surname

Frequency: Nuñez is the 58th most common Hispanic surname.

Surname Origin: Spanish

Alternate Spellings: Nuñes (Portuguese/Galician), Nuño, Nuñoz, Nuñoo, Neño

To Create a Keyboard ñ/Ñ: On a Windows computer, hold down the alt key while typing 164. For a capital Ñ, it's alt and 165. On a Mac, press Option and the n key, then the n key again. For a capital Ñ, hold the shift key while typing the second n.

Spelling and Pronunciation

While Nuñez is traditionally spelled with the Spanish ñ, the tilde is not always included when writing out the name. Part of this is due to the fact that English keyboards do not make typing the tilde-accented "n" easy, so the Latin "n" is substituted in its place. (Some families simply dropped the accent at some point in time.)

Whether it is spelled Nuñez or Nunez, the pronunciation remains the same. The letter ñ signifies a double "n" letter, which is unique to Spanish. It's pronounced "ny" just as in señorita.

Famous People Named Nuñez

Since Nuñez is such a popular name, you will encounter it often. When it comes to celebrities and well-known people, there are a few who are particularly interesting:

  • Vasco Nuñez de Balboa: Spanish explorer and conquistador
  • Miguel Nuñez: American actor
  • Rafael Nuñez: three-time president of Colombia
  • Samuel Nuñes: Born Diogo Nuñes Ribeiro in Portugal, Samuel Nuñes was a physician and one of the first Jewish immigrants to the Georgia colony in 1733.

Where Do People With the Nuñez Surname Live?

According to Public Profiler: World Names, the vast majority of individuals with the Nuñez surname live in Spain, specifically in the Extremadura and Galicia regions. Moderate concentrations also exist in the United States and Argentina, plus small populations in France and Australia. It is also a name commonly found in Mexico and Venezuela.

Genealogy Resources for the Surname Nuñez

Are you interested in researching your ancestry? Explore these resources targeted specifically to the Nuñez family name.

  • Nuñez Family DNA ProjectMales with the Nuñez or Nuñes surname are welcome to join this Y-DNA project. It is geared toward a combination of DNA and traditional genealogy research to explore shared Nuñez heritage.
  • FamilySearch: NUÑEZ Genealogy: Explore over 725,000 historical records and lineage-linked family trees with entries for the Nuñez surname. It is a free website hosted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
  • NUÑEZ Surname & Family Mailing ListsRootsWeb hosts several free mailing lists for researchers of the Nuñez surname. The archive of posts is a good research tool if you're tracing your family lineage.

Sources

  • Cottle B. "Penguin Dictionary of Surnames." Penguin Books. 1967.
  • Hanks P. "Dictionary of American Family Names." Oxford University Press. 2003.
  • Smith E.C. "American Surnames." Genealogical Publishing Company. 1997.