Patterson Name Meaning and Origin

Carly Patterson at the U.S. Gymnastics Olympic Team Trials
Carly Patterson. Jed Jacobsohn / Getty Images

The common surname Patterson most often originated as a patronymic name meaning "son of Patrick." The given name Patrick derives from the Roman name Patricius, which meant "nobleman" in Latin, denoting a member of the patrician class or Roman hereditary aristocracy.

In County Galway, Ireland, Patterson was a surname often taken by bearers of the Gaelic name Ó Caisín, meaning descendant of Caisín from the Gaelic casán, or "little curly-headed one."

Surname Origin: English, Scottish, Irish

Alternate Surname Spellings: Patrickson, Paterson, Patersen, Pattersen, Batterson

Famous People

  • James Patterson - American best-selling author
  • Carly Patterson - 2004 Olympic All-Around Gymnastics Champion
  • John Patterson - American manufacturer who helped popularize the modern cash register 

Genealogy Resources

If you're interested in connecting with others who share the Patterson surname or in learning more, the following resources can help:

  • Most Common U.S. Surnames and Their Meanings: Smith, Johnson, Williams, Jones, Brown... Are you one of the millions of Americans sporting one of these top 250 common last names from the 2000 census?
  • Patterson DNA Project: An annual publication "issued under the authority of the Barnes Family Association." Several volumes are available for free viewing from Internet Archive.
  • Patterson Family Genealogy Forum: Search this popular genealogy forum for the Patterson surname to find others who might be researching your ancestors, or ask your own question about your Patterson ancestors.
  • FamilySearch: Discover historical records and lineage-linked family trees posted for the Patterson surname and its variations.
  • Patterson Surname and Family Mailing Lists: RootsWeb hosts several free mailing lists for researchers of the Patterson surname.


  • 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. "Patterson Name Meaning and Origin." ThoughtCo, Aug. 28, 2020, Powell, Kimberly. (2020, August 28). Patterson Name Meaning and Origin. Retrieved from Powell, Kimberly. "Patterson Name Meaning and Origin." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 9, 2023).