Humanities › History & Culture The Last Name Peterson, Its Meaning and Origin Share Flipboard Email Print Getty / Alex Iskanderian / EyeEm History & Culture Genealogy Surnames Basics Genealogy Fun Vital Records Around the World American History African American History African History Ancient History and Culture Asian History European History Inventions Latin American History Medieval & Renaissance History Military History The 20th Century Women's History View More By Kimberly Powell Genealogy Expert Certificate in Genealogical Research, Boston University B.A., Carnegie Mellon University Kimberly Powell is a professional genealogist and the author of The Everything Guide to Online Genealogy. She teaches at the Genealogical Institute of Pittsburgh and the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy. our editorial process Kimberly Powell Updated January 12, 2018 Peterson is a Scandinavian patronymic surname meaning "son of Peter." The given name Peter is derived from the Greek πέτρος (petros), meaning "rock" or "stone," and has been a popular name choice throughout history for the Christian apostle Peter, chosen by Christ to be 'the rock" on which the church was to be found. It is estimated that there are over 700 different spellings of the Peterson surname and suspicions that the name came from the Danish name Petersen. Quick Facts The Peterson spelling may also be an Americanized form of similar non-English surnames such as Petersen or Pettersson. Five additional alternate surname spellings include Peters, Petersson, Peterssen, Peterzen and even Pedersen.The surname is most commonly found in European countries such as Denmark, Germany, Holland, and Brussels in the northwestern region.In Denmark, it has been calculated that nearly 3.4% of the population has the surname Peterson.Peterson is the 63rd most popular surname in the United States.Some of the most popular male first name with the surname Peterson include John, Robert, and William. Anna, Emma, and Mary are some of the most common female names.The origin of the surname includes English, Scottish, and German. Famous People Oscar Peterson: Canadian jazz pianist and composer who won eight Grammy AwardsAmanda Peterson: Former American actress who was in the romantic comedy movie Can't Buy Me Love (1987)Drew Peterson: Former policeman convicted of murdering his wifeAdrian Peterson: NFL running back for the Minnesota VikingsDebbi Peterson: American drummer and musician in the all-female band, The Bangles Genealogy Resources 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?Peterson Family Genealogy ForumSearch this popular genealogy forum for the Peterson surname to find others who might be researching your ancestors, or post your own Peterson query.FamilySearch - Peterson GenealogySearch and browse historical records and family trees for the Peterson surname and its variations on the free FamilySearch website.Peterson Surname & Family Mailing ListsRootsWeb hosts several free mailing lists for researchers of the Peterson surname.DistantCousin.com - Peterson Genealogy & Family HistoryFree databases and genealogy links for the last name Peterson. To find the meaning of a given name, review the resource First Name Meanings. If, for some reason, you can't find your last name listed below, suggest a surname to be added to the Glossary of Surname Meanings and Origins. References: Surname Meanings and Origins 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.