Presidential Surname Meanings and Origins

Last Name Meanings for US Presidents

Find out the meanings of the last names of all fifty US presidents.
Mount Rushmore in South Dakota's Black Hills National Forest depicts the faces of U.S. Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt. Getty / Dave Bartruff

Do the surnames of U.S. presidents really have more prestige than your average Smith and Jones? While the proliferance of babies named Tyler, Madison, and Monroe may seem to point in that direction, presidential surnames are really just a cross-section of the American melting pot. With origins in Ireland, England, Germany, Scotland, and the Netherlands, the surnames of the US presidents are much like other American surnames, with differences in spelling not seen in the old country and representatives of each of the major surname groups: Patronymic, Occupational, Nicknames and Place Names.

While one president's surname does mean "warrior or hero" and another's "true and faithful man," the majority of the surnames in this list can't really boast meanings that sound presidential, but each has an interesting story to tell. 

PRESIDENTIAL SURNAMES - MEANINGS & ORIGINS

* Select a surname below to view its origin and meaning

John ADAMS

Born: 30 Oct 1735  Died: 4 Jul 1826
Term: 4 Mar 1797 – 4 Mar 1801
10 Things to Know about John Adams

Thomas JEFFERSON

Born: 13 Apr 1743  Died: 4 Jul 1826
Term: 4 Mar 1801 – 4 Mar 1809
10 Things to Know about Thomas Jefferson

John Quincy ADAMS

Born: 11 Jul 1767  Died: 23 Feb 1848
Term: 4 Mar 1825 – 4 Mar 1829
10 Things to Know about John Quincy Adams

Andrew JOHNSON

Born: 29 Dec 1808  Died: 31 Jul 1875
Term: 15 Apr 1865 – 4 Mar 1869
10 Things to Know about Andrew Johnson

Chester A. ARTHUR

Born: 5 Oct 1829  Died: 18 Nov 1866
Term: 19 Sep 1881–4 Mar 1885
10 Things to Know about Chester A. Arthur

Lyndon B. JOHNSON

Born: 27 Aug 1907  Died: 22 Jan 1973
Term: 22 Nov 1963 – 20 Jan 1969
10 Things to Know about Lyndon B. Johnson

James BUCHANAN

Born: 23 Apr 1791  Died: 1 Jun 1868
Term: 4 Mar 1857 – 4 Mar 1861
10 Things to Know about James Buchanan

John F. KENNEDY

Born: 29 May 1917  Died: 22 Nov 1963
Term: 20 Jan 1961 – 22 Nov 1963
Family Tree of John F. Kennedy

George H. W. BUSH

Born: 12 Jun 1924
Term: 20 Jan 1989 – 20 Jan 1993
Family Tree of George H. W. Bush

Abraham LINCOLN

Born: 12 Feb 1809  Died: 15 Apr 1865
Term: 4 Mar 1861 – 15 Apr 1865
10 Things to Know about Abraham Lincoln

George Walker BUSH

Born: 6 Jul 1946
Term: 20 Jan 2001 – 20 Jan 2009
Family Tree of George Walker Bush

James MADISON

Born: 16 Mar 1751  Died: 28 Jun 1836
Term: 4 Mar 1809 – 4 Mar 1817
10 Things to Know about James Madison

Jimmy CARTER

Born: 1 Oct 1924
Term: 20 Jan 1977 – 20 Jan 1981
10 Things to Know about Jimmy Carter

William MCKINLEY

Born: 29 Jan 1843  Died: 14 Sep 1901
Term: 4 Mar 1897 – 14 Sep 1901
10 Things to Know about William McKinley

Grover CLEVELAND

Born: 18 Mar 1837  Died: 24 Jun 1908
Term: 4 Mar 1893 – 4 Mar 1897
10 Things to Know about Grover Cleveland

James MONROE

Born: 28 Apr 1758  Died: 4 Jul 1831
Term: 4 Mar 1817 – 4 Mar 1825
10 Things to Know about James Monroe

William Jefferson "Bill" CLINTON

Born: 19 Aug 1946
Term: 20 Jan 1993 – 20 Jan 2001
10 Things to Know about Bill Clinton

Richard NIXON

Born: 9 Jan 1913  Died: 22 Apr 1994
Term: 20 Jan 1969 – 9 Aug 1974
10 Key Facts about Richard Nixon

Calvin COOLIDGE

Born: 4 Jul 1872  Died: 5 Jan 1933
Term: 2 Aug 1923 – 4 Mar 1929
10 Key Facts about Calvin Coolidge

Barack OBAMA

Born: 4 Aug 1961
Term: 20 Jan 2009 –
Barack Obama Family Tree

Dwight D. EISENHOWER

Born: 14 Oct 1890  Died: 28 Mar 1969
Term: 20 Jan 1953 – 20 Jan 1961
10 Things to Know about Dwight Eisenhower

Franklin PIERCE

Born: 23 Nov 1804  Died: 8 Oct 1868
Term: 4 Mar 1853 – 4 Mar 1857
10 Things to Know about Franklin Pierce

Millard FILLMORE

Born: 7 Jan 1800  Died: 8 Mar 1874
Term: 9 Jul 1850 – 4 Mar 1853
10 Things to Know about Millard Fillmore

James K. POLK

Born: 2 Nov 1795  Died: 15 Jun 1849
Term: 4 Mar 1845 – 4 Mar 1849
10 Things to Know about James Polk

Gerald FORD (born Leslie King, Jr.)

Born: 14 Jul 1913  Died: 26 Dec 2006
Term: 9 Aug 1974 – 20 Jan 1977
Gerald Ford Family Tree

Ronald REAGAN

Born: 6 Feb 1911  Died: 5 Jun 2004
Term: 20 Jan 1981 – 20 Jan 1989
Ronald Reagan Family Tree

James A. GARFIELD

Born: 19 Nov 1831  Died: 19 Sep 1881
Term: 4 Mar 1881 – 19 Sep 1881
10 Things to Know about James Garfield

Franklin Delano ROOSEVELT

Born: 30 Jan 1882  Died: 12 Apr 1945
Term: 4 Mar 1933 – 12 Apr 1945
10 Things to Know about Franklin D. Roosevelt

Ulysses S. GRANT

Born: 27 Apr 1822  Died: 23 Jul 1885
Term: 4 Mar 1869 – 4 Mar 1877
10 Things to Know about Ulysses Grant

Theodore "Teddy" ROOSEVELT

Born: 27 Oct 1858  Died: 6 Jan 1919
Term: 14 Sep 1901 – 4 Mar 1909
10 Things to Know about Teddy Roosevelt

Warren G. HARDING

Born: 2 Nov 1865  Died: 2 Aug 1923
Term: 4 Mar 1921 – 2 Aug 1923
10 Things to Know about Warren Harding

William Howard TAFT

Born: 15 Sep 1857  Died: 8 Mar 1930
Term: 4 Mar 1909 – 4 Mar 1913
Biography of William Howard Taft

Benjamin HARRISON

Born: 20 Aug 1833  Died: 13 Mar 1901
Term: 4 Mar 1889 – 4 Mar 1893
10 Things to Know about Benjamin Harrison

Zachary TAYLOR

Born: 24 Nov 1784  Died: 9 Jul 1850
Term: 4 Mar 1849 – 9 Jul 1850
10 Things to Know about Zachary Taylor

William Henry HARRISON

Born: 9 Feb 1773  Died: 4 Apr 1841
Term: 4 Mar 1841 – 4 Apr 1841
10 Things to Know about William Harrison

Harry S. TRUMAN

Born: 8 May 1884  Died: 26 Dec 1972
Term: 12 Apr 1945 – 20 Jan 1953
10 Things to Know about Harry Truman

Rutherford B. HAYES

Born: 4 Oct 1822  Died: 17 Jan 1893
Term: 4 Mar 1877 – 4 Mar 1881
Biography of Rutherford Hayes

John TYLER

Born: 29 Mar 1790  Died: 18 Jan 1862
Term: 4 Apr 1841 – 4 Mar 1845
10 Things to Know about John Tyler

Herbert HOOVER

Born: 10 Aug 1874  Died: 20 Oct 1964
Term: 4 Mar 1929 – 4 Mar 1933
10 Key Facts about Herbert Hoover

Martin VAN BUREN

Born: 5 Dec 1782  Died: 24 Jul 1862
Term: 4 Mar 1837 – 4 Mar 1841
10 Key Facts about Martin Van Buren

Andrew JACKSON

Born: 15 Mar 1767  Died: 8 Jun 1845
Term: 4 Mar 1829 – 4 Mar 1837
10 Things to Know about Andrew Jackson

George WASHINGTON

Born: 22 Feb 1732  Died: 14 Dec 1799
Term: 30 Apr 1789 – 4 Mar 1797
10 Key Facts about George Washington

Woodrow WILSON

Born: 28 Dec 1856  Died: 3 Feb 1924
Term: 4 Mar 1913 – 4 Mar 1921
10 Things to Know about Woodrow Wilson