Reyes Surname Meaning and Origin

The Reyes surname was often bestowed on someone who carried themselves in a kingly manner.
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The surname Reyes was often bestowed as a nickname for a man who carried himself in a regal, or kingly, fashion, from the Old French rey, meaning "king." It could also have applied to "one who plays the part of a king in a pageant" (such pageants were popular in the 13th century) or "someone who works in the king's house."

Another possible origin is as a topographical surname for someone who lived at a rea, a piece of hard ground within a marsh. 

Reyes is the 19th most popular Hispanic surname and the 81st most popular surname in the United States. Reis is the Portuguese spelling of this surname. Also similar in origin to the German Reich, Dutch Rijk, and English ​King.

Surname Origin: Spanish

Alternate Surname Spellings: REYEZ, REIES, REIS

Famous People with the Surname Reyes

  • Lucila J. Sarsines Reyes - Peruvian performer
  • Turgut Reis - Ottoman admiral and privateer
  • Johann Philipp Reis - German scientist and inventor
  • Rafael Reyes - former president of Colombia
  • Dennys Reyes - Mexican professional baseball pitcher; former MLB pitcher

Where Do People With the Reyes Surname Live?

The surname distribution data at Forebears ranks Reyes as the 226th most common surname in the world, identifying it as most prevalent in Mexico and with the highest density in the Northern Mariana Islands. The Reyes surname is the 6th most common surname in the Dominican Republic, 7th in the Northern Mariana Islands, and 9th in Belize and Honduras. The Reis surname is most prevalent in Brazil, where it ranks 40th, and borne by the highest percentage of individuals based on population in Portugal, where it ranks 33rd.

Within Spain, Reyes is found most commonly in the southwestern regions of Andalucia and Extremadura, according to WorldNames PublicProfiler

Genealogy Resources for the Surname Reyes

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?

100 Most Common Spanish Surnames
Have you ever wondered about your Spanish last name and how it came to be? This article describes common Spanish naming patterns and explores the meaning and origins of 100 common Spanish surnames.

How to Research Hispanic Heritage
Learn how to get started researching your Hispanic ancestors, including the basics of family tree research and country-specific organizations, genealogical records, and resources for Spain, Latin America, Mexico, Brazil, the Caribbean and other Spanish speaking countries.

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

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

FamilySearch - REYES Genealogy
Access over 10 million free historical records and lineage-linked family trees posted for the Reyes surname and its variations on this free genealogy website hosted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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

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


  • 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.
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Your Citation
Powell, Kimberly. "Reyes Surname Meaning and Origin." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, Powell, Kimberly. (2020, August 27). Reyes Surname Meaning and Origin. Retrieved from Powell, Kimberly. "Reyes Surname Meaning and Origin." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 8, 2023).