The Surname Rodriguez: Its Meaning and Origin

A Spanish Name that Signifies Power

amfAR New York Gala 2019 - Arrivals
Theo Wargo / Getty Images

The name Rodriguez is of Spanish origin. It patronymic in nature (taken from the paternal line) and means "son of Rodrigo." The "ez or es" added to the root signifies "descendant of." The given name Rodrigo is the Spanish form of Roderick, meaning "famous power" or "powerful ruler," which comes from the Germanic elements hrod, meaning "fame" and ric, meaning "power."

Where Do People With the Rodriguez Surname Live?

Overall, Rodriguez is the 60th most common surname in the world. According to WorldNames PublicProfiler, the Rodriguez surname is extremely popular in Spain. It's most commonly found in the region of Islas Canarias, followed by Galicia, Asturias, Castilla y León, and Extremadura. The name is also popular in Argentina and is distributed fairly evenly throughout the country. The genealogy site Forebears ranks Rodriguez as the number one surname in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Colombia, and Uraguay. It ranks second in Argentina, Puerto Rico, and Panama and third in Spain, Peru, and Honduras.

Fast Facts About the Name Rodriguez

  • Ninth Most Common Name in America: According to the 2000 census, Rodriguez ranked the ninth most common surname in the United States, likely the first time a non-Anglo name ranked among the top 10 (at #8 the Hispanic surname Garcia also cracked the top 10).
  • Famous People Named Rodriguez: Luis Rodriguez, contemporary poet; Michelle Rodriguez, American actress; Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees third baseman
  • Alternate Surname Spellings: Rodrigue, Rodriques, Roderick, Rodiger, Rhodriquez, Rhodriguez, Rodrigues (Portuguese)

Genealogy Resources for the Surname Rodriguez

Contrary to what you may have heard, there's no such thing as a Rodriguez family crest or coat of arms. 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. 

To learn more about the origins of common Hispanic surnames and their meanings, a good place to start is with the information taken from the 2000 U.S. census about the 100 most common U.S. surnames and their meanings. The following is a list of other helpful resources for learning more about the Rodriguez surname:

  • The Rodriguez DNA Project: This Y-DNA project is open to all males with the Rodriguez surname (or its variations) interested in working together to use DNA testing and traditional family history research to identify common Rodriguez ancestors.
  • Rodriguez Family Genealogy Forum: Search this popular genealogy forum to find others who may also be researching your ancestors, or post your own Rodriguez query.
  • FamilySearch—Rodriguez Genealogy: Access over 12 million free historical records and lineage-linked family trees posted for the Rodriguez surname and its variations on this free genealogy website hosted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
  • Rodriquez Surname & Family Mailing Lists: RootsWeb hosts several free mailing lists for researchers. You can also search or browse the list archives to view Rodriquez surname queries and posts going back for over a decade.
  • DistantCousin.com—Rodriquez Genealogy & Family History: Explore free databases and genealogy links for the last name Rodriguez.

Sources

  • Cottle, Basil. "Penguin Dictionary of Surnames." Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1967.
  • Menk, Lars. "A Dictionary of German Jewish Surnames." Bergenfield, NJ: Avotaynu, 2005.
  • Beider, Alexander. "A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from Galicia." Bergenfield, NJ: Avotaynu, 2004.
  • Hanks, Patrick, and Flavia Hodges. "A Dictionary of Surnames." New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.
  • Hanks, Patrick. "Dictionary of American Family Names." New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.
  • Hoffman, William F. "Polish Surnames: Origins and Meanings." Chicago: Polish Genealogical Society, 1993.
  • Rymut, Kazimierz. "Nazwiska Polakow." Wroclaw: Zaklad Narodowy im. Ossolinskich - Wydawnictwo, 1991.
  • Smith, Elsdon C. "American Surnames." Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1997.