SOTO Surname Meaning and Origin

What Does the Last Name Soto Mean?

The Soto surname derives from a Spanish word meaning "grove" such as this grove of Silver Bark trees in Spain.
Stephen Shepherd / Getty Images

Soto is a surname commonly thought to refer to one who lived near or in a forest or grove of trees, or possibly a swamp. From the Spanish soto meaning "grove" or "small wood." Soto can also be a habitational name from any of several places called Soto or El Soto.

Surname Origin: Spanish

Alternate Surname Spellings: DESOTO, DELSOTO, DE SOTO, DEL SOTO

Famous People with the Surname SOTO

  • Jesús-Rafael Soto - Venezuelan kinetic painter and sculptor
  • Hernando De Soto - Spanish conquistador and explorer
  • Gary Soto - American author and poet

Where Do People With the SOTO Surname Live?

The surname distribution data at Forebears ranks Soto as the 472nd most common surname in the world, identifying it as most prevalent in Mexico and with the highest density in Chile. The Soto surname is the 6th most common last name found in Chile; the next closest are Puerto Rico, where it ranks 24th, Costa Rica (40th) and Mexico (50th). The Desoto surname variant is most common in the United States, while de Soto is most prevalent in the Dominican Republic and Guam.

Within Europe, Soto is most frequently found in Spain, according to WorldNames PublicProfiler, especially in the regions of Murcia, Galicia and La Rioja. The surname is also very common in Argentina, especially the Patagonia region.

Genealogy Resources for the Surname SOTO

100 Common Hispanic Surnames & Their Meanings
Garcia, Martinez, Rodriguez, Lopez, Hernandez... Are you one of the millions of people sporting one of these top 100 common Hispanic last names?

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.

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

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

FamilySearch - SOTO Genealogy
Access over 2.4 million free historical records and lineage-linked family trees posted for the Soto surname and its variations on this free genealogy website hosted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

GeneaNet - Soto Records
GeneaNet includes archival records, family trees, and other resources for individuals with the Soto surname, with a concentration on records and families from France, Spain, and other European countries.

SOTO Surname & Family Mailing Lists
This free mailing list for researchers of the Soto surname and its variations includes subscription details and a searchable archives of past messages. - SOTO Genealogy & Family History
Explore free databases and genealogy links for the last name Soto.

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

References: Surname Meanings & Origins

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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