SULLIVAN Surname Meaning and Family History

What Does the Last Name Sullivan Mean?

The Sullivan surname means "dark-eyed."
? Naufal MQ / Getty Images

The common Sullivan surname means "hawk-eyed" or "little dark-eyed one," derived from the Irish súildhubhán, from suil, meaning "eye" and dubh, meaning black.

Sullivan is the 92nd most popular surname in the United States, and the third most common surname in Ireland.

Surname Origin: Irish

Alternate Surname Spellings: O'SULLIVAN, OSULLIVAN

Famous People with the SULLIVAN Surname

  • Arthur Sullivan - 19th century British conductor and composer
  • Louis Sullivan- widely considered America's first modern architect
  • Anne Sullivan - American teacher best known for her work with Helen Keller
  • Ed Sullivan -  American journalist, producer and TV host; best known for his successful variety program, The Ed Sullivan Show.

Where is the SULLIVAN Surname Most Common?

The Sullivan surname, according to surname distribution information from Forebears, is most prevalent in the United States, where it comes in as the 81st most common last name. There are more individuals named Sullivan in Ireland, however, based on percentage of population. It is also fairly common in Australia and Wales.

WorldNames PublicProfiler indicates the Sullivan surname is most densely concentrated in the South West region of Ireland (counties Cork and Kerry), followed by Massachusetts and New Hampshire in the United States, Waimate and Westland Districts in New Zealand, and New Brunswick, Canada.

Genealogy Resources for the Surname SULLIVAN

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

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?

Sullivan/O'Sullivan DNA Project
More than 400 members have joined this project for the Sullivan surname (and variants such as O'Sullivan) to work together to find their common heritage through DNA testing and sharing of information.

SULLIVAN Family Genealogy Forum
This free message board is focused on descendants of Sullivan ancestors around the world. Search the forum for posts about your Sullivan ancestors, or join the forum and post your own queries. 

FamilySearch - SULLIVAN Genealogy
Explore over 4.9 million results from digitized historical records and lineage-linked family trees related to the Sullivan surname on this free website hosted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

SULLIVAN Surname Mailing List
Free mailing list for researchers of the Sullivan surname and its variations includes subscription details and a searchable archives of past messages.

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

The Sullivan Genealogy and Family Tree Page
Browse genealogy records and links to genealogical and historical records for individuals with the Sullivan surname from the website of Genealogy Today. Sullivan Surname
Explore over 11 million digitized records and database entries, including census records, passenger lists, military records, land deeds, probates, wills and other records for the Sullivan surname on the subscription-based website,


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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