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.

Genealogy Resources for the Surname Sullivan

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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,
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Your Citation
Powell, Kimberly. "SULLIVAN Surname Meaning and Family History." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, Powell, Kimberly. (2020, August 27). SULLIVAN Surname Meaning and Family History. Retrieved from Powell, Kimberly. "SULLIVAN Surname Meaning and Family History." ThoughtCo. (accessed August 9, 2022).