Learn About Surname Meanings and Origins

Street sign last names
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Have you ever wondered about the meaning of your last name or where your family surname came from? What your ancestors did, how they looked or where they lived? Surname meanings can sometimes tell a story about your family, one handed down for hundreds of years. By tracing the possible origin of your last name, you can learn more about the medieval ancestors who first bore the surname and, ultimately, handed it down to you.

To learn more about your last name meaning and ethnic origin, browse to the appropriate letter in the Surname Meanings and Origins Glossary for your last name. This free glossary includes surname meanings and etymologies for English surnames, Irish surnames, German surnames, French surnames, Italian surnames, Danish surnamesSpanish surnames, Australian surnames, Canadian surnames, Polish surnames and Jewish surnames, plus research links, common surname spelling variations, and surname search tips. Plus, surname meanings for the 100 most popular U.S. surnames as well.

When searching for the origin or etymology of your surname it is also important to consider that your last name may not have always been spelled the way that it is today. Even through at least the first half of the 20th century it is not unusual to see the same individual's last name spelled in many different ways from record to record.

For example, you might see the seemingly easy-to-spell surname Kennedy spelled as Kenedy, Canady, Kanada, Kenneday, and even Kendy, due to clerks, ministers, and other officials spelling the name as they heard it pronounced. Sometimes alternate variants stuck and were passed down to future generations.

It is even not that uncommon to see siblings passing down different variants of the same original surname.

Can't find your last name in the Surname Meanings Glossary? Learn how to trace the origin of your surname, or suggest a surname for possible research and inclusion.

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Powell, Kimberly. "Learn About Surname Meanings and Origins." ThoughtCo, Aug. 7, 2017, thoughtco.com/surname-meanings-and-origins-s2-1422408. Powell, Kimberly. (2017, August 7). Learn About Surname Meanings and Origins. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/surname-meanings-and-origins-s2-1422408 Powell, Kimberly. "Learn About Surname Meanings and Origins." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/surname-meanings-and-origins-s2-1422408 (accessed March 21, 2018).