TURNER Surname Meaning and Origin

The most common origin of the Turner surname is one who worked with a lathe.
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Turner is most commonly an occupational name for one who worked with a lathe to make items of wood, bone, or metal. The name derives from the Old French tornier and Latin Tornarius, meaning "lathe."

Other possible origins of the Turner surname include:

  1. An occupational name for an official in charge of a tournament, from the Old French tornei, meaning a "tournament or contest of armed men."
  2. A variant of the surname Turnehare, a nickname for a fast runner from the Middle English turnen, meaning "to turn" + hare, a fast rabbit.
  3. An occupational name for a guard in a tower, from the Middle High German turn, meaning "tower."
  4. A habitational name for someone from any one of various places named Turna, Turno, Thurn, etc. This origin can be hard to pinpoint to a specific country, meaning individuals with the Turner surname could have come from Poland, Austria, Germany, or any number of other countries.

Turner is the 49th most popular surname in the United States and the 27th most common surname in England.

Surname Origin: English, Scottish


Famous People Sith the Surname TURNER

  • JMW Turner - 18th and 19th century British landscape painter
  • Nat Turner - leader of a rebellion of enslaved Black people in Virginia
  • Charles Henry Turner - pioneering African-American scientist and scholar
  • Ike Turner - R&B legend; husband of Tina Turner
  • Ted Turner - founder of CNN; philanthropist
  • Kathleen Turner - American actress
  • Lana Turner - American film actress and pin-up girl
  • Josh Turner - American country music star
  • John Turner - 17th Prime Minister of Canada

Where Do People With the TURNER Surname Live?

Turner is the world's 781st most common surname, according to surname distribution data from Forebears. It is most common in various English speaking countries, including New Zealand where it ranks 30th, England (31st), Australia (34th), Isle of Man (34th), Wales (46th), and the United States (48th).

WorldNames PublicProfiler identifies Turner as most prevalent in the Waitomo District of New Zealand, followed by the Otorohanga District. It also identifies the surname as especially common in Tasmania and Western Australia, as well as East Anglia and West Midlands in the United Kingdom.

Genealogy Resources for the Surname TURNER

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

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

FamilySearch - TURNER Genealogy
Access over 7 million free historical records and lineage-linked family trees posted for the Turner surname and its variations on this free genealogy website hosted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

DistantCousin.com - TURNER Genealogy & Family History
Explore free databases and genealogy links for the last name Turner.


  • 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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Powell, Kimberly. "TURNER Surname Meaning and Origin." ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, thoughtco.com/turner-name-meaning-and-origin-1422635. Powell, Kimberly. (2021, February 16). TURNER Surname Meaning and Origin. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/turner-name-meaning-and-origin-1422635 Powell, Kimberly. "TURNER Surname Meaning and Origin." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/turner-name-meaning-and-origin-1422635 (accessed March 21, 2023).