Humanities › History & Culture Watson Surname Meaning and Origin Share Flipboard Email Print The Watson surname derives from terms meaning "ruler of the army". Matthew Crosby/EyeEm/Getty Images History & Culture Genealogy Surnames Basics Genealogy Fun Vital Records Around the World American History African American History African History Ancient History and Culture Asian History European History Inventions Latin American History Medieval & Renaissance History Military History The 20th Century Women's History View More By Kimberly Powell Genealogy Expert Certificate in Genealogical Research, Boston University B.A., Carnegie Mellon University Kimberly Powell is a professional genealogist and the author of The Everything Guide to Online Genealogy. She teaches at the Genealogical Institute of Pittsburgh and the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy. our editorial process Kimberly Powell Updated February 07, 2019 Watson is a patronymic surname meaning "son of Watt." The popular Middle English given names Wat and Watt were pet forms of the name Walter, meaning "powerful ruler" or "ruler of the army," from the elements wald, meaning rule, and heri, meaning army. Watson is the 19th most common surname in Scotland and the 76th most popular surname in the United States. Watson is also popular in England, coming in as the 44th most common surname. Surname Origin: Scottish, English Alternate Surname Spellings: WATTIS, WATTS, WATTSON, WATS See also WATT. Where Do People with the WATSON Surname Live The last name Watson is common in Scotland and the Border Country, according to WorldNames PublicProfiler, most especially the northeast English counties of Cumbria, Durham, and Northumberland and the Lowlands and East of Scotland, especially in the area around Aberdeen. Surname distribution data from Forebears concurs, placing the surname at the turn of the 20th century as most common in Aberdeenshire, Angus, Fife, Lanarkshire and Midlothian in Scotland, and Yorkshire, Lancashire, Durham, Northumberland, and Cumberland (a parent county of present-day Cumbria) in England. Famous People with the WATSON Surname John B. Watson: American psychologist, best known for his role in the development of behaviorismJames Watson: American molecular biologist and geneticist, best known as one of the co-discoverers of the structure of DNAJames Watt: Inventor of the modern steam engineEmma Watson: English actress and feminist advocate, best known for playing the role of Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter film franchiseTom Watson: American professional golfer Clan Watson The crest of Clan Watson is two hands coming from the clouds holding the trunk of a sprouting oak tree. The Watson clan motto is "Insperata floruit" which means "It has flourished beyond expectation." Sources Cottle, Basil. "Penguin Dictionary of Surnames." Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1967. Menk, Lars. "A Dictionary of German Jewish Surnames." Bergenfield, NJ: Avotaynu, 2005. Beider, Alexander. "A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from Galicia." Bergenfield, NJ: Avotaynu, 2004. Hanks, Patrick, and Flavia Hodges. "A Dictionary of Surnames." New York: Oxford University Press, 1989. Hanks, Patrick. "Dictionary of American Family Names." New York: Oxford University Press, 2003. Hoffman, William F. "Polish Surnames: Origins and Meanings." Chicago: Polish Genealogical Society, 1993. Rymut, Kazimierz. "Nazwiska Polakow." Wroclaw: Zaklad Narodowy im. Ossolinskich - Wydawnictwo, 1991. Smith, Elsdon C. "American Surnames." Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1997.