The Meaning and Origin of the WEST Surname

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The West surname was most commonly bestowed on a person "from the west"—someone who had migrated from a place further west, or one who lived to the west of the town or village. Similar surnames include Western, Westerman, and Westray.

  • Alternate Surname Spellings: WESTE
  • Surname Origin: English, German

Where People With the WEST Surname Live

According to surname distribution data from Forebears, West is most prevalent in the United States where it ranks as the 107th most common surname in the nation. It is also a common surname in England (ranked 111th), Australia (131st) and New Zealand (152nd). Within England, West is most frequently found in Buckinghamshire, Sussex, and Kent, followed by Lincolnshire, Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Surrey, and Leicestershire.

WorldNames PublicProfiler indicates that within the United Kingdom the West surname is fairly common in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, as well as Isle of Wight and most of southern England. In the United States, West is most common in the South in a swath from Virginia to Oklahoma, especially the states of Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Virginia. West is also a common surname in the Northern Territory of Australia.

Famous People With the WEST Last Name

  • Billy West - silent film producer and actor
  • Cornel West - political activist and author
  • Benjamin West - American-born painter of religious and historical subjects
  • Mae West - American theater and film actress
  • James West - American scientist and inventor
  • Kayne West - American hip hop artist

Genealogy Resources for the Surname WEST

  • How to Research English Ancestry: Learn how to research your English family tree with this guide to genealogical records in England and Wales. Includes information on both online and offline records including birth, marriage, death, census, military and estate records.
  • West Surname DNA Project: Males with the surname WEST or a related surname that may have evolved from or to WEST (Westerman, Wieste, Western, Westh, etc.) are encouraged to join this DNA project focused on sorting out various West family lines.
  • West Family Crest - It's Not What You Think: Contrary to what you may hear, there is no such thing as a West family crest or coat of arms for the West 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. 
  • WEST Family Genealogy Forum: Search this popular genealogy forum for the West surname to find others who might be researching your ancestors, or post your West genealogy query.
  • FamilySearch - WEST Genealogy: Explore over 4 million historical records which mention individuals with the West surname, as well as online West family trees on this free website hosted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons).
  • GeneaNet - West RecordsGeneaNet includes archival records, family trees, and other resources for individuals with the West surname, with a concentration on records and families from France and other European countries.
  • - WEST Genealogy & Family History: Explore some free databases and genealogy links for the last name West.
  • The West Genealogy and Family Tree Page: Browse family trees and links to genealogical and historical records for individuals with the last name West from the website of Genealogy Today.


  • 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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Your Citation
Powell, Kimberly. "The Meaning and Origin of the WEST Surname." ThoughtCo, Oct. 29, 2020, Powell, Kimberly. (2020, October 29). The Meaning and Origin of the WEST Surname. Retrieved from Powell, Kimberly. "The Meaning and Origin of the WEST Surname." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 2, 2023).