Name Meaning and Origin of the Surname White

The White last name has several different possible origins:

  1. White is usually a descriptive name or nickname given to a person with very light hair or complexion, from the Middle English whit, meaning "white."
  2. The last name White may be also local, derived from the Isle of Wight, on the coast of Hampshire, England.
  3. In addition, some Whites originally were Wights, from the Anglo-Saxon wiht, meaning "valiant."

White is the 16th most common surname in England, the 20th most common last name in America, and the 10th most popular name in Australia.

Surname Origin: English, Scottish, Irish

Alternate Surname Spellings: WHYTE, WHIET, WIGHT, WHYTTE

Fun Facts About the Last Name

Albus is the Latin form of the White surname.

Famous People With the Surname

  • Governor John White - governor of the failed Roanoke Colony
  • Reggie White - NFL football legend, Pro Football Hall of Fame
  • Edward Higgins White II - American astronaut; died 1967 in the Apollo 204 fire at Cape Kennedy, Florida
  • Stanford White - American architect

Genealogy Resources for the Surname

White Surname DNA Project
The goal of the the White surname project is to distinguish between White ancestral lines worldwide.

White Family Genealogy Forum
Search this popular genealogy forum for the White surname to find others who might be researching your ancestors, or post your own White query. There is also a separate forum for the WHYTE variation of the White surname.


Cottle, Basil. Penguin Dictionary of Surnames. Baltimore, MD: Penguin Books, 1967.

Menk, Lars. A Dictionary of German Jewish Surnames. Avotaynu, 2005.

Beider, Alexander. A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from Galicia. Avotaynu, 2004.

Hanks, Patrick and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford University Press, 1989.

Hanks, Patrick. Dictionary of American Family Names. Oxford University Press, 2003.

Smith, Elsdon C. American Surnames. Genealogical Publishing Company, 1997.

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Your Citation
Powell, Kimberly. "Name Meaning and Origin of the Surname White." ThoughtCo, Jan. 29, 2020, Powell, Kimberly. (2020, January 29). Name Meaning and Origin of the Surname White. Retrieved from Powell, Kimberly. "Name Meaning and Origin of the Surname White." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 31, 2023).