Surnames not only define a person's identity but also represent family history—a throwback to long ago when last names did not exist. People used to identify each other with just their single names because the communities were small; however, with the significant increase in population, it became necessary to recognize people based on their individuality. Therefore, people began to use surnames to identify one another.

How much do you know about your surname? When it’s time to give your baby a name, you might be more interested in knowing your family's origin. Maybe you’d like to find out about your ancestry, or maybe you just want to match the baby’s first name with the surname so both the names sound and flow well together.

Why Are Last Names Important?

In the past, it was not necessary to have the last names, and people were only identified using their given names. Even in England until the year 1066, last names were not commonly used until population growth made it necessary. Later, the Norman barons, the highest level of the feudal hierarchy directly beneath the King, initiated the concept of surnames into England, and then the practice spread progressively.

The last name defines the individual’s background, lineage, community, or culture, which is usually derived from the person's country, father's name, occupation, location of birth, physical features, or, in some cases, nicknames. Further, the same surname has different connotations in different cultures. It may be a kind of glorious moment for you if your surname is unique.

The Most Popular Last Names

Last names were first used in medieval times and usually referred to the person's occupation, for instance, Tailor, Miller, Baker, Weaver. One of the most popular names in the United States is 'Smith,' which is derived from the occupation of blacksmiths. Similarly, ‘Richard the Smith' simply became ‘Richard Smith' over time. Furthermore, the majority of the surnames are patronymics that came from the father's first name. For example, 'Robertson,' who was formerly known as 'Robert's Son.'

Jones, Anderson, Johnson, and Miller are some other well-known surnames. One thing these surnames have in common is that they all have Scottish, English, Welsh, or Irish ancestry because the people of those countries were the first Europeans to reconcile in North America.

Top 15 Common Last Names in the United States

We are ranking each name according to their popularity in the U.S.:

  1. Smith-English
  2. Johnson- Scottish, English
  3. Williams- Welsh, English
  4. Brown- Irish, Scottish, English
  5. Jones- Welsh, English
  6. Garcia -Spanish
  7. Miller- English, Scottish
  8. Davis- Welsh, English
  9. Rodriguez- Spanish
  10. Martinez- Spanish
  11. Hernandez- Portuguese, Spanish
  12. Lopez- Spanish
  13. Gonzales- Spanish
  14. Wilson- Scottish, English
  15. Anderson- Danish, Swedish, English, Norwegian

If you want to learn more about the origin, family history, and other details of your surname, browse the surnames from A-Z to find the information you need in just one click.