Most Common Last Names in the U.S.
The Most Popular Last Names
Surnames, or family names, were first used during medieval times and usually referred to a person's occupation (i.e. Miller, Tailor, Potter, Weaver, Baker). These are called occupational names. Other common surnames were patronymics, which came from a father's first name and then "son" was added, as in Stevenson, Davidson, Robertson or Richardson.
Surnames could also come from places--a hint that a name comes from a place might be the endings -field, -ford, -brook, or -wood, for example. The trend of naming people after the places that they come from goes beyond the English language, many German, Dutch Norwegian and Swedish last names end in -berg (which means mountain in those languages).
A lot of these same principles apply in other language. For example the suffix "-ez" in Spanish names is a patronymic like "-son". Martinez then would be the descendant of Martn.
In the United States, Smith was the most popular surname in in 1990 and retained that spot ten years later. Garcia jumped in popularity from 18th-most-popular name in 1990 to sixth-most-popular last name in 2010. Robinson was the 20th-most-popular name in 1990 but fell off the list, as Latino surnames become more common.
Visit Family Name Search to discover the meanings and origins of last names.
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