100 Famous Common Surnames

Updated
Here are some of the most common surnames from around the world - did your name make the list?

There are many awesome surnames out there, but have you ever wondered about the meaning behind the most common last names?

To answer the question, we have gathered some of the most common surnames and shared the significance behind each entry.

As you read on, you’ll discover that many are “occupational,” referring to a traditional job. Or, they might be “patronymic,” which means they originate from the name of an ancestor!

Keep reading to discover more cool types of popular last names from all across the globe and learn all about their meanings and origins.


100 Common Last Names From Around the Globe

These are some of the most popular last names internationally – how many have you heard before?

  1. Adams – an Anglo-Saxon surname meaning “son of Adam,” after the popular name meaning “earth” or “man.”
  2. Ahmed – an Arabic given and last name meaning “to thank, to praise,” also spelled Ahmad.
  3. Ali – an Arabic-rooted first and last name meaning “high, exalted, elevated.”
  4. Allen – a Celtic surname meaning “harmony,” “handsome,” and “little rock,” also spelled Alan or MacAllen.
  5. Anderson – an English surname meaning “son of Andrew” – and a Greek-rooted given name meaning “manly.”
  6. Baker – a generic occupational surname from Anglo-Saxon origins, meaning “a baker.”
  7. Bernard – a strong Germanic surname and given name meaning “hardy, brave,” and “bear-like.”
  8. Black – an English color surname for someone with dark hair, features, or complexion.
  9. Brown – another common color surname, initially referring to someone with brown features or complexion.
  10. Campbell – a Gaelic entry among popular last names, with the unique meaning of “crooked mouth.”
  11. Carter – a Celtic surname and popular first name in the U.S., after someone who “carted” goods around.
  12. Chand – a Sanskrit first and last name with the ethereal meaning of ” moon.”
  13. Chen – a common Chinese surname meaning “explain, old,” and also after the ancient state of Chen.
  14. Clark – or Clarke, derived from the Latin “clericus,” meaning “secretary, clerk.”
  15. Collins – an Anglo-Saxon surname meaning “son of Colin,” with other possible origins.
  16. Davies – or Davis, of Welsh origin meaning “son of David.”
  17. Devi – common in India, this sweet last name is used among Hindu females, meaning “goddess.”
  18. Dubois – meaning “from the forest,” in French, also written as Du Bois.
  19. Evans – meaning “son of Evan,” this surname comes from the Welsh male name, meaning “God is gracious.”
  20. Fernández – means “son of Fernando,” a Spanish form of Ferdinand, meaning “brave traveler.”
  21. García – an internationally common Spanish surname, possibly derived from Basque, meaning “young” or “bear.”
  22. González – one of the top five most common surnames in Hispanic countries, meaning “son of Gonzalo” – “noble warrior.”
  23. Green – an earthy English last name, sometimes spelled Greene.
  24. Hall – a short yet common Celtic surname given to a person who may have lived in or worked at a stately hall.
  25. Hansen – a frequently-heard Scandinavian surname, meaning “son of Hans.”
  26. Harris – an English surname meaning “son of Harry,” with Harries and Harrison being other common alternatives.
  27. Hernández – means “son of Hernando,” a Spanish surname from the same stem as the Germanic name Ferdinand.
  28. Hughes – a Gaelic surname meaning “son of Hugh,” itself meaning “heart, spirit,” or ” fire.”
  29. Ivanov – meaning “son of Ivan,” Ivanov relates to the biblical John – one of Russia’s most common last names.
  30. Jackson – a common patronymic surname, meaning “son of jack.”
  31. Jenkins – from Cornish, meaning “little John” or “son of John.”
  32. Johnson – meaning “son of John,” in Anglo-Saxon, this internationally-common surname is frequently heard in America.
  33. Johnston – a cool Middle English last name meaning “John’s town.”
  34. Jones – another English surname meaning “son of John,” after the biblical first name meaning “God is gracious.”
  35. Kaur – an Indian last name from Sanskrit, meaning “princess” or “lioness.”
  36. Kelly – derived from the Irish girl name Ceallaigh, with the cute meaning of “bright-headed.”
  37. Khan – a South Asian surname heard worldwide, meaning “chief, king, ruler.”
  38. Kim – the most frequently-heard Korean last name, with the shimmering meaning of ” gold.”
  39. King – a regal surname from the Old English word “cyning,” meaning ” king.”
  40. Kumar – a Sanskrit entry among common last names, meaning “prince, boy.”
  41. Lee – an English given name and surname, taken from the Old English word for a forest or clearing, “leah.”
  42. Lewis – a common English surname with several origins, including Welsh, Gaelic, Germanic, and Norman.
  43. Li – a short but widespread Chinese last name with the sweet meaning of “plum or plum tree.”
  44. Lin – a Chinese surname heard throughout Asia, with the earthy meanings of “forest, woods.”
  45. Liu – a common Chinese surname with the dark meaning of “to kill, destroy.”
  46. López – meaning “son of Lope” in Spanish, derived from the Latin “lupus,” meaning “wolf.”
  47. MacDonald – a Scottish boy’s name meaning “son of Donald,” taken from Domhnall, meaning “ruler of the world.”
  48. Martin – the most common surname in France, meaning “son of Martin,” ultimately derived from Mars, the Roman god.
  49. Martínez – a Spanish surname meaning “son of Martin.”
  50. McLaughlin – a common Irish surname meaning “son of Lochlann,” meaning “from the land of the lakes.”
  51. Miller – a common English occupational surname for a person who worked in a mill.
  52. Mohamed – a common Arabic given and last name meaning “praiseworthy,” also spelled as Muhamad, Muhammed, or Mohammed.
  53. Moore – a Middle English-rooted surname given to a person living near a “moor” or “open land.”
  54. Müller – most common in Germany and Switzerland, meaning “miller.”
  55. Murphy – the most popular of Irish last names, meaning “descendant of Murchadh” – meaning “sea warrior.”
  56. Nelson – an English last name meaning “son of Neil,” which means “champion or hero” in Irish.
  57. Nguyen – the most popular Vietnamese surname, referring to the lute-like musical instrument.
  58. Nowak – most common in Poland, also spelled Novak in other European countries, meaning “new, newcomer.”
  59. Oliver – this super-popular given name is also a common last name, meaning “olive tree” or “elf army.”
  60. Olsen – a great Scandinavian family name meaning “son of Ole,” meaning “ancestor’s descendant.”
  61. Parker – an English occupational surname for a “park-keeper.”
  62. Patel – an Indian surname meaning “landowner,” after the word “patidar,” meaning “landlord.”
  63. Phillips – or Philips, meaning “son of Phillip,” after the Greek-rooted male name meaning “lover of horses.”
  64. Prasad – an Indian last and given name after a “favor, gift,” referring to a food offering given to a deity.
  65. Quinn – a common last and given name, derived from the Irish “Conn,” meaning “chief.”
  66. Roberts -means “son of Robert” in English, from the Germanic male name, Hrodebert meaning “bright fame.”
  67. Robinson – means “son of Robin,” from the same English stem as Robert, meaning “bright fame.”
  68. Rodríguez – a Spanish surname meaning “son of Rodrigo,” derived from the Germanic Roderick, meaning “rich in fame.”
  69. Rossi – Italy’s most popular surname has the rosy meaning of ” red.”
  70. Ryan – an Irish surname and given name meaning “descendant of Rian,” and “little king.”
  71. Santos – a Spanish and Portuguese surname meaning “saints,” also seen as Santo or Dos Santos.
  72. Satō – the most common Japanese surname, composed of elements meaning “help” and “wisteria.”
  73. Schmidt – a German version of Smith, taken from the word “schmied,” meaning “blacksmith.”
  74. Scott – a common surname and popular given name used to denote a person from Scotland.
  75. Silva – or de Silva, an internationally-heard Portuguese surname meaning “forest or woods.”
  76. Singh – a Sanskirt surname with the powerful meaning of “lion.”
  77. Smirnov – one of Russia’s most common surnames, meaning “quiet, gentle, peaceful.”
  78. Smith – the most widespread surname in countries including the UK and U.S., Smith refers to a “blacksmith.”
  79. Sousa – a common Portuguese surname after the Sousa River that runs through Portugal.
  80. Stewart – a regal Scottish last name meaning “steward,” also sometimes spelled Stuart.
  81. Taylor – a common surname and unisex given name, taken from the occupation of a tailor.
  82. Thomas – a famous western surname, taken from the popular given name, derived from the Greek for “twin.”
  83. Thompson – or Thomson, an English surname meaning “son of Thomas.”
  84. Torres – a Spanish surname with the mighty meaning of “towers.”
  85. Tremblay – a French surname common in Canada, referring to the beautiful aspen trees.
  86. Turner – a Norman occupational surname for a craftsman who used a “turning” machine known as a “lathe.”
  87. Walker – given to a person involved in “walking” – the traditional process of cleansing textiles for clothmaking.
  88. Walsh – from Irish, meaning “foreigner,” perhaps given to a “Welshman.”
  89. Wang – meaning “king,” this Chinese surname is the most common in the world.
  90. Watson – a cool English surname meaning “son of Walter” – a Germanic-rooted name meaning “army ruler.”
  91. White – yet another English color surname, originating as a nickname for those with a pale complexion.
  92. Williams – a medieval surname from the popular Germanic given name William, meaning ” warrior, protector.”
  93. Wilson – a presidential surname meaning “son of Will,” thus linking to the Germanic given name William.
  94. Wood – rustic and earthy, this English surname was given to those who lived or worked near a forest.
  95. Wright – an occupational surname from the Old English word for “craftsman,” specifically of wood, like a carpenter.
  96. Wu – a common Chinese last name, refers to the ancient state of Wu.
  97. Xu – or Hsu, a Chinese surname after the ancient state of Xu, with various meanings including “slow, calm” and “permit.”
  98. Yang – a very common Chinese surname with the nature-inspired meaning of “willow” or “aspen.”
  99. Young – derived from Middle English, initially used to distinguish a “young” son from his father.
  100. Zhao – a trendy Chinese surname meaning “jump” or “walk quickly.”

Common Last Names FAQs

What is the Most Common Surname in the USA?

Smith is the most common surname in the USA, Canada, and the UK, with popular last names such as Johnson, Jones, and Brown also ranking very highly.

What is the Most Common Last Name in the World?

Wang is the most common surname in the world, originating in China.

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About the Author

Madeleine Lily Webb

Madeleine is a writer from somewhere near Manchester, England. Madeleine's background in languages and linguistics has led to baby names becoming one of her favorite topics to write about. When she's not fallen down a rabbit hole of stories behind unique names, Madeleine can be found hanging out with her cat, taking photos of flowers, or dancing.