Video:What Are the Most Common Surnames in the USwith Aubrey
Common surnames in the United States may have similar roots. Learn the most common surnames in the U.S. along with their meanings and origins with information from the US census report.See Transcript
Transcript:What Are the Most Common Surnames in the US
Hi, I'm Aubrey with About.com. Today, We’ll discuss the most common US surnames in the according to the 2000 United States Census Report.
Surnames are Divided into Categories
For the most part, surnames can be divided into four main categories, there are of course exceptions.
Patronymics is the first category. It refers to when a last name is derived from a father's name. One example is: Ericson, derived from “The son of Eric.”
Place names or local names were used to differentiate a man from his neighbor by describing him terms of his geographic surroundings or location. The surname “Woods” is an example.
Descriptive names or nicknames were derived from a physical or other characteristic of first bearer. They make up an estimated 10% of all surname or family names. “Armstrong” is an example.
Occupational Names were of course derived from the occupation or status of the first bearer. Taylor, one that makes or repairs garments is an example.
Common US Surnames Include:
The most common surname is Smith, derived from an occupational name for a man who works with metal (such as a blacksmith). Johnson is the second most common name in the US and Williams is the third most common name. Both Johnson and Williams are examples of Patronymics, they are names that were passed down from father to son, literally meaning "son of John" and “son of William” respectively.
Brown is the fourth most common surname. It is an example of a descriptive name, most likely referring to the color of the original bearer’s complexion, hair color, or commonly worn garment.
Jones is the fifth most common surname in the US. It is another example of Patronymics and means son of John, similarly to Johnson. Miller, an example of an occupational name, is the sixth most common surname and Davis, from “son of David” is the seventh most common surname.
Spanish Surnames Common in the US:
Garcia emerged on the top 10 US surname list for the first time in 2000. It is the eighth most popular name and is Spanish for "descendant of Gerald" or "one who came from Garcia, Spain. Garcia is "followed by Rodriquez in the 9th position. Rodriquez means refers to a descendent of Rodrigo, the Spanish form of Roderick, which means "famous power.
The surname information on the About.com genealogy site was taken from the 2000 Census Report. Thank you for watching, for more helpful information about how to make a genealogy chart or family tree, visit: genealogy.about.com