What Are Common Origins of Surnames?

Smith is the most common surname in the United States, based on the 2000 census. The second most common surname was Johnson. Both are surnames of English origin.

Smith and family names derived from Smith are the most common surnames worldwide because they refer to professionals who work with metal. It was a craft that laborers in many countries practiced.

Johnson is of English origin and means “son of John." It refers to a gift from God. In the 2000 census, over one million Americans’ surname was Johnson.

The third most common surname, Williams, is also of English origin. It means “son of William.” Brown is of English, Scottish and Irish origin. It can mean “brown skinned” or “brown haired."

Jones is of English and Welsh origin and means “son of God” or “gift of God.” Miller is of Italian, French, German, English and Scottish origin. It was a common surname among professionals who worked in grain mills.

Davis is of English and Welsh origin. It means “son of David." Over one million Americans have this surname.

Garcia is of Spanish origin. One possible meaning is “son of Garcia." Rodriguez is another surname of Spanish origin. It means “descendant of." Over 800,000 people in the United States have this surname.

Wilson is of Scottish and English origin. It means “son of Will." Will is a nickname for William. Over 700,000 Americans have this surname.