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Common US Surnames & Their Meanings

Surname Ranks from the 2000 U.S. Census

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Smith, Johnson, Williams, Jones, Brown... Are you one of the millions of Americans sporting one of these top 100 common last names from the 2000 census? The following list of the most commonly occurring surnames in America includes details on each name's origin and meaning. It's interesting to note, that since 1990, the only other time this surname report has been compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau, two Hispanic surnames -- Garcia and Rodriguez -- have risen into the top 10.

1. SMITH

USA, New York City, Time Square, people walking
Andy Ryan/Stone/Getty Images
Population Count: 2,376,206
Smith is an occupational surname for a man who works with metal (smith or blacksmith), one of the earliest jobs for which specialist skills were required. It is a craft that was practiced in all countries, making the surname and its derivations the most common of all surnames around the world.

2. JOHNSON

Population Count: 1,857,160
An English patronymic surname meaning "son of John (gift of God)."

3. WILLIAMS

Population Count: 1,534,042
The most common origin of the Williams surname is patronymic, meaning "son of William," but there are also others.

4. BROWN

Population Count: 1,380,145
A descriptive surname meaning "brown haired" or "brown skinned."

5. JONES

Population Count: 1,362,755
A patronymic name meaning "son of John (God has favored or gift of God)."

6. MILLER

Population Count: 1,127,803
The most common derivation of this surname is as an occupation name referring to a person who worked in a grain mill.

7. DAVIS

Population Count: 1,072,335
A patronymic surname meaning "Son of David (beloved)."

8. GARCIA

Population Count: 858,289
There are several possible origins for this popular Hispanic surname. The most common meaning is "descendant or son of Garcia (the Spanish form of Gerald)."

9. RODRIGUEZ

Population Count: 804,240
A patronymic name meaning "son of Rodrigo." The "ez or es" added to the root signifies "descendant of."

10. WILSON

Population Count: 783,051
An English or Scottish surname meaning "son of Will," a nickname for William.
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