Origins of the Most Common Names in the USA             

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  If you are one of the millions named Smith, Jones, Johnson, Brown, and Williams or another common names, have a read of this article about these names’ origins and meanings. Let’s dive right in.

Most popular last names

Smith is the most frequently occurring last name in the US. It is an occupational name for a blacksmith, one of the first jobs that required specialized skills. Smithery is practiced all over the world, so this name is not popular only in the US.  

Johnson

John means “God’s gift,” and the last name means “son of John.” Jones is a variant of Johnson.

Williams

This is a patronymic last name, which means “son of William.” Wilson is another common Scottish and English last name all over the world, and it means “son of Will.” Will is a common nickname for William. The name William itself is a combination of wil and helm, meaning “will or desire” resp. “protection or helmet.”

Liam is one of the most popular first names for boys today. It is a shortened variant of William.

Brown

Brown is one of the few descriptive and common last names. It means “brown-skinned” or “brown-haired.”

Garcia

This popular Hispanic last name has a few possible origins. Most likely, it is a patronymic name.

Miller

This is an occupational last name given to someone who milled coin or grain.

Davis

Davis means “Son of David,” while David means “beloved.”

Rodriguez

Rodriguez is another patronymic last name, which means “son of Rodrigo.” The name Rodrigo means “prominent ruler.”

Lopez

Lopez means “son of Lope.” Lope is Spanish and comes from a form of Lupus, which means “wolf” in Latin.

Thomas

Thomas means “twin” in Aramaic. It has been a popular first name since the Middle Ages.

Taylor

The last entry on this list is an occupational last name for a person who worked as a tailor.

Most common first names

This section presents some of the most common first names according to the official Social Security ranking.

The list starts with Jacob, who was the father of the founders of the 12 Israeli tribes in the Old Testament. The name James comes from Jacob.

Hebrew origin names

Another popular name, Noah, comes from “Noach” in Hebrew. This word means “comfort” or “rest.”

The name Elizabeth comes from Hebrew through Greek. The Hebrew name “Elisheva” became “Elisabet” in Greek. Elisheva means “God is abundant.” The Latin version of this name is Isabella. In medieval times, many royal women had this name, such as Queen Isabella I of Castile.

Ethan comes from Eitan in Hebrew, meaning “solid” and “resilient.” It’s also a common names in Canada.

Michael comes from Mikha’el in Hebrew, which is associated with a rhetorical question: who is like God? The idea is that no one is. Still, it has been a popular name in Western Europe since medieval times.

Mia was a nickname for Mariam and Maria, which in turn came from the Hebrew Miriam, who was Moses’ sister and a prophet in the Old Testament.

Both the names Daniel and Elijah come from Hebrew. Daniel comes from the prophet “Daniyyel,” which translates as “only God can judge me.” Elijah comes from “Eliyyahu,” which means “Yahweh is God” or “my God is Yahweh.”

Greek origin names

Thanks to Alexander the Great, the name Alexander has spread like wildfire in Europe. It comes from Greek and means “defender of men.”

Chloe was an alias of the Greek goddess Demeter, who ruled agriculture and the harvest. The name means “young foliage” or “green shoot.”

The Normans adopted the name Ella from the Germanic name “Alia,” meaning “other.” Later, they brought it to England. The name also has Greek roots. It means “bright light.”

One of the most common first names for girls, Sophia, comes from the word “wisdom” in Greek. Emma comes from “ermen,” a Germanic word that means “universal” or “whole.”

Latin origin names

No list of well-liked and known girls’ names can omit Emily, which comes from “Aemilia” in Latin and means “eager” or “striving.”

Germanic origin names

Ava, believed to be a contemporary version of Eve, was short for all Germanic names that started with “avi,” which could have meant “wanted.”

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