World’s most common surnames

There’s an old saying ‘more Chins than a Chinese phone book’, but is it the most common surname in China? How many Smiths or Millers do you know? What’s in a name? What are the etymologies of surnames?

“The origins and usage of our surnames reveal extraordinary insights into the history and culture of different societies,” says NetCredit, which has released a comprehensive list of the world’s most common surnames, mapped on an infographic ‘atlas’.

The origins of surnames typically derive from occupations, personal descriptions, place names (of birth or residence), from family lineage or ancestry and names signifying patronage.

There must have been a lot of metal workers in Australia, New Zealand, the UK, USA and Canada, as the most common second name in all of these nations is Smith. The most popular names across Oceania are Kumar (of Indian origin) in Fiji and Mori (of Japanese origin) in Micronesia.

In Asia, it’s Tan (from ‘Chen’), derived from an important state in China’s Zhou dynasty and the most common last name in Malaysia and Singapore. Nyugen (one in every four names), Kim (one in every five) and Wang (one in every 13) are the most popular names in Vietnam, North and South Korea and China respectively.

Smith holds sway in Canada and the US of A, and in Mexico and some Central American countries, Hernandez is the most popular.

South America’s Spanish influence is evidenced in the most common last names there – Gonzalez and Rodriguez.

European surnames are most likely derived from an ancestor’s occupation, such as Muller (‘miller’) in Germany and Switzerland. The most popular name in the UK is Smith, and Martin, Garcia and Rossi are the most common names in France, Spain and Italy respectively.

Are you surprised at the common surnames?

If you enjoy our content, don’t keep it to yourself. Share our free eNews with your friends and encourage them to sign up.

Related articles:
Here’s a heatmap of your surname
What does your surname mean?
The new boom in boomer travel

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Publisher of YourLifeChoices – Australia's most-trusted and longest-running retirement website. A trusted voice on Australia's retirement landscape, including retirement income and planning, government entitlements, lifestyle and news and information relevant to Australians over 50. Leon has worked in publishing for more than 25 years and is also a travel writer and editor, graphic designer and photographer.

Leave a Reply

‘Recycling’ the secret to a long life

Avoiding the Christmas bloat