Most frequent surnames

Discussion in 'Cultural Discussions' started by Frank78, Aug 26, 2009.

  1. Frank78

    Frank78 Senior Member

    Hello all,

    I´d like to know what the most frequent surnames in your country are.
    Please also give a rough translation. In Germany most surnames derived from occupations.

    1. Schmidt/Schmitt/Schmid/Schmit/etc. (blacksmith)
    2. Meyer/Mayer/Meier/Maier/etc. (a tenant or a civil servant)
    3. Müller (miller)
    4. Schneider (tailor)
    5. Fischer (fisherman)
    6. Weber (weaver)
    7. Wagner (wainwright)
  2. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    Another Country
    English English
    Hello Frank. Well, you've already named 4 very common UK surnames: Smith, Miller, Taylor, Fisher. Weaver and Wainwright are slightly less so. Other very common occupational surnames include: Cooper ('barrel-maker'), Fletcher ('arrow-maker') ...
    Nickname surnames also constitute some of our commonest surnames: Brown, Green, White, etc.
  3. mirx Banned

    México, and I assume all other Spanish-speaking countries, have surnames deriving from personal names, such as:
    Martinez = Son of Martin.
    Fernandez = Son of Ferdinand
    Perez = Son of Peter.

    These would be the commonest surnames.

    Family names derived from occupations are also quite popular.

    Herrera : Blacksmith
    Pescador: Fisherman.
    Molina : Miller
    Zapatero: Shoemaker

    My mind is tired so I presume a lot of occupation-related names are escaping me.
  4. Macunaíma

    Macunaíma Senior Member

    Um ninho de mafagalfinhos
    português, Brasil
    In Brazil the most common surname is Silva, of Galician origin, which comes from Latin and means bush or heath. Our current President is a da Silva. Each region in Brazil has its most common surnames. Where I come from, one of the most common ones is Negreiros, which, shocking as it may seem, means slave traders.
  5. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod (English Only)

    Here's an interesting Wikipedia article on the topic, with listings by country:

    According to the chart in this article (based on 2000 Census data), the top ten surnames in the U.S. are:

    Smith - a smith
    Johnson - John's son
    Williams - William's (family?)
    Miller - someone who mills
    Rodriguez - son of Rodrigo ?
    Wilson - son of Will

    I think this is the first time I've seen hispanic names in the top ten.
  6. Frank06

    Frank06 Senior Member

    Nederlands / Dutch (Belgium)

    According to this website, the most frequent surnames in Flanders, Belgium are:
    Peeters (son of Peter)
    Janssens (son of Jan)
    Maes (son of Maas (Thomas))
    Jacobs (son of Jacob)
    Mertens (son of Maarten)
    Willems (son of Wilhelm)
    Claes (son of Nicolaas/Niklaas)
    Goossens (patronym)
    Wouters (son of Wouter)
    De Smet (smith)

    And in the Netherlands:
    De Jong (compare with junior)
    Jansen (see above)
    De Vries (the Frisian)
    Van den Berg (from a place which is a bit higher)
    Bakker (baker)
    Van Dijk (dike)
    Janssen (see above)
    Visser (fisher)
    Smit (smith)
    De Boer (farmer)

    In Wallonia, Belgium (here):
    Dubois (from the forrest)
    Lambert (son of Lambrecht)
    Martin (son of Maarten)
    Dupont (from the bridge)
    Dumont (from the mountain)
    Simon (of Simon)
    Leclercq (the clark)
    Laurent (patronym)
    Lejeune (see De Jong, junior)
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2009
  7. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    Another Country
    English English
    Here are the most common surnames in the UK:

    1. SMITH
    2. JONES
    4. BROWN
    5. TAYLOR
    6. DAVIES
    7. WILSON
    8. EVANS
    9. THOMAS
    10. JOHNSON
    Patronymic: Jones (John), Williams, Davies (David), Wilson (Will[iam]), Evans (Evan/Ifan), Thomas, Johnson.
    Occupational: Smith, Taylor.
    Nickname: Brown.

    Four of the patronymics (Jones, Williams, Davies, Evans) are thought of as specifically Welsh in origin ... strange when you consider the absolutely minimal impact the Welsh language had on English in general.
  8. Revontuli

    Revontuli Senior Member

    Thanks for the thread, Frank. It's really interesting:)
    I confirm the list of Wikipedia, the most common ones in Turkey are:

    1. Yılmaz (dauntless)
    2. Kaya (rock)
    3. Demir (iron)
    4. Şahin (falcon)
    5. Çelik (steel)
    6. [name]oğlu (son of [name])
    7. Kara(black)
  9. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    Another Country
    English English
    Wow, Turkish surnames are exciting!
  10. federicoft Senior Member

    According to this site, these are the 20 most common surnames in Italy.

    1. Rossi
    2. Russo
    3. Ferrari
    4. Esposito
    5. Bianchi
    6. Romano
    7. Colombo
    8. Ricci
    9. Marino
    10. Greco
    11. Bruno
    12. Gallo
    13. Conti
    14. De Luca
    15. Costa
    16. Giordano
    17. Mancini
    18. Rizzo
    19. Lombardi
    20. Moretti

    The first two mean "redhead", with Russo being specifically Southern Italian. Ferrari means "smith". The other surnames refer to geographical locations (Romani - from Rome; Greco - Greek; Lombardi - Lombard), phisical features (Ricci and Rizzo - curly hair; Mancini - left-handed; Bruno - dark-haired) or derive from Latin names (Marino, Colombo, De Luca).
  11. Pedro y La Torre Senior Member

    Hauts-de-Seine, France
    English (Ireland)
    In Ireland there's only one winner: Murphy, which comes from the Irish meaning sea-warrior :D

    Others such as Mc, O' (meaning son of) etc. deriving from the Irish and Norman names such as Fitzsimons, Fitzgerald (which comes from the French fils de) are also very widespread.

    Here's one list of the top 20 most popular surnames in Ireland.

    It should be noted that in Ireland everyone has both Irish and English versions of their name, so those choosing to use the Irish version of Murphy, Ó Murchú, probably wouldn't even be included in the English list.
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2009
  12. Macunaíma

    Macunaíma Senior Member

    Um ninho de mafagalfinhos
    português, Brasil
    According to the Wikipedia article linked by JamesM, the second most common surname in Rio de Janeiro is Santos (saints), which was a surname commonly given to baptized slaves (although there are a few dos Santos families in Portugal too, especially in the Azores islands). Other surnames traditionally given to such slaves were de Jesus and Nascimento (birth).

    Other translatable names on the list are: Oliveira (olive tree), Pereira (pear tree), Costa (coast), Carvalho (oak), Almeida (a toponym of arabic origin, probably named the family of some Portuguese warrior who fought in the Reconquest War), Lima (lime), Rocha (rock), Pinto (chick [bird]), Cunha (wedge).
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2009
  13. Revontuli

    Revontuli Senior Member

    But they look a bit scary compared to other translations like olive tree, baker, shoemaker etc...:D
  14. RaLo18 Senior Member

    The most common names in Israel are by far Cohen כהן (priest) and Levi לוי (one of Jacob's children and an Israelite tribe called after him, or levite, a descendant of this tribe).

    According to Wikipedia, the top five surnames are:

    1) כהן Cohen (2.52% of the population)
    2) לוי Levi (1.48%)
    3) מזרחי Mizrachi (0.47%) = eastern.
    4) פרץ Peretz (0.42%) - a biblical name, Pharez.
    5) ביטון Biton (0.40%) - from vita = life
  15. HUMBERT0

    HUMBERT0 Senior Member

    In Mexico: Anything ending in -ez "son of" is very popular... :D

    Hernández. Son of Hernando variation of Fernando, Germanic Fredenand or Fridnand
    García . Of Pre-Roman origin, either Iberian or Basque
    Martínez. Son of Martin, also from Latin, derived from Martis
    López. Son of Lope, from Latin Lupus, meaning wolf
    González. Son of Gonzalo, from the Latinised form Gundisalvus, of Germanic origin
    Rodríguez. Son of Rodrigo, from Germanic Roderic
    Pérez. Son of Pedro, from Latin Petrus
    Sánchez. Son of Sancho, from Latin Sanct
    Ramírez. Son of Ramiro, from Germanic Radamir or Radmir
  16. rusita preciosa

    rusita preciosa Modus forendi

    USA (Φιλαδέλφεια)
    Russian (Moscow)
    Below are the top-20 names. The endings -ov, -ev, -iov mean something like "belonging to..."; "from the people of..." (e.g. Ivanov: literally, "from the people of Ivan" or more generally, "son of Ivan"). So, you can add this to any word and get a genuine-sounding Russian surname :)

    1. Смирнов (Smirnov) - son of a person nicknamed “quiet one
    2. Иванов (Ivanov) – son of Ivan
    3. Кузнецов (Kuznetsov) – son of a blacksmith
    4. Попов (Popov) – son of a priest (yes, Orthodox priests are allowed – even encouraged – to have large families and boy they did, hence Popov is 4th most common family name! :D)
    5. Соколов (Sokolov) – son of a person nicknamed “falcon”
    6. Лебедев (Lebedev) son of a person nicknamed “swan"
    7. Козлов (Kozlov) ) son of a person nicknamed “goat"
    8. Новиков (Novikov) son of a person nicknamed “the new one”
    9. Морозов (Morozov) son of a person nicknamed “frost"
    10. Петров (Petrov) son of Peter
    11. Волков (Volkov) son of a person nicknamed “wolf"
    12. Соловьёв (Soloviev) son of a person nicknamed “nightingale”
    13. Васильев (Vassiliev) – son of Vassili
    14. Зайцев (Zaitsev) son of a person nicknamed “hare”
    15. Павлов (Pavlov) – son of Pavel (Paul)
    16. Семёнов (Semionov) – son of Semion
    17. Голубев (Golubev) son of a person nicknamed “pigeon”
    18. Виноградов (Vinogradov) son of a person nicknamed “grape”; possibly winemaker
    19. Богданов (Bogdanov) son of Bogdan (Bogdan means Given by God)
    20. Воробьёв (Vorobiev) son of a person nicknamed “sparrow”
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2009
  17. Frank78

    Frank78 Senior Member

    Protestant bishops and priests are also allowed to marry and have children while their catholic counterparts must not marry.
  18. Favara Senior Member

    Catalan - Southern Val.
    The most common in Catalan:
    1. Vila ("Village", seems like it originally meant "house")
    2. Vidal ("Lively" , "healthy", "strong")
    3. Serra ("Mountain range")
    4. Martí ("Martin", a name)
    5. Ferrer ("Blacksmith")
    6. Soler (From solar, ~"lands")
    7. Puig ("Mountain", "peak")
    8. Roca ("Rock")
    9. Pujol ("Small mountain")
    10. Font ("Fountain")
    11. Duran (?)
    12. Medina (From arabic medina, "city")
    13. Costa ("Coast")
    14. Rovira (From Latin robereda, meaning "oak forest")
    15. Sala ("Hall")
    16. Pons (From ponts, "bridges")
    17. Bosch (Old writing of bosc, "forest")
    18. Roig ("Red")
    19. Mora ("Blackberry")
    20. Riera ("Creek")
  19. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    Another Country
    English English
    I kept reading all these surnames in other languages and thinking, "Wow, British surnames are so dull in comparison." Then I realized that we do actually have a lot of those surnames ... it's just that they're not especially common. It's only our commonest surnames that are so dull (which perhaps says something about us:D):

    Новиков ~ New
    Морозов ~ Frost
    Соловьёв ~ Nightingale
    Голубев ~ Pi(d)geon

    Vidal ~ Strong
    Sala ~ Hall
    Pons ~ Bridges
    Bosch ~ For(r)est

  20. Revontuli

    Revontuli Senior Member

    And yes, "Güçlü(Strong)" is another common surname in Turkish too.
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2009
  21. swift

    swift Senior Member

    Spanish – Costa Rica (Valle Central)
    Me llama mucho la atención ese significado. Quizá en la heráldica española se considere así, pero hasta donde yo tengo entendido Pérez es un nombre propio de origen hebreo. :confused:

    En Costa Rica: Hernández, Sánchez. Son los que tengo en mente. Pero consultaré la guía telefónica (es una excelente fuente ;)).
  22. Frank78

    Frank78 Senior Member

    The first German name not refering to an occupation is on place 15: "Klein" (the small). I´m wondering what would happen if the German Mr. Small meets the Turkish Mr. Rock. :D

    The first non-Germanic name is on place 157 "Nowak" (Polish origin), place 587: "Yilmaz" (due to many Turkish immigrants), place 815 "Nguyen" (the former GDR had a lot of Vietnamese guest workers)
  23. Revontuli

    Revontuli Senior Member

    Yılmaz:eek:? Well, of course, not that hard to imagine.

    OK, I accept the common Turkish surnames sound a bit...harsh:eek: But Mr Klein and Mr Rock would get on well.
  24. mirx Banned

    Swift, no sé de dónde con exactitud venga el nombre, lo que sí que al español llegó del latín. Y por supuesto que no me refería a Peter como nombre propio inglés, sino como la traducción de Hijo de Pedro. Tomando en cuanta que Pedro al español llegó de otro lado.

    Last edited: Aug 28, 2009
  25. Favara Senior Member

    Catalan - Southern Val.
    Maybe it has something to do with the Catalan version of the name, Pere. Or with the related surname, Peris (-is in Catalan surnames is like -ez in Spanish, so there's Peris, Gomis, Ferrandis...).
  26. Namakemono

    Namakemono Senior Member

    Galicia, España
    Español, gallego (España)
    Pérez, según entiendo, es el hijo de Pedro, que significa piedra. Es el equivalente de Pierre, Peter y Piero. Nuestros apellidos acabados en -ez, si no me equivoco, derivan del genitivo latino.
  27. Chaska Ñawi

    Chaska Ñawi modus borealis

    an old Ontario farmhouse
    Canadian English
    And now, a note from your friendly neighbourhood moderators:

    This thread came perilously near to being closed, because it asked for - and received - lists. Technically it should have been removed immediately, since the cultural guidelines are quite explicit about not responding with these.

    However, the cultural moderators have lives apart from WordReference (who knew? :)) and missed this thread for a day or so.... and some of the posts have been quite informative and interesting.

    We are therefore making an exception for this thread only. Current posts will be allowed to remain. Subsequent posts that consist of lists only, with insufficient explanation or context, will be deleted.

    The thread will remain open as long as everyone is content to abide by these rules.

    Last edited: Oct 6, 2009
  28. Hakro

    Hakro Senior Member

    Helsinki, Finland
    Finnish - Finland
    The Finnish surnames refer mostly to the place where the family lived, and there's very often the ending -nen or -lainen. Another very common ending is -la.

    Until this year Virtanen has been the most common name, and it can be interpreted like this: Virta = river; Virtanen = someone who lives on a river. Similarly, the third common name is Nieminen: Niemi = cape; Nieminen = someone who lives on a cape.

    Still some 150 years ago the surname was the same as the name of the farm. When a person or a family moved to another place, they often took a new surname.

    There are only a few Finnish surnames referring to a profession. Seppä (smith) with a couple of variations is the most common.

    Under the threat of closing this thread I won't put a list of the most common Finnish surnames, but it might be interesting to know that just a few months ago the surname Korhonen overtook the so far leader Virtanen, just as suddenly as Räikkönen overtook Fisichella in Spa today. (Maybe Korhonen used the KERS?)

    Korhonen probably means someone who lives on a high place (korkea = high) but this is only my own guess.
  29. Revontuli

    Revontuli Senior Member

    Having a special interest in anything Finnish, thank you for sharing this, Hakro:).

    I forgot to add, another common surname here is the one that ends with "-türk(Turk)": Öztürk, Şentürk etc. And like in Finnish, few surnames are related to a profession in Turkish.

    It surprises me, although people were called as "son of..." or "X from (city/village name etc)" before having surnames in Turkey, they're not in the list of most common ones.
  30. Valeria Mesalina

    Valeria Mesalina Senior Member

    Santiago de Compostela
    Spanish, Spain
    Some of those names match the Galician Pereira, Oliveira, Costa, Carballo.

    The most common names in Galicia are the ones thet end in -ez, already mentioned as son of. Son of Pero (Pérez), son of Nuño (Núñez).

    Name places are also common, with the particularity that many of them have two versions.

    Costa (coast) and Dacosta (from the coast)
    Vila (city) and Davila
    Campo (field) and Docampo
    Ponte (bridge) and Daponte
    Castro (fortified village on top of a hill) and Docastro.

    There is, too, a terrible name quite common here: Expósito (abandoned at birth). I can only imagine that, due to the massive male emigration during past centuries, the number of illegitimate chidren spread like fire.

    And there is one that is quite common in the Rías Altas: Dios.
  31. Ivonne do Tango

    Ivonne do Tango Senior Member

    En un cafetín de Buenos Aires
    Porteño de arrabal
    I found very interesting this Discussion and I saw it was in September the last post.

    De todas maneras (sigo en español que me fluye) quisiera agregar que en Argentina no hay un estilo de apellido definido debido a la colonización y a las inmigraciones que hemos recibido de Europa.

    Por tal motivo, la guía telefónica de Buenos Aires (la cual ha recibido gran número de inmigrantes españoles) tiene numerosas páginas para González, Pérez, Gutiérrez. Los apellidos españoles abundan, de este tipo y de los vascos como Olartechea-Urtizberea-Berea-Dolagaratz. Los hay catalanes como Llavallol-Serrot-Prat-etc. También los hay frances como Auge-Betancourt-Dubois, etc. y de muchas otras nacionalidades.

    Por otro lado, en Bs. As. compiten apellidos españoles con los italianos del sur que ha sido otra fuerte inmigración, aunque éstos se han asentado más en el litoral de Argentina. Corrientes tiene una fuerte influencia Guaraní, Santa Fe ha recibido inmigración italiana y también austríaca, polaca y alemana (judíos) por lo que abundan los apellidos de orígen alemán y polaco. Misiones por ejemplo (limite con Brasil) son todos apellidos italianos y alemanes.

    Los apellidos aborígenes: en quechua-tupí guaraní-mocobí-mapuches-tehuelches-onas, etc., etc... No conozco ninguna persona que tenga un apellido originario de nuestra tierra :warn:
  32. Chaska Ñawi

    Chaska Ñawi modus borealis

    an old Ontario farmhouse
    Canadian English
    En Canada los sacerdotes y oficiales cambiaron los apelidos de la mayoría de los originarios, sino los Inuit (Esquimales). No sé porqué lo mismo no se ocurrieron en occidente de Bolivia, pero allá quedan mucha gente con el apelido Mamani, Poma (= puma), Pachacopa, Apaza, y otros apelidos aymaras y quechuas.
  33. stevea Senior Member

    UK English
    Over in Wales - Jones, Evans, Williams and Hughes. Have a look at the teams for the Rugby Internationals to get a flavour.
  34. Ivonne do Tango

    Ivonne do Tango Senior Member

    En un cafetín de Buenos Aires
    Porteño de arrabal
    Hi all,

    The suggestion of Stevea is great to watch the most frequent surnames in a country. In our Rugby selection "Los Pumas", you will find Italian, Spanish, Catalan and from País Vasco surnames (also in Hockey "Las Leonas"). In football is very commom the italian surnames: Batistuta-Maradona-Mascherano-Caniggia-Paletta-Battaglia-Abbondanzieri-ect., etc.

    En Argentina, aunque deben haberlos, son contados con los dedos de la mano. En otros países de latinoamérica como Bolivia o Perú es más habitual conocer apellidos originarios, pero en su gran mayoría son españoles.

    Es muy común conocer personas con rasgos indígenas llamados Acuña, León, Paniagua, Navarro, etc.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 14, 2009
  35. javier8907 Senior Member

    Spanish - Spain
    I cannot add much more to what other people have said about Spanish surnames: the most common of them are derived from patronyms -like in Russian, but not so overwhelmingly, yet unlike Russian, (nearly) always -actually I can't think of a single counter-example- from the father's christian name.

    These are the most common 20 surnames in Spain, as of 2008.

    García (from the christian name García, inexisting now but quite popular during the Middle Ages)
    González (son of Gonzalo, of Germanic origin)
    Rodríguez (son of Rodrigo, ")
    Fernández (son of Fernando, ")
    López (son of Lope, somehow deriving from Latin "lupus", wolf)
    Martínez (son of Martín)
    Sánchez (son of Sancho, a popular name in northern Spanish Middle Ages of pre-Roman origin and unclear etimology)
    Pérez (son of Pedro)
    Gómez (son of Gome, of Gmc or.)
    Martín (son of Martín)
    Jiménez (son of Jimeno, analogous to Sancho)
    Ruiz (son of Ruy, short form of Rodrigo)
    Hernández (son of Hernando, from Fernando)
    Díaz (son of Diego)
    Moreno (tan or brown/black haired)
    Álvarez (son of Álvaro, of Gmc or.)
    Muñoz (son of Muño)
    Romero (rosemary, or pilgrim, particularly if to Rome)
    Alonso (from the given name Alonso, of Gmc or.)
    Gutiérrez (son of Gutierre, ", cognate to Walter)

    So Spanish most common surnames are, except for very minor exceptions, derived from patronyms -used in the Middle Ages instead of surnames- themselves deriving from such names as were popular then. This could make the misleading impression that the great majority of surnames in Spain are like this, but it these 20 amount only to the 25% of all the Spanish population. However, in the next 80, only 21-23 -I have doubts regarding whether those two are or not patronyms- are so, scattered among them.

    As I can extract from a random list of names, choosing always rather common ones as far as I can discern, we have general toponyms -Vargas (slopes), Moral (mulberry tree), Castillo (castle), Puga (hill, in some romanic Spanish language, but not Castilian), Serrano (somebody from the mountains)- descriptive surnames -Hermoso (fair), Rubio (fair-haired), Calvo (bald)- simple nouns whose relation to the person I cannot see clear -Guerra (war), Flores (flowers)- concrete toponyms -Zamora (a town in western Spain), Alfaro (a town in La Rioja, in northern Spain), León (a city in north-western Spain, seat of the kings of the former homonymous kingdom; also "lion"), Navarro (somebody from Navarre, former kingdom and region of Spain)- denoting status -Caballero (knight), Conde (count)- and indeed professions -Pastor (shepherd), Arriero (muleteer), Cirujano (surgeon)- although they are much rarer with the exceptions of "Pastor" and "Herrero" (smith), or religious -Salvador (saviour), Santana (saint Anne)... With this I intend to give a hint of the most common types of surnames -after the patronyms- given that these are only about one third of the total.

    On the contrary, Basque surnames are nearly always toponymical, either the name of a house -most of the times named after the place where it stands, which would be a general toponym- or the name of a village, which usually has also the form of a general toponym, in that it can usually be separated in its constituent parts, and each makes sense on its own in the language spoken today; or a general toponym itself. Thus, it is not easy to distinguish between them. Although the most common surnames in all the four Basque-speaking provinces are patronyms from the crown of Castile such as I just showed -due to heavy internal immigration, mostly from western Spain during the 20th century, even though they did occur before- a half or more of people's surnames are of Basque origin in areas where Basque is spoken or has been spoken until recently -in other areas, autoctonous romanic developments are found, mostly patronyms and toponyms. In the list of the 50 most common surnames in each province, below the top ten the local ones tend to predominate.

    A non-exhaustive list shows:

    Uriarte, Iriarte -between town(s)
    Urrutia -a place far away
    Madariaga -a river side with pear trees
    Arana -valley, plum (tree)
    Goñi -a village, apparently related to "goi" (top)
    Etxeberria/Etxebarria -new house
    Ochoa -wolf
    Huarte/Ugarte -island, between waters
    Elizalde/Elizondo -next to the church
    Arrieta -place with rocks

    as somewhat common Basque surnames, although by no means comprising an important portion of the population of Basque-speaking areas, as a lot of surnames exist scattered throughout the territory, some as full of colour as Ansoátegui, a toponym itself derived from an antroponym (a variation of Sancho) and a suffix indicating "place", Galzaraborda -shed by the road, or Aguirregomezcorta, a compound surname from "Aguirre", "Gómez" and "Corta", meaning "pen", "stall" or "stable".
  36. Hulalessar

    Hulalessar Senior Member

    English - England
    Can anyone explain why Brown, Green, White, Black and Grey are common surnames but Red, Yellow and Blue are not?
  37. Macunaíma

    Macunaíma Senior Member

    Um ninho de mafagalfinhos
    português, Brasil
    In Brazil, soon after the independence from Portugal in 1822, many families, in a wave of nationalism, adopted names of indigenous origin; interestingly enough, this happened chiefly among aristocratic families who supported independence, many of them descendants of Portuguese noble houses, so it isn't very common nor very authentic ;). In my city of origin, Diamantina (once the richest city in the whole Portuguese Empire), there are two such cases: the Cangussu family and the Pitanguy family (among whose members is the plastic surgeon Ivo Pitanguy). Other names taken from indigenous peoples I can remember are Tupinambás and Pirajá (the latter was adopted as the family name of a Viscount). Modernly, it is common for indigenous people to adopt the name of their ethnic group as their surname when they leave their aldeias -- in Minas Gerais, I know of the Krenák and Maxacali groups who adopt this practice.
  38. javier8907 Senior Member

    Spanish - Spain
    An interesting question. In Spain, "Blanco" (white) is most common, then "Pardo" (brown), then "Rojo" and "Bermejo" (both meaning red), while "Negro", "Verde" (green), Amarillo (yellow)... are rarer.
  39. basslop

    basslop Senior Member

    In Norway colour surnames are very rare. Of those who have such names, Brun (=Brown) and Rø(e)d (=Red) are the most common. A few are named Grøn(n) (=Green). Other colour are in practice absent. There are of course ancestors of immigrants that have colour name in their own langauage (Schwartz, White, Amarillo etc).

    Most surnames in Norway are of type "-sen" which corresponds to "-son" in English. The rest are mostly names describing nature elements, like -berg/-fjell (rock/mountain), -vann (water), -ås/-li/-bakke (hill), jordet (field), -myr (moor), -skog (wood), etc. I would guess that the colour names are a kind of description of nature. Røed may for instance describe that the family has its origin at a place with red sunsets or very strong autumn colours.
  40. javier8907 Senior Member

    Spanish - Spain
    So Erik the Red would have come from such a place...

    I would rather say they come from nicknames, as many other surnames in a lot of languages. Without thinking much I can remember another instance of a nickname related to colour, Fulques Nerra (black), from the French 10th-11th centuries.
  41. In Czech republic the most common ´colour surnames´ are Černý(Black) , Šedivý (Grey) , Červený (Red) , Bílý ( White)

    The most common surnames of all are following :
    Novák ( nový=new)
    Horák ( hora=mountain)
    Procházka(=a walk)
  42. sdr083

    sdr083 Senior Member

    Norwegian (NN)
    Most common surnames in Norway (from Statistisk Sentralbyrå):
    1. Hansen
    2. Johansen
    3. Olsen
    4. Larsen
    5. Andersen
    6. Pedersen
    7. Nilsen
    8. Kristiansen
    9. Jensen
    As you can see the grand majority were originally patronymics, but are now used as surnames. Very few people in Norway use true patronymics nowadays (they still exist though). As a general rule, when it was decided around 1900 that by law everyone had to have a surname, most people chose either such a patronymic or the name of the farm they lived on. Most farm names are topographic descriptions. The names Berg, Haugen, Hagen, Dahl and Lund mean (small) mountain, the hill, the garden, valley and grove, respectively.
  43. Favara Senior Member

    Catalan - Southern Val.
    Most frequent "color" surnames in Catalan would be Roig (red), Blanc (white) and maybe Negre (black).

    Maybe Roig and Negre don't really refer to the color itself, since in the southern areas of País Valencià (and maybe other places as well) these words are used to call strangers, depending on the color of their hair... Negre/negra for black or dark brown hair or roig/roja for light brown/blond/red hair (I think this is a dialectal transformation of ros/rossa, meaning blond, and not "red").
    This makes some dark-skinned (and hence dark-haired) immigrants think we're racist, since we're literally calling them like "hey you, black!"... Most don't notice we also call eachother "black". :p
  44. milanoinnevata Senior Member

    Italia (Milano)
    Very interesting discussion!
    I was wondering if in other languages surnames expecially made for orphans are common. In Italian among the most common surnames we have "Esposito" (that means exposed, abandoned child) from Naples and "Colombo" (which comes from a marble statue representing a pigeon, symbol of the hospital in Milan, where children were left).
    Looking through the posts, it doesn't seem there's something similar in other languages... or maybe they're just not that common?
  45. Agró

    Agró Senior Member

    Alta Navarra
    In Spanish there's also Expósito, and Blanco is frequent among orphans.
  46. Valeria Mesalina

    Valeria Mesalina Senior Member

    Santiago de Compostela
    Spanish, Spain
    I wrote about it a couple of pages ago.

    I don´t know how abandoned children were named in other countries; I remember Oliver was named Twist because "he came in the "T´s". But that, of course, happened in a novel.
  47. Bartocus123 Senior Member

    Spanish - Castellano
    Sirota or Sirotta (from Russian "сирота", "orphan") is a common ukrainian/russian and mainly jewish surname.

    Once I heard that, in certain historical period, orphans were name after an orphanage called "Santamaría" -one of the more or less common spanish surnames-, maybe it's just a "popular myth".

    Concernig to colour-related surnames, spanish "Negrete" is one of them and Italian "Nero" (black).

    Here some of the rarer spanish surnames:

    Bueno = Good
    Feo = Ugly
    Delgado = Thin
    Grande = Big
    Maestro = Master, magister
    Rico = Rich
    Leal = Loyal
    Clemente = Merciful
    Cabeza de Vaca = Cow's head
    Lazo = Bound
    Caballero and Zaldívar, both meanid "knight", the last one of basque origin.

  48. gatogab Banned

    Garcéz = hijo de García.
  49. gatogab Banned

    Me pregunto y les pregunto, ¿a qué se debe la formación de los apellidos dobles?

    Recuerdo un compañero de liceo llamado:
    Juan Agustín García Moreno García Huidobro.
  50. ManPaisa

    ManPaisa Banned

    Here and there in a topsy-turvy world
    AmE (New England) / español (Colombia)
    Al afán de diferenciarse de tantos otros Garcías.

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