Special Report

The 50 Most Common Last Names in America

Photology1971 / Getty Images

“What’s in a name?” Shakespeare’s Juliet asked that rhetorical question more than 500 years ago. This question still rings true today in 21st century America. Names tell a story – they can help shed light on heritage as well as on America’s population makeup.

For centuries, people have come to the U.S. to escape war, oppression, and poverty, or to pursue employment opportunities and success. Most Americans can trace their roots to immigrant ancestors. 24/7 Tempo reviewed Census data to find the 50 most common last names in the U.S.

Last names, also called surnames, can be traced to the early years of the Middle Ages, when most people in Europe were farmers and lived in small villages. Back then, everyone knew each other, and last names were unnecessary. That changed as the population began to grow.

Today, the vast majority of the most common surnames in the U.S. can be traced back to England and other European origins. Among the top 50 most common surnames, 12 have Spanish, Cuban, or Mexican heritage. All 12 Spanish-origin names found on this list have dramatically increased since they were last counted in 2000 — a stark contrast to English names that are mostly growing at a slower pace. The most common names in general in the United States all grew in numbers between 2000 and 2010, except one — Hall saw a 16% decrease. These are the most common last names in every state.

Do you think your last name made the list?

Click here to see the most common last names in the U.S.

To determine the most common surnames in the United States, 24/7 Tempo analyzed past and present census counts to understand population diversity in America. The origin of each family name was obtained from open data on Ancestry.com. Photos of celebrities, well-known historical figures, areas of a name’s heritage, or imagery reflecting origin were used to represent each name.

Source: David Shankbone / Flickr

50. Roberts
> Occurrences per 100,000 people: 127.7
> Total occurrences: 376,774
> Growth since 2000: 2.8%
> Heritage: England

 

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Source: U.S. DefenseImagery / Wikimedia Commons

49. Carter
> Occurrences per 100,000 people: 127.8
> Total occurrences: 376,966
> Growth since 2000: 3.8%
> Heritage: England

Source: US DHS / Wikimedia Commons

48. Mitchell
> Occurrences per 100,000 people: 130.3
> Total occurrences: 384,486
> Growth since 2000: 4.4%
> Heritage: England, Ireland

Source: University of Salford Press Office / Flickr

47. Campbell
> Occurrences per 100,000 people: 130.9
> Total occurrences: 386,157
> Growth since 2000: 3.7%
> Heritage: Ireland, Scotland, England

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Source: Mark Taylor / Flickr

46. Rivera
> Occurrences per 100,000 people: 132.6
> Total occurrences: 391,114
> Growth since 2000: 23.4%
> Heritage: Spain

Source: Matthew Becker / Wikimedia Commons

45. Hall
> Occurrences per 100,000 people: 138.0
> Total occurrences: 407,076
> Growth since 2000: -16.3%
> Heritage: England

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Source: MC2 Erica R. Gardner, USN / Wikimedia Commons

44. Baker
> Occurrences per 100,000 people: 142.2
> Total occurrences: 419,586
> Growth since 2000: 1.5%
> Heritage: England

Source: Bob Jagendorf / Wikimedia Commons

43. Nelson
> Occurrences per 100,000 people: 144.1
> Total occurrences: 424,958
> Growth since 2000: 3.0%
> Heritage: Sweden

Source: White House research / Wikimedia Commons

42. Adams
> Occurrences per 100,000 people: 145.1
> Total occurrences: 427,865
> Growth since 2000: 3.5%
> Heritage: England

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Source: Mike Douglas Show/ Wikimedia Commons

41. Green
> Occurrences per 100,000 people: 145.8
> Total occurrences: 430,182
> Growth since 2000: 3.9%
> Heritage: England, Ireland

Source: Jonathan Bachman / Stringer / Getty Images

40. Flores
> Occurrences per 100,000 people: 147.1
> Total occurrences: 433,969
> Growth since 2000: 28.0%
> Heritage: Spain, France, Mexico

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Source: The Come Up Show / Wikimedia Commons

39. Hill
> Occurrences per 100,000 people: 147.4
> Total occurrences: 434,827
> Growth since 2000: 5.3%
> Heritage: England

Source: Al Messerschmidt / Staff / Getty Images

38. Nguyen
> Occurrences per 100,000 people: 148.4
> Total occurrences: 437,645
> Growth since 2000: 29.1%
> Heritage: Vietnam

Source: Christopher Johnson / Wikimedia Commons

37. Torres
> Occurrences per 100,000 people: 148.4
> Total occurrences: 437,813
> Growth since 2000: 25.7%
> Heritage: Spain

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Source: Amanda Edwards / Stringer / Getty Images

36. Scott
> Occurrences per 100,000 people: 149.0
> Total occurrences: 439,530
> Growth since 2000: 4.4%
> Heritage: England, Ireland, Scotland

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

35. Wright
> Occurrences per 100,000 people: 155.6
> Total occurrences: 458,980
> Growth since 2000: 4.1%
> Heritage: England

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Source: Heinrich Klaffs / Wikimedia Commons

34. King
> Occurrences per 100,000 people: 157.8
> Total occurrences: 465,422
> Growth since 2000: 5.7%
> Heritage: Ireland, England

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

33. Allen
> Occurrences per 100,000 people: 163.6
> Total occurrences: 482,607
> Growth since 2000: 4.0%
> Heritage: England, Ireland

Source: Matt Winkelmeyer / Staff / Getty Images

32. Young
> Occurrences per 100,000 people: 164.2
> Total occurrences: 484,447
> Growth since 2000: 3.8%
> Heritage: England, Scotland, Ireland

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Source: Mathew Brady / Wikimedia Commons

31. Walker
> Occurrences per 100,000 people: 177.3
> Total occurrences: 523,129
> Growth since 2000: 4.2%
> Heritage: England, Ireland, Scotland

Source: Library of Congress / Wikimedia Commons

30. Robinson
> Occurrences per 100,000 people: 179.6
> Total occurrences: 529,821
> Growth since 2000: 5.1%
> Heritage: England

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Source: Genvessel / Wikimedia Commons

29. Lewis
> Occurrences per 100,000 people: 180.3
> Total occurrences: 531,781
> Growth since 2000: 4.1%
> Heritage: England

Source: Kevork Djansezian / Staff / Getty Images

28. Ramirez
> Occurrences per 100,000 people: 189.0
> Total occurrences: 557,423
> Growth since 2000: 30.2%
> Heritage: Spain, Cuba

Source: Edgar Samuel Paxson / Wikimedia Commons

27. Clark
> Occurrences per 100,000 people: 190.8
> Total occurrences: 562,679
> Growth since 2000: 2.5%
> Heritage: England, Ireland

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Source: U.S. Congress/ Wikimedia Commons

26. Sanchez
> Occurrences per 100,000 people: 207.7
> Total occurrences: 612,752
> Growth since 2000: 28.0%
> Heritage: Spain

Source: vagueonthehow / Flickr

25. Harris
> Occurrences per 100,000 people: 211.6
> Total occurrences: 624,252
> Growth since 2000: 4.9%
> Heritage: England

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Source: State Farm / Flickr

24. White
> Occurrences per 100,000 people: 223.9
> Total occurrences: 660,491
> Growth since 2000: 3.2%
> Heritage: England, Ireland

Source: thierry ehrmann / Flickr

23. Thompson
> Occurrences per 100,000 people: 225.3
> Total occurrences: 664,644
> Growth since 2000: 3.1%
> Heritage: England, Ireland, Scotland

Source: Eva Rinaldi / Wikimedia Commons

22. Perez
> Occurrences per 100,000 people: 231.1
> Total occurrences: 681,645
> Growth since 2000: 28.3%
> Heritage: Spain

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Source: Ron Cogswell / Flickr

21. Lee
> Occurrences per 100,000 people: 234.9
> Total occurrences: 693,023
> Growth since 2000: 12.6%
> Heritage: England, Ireland

Source: Gage Skidmore/ Wikimedia Commons

20. Martin
> Occurrences per 100,000 people: 238.2
> Total occurrences: 702,625
> Growth since 2000: 4.3%
> Heritage: Ireland, England

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Source: Library of Congress / Wikimedia Commons

19. Jackson
> Occurrences per 100,000 people: 240.1
> Total occurrences: 708,099
> Growth since 2000: 5.9%
> Heritage: England, Ireland

Source: CHF videographer / Wikimedia Commons

18. Moore
> Occurrences per 100,000 people: 245.6
> Total occurrences: 724,374
> Growth since 2000: 3.5%
> Heritage: Ireland, England

Source: Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs Office / Flickr

17. Taylor
> Occurrences per 100,000 people: 254.7
> Total occurrences: 751,209
> Growth since 2000: 4.1%
> Heritage: England, Ireland

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Source: Cindy Ord / Stringer / Getty Images

16. Thomas
> Occurrences per 100,000 people: 256.3
> Total occurrences: 756,142
> Growth since 2000: 6.0%
> Heritage: England

Source: Smithsonian Institution / Flickr

15. Anderson
> Occurrences per 100,000 people: 265.9
> Total occurrences: 784,404
> Growth since 2000: 2.8%
> Heritage: Sweden

 

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Source: Harris & Ewing / Wikimedia Commons

14. Wilson
> Occurrences per 100,000 people: 271.8
> Total occurrences: 801,882
> Growth since 2000: 2.3%
> Heritage: England, Ireland, Scotland

Source: Joe Robbins / Stringer / Getty Images

13. Gonzalez
> Occurrences per 100,000 people: 285.1
> Total occurrences: 841,025
> Growth since 2000: 28.9%
> Heritage: Spain

Source: Gage Skidmore / Flickr

12. Lopez
> Occurrences per 100,000 people: 296.5
> Total occurrences: 874,523
> Growth since 2000: 28.9%
> Heritage: Spain

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Source: Charles Fenderich / Wikimedia Commons

11. Hernandez
> Occurrences per 100,000 people: 353.7
> Total occurrences: 1,043,281
> Growth since 2000: 32.3%
> Heritage: Spain

Source: Alberto E. Rodriguez / Staff / Getty Images

10. Martinez
> Occurrences per 100,000 people: 359.4
> Total occurrences: 1,060,159
> Growth since 2000: 26.9%
> Heritage: Spain

 

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Source: Keith Allison / Flickr

9. Rodriguez
> Occurrences per 100,000 people: 371.2
> Total occurrences: 1,094,924
> Growth since 2000: 26.5%
> Heritage: Spain

Source: Library of Congress / Wikimedia Commons

8. Davis
> Occurrences per 100,000 people: 378.5
> Total occurrences: 1,116,357
> Growth since 2000: 3.9%
> Heritage: England, Ireland

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

7. Miller
> Occurrences per 100,000 people: 393.7
> Total occurrences: 1,161,437
> Growth since 2000: 2.9%
> Heritage: Germany, England

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Source: Mireille Ampilhac / Wikimedia Commons

6. Garcia
> Occurrences per 100,000 people: 395.3
> Total occurrences: 1,166,120
> Growth since 2000: 26.4%
> Heritage: Spain

Source: Sean P. Anderson / Flickr

5. Jones
> Occurrences per 100,000 people: 483.2
> Total occurrences: 1,425,470
> Growth since 2000: 4.4%
> Heritage: England, Wales, Ireland

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Source: Marion S. Trikosko / Wikimedia Commons

4. Brown
> Occurrences per 100,000 people: 487.2
> Total occurrences: 1,437,026
> Growth since 2000: 4.0%
> Heritage: England, Ireland

Source: Edwin Martinez / Wikimedia Commons

3. Williams
> Occurrences per 100,000 people: 551.0
> Total occurrences: 1,625,252
> Growth since 2000: 5.6%
> Heritage: England, Wales

Source: Yoichi Okamoto / Wikimedia Commons

2. Johnson
> Occurrences per 100,000 people: 655.2
> Total occurrences: 1,932,812
> Growth since 2000: 3.9%
> Heritage: Sweden, England

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Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

1. Smith
> Occurrences per 100,000 people: 828.2
> Total occurrences: 2,442,977
> Growth since 2000: 2.7%
> Heritage: England

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