From the name of a lost place in Cheshire, derived from the Old English byname Motere
meaning "speaker" and heafod
Patronymic formed from the Norman French nickname moun
Referred to a shepherd or else someone who in some way resembled a sheep, derived from Norman French mouton
Derived from the Middle English phrase atten ash
"at the ash tree". A famous bearer was the mathematician John Nash (1928-2015).
Means "son of NEIL
". This name was borne by the British admiral Horatio Nelson (1758-1805).
NESS English, Scottish, Norwegian
From English ness
and Norwegian nes
meaning "headland, promontory", of Old Norse origin, originally referring to a person who lived there.
NEVILLE English, Irish
From the names of towns in Normandy, variously Neuville
, meaning "new town" in French.
Given to one who came from the town of Newport (which means simply "new port"), which was the name of several English towns.
From the name of one of many English towns meaning "new town". A famous bearer was the English physicist Sir Isaac Newton (1643-1727).
Means "son of NICK
". A famous bearer was the American president Richard Nixon (1913-1994).
NOEL French, English
Either from the given name NOËL
, or else derived directly from Old French noel
"Christmas" and given to a person who had a particular connection with the holiday.
Referred to a person who was originally from Scandinavia or Normandy. Even before the Norman Conquest, Scandinavians were settling the north and east of England. The Normans who participated in the Conquest were originally from Scandinavia, but had been living in Normandy, France for over a century and spoke French.
NORRIS (1) English, Scottish
Means "from the north" from Old French norreis
. It either denoted someone who originated in the north or someone who lived in the northern part of a settlement.
NORRIS (2) English
Means "wet nurse, foster mother" from Old French norrice
, from Latin nutricius
Originally denoted one who came from a town of this name England, meaning "north farm".
From the name of various towns in England meaning "north town" in Old English.
Originally taken from a place name meaning "north wood" in Old English.
Originally indicated a person who lived near a river, from Middle English atten eye
meaning "at the river".
From a place name meaning "oak clearing" in Old English. It was borne by American sharpshooter Annie Oakley (1860-1926).
Originally denoted a person who was from Odell in Bedfordshire, derived from Old English wad
"woad" (a plant that produces a blue dye) and hyll
Denoted a person who hailed from one of the various places in England called Overton, meaning "upper settlement" or "riverbank settlement" in Old English.
Denoted a person who came from any one of the places in Britain called Ouston or Owston.
Originally indicated a person from Padmore in England, derived from Old English padde
"toad" and mor
PAGE English, French
Occupational name meaning "servant, page". It is ultimately derived (via Old French and Italian) from Greek παιδιον (paidion)
meaning "little boy".
Means "pilgrim", ultimately from Latin palma
"palm tree", since pilgrims to the Holy Land often brought back palm fronds as proof of their journey.
PARENT English, French
Derived from Old French parent
meaning either "notable" (from Latin pārēre
meaning "to be apparent") or "parent" (from Latin parere
meaning "to produce, to give birth").
PARISH (1) English
Originally denoted a person who came from the French city of Paris, which got its name from the ancient Celtic tribe known as the Parisii.
PARK (2) English
From Middle English park
, from Latin parricus
, of Germanic origin. This was a name for someone who worked in or lived in a park.
Means "keeper of the park" in Middle English. It is an occupational name for a person who was a gamekeeper at a medieval park.
Originally denoted a son of a parson, a derivative of Latin persona
PATERNOSTER English, Italian
Occupational name for a maker of rosaries, also called paternosters. They are derived from the Latin phrase pater noster
"our Father", the opening words of the Lord's Prayer.
From an English place name meaning "Pœcc's town". Pœcc
is an Old English name of unknown meaning.
From a medieval given name or nickname derived from Latin paganus
meaning "heathen, pagan" (from an earlier sense "rural, rustic"), which was given to children whose baptism had been postponed or adults who were not overly religious.
From Middle English pecok
meaning "peacock". It was originally a nickname for a proud or haughty person.
Originally indicated a dweller by a pointed hill, from Old English peac
"peak". It could also denote a person from the Peak District in Derbyshire, England.
PECK (2) English
Occupational name for a maker of pecks (vessels used as peck measures), derived from Middle English pekke
Nickname for a thin person, derived from Old French pel
, Latin palus
meaning "stake, post" (related to English pole
From the name of a town near Manchester, derived from Celtic penn
meaning "hill" combined with Old English bere
meaning "barley" and tun
meaning "enclosure, yard, town".
PENDER (1) English
From Middle English pind
"to pen up". This was an occupational name for someone who penned animals.
PENN (1) English
Derived from various place names that were named using the Brythonic word penn
meaning "hilltop, head".
PENN (2) English
Occupational name for a person who kept penned animals, from Old English penn
Nickname meaning "penny, coin" from Old English penning
PERRY (1) English
From Old English pirige
meaning "pear tree", a derivative of peru
meaning "pear", itself from Latin pirum
. A famous bearer was Matthew Perry (1794-1858), the American naval officer who opened Japan to the West.
PETIT French, Catalan, English
Means "small, little" derived from Old French and Catalan petit
. It was perhaps used for a short, small person or to denote the younger of two individuals.
PHILIPS English, Dutch
Means "son of PHILIP
". Famous bearers of this surname were Frederick Philips (1830-1900) and his son Gerard (1858-1942), the Dutch founders of the company Philips.
From the name of a town in Yorkshire, derived from Old English Piceringas
, the name of a tribe.
Derived from Middle English pighel
meaning "small field".
Nickname for a person who was a pilgrim, ultimately from Latin peregrinus
Originally given to a person who played on a pipe (a flute).
Indicated a person who lived by a pit or hollow, from Old English pytt
. It could also indicate a person from Pitt (Hants) or Pett (East Sussex) in England.
PLANK German, English
Means "plank", from Old French, itself from Late Latin planca
. This could have referred to a person who lived by a plank bridge over a stream, someone who was thin, or a carpenter.
Originally denoted a dweller by a swampy meadow, from Old French plascq
meaning "wet meadow".
From Old French plat
meaning "flat, thin", from Late Latin plattus
, from Greek πλατυς (platys)
meaning "wide, broad, flat". This may have been a nickname or a topographic name for someone who lived near a flat feature.
Originally referred to one who lived near a pond.
From Old English pol
meaning "pool", referring to a person who lived by a small body of water.
From a nickname that originally designated a person who played the part of the pope in a play or pageant. Otherwise the name could be used as a nickname for a man with a solemn, austere, or pious appearance. It is derived from Latin papa
, ultimately from Greek παππας (pappas)
PORCHER English, French
Means "swineherd" from Old French and Middle English porchier
, from Latin porcus
Occupational name meaning "doorkeeper", ultimately from Old French porte
"door", from Latin porta
Occupational name for a potter, one who makes earthen vessels.
Occupational name, either for an apothecary, from Old French potecaire
, or a seller of stew, from Old French potagier
Occupational name for a person who kept animals, from Old English pund
POWER (1) English, Irish
From Old French Poier
, indicating a person who came from the town of Poix in Picardy, France.
POWER (2) English
From Middle English povre
meaning "poor", via Old French from Latin pauper
. It could have been a nickname for someone who had no money or a miser.
From Old English prætt
meaning "trick, prank". This was a nickname for a trickster.
From the name of various English places meaning "priest's cottage" in Old English.
Originally derived from various place names meaning "priest town" in Old English.
Originally belonged to one who was a prior (a religious official), or one who worked for a prior.
From Old French pourcel
"piglet", from Latin porcellus
, a derivative of porcus
"pig". This was a nickname or an occupational name for a swineherd.
, the name of towns in Hertfordshire and Surrey in England, which mean "Putta's homestead".
From a given name that was derived from Old English cwen
meaning "queen, woman". In some occurrences it may have been a nickname.
Nickname for a quick or agile person, ultimately from Old English cwic
Originally from various place names in Normandy that were derived from the given name QUINTUS
From various place names in England that mean "red cliff" in Old English.
Originally denoted a person from Rayne, Essex, England (possibly from an Old English word meaning "shelter") or from Rennes, Brittany, France (from the name of the Gaulish tribe of the Redones).
Originally a name for a dweller on a narrow pass or hillside, from Old English hrace
RAMSEY Scottish, English
Means "garlic island", derived from Old English hramsa
"garlic" and eg
"island". The surname was brought to Scotland by the Norman baron Simundus de Ramsay.
RAYNE English, French
Derived from a Germanic name that was short for longer names beginning with the element ragin
meaning "advice, counsel".
READ (1) English
Means "red" from Middle English read
, probably denoting a person with red hair or complexion.
READ (2) English
From Old English ryd
, an unattested form of rod
meaning "cleared land". It is also derived from various English place names with various meanings, including "roe headland", "reeds" and "brushwood".
Occupational name derived from Middle English reeve
, Old English (ge)refa
meaning "sheriff, prefect, local official".
From the name of the town of Rimington in Lancashire, derived from the name of the stream Riming
combined with Old English tun
meaning "enclosure, town".
REY (1) English, Spanish, French, Catalan
Means "king" in Old French, Spanish and Catalan, ultimately from Latin rex
), perhaps originally denoting someone who acted like a king.
REY (2) English
Means "female roe deer" from Old English ræge
, probably denoting someone of a nervous temperament.
Topographic name derived from Old English rod
meaning "cleared land", or a locational name from any of the locations named with this word.
Denoted a person who hailed from one of the various places of this name in England. The places are derived from Old English geryd
"channel" or hreod
"reed" combined with leah
Originally derived from a the name of a town in Lancashire, itself from Old Norse hryggr
"ridge" and býr
RILEY (1) English
From the name of the town of Ryley in Lancashire, derived from Old English ryge
"rye" and leah
Occupational name meaning "poet", from Middle English rime
Denoted a person who lived near a river, from Middle English, from Old French riviere
meaning "river", from Latin riparius
From Middle English and Old French roche
meaning "rock", from Late Latin rocca
, a word that may be of Celtic origin. It indicated a person who lived near a prominent rock, or who came from a town by this name (such as Les Roches in Normandy).
From the name of a town in Lancashire, derived from Old Norse rá
"roebuck" and skógr
ROSE (1) English, French, German, Jewish
Means "rose" from Middle English, Old French and Middle High German rose
, all from Latin rosa
. All denote a person of a rosy complexion or a person who lived in an area abundant with roses. As a Jewish surname it is ornamental, from Yiddish רויז (roiz)
ROSS English, Scottish
From various place names (such as the region of Ross in northern Scotland), which are derived from Scottish Gaelic ros
meaning "promontory, headland".
Patronymic derived from Middle English rond
meaning "round, plump", ultimately from Latin rotundus
Originally indicated a person who lived in an overgrown valley, from Old English ruh
"rough, overgrown" and boðm
ROWE (1) English
Means "row" in Middle English, indicating a dweller by a row of hedges or houses.
Originally given to a person who lived near a rowan tree or mountain ash.
Originally derived from the medieval given name Royse
, a variant of ROSE
Originally derived from a place name meaning "rye hill", from Old English ryge
"rye" and dun
Originally derived from a place name meaning "rye hill" from Old English ryge
"rye" and hyll
Originally taken from an Old English place name meaning "Royse's town". The given name Royse
was a medieval variant of ROSE
Indicated a person who lived near rushes, the grasslike plant that grows in a marsh, from Old English rysc
From a Norman French nickname that meant "little red one", perhaps originally describing a person with red hair.
Occupational name for a mounted warrior, from Old English ridere
Topographic name. It could be a misdivision of the Middle English phrases atter ye
meaning "at the island" or atter eye
meaning "at the river". In some cases it merely indicated a person who lived where rye was grown or worked with rye (from Old English ryge
Occupational name for a make of saddles, from Old English sadol
Indicated a person from Sandford, England, which means simply "sand ford".
From Old English, indicated the original nearer lived on sandy ground.
Possibly from the city of Sapperton, England, derived from Old English sapere
meaning "soap maker" and tun
meaning "enclosure, yard, town".
English nickname meaning "wild, uncouth", derived from Old French salvage
meaning "untamed", ultimately from Latin silvaticus
meaning "wild, from the woods".
Occupational name meaning "sawer of wood, woodcutter" in Middle English, ultimately from Old English sagu
meaning "saw". Mark Twain used it for the main character in his novel 'The Adventures of Tom Sawyer' (1876).
Occupational name meaning "acrobat, dancer", derived from Old French sailleor
, from Latin sallitor
Denoted a person who sold or made clothes made of scarlet, a kind of cloth, possibly derived from Persian سقرلاط (saghrilat)
SCOTT English, Scottish
Originally given to a person from Scotland or a person who spoke Scottish Gaelic.
Occupational name meaning "writer, clerk, scribe" in Old French, derived from Latin scriba
Denoted a person from a town by this name in Buckinghamshire, England. It is derived from that of a river combined with Old English broc
From the unattested Old English given name Sæfaru
, derived from the Old English elements sæ
"sea, ocean" and faru
From the name of a village that meant "willow farm" in Old English.
From the name of various towns named Saint Pierre
in Normandy, all of which commemorate Saint PETER
SERGEANT English, French
Occupational name derived from Old French sergent
meaning "servant", ultimately from Latin servire
From the name of the city of Soissons in northern France, itself derived from the name of the Celtic tribe of the Suessiones.
SEWARD (2) English
Means "swineherd" from Old English su
"sow, female pig" and hierde
Occupational name for a sexton (Middle English sexteyn
), a caretaker for a church or graveyard.
SEYMOUR (2) English
From an English place name, derived from Old English sæ
"sea" and mere
From a nickname for a warlike person, from Old English scacan
"to shake" and spere
"spear". A famous bearer was the English dramatist and poet William Shakespeare (1564-1616).
Nickname for a keen person, from Old English scearp
Originally a name for someone from Sharrow, England, derived from Old English scearu
"boundary" and hoh
"point of land, heel".
SHAW (1) English
Originally given to a person who lived near a prominent thicket, from Old English sceaga
meaning "thicket, copse".
From the name of various English towns, meaning "shelf town" in Old English.
Occupational name meaning "shepherd, sheep herder", from Old English sceaphyrde
Denoted a person hailing from any of the various places called Sherborne or Sherburn in England, derived from Old English scir
"bright" and burna
"spring, fountain, stream".
SHERMAN (1) English
Means "shear man", referring to someone who used shears in his line of work, such as a sheep-shearer.
From a nickname for a short person, from Middle English schort
From the name of various English towns, derived from Old English sid
"wide" and halh
Originally derived from various place names in England meaning "wide island", from Old English sid
"wide" and eg
"island". Another theory holds that it comes from the name of a town in Normandy called "Saint DENIS
", though evidence for this is lacking.
From a nickname for a person with grey hair, from Old English seolfor
From the Old Norse nickname or byname skjótr
Occupational name for a person who skinned animals, from Old Norse skinn
Occupational name indicating that an early member worked covering roofs with slate, from Old French esclat
"shard", of Germanic origin.
From a nickname for a small person, from Middle English smal
From an unidentified place name probably meaning "smooth clearing" in Old English.
Means "metalworker, blacksmith" from Old English smiþ
, related to smitan
"to smite, to hit". It is the most common surname in most of the English-speaking world. A famous bearer was the Scottish economist Adam Smith (1723-1790).
From Old English snel
meaning "fast, quick, nimble".