Originally indicated a dweller on a hill range or ridge, from Spanish sierra "mountain range"
, derived from Latin serra
SILVA Portuguese, Spanish
From Spanish or Portuguese silva
. This is the most common surname in Portugal and Brazil.
From a nickname for a person with grey hair, from Old English seolfor "silver"
in Czech, indicating that the original bearer lived near a prominent rock.
SKALICKÝ Czech, Slovak
Indicated the original bearer came from a place named Skalice
in the Czech Republic or Slovakia, derived from the Slavic root skala
Occupational name for a locksmith, from Polish ślusarz
, of Germanic origin.
From a nickname for a small person, from Middle English smal
From Middle Dutch smit "metalworker, blacksmith"
, a cognate of SMITH
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).
SMOLAK Polish, Czech
Occupational name for a distiller of pitch, derived from the Slavic word smola
meaning "pitch, resin"
From Old English snel
meaning "fast, quick, nimble"
SOBOL Russian, Ukrainian, Jewish
Occupational name for a fur trader, from the Slavic word soboli
meaning "sable, marten"
. As a Jewish name it is ornamental.
SOKOL Czech, Jewish
From Czech sokol
, a nickname or an occupational name for a falconer. As a Jewish name it is ornamental.
SOLER Occitan, Catalan
Denoted a person from any of the numerous places in the area whose names derive from Occitan or Catalan soler
meaning "ground, floor".
SOMMER (1) German, English
, from Old High German sumar
or Old English sumor
. This was a nickname for a cheerful person, someone who lived in a sunny spot, or a farmer who had to pay taxes in the summer.
SONG Chinese, Korean
From Chinese 宋 (sòng)
referring to the Song dynasty, which ruled China from 960 to 1279.
From Italian sordo
, from Latin surdus
Means "worry, care, anxiety"
in German, from Old High German sorga
From Hungarian sör
. Originally the name was given to beer brewers.
Means "grove of trees, small forest"
in Spanish, ultimately from Latin saltus
From Old English spere "spear"
, an occupational name for a hunter or a maker of spears, or a nickname for a thin person.
From a nickname for a big person, derived from Middle English stack "haystack"
, of Old Norse origin.
From a nickname derived from Polish stary "old"
STARK English, German
From a nickname meaning "strong, rigid"
, from Old English stearc
or Old High German stark
From Middle English sterre
. This was usually a nickname, but it could also occasionally be a sign name from the name of an inn called the Star.
STEEN Low German
Low German variant of STEIN
. A famous bearer was the 17th-century Dutch painter Jan Steen.
STEIN German, Jewish
From Old High German stein
. It might indicate the original bearer lived near a prominent stone or worked as a stonecutter. As a Jewish name it is ornamental.
Name for a dweller by a stump of a large tree, from Middle Low German stubbe "stub"
Occupational name for an administrative official of an estate or steward, from Old English stig
"house" and weard
"guard". The Stewart family (sometimes spelled Stuart
) held the Scottish crown for several centuries. One of the most famous members of the Stewart family was Mary, Queen of Scots.
Name for a person who lived near a prominent stone or worked with stone, derived from Old English stan
STRAND Norwegian, Swedish, Danish
From Old Norse strǫnd
meaning "beach, sea shore"
. It was originally given to someone who lived on or near the sea.
Derived from Middle English strange
, ultimately from Latin extraneus
From Old High German strub
meaning "rough, unkempt"
Habitational name for a person who lived in a place called Street, for example in Somerset. It is derived from Old English stræt
meaning "Roman road"
, from Latin strata
From Old English strod
meaning "marshy ground overgrown with brushwood"
STRUNA Slovene, Czech
From Slavic struna
meaning "string, cord"
, possibly denoting a maker of rope.
Occupational name for the owner of an inn, derived from Old High German stuba "room"
in German, originally a nickname for a volatile person.
Variant of SÜß
. A famous bearer was the American children's author Dr. Seuss (1904-1991), who was born Theodor Seuss Geisel.
From a nickname meaning "sultan, ruler"
Occupational name for a summoner, an official who was responsible for ensuring the appearance of witnesses in court, from Middle English sumner
, ultimately from Latin submonere
From Chinese 孙 (sūn)
meaning "grandchild, descendant"
. A famous bearer of the surname was Sun Tzu, the 6th-century BC author of The Art of War
From Old High German suozi
From a nickname meaning "sweet, pleasant"
, from Old English swete
Derived from Polish Szwed
meaning "Swede, person from Sweden"
From Chinese 唐 (táng)
referring to the Tang dynasty, which ruled China from 618 to 907.
From Middle English at asche
meaning "at the ash tree"
From a nickname meaning meaning "dove"
Derived from Old French tailleur
, ultimately from Latin taliare
Probably derived from the Norman French nickname tirel
meaning "to pull"
, referring to a stubborn person.
in Turkish, ultimately of Persian origin.
From Bosnian terzija
, ultimately of Persian origin.
Referred to a person who thatched roofs by attaching straw to them, derived from Old English þæc
, derived from Middle English todde
Denoted a person hailing from one of the many places in Britain of that name, derived from Old Norse topt
, usually denoting a younger man, from Latin tonsus
Derived from Hungarian tót
, which means "Slovak"
TRAVERS English, French
From an English and French place name that described a person who lived near a bridge or ford, or occasionally as an occupational name for the collector of tolls at such a location. The place name is derived from Old French traverser
(which comes from Late Latin transversare
), which means "to cross"
From French tremble
. It is especially widespread in Quebec, being the most common surname there.
Denoted one who lived near a clump of trees or bushes, from Middle English tufte "tuft, clump"
, from Old French.
in Italian, originally denoting a person who worked with cattle.
VAN AGTEREN Dutch
Means "from behind"
, probably referring to a place behind something, such as a building or a place at the end of the road.
Indicated a dweller by a fen, from Old English fenn
meaning "fen, marsh"
VAN DALEN Dutch
Means "from the valley"
, from Old Dutch dal
VAN DEN BERG Dutch
Means "from the mountain"
, derived from Dutch berg
VAN DER VEEN Dutch
Means "from the swamp, from the peat"
, from Dutch veen
"fen, swamp, peat". It originally indicated a person who resided in a peat district or fen colony.
VAN LAAR Dutch
Derived from Dutch laar
), which means "open spot in the forest"
. These areas were used to graze cattle for example.
From Old English fenn
meaning "fen, swamp, peat"
, indicating a person who lived near such a place.
From Welsh bychan
. It was a descriptive name to distinguish father from son.
Means "from the farm"
in Dutch, derived from hoeve
"farm", and so indicated a person who lived on a farm.
From a nickname meaning "cheerful"
VICARIO Spanish, Italian
in Spanish and Italian, an ecclesiastic title used to denote a representative of a bishop. It is derived from Latin vicarius
meaning "substitute, deputy".
in Italian, derived from Latin vicus
VILLA Italian, Spanish
in Italian and Spanish, from Latin. It was originally given to a person who came from a town, as opposed to the countryside.
in Russian (ultimately from German), referring to a person who worked at a vineyard or lived near one.
From the Catalan byname vivas
meaning "may you live"
, which was bestowed upon children to bring good luck.
Patronymic from the nickname Vlah
Diminutive form of Czech vlk
VOGEL German, Dutch
From Old High German and Old Dutch fogal
. It was originally an occupational name for a bird catcher, or a nickname for a person who liked to sing.
Occupational name from Middle High German voget
meaning "bailiff, lawyer"
, ultimately from Latin advocatus
VOLL (1) Norwegian
Originally indicated a person who lived in a meadow, from Old Norse vǫllr "meadow, field"
VON BRANDT German
Means "from the area cleared by fire"
, from Middle High German brant
in Hungarian, referring to a person with red hair or face.
From Middle Low German vos
. It was originally a nickname for a clever person or a person with red hair.
VROOM Dutch, Flemish
From a nickname derived from Dutch vroom
meaning "pious, devout"
From Middle High German wagener
meaning "wagon maker, cartwright"
. This name was borne by the German composer Richard Wagner (1813-1883).
WALLACE Scottish, English, Irish
Means "foreigner, stranger, Celt"
from Norman French waleis
(of Germanic origin). It was often used to denote native Welsh and Bretons. A famous bearer was the 13th-century Sir William Wallace of Scotland.
From Middle High German walch
meaning "foreigner (from a Romance country)"
WALLER (2) English
Derived from Old English weall
, denoting a builder of walls or someone who lived near a prominent wall.
WANG (1) Chinese
From Chinese 王 (wáng)
meaning "king, monarch"
. This is the most common surname in China (and the world).
WANG (2) German, Dutch
From Middle High German and Middle Dutch wange
, possibly a nickname for someone with round or rosy cheeks.
From Old French warder
"to guard" and robe
"garment", an occupational name for a servant responsible for the clothing in a household.
WARE (1) English
From Old English wer
meaning "dam, weir"
, indicating someone who lived near such a structure.
From Old English weg
meaning "way, road, path"
Occupational name meaning "wagon maker, cartwright"
, derived from Old English wægn
"wagon". A famous bearer was the American actor John Wayne (1907-1979).
From German Wein
, an occupational name for a wine seller or producer.
WEISS German, Yiddish
From Middle High German wiz
or Yiddish װייַס (vais)
. This was originally a nickname for a person with white hair or skin.
Derived from Middle English welle
meaning "well, spring, water hole"
From Chinese 文 (wén)
meaning "literature, culture, writing"
WEST English, German
Denoted a person who lived to the west of something, or who came from the west.
Originally a nickname for a person who had white hair or a pale complexion, from Old English hwit "white"
Means "village, town"
, derived from Latin vicus
WINTER English, German, Swedish
From Old English winter
or Old High German wintar
. This was a nickname for a person with a cold personality.
WIRTH German, Jewish
Occupational name for an innkeeper, derived from German wirt
From the Polish word wójt
meaning "chief, mayor"
(related to German VOGT
From the Polish title wojewoda
meaning "governor, voivode"
(originally meaning "warlord").
WOLF German, English
From Middle High German or Middle English wolf
, or else from a Germanic given name beginning with this element.
WOOD English, Scottish
Originally denoted one who lived in or worked in a forest, derived from Old English wudu "wood"
Originally denoted someone who came from any of the various places of this name in northern England, from Old Norse vrá
meaning "corner, nook"
WRIGHT (1) English
From Old English wyrhta
meaning "wright, maker"
, an occupational name for someone who was a craftsman. Famous bearers were Orville and Wilbur Wright, the inventors of the first successful airplane.
From Chinese 吴 (wú)
referring to the ancient state of Wu, which was located in present-day Jiangsu province.
From Chinese 徐 (xú)
meaning "slowly, calmly"
Derived from Old English geong
. This was a descriptive name to distinguish father from son.
YU (1) Chinese
From Chinese 于 (yú)
meaning "in, on, at"
. According to legend, King Wu of Zhou bestowed the realm of Yu to his second son, who subsequently adopted this as his surname.