All-American Names: The Most Common First and Last Names in the U.S.

From the moment of birth, a name becomes inseparable from a person’s identity. Over the course of their life, an individual may hear, speak, and write the same name millions of times.

Often influenced by pop culture and global icons, name trends are constantly shifting. Today, which names are you most likely to come across? With combinations ranging from Robert Smith to Michael Johnson, here are the most common first and last names in the United States.

The 10 Most Common First Names in the U.S.

1. James

James is a name with royal pedigree, as several British monarchs and a record six U.S. presidents have shared the name in the last 600 years. Its popularity dipped around the turn of the 21st century but has since bounced back and has been a top-15 baby name each year since 2016.

2. Robert

Although the name’s popularity has plummeted in recent years, Robert had been one of the most popular American names for centuries prior. The name comes from the two German names Hrod and Beraht, which mean “fame” and “bright”, respectively.

3. John

Derived from the Hebrew name Yohanan, John means “God is gracious.” Today, the name has over 120 variants worldwide, as well as a host of popular nicknames—including Johnny, Jack, and Jay, to name only a few.

4. Michael

The Hebrew name Michael dates back to the archangel in Christianity and other Abrahamic religions. Despite its ancient origin, the name Michael has managed to maintain much of its popularity up to present day. This is largely due to some of the world’s most beloved icons bearing the name—from former NBA superstar Michael Jordan to the “King of Pop”, Michael Jackson.

5. David

Aside from a few years around the turn of the 20th century, David has remained one of the most common male baby names in the U.S. It was especially popular during the 1950s and 1960s. Derived from the Hebrew name meaning “beloved”, David was widely regarded as Israel’s greatest king in the Hebrew Bible.

6. William

Derived from the German name Wilhelm meaning “protection”, William was a top-five male baby name each year between 1926 and 1949. Close to 100 years later, the name had its own renaissance and was the fourth-most popular male baby name during the 2010s.

7. Mary

Mary is a common feminine name that has developed over 100 variants—including Maria, Maureen, and Miriam. Like the name James, Mary is known for its royal connection. Including its variants, the name has been given to over 60 monarchs since the 12th century.

8. Richard

The name Richard means “brave ruler” and was especially popular during the Middle Ages. In the United States, the name reached the apex of its popularity during the 1930s. Since the 1970s, however, its use has steadily been declining.

9. Joseph

The name Joseph comes from the Hebrew word “yasaf”, which means “to increase.” Despite its popularity for much of the last 300 years, the name saw a sharp drop-off shortly after the turn of the new millennium.

10. Thomas

Thomas, which means “twin”, is a timeless male name that has Aramaic origins. While the name hasn’t quite recaptured the popularity it had during the middle of the 1900s, it is once again on the rise in the 2020s.

The 10 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.

1. Smith

Smith is by far the most common last name in the United States today. It has at least 2,442,997 occurrences per the most recent Census data, which is over 500,000 more than the second-most popular surname. The name was founded in England and is a reference to the job of a blacksmith.

2. Johnson

This Anglo-Norman surname means “Son of John” and is reported to have more than 1,900,000 occurrences in the United States alone. Despite its immense popularity stateside, the name is not nearly as common in most other countries.

3. Williams

As you might expect, Williams is derived from the ever-popular first name William. While it is the third-most common surname here in the U.S., it is equally popular in countries such as Australia, New Zealand, and Guyana.

4. Brown

The surname Brown was first given to people who had hair or wore clothing of the same color. Outside of the United States, Brown is especially popular in Canada, where it is the second-most common surname behind only Smith.

5. Jones

Originating in Wales, Jones is a surname that was most often assigned to sons of John or Ioan. It continues to be the country’s most common surname today and is the second-most common name in both England and Australia.

6. Garcia

Garcia is not only the sixth-most popular last name in the U.S. but also the 47th most common surname in the world. While the name’s origin is somewhat unclear, many believe that it comes from the Basque word “artz”—meaning “bear” or “oak tree.”

7. Miller

Miller’s origins can be traced back to multiple countries—namely England, Scotland, Ireland, and Germany. In England, the name was often given to people who owned or worked at a mill, while in Scotland, it was adopted by those who lived around the Molendinar Burn.

8. Davis

Davis is a patronymic surname, meaning “son of David”, that originated in England and Wales. Its main variant, Davies, remains especially popular today and is the fifth-most common surname in all of Great Britain.

9. Rodriguez

This patronymic surname translates to “son of Rodrigo”, and many believe that its first occurrence can be traced back to the ninth-century AD. Rodriguez is not only the ninth-most common surname in the United States today but also the seventh-most common surname in all of South America.

10. Martinez

Martinez is a Spanish variation of the first and last name Martin—a reference to Mars, the “god of war” in Greek mythology.  In addition to being a top-ten surname in the United States, Martinez is also the second-most common last name in both Mexico and Columbia.

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Lee Clarke
Lee Clarke
Business And Features Writer


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