In the 1990 and 2000 Census results, Smith was the most popular last name in the United States. Maybe your last name is Smith, or Garcia or Miller: do you know the meaning and the history of this part of you that you write and say daily?
One reason that the name is so common is because blacksmithing was a specialized craft practiced in many places.
Unlike Smith, Garcia is new to the top ten. From the 1990 census to the 2000 census, Garcia jumped from eighteenth to eighth.
The origin of Garcia is up for debate. Garcia could have originally been a patronymic name, “a name derived from the name of the father and describing that descent.” It may have also been a medieval name meaning “like a fox,” or it could have referred to someone who was from Garcia, Spain.
Famous bearers of the surname include Andy Garcia, the actor, and Jerry Garcia, a band member of the Grateful Dead.
Miller is another surname tied to an occupation. Miller originally referred to someone who owned or worked in a grain mill. The Old English word was mylnweard, literally “mill-keeper.” There are several cognate surnames for Miller, such as the French Moulin and the Italian Molinaro.
What surnames would you like us to define and delve into? Let us know. The names with the most requests will receive a profile in the near future.