Genealogy: Origins of surnames and how they become Americanized

PuzzleBy Barry J. Ewell
As I have research my family surnames I been able to find clues in the surnames that help guide me defining nationality and country of origin. Almost all family names may be classified on the basis of their derivation in one or more of the four following groups:

  • From the Father’s Name or other Relationships (Patronymics)
  • From Occupation or Office (Occupational Names)
  • From Description of Action (Nicknames)
  • From Village Names or Landscape Features (Place Names)

The most common surnames in the United States derive from the following groups:

  • Patronymics 32.23%
  • Occupational Names  15.16%
  • Nicknames 9.48%
  • Place Names 43.13%

See other articles in this series:

The following are examples of how names from around the world become Americanized:

Names 1Names 2Names 3Names 5Names 6Names 7Names 8Names 9