If everyone in America named Smith formed their own state, it would be the 35th most populous state in America. Let that sink in.
And while our country and a number of other English-speaking nations have an abundance of Smiths, every country in the world has its own ubiquitous name, where it seems like you’re never in a class, workplace, or on any list without 10 other people having the same name. To find that name in every country in the world, NetCredit took a look at data from Ancestry.com and Oxford reference, and found not only the most popular surname in each nation but also what they all mean.
The answers below are far more interesting than you might think — and will definitely make you a bar trivia god this weekend.
Editor’s Note: For concision’s sake, we’ve only broken down the etymology of each name once, at its first inclusion, and added other fun facts when appropriate as the name comes up again. Countries that belong to two continents are grouped under according to map representation. This list also excludes territories.
Antigua and Barbuda
Family name derived from the Hebrew name “Yosef,” meaning “May God have another son.” One of three Caribbean islands where this is the most common name.
Like many Caribbean surnames, Rolle is taken from a European name passed on to enslaved people from early colonizers. This one is the Middle High German rolle, which, much like it does today, means “list” or “roster.” It may have referred to someone who worked as a scribe.
Taken from Olde English clerc, which means “priest.” May have denoted a religious clerk or scribe.
Derived from the Latin name Martinus, a reference to Mars, the Roman god of fertility and war.
Occupational name for someone who works with metal.
Derived from the Germanic word hrōdrīc, which is a compound of hrōd — meaning “renown” — and rīc, meaning “power.”
Five countries have Rodriguez as their most popular name, the most of any in Latin America.
Related to “Fernandez,” which is derived from Ferdinand, an Old German combination of farð — meaning “journey” — and nanð — meaning “courage” or “daring.” Collectively, it translates to “bold voyager.” Literally “son of Hernando” or “son of Fernando.” Meaning Fernandez and Hernandez are almost the same name.
French form of the Germanic word carl, which means “man.”
French for John, which like Johannes means “God has favored me with a son,” or “bless this child.”
This term refers to physical appearance, specifically someone with brown hair and/or complexion.
Over 4.8 million Mexicans have this last name, a full 1.3 million more than second-place Garcia.
One in 27 people in Nicaragua have this wolf-meaning name.
St. Kitts and Nevis
Derived from William, which is a combination of the Germanic will, meaning “want” or “desire,” and helm, meaning “helmet.”
St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Trinidad and Tobago
A reference to the great Islamic prophet, which in Arabic also means “praiseworthy.” Trinidad and Tobago is the only Caribbean nation where the most popular surnames are Arabic, with Mohammed and Ali ranking first and second.
Nearly 3 million Americans are named Smith, followed closely by Johnson with 2.3 million and Williams with 1.9 million. Rounding out the American top 10 are Brown; Jones; Miller; Davis; Wilson; Anderson; and Taylor.
This literally means “son of Gonzalo,” and though you don’t meet a lot of Gonzalos walking around these days, back in medieval times you did meet a good number of Gundisalvus’. This was a Latin version of a Germanic name combining the words gund — meaning “war” — and salv, with a meaning that’s unclear. So, to summarize, Gonzalez means “son of war.”
Refers to someone who came from the Spanish town of Miaman, which is present-day Ourense. One could draw the conclusion that many Spanish settlers in Bolivia came from that region.
Means someone from a number of places called Silva, which means “thicket” or
Its exact origin is unclear though the name dates to medieval times and is likely related to a Basque word meaning either “young” or “bear.”
West Indian alteration of Indian name Prasad, from the Sanskrit prasada, meaning “favor,” “grace,” or “offering.”
From Aymara word for “glass” or “precious stone.”
From a Chinese root word for “forest.”
Derived from a Persian word khvajeh, which means “lord.”
This independent country sandwiched between France and Spain has more Spanish-leaning names.
The most common name in Armenia is taken from the proper name Grigor, from the Greek Gregorios — meaning “to be awake” or “watchful.”
Austria’s most common name is taken from the Middle High German word groube, which means “pit” or “hollow.” Basically it refers to one who lives in a depression, hollow, or other lowered area.
Means “son of Ivan.”
Taken from the name Petrus, which means “rock” or “stone.”
Bosnia and Herzegovina
This name taken from the word hoza means “son of the lord” or “son of the master.” Its root is from the Persian word khawaja, meaning “lord” or “master.”
One of three countries where the most common name is a descendant of Ivan.
Taken from Croatian word hrvat, which means “person from Croatia.” This would be like if the most common name here was actually Johnny America.
If you’ve traveled the rural countryside of this Mediterranean island then it’s not much surprise its most common name means “rustic” or “farmer.”
When the most common name in your country comes from a Slavic word for “newcomer,” it must get confusing to know who has actually lived there a while.
Shortened version of “son of Johannes.” Johannes is a version of John, Jean, and other variants, which means “Jehovah has favored me with a son” or “God bless this child.”
Means “oak tree” or “dam.”
Gotta love those playful Finns, whose most common surname comes from the word korho, which literally means “deaf person” but is also used to describe someone who is clumsy, silly, or foolish.
Like Martinez, this name is derived from Mars, the Roman god of war and fertility.
Also Mueller, referring to one who mills grain. Any surprise this country’s good at beer?
Combination of papas, which means “priest” in Greek, and poulus, which means “son.” So we can assume Greek priests were not a celibate order.
Hungarian word for “big,” referring to a large or powerful person.
Fairly self-explanatory if you read it out loud, this means “daughter of John” in Icelandic.
No surprise as this is also the most common name for any American bar that offers two-for-one shots of Jameson, Murphy comes from the Gaelic name Ó Murchadha, meaning “descendant of Murchadh,” a personal name meaning “sea-warrior.”
Interesting to see the most common name of stereotypically dark-haired, olive-skinned Italians refers to a person with red hair and a ruddy complexion.
A descendant from the Krasniqi tribe of northern Albania.
Related to bērzs, the Latvian word for birch trees, this literally means “one who lives among birch trees.”
From the Middle High German bühel — which loosely translates to “hill” — this name refers to someone living on a hill.
Name related to the familiarly-Polish Kozlowski, it literally means someone from any number of places called Kozłów.
Middle High German version of Schmidt — or Smith. Literally, it’s the “Smith” of Luxembourg.
The “Stojanov” part of the name is of unknown Macedonian origin, but the “ski” suffix is the result of the government’s effort to make names sound more Greek.
Old Norse word meaning “fortification” or “fort.”
Refers to a person of Russian descent, like Ruski.
One family can tip the scales in Monaco, as the 89 Rossis could be easily overtaken by the Lorenzis, who number 67.
Not a nation of die-hard Spurs fans, this name is a mixture of the Serbian word for priest, pop, and the suffix “ovich,” which means “son of.”
Dutch name meaning “young.”
Old Norse word meaning “creators of annoyingly catchy songs.” Or it’s a derivative of Hans, which is an aphetic form of Johannes.
Derived from the Polish word nowy, meaning “new.” Denotes a newcomer or someone new to the area.
This is close to the most popular name in Brazil too, meaning “person from a thicket.”
From Romanian word popa, meaning “priest.”
From the Latin word gasparus, which comes from the Persian word kaspar, meaning “treasurer.”
Meaning “son of Jovan,” another of the Jean/John/Johannes family.
From the Hungarian word for “cobbler” or “shoemaker.”
From Slavic word for “new,” meaning one is a newcomer.
Almost 1.5 million people in Spain have this name from a Basque word for “bear.”
Meaning son of Anders, which is ultimately derived from the Greek andreios, meaning “manly.”
Turkish name meaning “unyielding.”
Russian occupational name for miller, or one who works with grain.
Guessing there were a LOT of people working with metal in old-timey England.
Exactly four people with this name live in Vatican City. If one more Graf moves in, it’ll drop to #2.
Ancestral name and derivative of the word sayyid, which means “lord” or “master.”
Manuel is short for Emmanuel, which if you paid attention to all those Christmas carols you may recall as Immanuel — Hebrew for “God is with us.”
The father of the Batlôkwa tribe — found in Botswana, Lesotho, and South Africa — was named Modungwane. This name is thought to be from its commonly-used shortened version, Molefe.
A little like how immigration officials at Ellis Island shaped American surnames in the 20th century, so did the French in their former African colonies. This name is a French spelling of Wedraogo, son of Princess Yennega, the mother of the Mossi people.
Bantu name meaning “good news.”
Proto-Indo-European word meaning “ox” or “bull.”
From the medieval word lopo, which means “wolf.” Lopes itself is Portuguese, stemming from Cape Verde’s time as a colony of Portugal.
Central African Republic
Variant of Musa, a reference to Moses.
African variant of Mohammad.
Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast)
Democratic Republic of the Congo
A highly-efficient Bantu word meaning “a person who is ready to forgive any abuse for the first time, to tolerate it a second time, but never a third time.”
The name referring to the all-high was also the name of Ali IbnAbi Talib, the cousin and son-in-law of the prophet Mohammed.
eSwatini (formerly Swaziland)
A fifth of the country has this name relating to the Dlamini people.
Taken from tesfa, which means “my hope” in Amharic.
Unknown. The tenth-most popular name here? Obame.
Fula name that comes from the Arabic word jalil, “meaning greatness.”
Name for the third-born child in Akan, a language native to Ghana.
Another French colonial spelling of a native name, this Fula name means “bold.”
Taken from the Visigoth name “Guma,” which means “man.”
Means “rapid expansion” in Kikuyu.
Sotho word for “victor” or “champion.”
Distantly derived from Old Norse word kollir, meaning “helmet.”
Rakoto is actually quite common in Malagasy surnames, with the three most popular beginning with this prefix, and four of the top 10. This version is blended with the word malawi, which means “beloved.” All 10 of the most popular names begin with the letter R, which probably makes alphabetizing in Madagascar a nightmare.
Forgive Malawians if they have a bit of an ego, but when your most common name literally translates to “I am a gift from God,” it can be hard to stay humble. Malawi’s first prime minister was named Hastings Banda, and as it is customary in this part of Africa to have surnames that speak to life aspirations, he may also be responsible for much of its popularity.
Originally this name was something more along the lines of “Tarawele,” a Manding word meaning “the called ones,” referring to calls to battle. But when French colonizers began writing it down, the name took on this form.
A couple of possibilities here: First, it could be a Fula prefix denoting where someone comes from, like Ba-Sudan. But it could also be a shortened form of aba, the Arabic word for father.
Sadly, this is not a last name that excuses its owners from body hair maintenance, nor is it a reference to a furry insect. Rather it comes from the Sanskrit word vihara, which means “one who roams about for pleasure.”
This is essentially the same as Ali, but a French transcription.
Bantu word meaning “sun” or “light.”
German derivative of John.
Derived from the Arabic abduh, which means “his servant.” Though in this case the “him” is Allah.
Arabic for Abraham, the father of all Semitic peoples.
Republic of the Congo
Means “song,” “drum,” or the song made by beating a drum.
Rwandan origin meaning “daughter of God.”
Sao Tome and Principe
Literally is “son of Fernando,” though that name is taken from the Gothic name Frithunanths. Broken down it’s “frith,” which means “peace with,” and “nanth” which means “daring.”
From Arabic nadīy, meaning “generous.”
You can credit Rene Hoareau, one of the first French settlers in the Seychelles, with the popularity of this name.
Derived from the Aribic word qamar, meaning “moon.”
Combined with Abdi, the second-most popular name in Somalia, about 1.9 million of Somalia’s 14.74 million people have some derivative of a name meaning “all high” or “lofty.”
Means “god” or “king.”
It’s no coincidence in the tropical climate of South Sudan, the Dinki people’s most powerful god is Deng, the god of rain.
Alternate spelling of Ahmad, a word meaning “most praised” in reference to the prophet Mohammed. It’s also the second- or third-most popular name in a number of Islamic countries.
Derived from the Arabic word jum’a, which means “assembly.” The name is often given to people born on Friday, the “day of assembly” in Islam.
Literally means “son of Lawrence,” but proliferated in Togo due to the slave trade.
Refers to people from Tripoli in Libya. Pronounced “trablus” in Maghrebi Arabic.
A term from the Luo people meaning a child born after twins.
This is the name of a clan from the Chewa people, who inhabit central and southern Africa.
Zimbabwean name meaning “the heart.”
A derivative of Mohammad.
Means “son of Mammad.”
From the Arabic Al-Ali, which means “all high.” It can also mean “lofty” or “sublime,” and is a reference to Allah, the almighty god in Islam.
A variant on the Arabic word akhtar, meaning “star” or “good luck.” Ironic for a country that seems to never catch a break.
Reference to one who has made the hajj, or Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca.
The word means “thick rope or chain” in Cantonese, but may also refer to people from Suo, a Chinese state during the Shang dynasty.
If you thought that Smith stat in the intro was crazy, if everyone in China named Wang formed a country it would be the 14th most-populous in the world, right between the Philippines and Egypt. Over 103 million people share this name that means prince, king, or vast.
From Sanskrit word for “goddess.”
Indonesian word for “essence.”
From the Hebrew kohen, meaning priest. This referred mostly to the kohanim caste of priests, descended from Moses’ brother Aaron.
This denotes a descendant of the Sato family, a branch of the Fujiwara clan dating back to the ninth century.
Translates to “gold.”
From the Uyghur name for Ismael, the son of Abraham, whose name means “God will hear.” The -ova suffix makes this “son of Ismael.”
Unknown Laotian term.
Combination of Arabic words el — meaning “god” — and din — meaning religion or faith. So, effectively, this means “god faith” or “faith in “god.”
Refers to people from the Zhou dynasty-era state of Tan.
Just when you thought Mongolia couldn’t get any more badass, you learn the most common name in the country means steel.
Burmese term of honor for a younger brother.
Sanskrit word meaning “holder of four,” which may refer to the amount of land someone owns.
A full 25 percent of North Koreans have this last name, which is a reference to “gold.”
Al Balushi is not the long lost third member of a great Chicago comedy family, but rather a tribal surname meaning someone is of Baloch ancestry.
From Turkish word meaning “ruler” or “nobleman.” You’re yelling it like William Shatner in your head right now, aren’t you?
Based on Arabic word for reverence or kindness.
de la Cruz
Filipino take on the French name “de la Croix,” which means “of the cross.” Pacquiao did not crack the top 10. Yet.
Just when you’d gotten Captain Kirk out of your head…
Over 723,000 people, or one in eight Singaporeans, has this name from the Tan state of the Zhou dynasty.
Over 11 million, or one in five, South Koreans are named Kim.
From the Portuguese word pereira, meaning “palm tree.”
From the Arabic word khalid, meaning “eternal” or “remaining.”
Refers to people from the Chen region, in Henan province.
Literally means “son of Sharip,” which is a Tajik version of Sharif. Who, as you may recall, don’t like it.
Thai variation of Chen, the most popular name in a number of other Asian countries referring to people from Chen in the Henan province.
Timor-Leste (East Timor)
From Portueguese word soeiro, meaning “swineherd.”
Means “son of Mammad.”
United Arab Emirates
Of the seven countries where Ali or some form of it is the most popular surname, this is the only one with an indoor ski slope.
Vietnamese version of the Chinese word ruan, which is a type of lute.
That’s over 10 countries, if you were counting, where some version of Mohamed is the most popular name.
Smith, to exactly no one’s surprise, is the most common name in five countries, which also happen to be the largest majority of English-speaking countries in the world.
From the Sanskrit kumara, which means “son,” “child,” or “prince.” Prince of a white castle, perhaps?
Member of the John/Jean/Johannes family of etymology.
Same as Jean, Johannes, and other versions of the “blessed with a son” name.
From a Japanese word for “forest,” that more specifically means the hallowed ground around a shrine.
Derived from the English name Harry, which is a combination of the Germanic word haim, which means “home.” And rīc, meaning “power” or “ruler.”
This island nation of just over 21,000 only has seven last names with over 400 people. The origin of this most-popular one is unknown.
Papua New Guinea
The two next most popular surnames here are Peter and Paul, and the entire top 10 are English names of biblical origin.
Taken from the Welsh name Maredudd, a combination of words meaning “pomp” and “lord.”
Japanese for “front” or “before.”
About 2,700 Tongans have this native name of unknown meaning.
Technically, this tied with Smith for most popular name in this small Pacific island nation. But really, don’t we have enough Smiths on this list?
Native name of unknown origin beat out yet-another John by 1,400 people.