Explore the Family Name Alexander

The meaning of Alexander

1. Scottish, English, German, and Dutch: from the personal name Alexander, classical Greek Alexandros, which probably originally meant ‘repulser of men (i.e. of the enemy)’, from alexein ‘to repel’ + andros, genitive of anēr ‘man’. Its popularity in the Middle Ages was due mainly to the Macedonian conqueror, Alexander the Great (356–323 BC)—or rather to the hero of the mythical versions of his exploits that gained currency in the so-called Alexander Romances. The name was also borne by various early Christian saints, including a patriarch of Alexandria (c.250–326 AD), whose main achievement was condemning the Arian heresy. The Gaelic form of the personal name is Alasdair, which has given rise to a number of Scottish and Irish patronymics, for example McAllister. Alexander is a common personal name in Scotland, often representing an Anglicized form of the Gaelic name. In North America, the English form of the surname has absorbed cognates from other languages, e.g. Spanish Alejandro, Italian Alessandro, Arabic or Assyrian/Chaldean Iskandar and Iskander, and their derivatives, e.g. Greek patronymic Alexandropoulos. 2. Jewish: from the adopted personal name Alexander (see 1 above) or shortened from the eastern Ashkenazic (originally Slavic) patronymics Aleksandrovich or Alexandrowicz. History: A number of Scotch-Irish families of this name landed at New York in the early 18th century. By 1746, six of them were established in NC. Others came in through Philadelphia, for example Archibald Alexander, who came from Londonderry in northern Ireland in 1736 and established himself in VA. — The Revolutionary general William Alexander (1726–83) was always known as ‘Lord Sterling’ to his compatriots, although his claim to the title was denied by the College of Arms in London. His father, James Alexander, was a Jacobite who had fled to New York after the failure of the Jacobite rising in 1715. The claim to the title arose in connection with their ancestor Sir William Alexander, a courtier and poet at the court of King James VI of Scotland (James I of England), who created him Earl of Stirling in 1633.

Dictionary of American Family Names, 2nd edition, © Oxford University Press, 2022.

How common is the last name Alexander in the United States?

The surname "Alexander" had a slight decrease in popularity, according to the Decennial U.S. Census data. In 2000, it ranked 111th and dropped to 118th by 2010, marking a change of -6.31. Despite this decline in rank, the number of individuals with this surname actually increased by 5.78%, from 193,443 in 2000 to 204,621 in 2010. The proportion per 100,000 people also observed a minor dip, from 71.71 to 69.37 over the ten-year period.

Proportion per 100k71.7169.37-3.26%

Race and Ethnicity of people with the last name Alexander

When examining the ethnic identity associated with the surname "Alexander", based on the Decennial U.S. Census data, noticeable changes can be seen between 2000 and 2010. The highest increase was among those identifying as Hispanic, which jumped from 2.21% to 3.17%, an increase of 43.44%. Individuals identifying as Asian/Pacific Islander also increased by 36.26%, moving from 0.91% to 1.24%. Those reporting two or more races saw their percentage rise from 2.05% to 2.66%, a 29.76% change. The proportion of Blacks using the "Alexander" surname modestly rose by 2.47%, from 33.22% to 34.04%. Conversely, the White population using this surname decreased by 4.47%, going from 60.91% to 58.19%. The American Indian and Alaskan Native group remained stable at 0.70%.

Two or More Races2.05%2.66%29.76%
Asian/Pacific Islander0.91%1.24%36.26%
American Indian and Alaskan Native0.7%0.7%0%

Alexander ancestry composition

23andMe computes an ancestry breakdown for each customer. People may have ancestry from just one population or they may have ancestry from several populations. The most commonly-observed ancestry found in people with the surname Alexander is British & Irish, which comprises 46.1% of all ancestry found in people with the surname. The next two most common ancestries are French & German (19.7%) and Nigerian (4.8%). Additional ancestries include Eastern European, Ashkenazi Jewish, Scandinavian, Spanish & Portuguese, and Ghanaian, Liberian & Sierra Leonean.

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British & Irish46.1%
French & German19.7%

Possible origins of the surname Alexander

Your DNA provides clues about where your recent ancestors may have lived. Having many distant relatives in the same location suggests that you may all share common ancestry there. Locations with many distant relatives can also be places where people have migrated recently, such as large cities. If a large number of individuals who share your surname have distant relatives in a specific area, it could indicate a connection between your surname and that location, stemming from either recent ancestral ties or migration.

Based on 23andMe data, people with last name Alexander have recent ancestry locations in United Kingdom and Ireland.

RECENT ANCESTRY LocationPercentage
Greater London, United Kingdom77.10%
Glasgow City, United Kingdom76.80%
Greater Manchester, United Kingdom76.60%
Merseyside, United Kingdom76.40%
West Midlands, United Kingdom76.30%

What Alexander haplogroups can tell you

Haplogroups are genetic population groups that share a common ancestor on either your paternal or maternal line. These paternal and maternal haplogroups shed light on your genetic ancestry and help tell the story of your family.

The top paternal haplogroup of people with the surname Alexander is R-S691, which is predominantly found among people with European ancestry. Haplogroup R-S691 is descended from haplogroup R-M343. Other common haplogroups include R-S675 and R-L21, which are predominantly found among people with European and European ancestry. Other surnames with similar common haplogroups are: Moore, Patterson, Johnson, Taylor, Young, Brown, Robinson, Smith, Mitchell, Wilson.

The most common maternal haplogroups of people with Alexander surname are: T2b, H, H1. These most commonly trace back to individuals of European ancestry.

alexanderPaternal Haplogroup Origins R-M343

Your maternal lineage may be linked to Marie Antoinette

Because it is so dominant in the general European population, haplogroup H also appears quite frequently in the continent's royal houses. Marie Antoinette, an Austrian Hapsburg who married into the French royal family, inherited the haplogroup from her maternal ancestors. So did Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, whose recorded genealogy traces his female line to Bavaria. Scientists also discovered that famed 16th century astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus traced his maternal lineages to haplogroup H.

Maternal Haplo Image

What do people with the surname Alexander have in common?

Spoiler alert: it's complicated. People with the same last name are usually no more genetically similar than a randomly sampled group of people from the same population. That said, people with the same surname are more likely to have similar ancestries than randomly sampled individuals. The reason is the tendency of people with similar cultural or geographical backgrounds to preferentially mate with one another. That's why people who share a surname may be more likely to share traits and tendencies in common than people within the general population. Check out the percentages below to see the prevalences of tastes, habits, and traits of people with your surname compared with prevalences among 23andMe users.



Chocolate Ice Cream

Prefers chocolate flavored ice cream over other flavors.

"Alexander" Surname 40.6%

23andMe Users 41.3%




When sounds made by others, like the sound of chewing or yawning, provoke strong emotional reactions in an individual.

"Alexander" Surname 26.6%

23andMe Users 27.9%



Sugary Drink

Drinks one or more sugary drinks per day.

"Alexander" Surname 22.8%

23andMe Users 21.1%




A severe headache characterized by intense pain, sensitivity to light and sound, and often accompanied by nausea and vomiting.

"Alexander" Surname 18.8%

23andMe Users 16.4%

Are health conditions linked to the last name Alexander?

The short answer is that, if there is an association between surname and health, it's usually more about your ancestry than your name. Individuals with a given surname are no more genetically similar than the general population but often have similar ancestries. The populations of people associated with those shared ancestries often have sets of genetic variations, also known as alleles, in common. Some of those alleles are associated with a greater likelihood of developing certain diseases.

Disease variant frequency by ancestry

Disease allele frequencies in populations associated with the surname Alexander are shown below. Important Note: not everyone with a disease allele will develop these health condition

Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Y402H variant

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of irreversible vision loss among older adults. The disease results in damage to the central part of the retina (the macula), impairing vision needed for reading, driving, or even recognizing faces. The 23andMe Health + Ancestry DNA test includes the two most common variants associated with an increased risk of developing the condition: the Y402H variant in the CFH gene and the A69S variant in the ARMS2 gene. Learn more about Age-Related Macular Degeneration

British & Irish 62.1%

23andMe Users 57.2%