Explore the Family Name Brett

The meaning of Brett

1. English: ethnic name for a Breton, from Old French bret, nominative of breton ‘Breton’. The Bretons were Celtic-speakers driven from southwestern England to northwestern France in the 6th century ad by Anglo-Saxon invaders; some of them reinvaded England in the 11th century as part of the army of William the Conqueror. In France and among Normans, Bretons had a reputation for stupidity, and in some cases this name and its variants and cognate may have originated as derogatory nicknames. The English surname is most common in East Anglia, where many Bretons settled after the Conquest. In Scotland it may also have denoted a member of one of the Celtic-speaking peoples of Strathclyde, who were known as Bryttas or Brettas well into the 13th century. 2. German: metonymic occupational name from Middle Low German bret ‘board’ for a sawyer or carpenter, or from a shortened compound like Brettschneider, Bretthauer. 3. French: very rare variant, and probably an Americanized form, of Bret, a cognate of 1 above.

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

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

Based on the Decennial U.S. Census data, the popularity of the surname Brett saw a slight decrease from 2000 to 2010. The rank of the name fell from 6005 in 2000 to 6235 in 2010, marking a change of -3.83%. However, the count of individuals with this surname increased by 3.83% during the same period, growing from 5280 to 5482. Notably, the proportion per 100k individuals dropped by 5.1%, going from 1.96 to 1.86.

Proportion per 100k1.961.86-5.1%

Race and Ethnicity of people with the last name Brett

The ethnic identity associated with the surname Brett also experienced changes between 2000 and 2010, according to the Decennial U.S. Census data. In 2010, the largest percentage of Bretts identified as White at 92.56%, down slightly from 92.88% in 2000. Those identifying as Asian/Pacific Islander increased by 10%, despite making up less than 1% of Bretts. The proportion of those with two or more ethnic identities grew by 30.53%, and the Hispanic population increased by 28.25%. However, the percentage of Bretts identifying as Black decreased by 23.43%. The small percentage of Bretts identifying as American Indian and Alaskan Native remained relatively stable, decreasing slightly by 3.57%.

Two or More Races0.95%1.24%30.53%
Asian/Pacific Islander0.8%0.88%10%
American Indian and Alaskan Native0.28%0.27%-3.57%

Brett 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 Brett is British & Irish, which comprises 60.0% of all ancestry found in people with the surname. The next two most common ancestries are French & German (16.0%) and Ashkenazi Jewish (8.1%). Additional ancestries include Eastern European, Italian, Scandinavian, Spanish & Portuguese, and Chinese.

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British & Irish60.0%
French & German16.0%
Ashkenazi Jewish8.1%

Possible origins of the surname Brett

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 Brett have recent ancestry locations all within United Kingdom.

RECENT ANCESTRY LocationPercentage
Merseyside, United Kingdom88.90%
Greater Manchester, United Kingdom88.90%
Greater London, United Kingdom88.90%
West Midlands, United Kingdom88.90%
Glasgow City, United Kingdom87.90%

What Brett 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 Brett is R-CTS241, which is predominantly found among people with European ancestry. Haplogroup R-CTS241 is descended from haplogroup R-M343. Other common haplogroups include R-L21 and R-Z156, which are predominantly found among people with European and European ancestry. Other surnames with similar common haplogroups are: Cameron, Griffiths, Logan, Rees, Pritchard, Porter, Davies, Morgan, Moon, Lloyd.

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

brettPaternal 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 Brett 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.

"Brett" Surname 44.8%

23andMe Users 41.3%




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

"Brett" Surname 32.8%

23andMe Users 27.9%



Sugary Drink

Drinks one or more sugary drinks per day.

"Brett" Surname 21.3%

23andMe Users 21.1%




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

"Brett" Surname 17.1%

23andMe Users 16.4%

Are health conditions linked to the last name Brett?

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 Brett 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%