Explore the Family Name Cullen

The meaning of Cullen

1. Irish: Anglicized form of Gaelic Ó Cuileáin ‘descendant of Cuileán’, a variant of the personal name Coileán meaning ‘puppy’ or ‘young hound’ (see Collin). 2. Irish: Anglicized form of Gaelic Ó Cuilinn ‘descendant of Cuileann’, a byname meaning ‘holly’. 3. Scottish: habitational name from Cullen in Banff, so named from Gaelic cùilen, a diminutive of còil, cùil ‘nook, recess’. 4. English: habitational name from the Rhineland city of Cologne (Old French form of Middle High German Köln, named with Latin colonia ‘colony’). 5. English: variant of Cooling. Some characteristic forenames: Irish Brendan, Declan, Dermot, Donal, Fergus, Aidan, Brennan, Donovan, Eamon, Eamonn, Kieran, Liam.

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

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

Based on the Decennial U.S. Census, the popularity of the surname Cullen has seen a slight decrease between 2000 and 2010. In 2000, Cullen was the 1,665th most common surname, but by 2010 it had fallen to the 1,796th position, marking a change of -7.87%. However, the total count of people with the Cullen surname increased from 19,665 in 2000 to 20,000 in 2010, a modest growth of 1.7%. The proportion per 100,000 people also saw a small decline from 7.29 to 6.78, indicating a -7.0% change.

Proportion per 100k7.296.78-7%

Race and Ethnicity of people with the last name Cullen

The ethnic identity associated with the surname Cullen also experienced some shifts between 2000 and 2010, based on data from the Decennial U.S. Census. While the majority of individuals with this surname identified as White (94.09% in 2000 and 92.68% in 2010), there has been a slight decrease in this group. Meanwhile, those identifying as Hispanic showed the highest percentage increase at 53.95%, rising from 1.52% to 2.34%. Similarly, the representation of two or more races among individuals with the Cullen surname grew by 36.69%, from 1.39% to 1.9%. Other ethnic identities, including Asian/Pacific Islander, Black, and American Indian and Alaskan Native, also experienced marginal increases during this period.

Two or More Races1.39%1.9%36.69%
Asian/Pacific Islander0.97%0.99%2.06%
American Indian and Alaskan Native0.31%0.33%6.45%

Cullen 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 Cullen is British & Irish, which comprises 60.8% of all ancestry found in people with the surname. The next two most common ancestries are French & German (15.3%) and Italian (5.3%). Additional ancestries include Eastern European, Scandinavian, Spanish & Portuguese, Ashkenazi Jewish, and Indigenous American.

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British & Irish60.8%
French & German15.3%

Possible origins of the surname Cullen

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 Cullen have recent ancestry locations in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Ireland.

RECENT ANCESTRY LocationPercentage
Greater London, United Kingdom86.10%
Merseyside, United Kingdom85.90%
Greater Manchester, United Kingdom85.90%
Glasgow City, United Kingdom85.90%
West Midlands, United Kingdom85.70%

What Cullen 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 Cullen is R-L21, which is predominantly found among people with European ancestry. Haplogroup R-L21 is descended from haplogroup R-M343. Other common haplogroups include R-Z255 and R-CTS241, which are predominantly found among people with European and European ancestry. Other surnames with similar common haplogroups are: Burns, Murphy, Obrien, O'Brien, Connor, Kelley, Conner, Walsh, Carroll, Kelly.

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

cullenPaternal 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 Cullen 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.

"Cullen" Surname 37.8%

23andMe Users 41.3%




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

"Cullen" Surname 29.1%

23andMe Users 27.9%



Sugary Drink

Drinks one or more sugary drinks per day.

"Cullen" Surname 20.6%

23andMe Users 21.1%




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

"Cullen" Surname 15.7%

23andMe Users 16.4%

Are health conditions linked to the last name Cullen?

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 Cullen 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%