Explore the Family Name Howe

The meaning of Howe

1. English: topographic name pronounced to rhyme with hoe, who, or how, from Middle English hoʒe ‘spur of a hill, steep ridge, or slight rise’. Hoʒe comes from a late variant, hōge, of the dative case of the Old English root word, hōh, literally ‘heel (of a person) or hock (of an animal)’, a common placename element. The regular Old English dative singular, hō, is the source of the placenames Hoo and Hoe and the surname may also be habitational name from a placename consisting of this word, for example Hoe (Norfolk), Hoo (Kent), Hooe (Devon, Sussex), or either of two places called The Hoo in Great Gaddesden and Saint Paul’s Walden (Hertfordshire). Hose (Leicestershire) comes from the plural form of the word (see Howes). Howe may also be from Old Norse haugr ‘mound, hill’, for without other evidence, this cannot be distinguished from howe ‘spur of a hill’ and is certainly the origin of Howe (Norfolk) and Howe Hill in Kirkburn (East Yorkshire). See also Hough. 2. English: variant of Hugh, pronounced to rhyme with who or how. 3. Americanized form of one or more similar (like-sounding) Jewish surnames. 4. Americanized form of Norwegian Hove. 5. Irish: variant of Haugh. 6. Irish: variant of Hoey. 7. Chinese: variant Romanization of the surnames 侯, see Hou 1. 8. Chinese: possibly from Cantonese form of the Chinese names 豪 (meaning ‘heroic’) or 浩 (meaning ‘vast’) or 昊 (meaning ‘extensive and limitless’), which were monosyllabic personal names, or part of disyllabic personal names of some early Chinese immigrants in the US.

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

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

Based on the Decennial U.S. Census, the popularity of the surname Howe has seen a slight decline from 2000 to 2010. In 2000, Howe was ranked as the 775th most common surname in the United States, but dropped to the 820th position by 2010, marking a decline of 5.81%. Despite this drop in rank, the actual number of people bearing the surname increased by 4.22%, rising from 40,555 to 42,265 individuals. The proportion of people named Howe per 100,000 also saw a decrease of 4.66%, moving from 15.03 in 2000 to 14.33 in 2010.

Proportion per 100k15.0314.33-4.66%

Race and Ethnicity of people with the last name Howe

In terms of ethnicity, data from the Decennial U.S. Census shows that the majority of individuals with the surname Howe identify as White, although this group saw a slight decrease of 1.77% between 2000 and 2010. During this same period, there were increases in every other ethnic identity group among those with the surname. The largest increase was seen among those identifying as Hispanic, which rose by 41.89%. Those identifying as Asian/Pacific Islander and Black also saw significant growth, increasing by 30.26% and 14.80% respectively. The numbers of those identifying as American Indian and Alaskan Native or belonging to two or more races also rose, but with more modest increases of 4.10% and 20.39% respectively.

Two or More Races1.52%1.83%20.39%
American Indian and Alaskan Native1.22%1.27%4.1%
Asian/Pacific Islander0.76%0.99%30.26%

Howe 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 Howe is British & Irish, which comprises 52.2% of all ancestry found in people with the surname. The next two most common ancestries are French & German (25.2%) and Scandinavian (5.5%). Additional ancestries include Eastern European, Italian, Spanish & Portuguese, Ashkenazi Jewish, and Indigenous American.

Ready to learn more about your ancestry? Get the most comprehensive ancestry breakdown on the market by taking our DNA test. Shop 23andMe

British & Irish52.2%
French & German25.2%

Possible origins of the surname Howe

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 Howe have recent ancestry locations in United Kingdom and Ireland.

RECENT ANCESTRY LocationPercentage
Greater London, United Kingdom88.30%
Glasgow City, United Kingdom88.20%
Merseyside, United Kingdom88.00%
West Midlands, United Kingdom87.90%
Greater Manchester, United Kingdom87.90%

What Howe 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 Howe 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 I-Z60, which are predominantly found among people with European and European ancestry. Other surnames with similar common haplogroups are: Cameron, Sherman, Lloyd, Morgan, Hopkins, Hughes, Phillips, Shaw, Davies, Oliver.

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

howePaternal 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 Howe 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.

"Howe" Surname 43.1%

23andMe Users 41.3%




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

"Howe" Surname 27.8%

23andMe Users 27.9%



Sugary Drink

Drinks one or more sugary drinks per day.

"Howe" 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.

"Howe" Surname 19.9%

23andMe Users 16.4%

Are health conditions linked to the last name Howe?

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 Howe 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%