Explore the Family Name Lam

The meaning of Lam

1. Chinese: Cantonese form of the surname 林, see Lin 1. 2. Chinese: Cantonese form of the surname 藍, meaning ‘blue’. See Lan 1. 3. Vietnamese (Lâm): from the Chinese surname 林, see Lin 1, compare 1 above. 4. Vietnamese: from the Chinese surname 藍, see Lan 1. 5. Dutch and North German: from a short form of the personal name Lambert. 6. Dutch: topographic or habitational name referring to a house distinguished by the sign of a lam ‘lamb’. 7. Danish: nickname for a gentle person, from Old Norse lamb ‘lamb’, or possibly for a lame man, from Old Norse lami. Some characteristic forenames: Vietnamese Thanh, Minh, Hung, Anh, Hoa, Vinh, Quang, Duc, Dung, Cuong, Hai, Son. Chinese Hong, Wing, Chi, Kin, Wai, Kwok, Chun, Kam, Sang, Ching, Man, Chan. Korean Nam, Chung, Tam, Phong, Thai, Pak, Tuong, Yiu, Hoa Kim, Sik, Sinh, Woon.

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

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

According to data from the Decennial U.S. Census, the popularity of the surname Lam has increased between 2000 and 2010. In 2000, Lam was the 706th most popular surname in the U.S., with a count of 44,385 instances. By 2010, it had risen to rank 611 with a total count of 55,554 – an increase of 25.16%. The proportion of people with this surname per 100,000 also grew by 14.47% over the same period.

Proportion per 100k16.4518.8314.47%

Race and Ethnicity of people with the last name Lam

In terms of ethnic identity, the Decennial U.S. Census shows that the majority of individuals with the Lam surname identify as Asian/Pacific Islander. In 2000, 87.47% of individuals identifying as Lam were of Asian/Pacific Islander ethnicity, which slightly rose to 87.99% by 2010. There were decreases in the percentages of those who identified as having two or more races and those who identified as White, with changes of -7.01% and -12.53% respectively. However, there was a significant increase in those who identified as Hispanic and Black, with changes of 23.08% and 35.71% respectively. The percentage of individuals who identified as American Indian and Alaskan Native saw a slight decrease from 0.07% to 0.05%.

Asian/Pacific Islander87.47%87.99%0.59%
Two or More Races2.14%1.99%-7.01%
American Indian and Alaskan Native0.07%0.05%-28.57%

Lam 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 Lam is Chinese, which comprises 55.5% of all ancestry found in people with the surname. The next two most common ancestries are Vietnamese (22.0%) and British & Irish (5.4%). Additional ancestries include Chinese Dai, French & German, Indonesian, Thai, Khmer & Myanma, Spanish & Portuguese, 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 & Irish5.4%

Possible origins of the surname Lam

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 Lam have recent ancestry locations in China and Viet Nam.

RECENT ANCESTRY LocationPercentage
Guangdong, China76.20%
Fujian, China73.80%
Zhejiang, China72.80%
Jiangsu, China72.30%
Shandong, China72.30%

What Lam 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 Lam is O-F8, which is predominantly found among people with East Asian & Indigenous American ancestry. Haplogroup O-F8 is descended from haplogroup O-M1359. Other common haplogroups include O-F46 and O-Page23, which are predominantly found among people with East Asian & Indigenous American and East Asian & Indigenous American ancestry. Other surnames with similar common haplogroups are: Lin, Lim, Huang, Zheng, Chen, Wu, Ly, Lu, Huynh, Chan.

The most common maternal haplogroups of people with Lam surname are: F1a1, F2, M7b. These most commonly trace back to individuals of East Asian & Indigenous American ancestry.

lamPaternal Haplogroup Origins O-M1359
Paternal Haplo Image

Your paternal lineage may be linked to the Han Chinese

Haplogroup O-Page23 has been found in several populations of the Han Chinese ethnic group. The ancestors of the Han, called the Huaxia, lived in the upriver basin of the Yellow River 5,000-6,000 years ago. As agricultural technology improved, the Huaxia spread east and south, and became the Han Chinese. Over the last 2,000 years, there have been three major migrations of the Han southward. The first of these migrations occurred during the Jin Dynasty from 317 to 420 CE, when nearly one million people moved south. A second migration occurred during the Tang Dynasty, after the An-Shi Rebellion, between 755 and 762 CE. The last migration occurred during the Southern Song Dynasty, from 1127 to 1297 CE, when nearly 5 million people migrated southward. The Pinghua, a branch of Han in which haplogroup O2a2b1a1 is particularly common, may be descendants of indigenous minority groups that adopted Han culture during one such major migration event.

Your maternal lineage may be linked to the ancient people of the Indian subcontinent

While Haplogroup M is widespread throughout South and East Asia, it is more diverse on the Indian sub-continent than anywhere else in the world. The high degree of diversity of M in India is likely tied to its ancient arrival here nearly 50,000 years ago. In addition to M2, which is found throughout the subcontinent, there are dozens of haplogroups branching off of M that exist in India. These branches are often connected to specific regions, tribes, or ethnic groups. For example, haplogroup M18 is found among the Oraon peoples of eastern India and Bangladesh, while haplogroup M41 is common among the Pardhan speakers of eastern India, and haplogroup M31a can be found on the Andaman Islands, just off the southeast coast of India.

Maternal Haplo Image

What do people with the surname Lam 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.

"Lam" Surname 32.6%

23andMe Users 41.3%




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

"Lam" Surname 28.3%

23andMe Users 27.9%



Sugary Drink

Drinks one or more sugary drinks per day.

"Lam" Surname 16.4%

23andMe Users 21.1%




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

"Lam" Surname 7.5%

23andMe Users 16.4%

Are health conditions linked to the last name Lam?

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 Lam are shown below. Important Note: not everyone with a disease allele will develop these health condition

Late-Onset Alzheimer's Disease

ε4 variant

Alzheimer's disease is characterized by memory loss, cognitive decline, and personality changes. Late-onset Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of Alzheimer's disease, developing after age 65. Many factors, including genetics, can influence a person's chances of developing the condition. The 23andMe Health + Ancestry DNA test includes the most common genetic variant associated with late-onset Alzheimer's disease: the ε4 variant in the APOE gene. Learn more about Late-Onset Alzheimer's Disease

Chinese 18.2%

23andMe Users 25.5%