Explore the Family Name Nguyen

The meaning of Nguyen

Vietnamese (Nguyễn): 1. from Chinese ruan (阮), which denotes a type of traditional Chinese stringed instrument. Compare the Mandarin Chinese name Ruan, Cantonese Yuen. 2. possibly also from old Vietnamese words such as nguồn ‘spring, fountain’ or ngòi ‘canal, small river’, applied as a topographic name. History: This is by far the most common Vienamese surname, being borne by an estimated 40 per cent of the population. It was adopted on at least three occasions in Vietnamese history by members of the ruling family after they were overthrown: in 1232 AD by members of the Lê family (see Le); in 1407 AD by members of the Trần family (see Tran); and again in 1592 AD by members of the Mạc family (see Mac). In the ensuing centuries the name Nguyễn came to be associated with the major Vietnamese royal dynasty. In the 19th century, when the Nguyễn lords once again ruled Vietnam (1802–1945), some people who had something to hide changed their names to Nguyễn in the hope that it would protect them from prosecution. Some characteristic forenames: Vietnamese Thanh, Hung, Dung, Tuan, Minh, Hoa, Hai, Son, Tam, Hoang, Thuy, Long, Anh, Hong, Nam, Thai, Phong, Chi, Sang, Dong, Hang, Tuong, Tinh, Tong, Thach, Chien, Manh, Man, Chung, Han, Sinh, Lai, Chan, Ho, Uyen, Tuoi.

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

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

Based on the Decennial U.S. Census, the surname Nguyen has grown notably in popularity between 2000 and 2010. In the year 2000, it ranked as the 57th most common surname, but by 2010, it had jumped to the 38th position - a rise of over 33%. The count of individuals with this surname also saw substantial growth, increasing by around 41% from 310,125 in 2000 to 437,645 in 2010. This surge resulted in the proportion per 100,000 people growing by almost 30%, from 114.96 to 148.36.

Proportion per 100k114.96148.3629.05%

Race and Ethnicity of people with the last name Nguyen

Regarding the ethnicity associated with the Nguyen surname, the data from the Decennial U.S. Census indicates that the vast majority of individuals identifying with this name are of Asian or Pacific Islander descent. This group accounted for 95.93% in 2000 and rose slightly to 96.45% in 2010. The second most common ethnic identity, accounting for just over 2% in 2000 and dropping to 1.83% in 2010, was those identifying with two or more races. Individuals of White ethnicity decreased from 1.26% to 0.95%, while the Hispanic segment saw a slight increase from 0.58% to 0.63%. The smallest groups were Black and American Indian and Alaskan Native, both seeing reductions in their proportions during the ten-year period.

Asian/Pacific Islander95.93%96.45%0.54%
Two or More Races2.01%1.83%-8.96%
American Indian and Alaskan Native0.04%0.03%-25%

Nguyen 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 Nguyen is Vietnamese, which comprises 84.8% of all ancestry found in people with the surname. The next two most common ancestries are British & Irish (4.1%) and French & German (2.7%). Additional ancestries include Chinese, Indonesian, Thai, Khmer & Myanma, Spanish & Portuguese, Filipino & Austronesian, and Indigenous American.

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British & Irish4.1%
French & German2.7%

Possible origins of the surname Nguyen

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 Nguyen have recent ancestry locations all within Viet Nam.

RECENT ANCESTRY LocationPercentage
Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam92.80%
Hanoi, Viet Nam91.10%
Thua Thien Hue, Viet Nam90.30%
Da Nang, Viet Nam72.60%
Khanh Hoa Province, Viet Nam55.10%

What Nguyen 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 Nguyen is O-F2758, which is predominantly found among people with East Asian & Indigenous American ancestry. Haplogroup O-F2758 is descended from haplogroup O-M1359. Other common haplogroups include O-F8 and O-Z24014, which are predominantly found among people with East Asian & Indigenous American and East Asian & Indigenous American ancestry. Other surnames with similar common haplogroups are: Tran, Le, Pham, Vo, Phan, Do, Hoang, Dang, Huynh, Bui.

The most common maternal haplogroups of people with Nguyen surname are: F1a1, F1a_c, M7b. These most commonly trace back to individuals of East Asian & Indigenous American ancestry.

nguyenPaternal Haplogroup Origins O-M1359
Paternal Haplo Image

Your paternal lineage may be linked to the Cham

One of the many populations harboring members of haplogroup O1b1a1a1a1 is the Cham ethnic group, a group of people who speak Austronesian languages in Mainland Southeast Asia. Austronesian languages make up a language family that is extremely large and widespread, comprising over 350 million people on islands such as Madagascar, Easter Island, and many others. However, Austronesian languages are less common on mainland Asia, with a notable exception being the Chamic language. Research suggests that ancestors of the Cham people migrated from Southeast Asian islands to the mainland around the year 500 BCE, and that early Cham populations quickly began mixing with indigenous southern Vietnamese populations. As a result, the Chamic language now has words that were borrowed from languages spoken by indigenous Vietnamese people. It is likely that an ancestral Kinh population was one of the populations that mixed with the Cham people shortly after their migration to mainland Asia.

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 Nguyen 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.

"Nguyen" Surname 24.0%

23andMe Users 41.3%




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

"Nguyen" Surname 26.6%

23andMe Users 27.9%



Sugary Drink

Drinks one or more sugary drinks per day.

"Nguyen" Surname 18.4%

23andMe Users 21.1%




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

"Nguyen" Surname 7.6%

23andMe Users 16.4%

Are health conditions linked to the last name Nguyen?

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 Nguyen 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

Vietnamese 20.4%

23andMe Users 25.5%