Explore the Family Name Oliver

The meaning of Oliver

1. English (northern), southern Scottish, southern French, and German: from the Old French personal name Oliver (modern French Olivier). This became common largely through the influence of the immensely popular narrative poem Chanson de Roland, in which the warrior Oliver is the wise best friend of the doomed hero Roland. The two men were peers at the court of Charlemagne, and the name is probably of ancient Germanic origin. The name ostensibly means ‘olive tree’ (see Oliveira), but this is almost certainly the result of folk etymology working on an unidentified ancient Germanic personal name, perhaps a cognate of Alvaro. Old Norse Óláf (see Olliff) and ancient Germanic Alfhari (composed of the elements alf ‘elf’ and hari ‘army’) have also been suggested as sources, but both personal names are difficult to explain phonetically, especially the latter. The Anglo-Norman name has been established in Ireland (Louth) since at least the 14th century, and was reinforced in Ulster and Limerick by migrants from England in the 17th century. The surname is also borne by Jews, apparently as an adoption of the non-Jewish surname. 2. Catalan: generally a topographic name from oliver ‘olive tree’, but in some instances possibly related to a homonymous personal name (see 1 above). History: The surname Oliver of French origin (see 1 above) is listed in the register of Huguenot ancestors recognized by the Huguenot Society of South Carolina.

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

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

Based on the Decennial U.S. Census data, the popularity of the surname Oliver has experienced a slight fluctuation over the years. In 2000, Oliver was the 248th most popular surname, but by 2010 it had dropped slightly to the 264th rank, representing a decline of 6.45%. Despite this drop in rank, the actual count of individuals with the surname Oliver increased from 111,641 in 2000 to 115,900 in 2010, an increase of 3.81%. The proportion of the surname per 100,000 people also decreased from 41.38 to 39.29 during the same period.

20002010Change
Rank#248#264-6.45%
Count111,641115,9003.81%
Proportion per 100k41.3839.29-5.05%

Race and Ethnicity of people with the last name Oliver

The ethnic identity associated with the name Oliver has also seen some changes between 2000 and 2010 according to the Decennial U.S. Census data. The representation of Oliver among Asian/Pacific Islanders increased by 25.93%, while those identifying as two or more races saw a significant increase of 31.35%. The proportion of white individuals with the surname Oliver decreased slightly from 66.74% to 64.19%. The Hispanic population with the Oliver surname saw a substantial increase of 35.74%, while the Black population saw a modest increase of 2.39%. The American Indian and Alaskan Native population with this surname remained relatively steady, experiencing a small growth of 2.78%.

20002010Change
White66.74%64.19%-3.82%
Black26.81%27.45%2.39%
Hispanic3.33%4.52%35.74%
Two or More Races1.85%2.43%31.35%
American Indian and Alaskan Native0.72%0.74%2.78%
Asian/Pacific Islander0.54%0.68%25.93%

Oliver 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 Oliver is British & Irish, which comprises 52.7% of all ancestry found in people with the surname. The next two most common ancestries are French & German (19.7%) and Spanish & Portuguese (4.3%). Additional ancestries include Nigerian, Scandinavian, Eastern European, Italian, and Ghanaian, Liberian & Sierra Leonean.

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

ANCESTRY BREAKDOWNCOMPOSITION
British & Irish52.7%
French & German19.7%
Spanish & Portuguese4.3%
Other23.3%
Oliver

Possible origins of the surname Oliver

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 Oliver have recent ancestry locations in United Kingdom and Ireland.

RECENT ANCESTRY LocationPercentage
Greater London, United Kingdom81.60%
Greater Manchester, United Kingdom81.40%
West Midlands, United Kingdom81.20%
Merseyside, United Kingdom81.20%
Glasgow City, United Kingdom80.90%

What Oliver 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 Oliver 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-P311 and R-L21, which are predominantly found among people with European and European ancestry. Other surnames with similar common haplogroups are: Jones, Lloyd, Phillips, Morgan, Lewis, Thomas, Davis, Evans, James, Richards.

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

oliverPaternal 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 Oliver 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.

Preferences

Oliver

Chocolate Ice Cream

Prefers chocolate flavored ice cream over other flavors.

"Oliver" Surname 39.8%

23andMe Users 41.3%

Traits

Oliver

Misophonia

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

"Oliver" Surname 27.4%

23andMe Users 27.9%

Habits

Oliver

Sugary Drink

Drinks one or more sugary drinks per day.

"Oliver" Surname 24.3%

23andMe Users 21.1%

Wellness

Oliver

Migraine

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

"Oliver" Surname 18.4%

23andMe Users 16.4%

Are health conditions linked to the last name Oliver?

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 Oliver 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%