Explore the Family Name Ross

The meaning of Ross

1. Scottish: habitational name from one or other of a number of Scottish and English places called Ross or Roos(e), especially Roose (Lancashire) and Roos (East Yorkshire). The placenames derive from a British ancestor of Welsh rhos ‘moor, heath, plain’, which is the sense of the cognate Gaelic word ros. The Scottish surname has at least three origins. First, the Anglo-Norman family from Roos (East Yorkshire) was introduced to Scotland when Robert of Roos, lord of Wark Castle (Northumberland), married Isabella, an illegitimate daughter of King William the Lion. Second, various families took the name from the province of Ross in northern Scotland and other places of that name. Third, there were Norman families in Scotland by the 13th century who probably derived their name from Rots in Normandy (see 2 below). The descendants of Godfrey de Ros, tenant of the de Morville lords of Cunninghame, were major landholders in Ayrshire, and almost certainly took their name from Rots. The Rose family of Kilravock (Nairnshire) may take their name from either of these three (see Rose). The lairds of Balnagown adopted the surname Ross after the earldom of Ross (to which they considered themselves rightful heirs) had passed into other hands through the female line. 2. English (of Norman origin): habitational name from Rots in Calvados (France), probably named with the ancient Germanic element rod ‘clearing’ (compare Rhodes). This was the original home of a family de Ros, who were established in Kent in 1130 and had major estates in Kent until well into the 13th century. 3. English: habitational name from Wrose, in Shipley, near Bradford (Yorkshire), with re-spelling of Wr- as R- due to the loss of /w/ before /r/ in early modern English pronunciation. The spelling Wrose is no longer current. The placename derives from Old English wrāse ‘knot, something twisted’, referring to the steep-sided hill on which the settlement stands, with the sense ‘broken or twisting hill’. 4. English and German: from the ancient Germanic personal name Rozzo, a short form of various compound names with the first element hrōd ‘fame, renown’, introduced into England by the Normans in the form Roce, Rosce, Rozo. Compare Rossell. 5. Cornish: habitational name from one or other of a number of minor places in Cornwall called Rose, Roose, or Rowse (see Rouse), named with Middle Cornish ros ‘promontory, hill spur, moor’. 6. German and Jewish (Ashkenazic): metonymic occupational name for a breeder or keeper of horses, from Middle High German ros, German Ross ‘horse’; perhaps also a nickname for someone thought to resemble a horse or a topographic or habitational name referring to a house distinguished by the sign of a horse. 7. Americanized form of Jewish Rose 9.

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

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

Based on the Decennial U.S. Census data, the popularity of the surname Ross has seen a slight decrease between 2000 and 2010. The rank of this surname fell from 89 to 98, indicating a 10.11% drop in its popularity. However, the overall count of individuals with this surname increased by 4.28%, from 219,961 to 229,368. This increase indicates that despite the drop in rank, the name Ross is still being used by more individuals compared to the previous decade.

Proportion per 100k81.5477.76-4.64%

Race and Ethnicity of people with the last name Ross

The ethnicity distribution of individuals bearing the surname Ross experienced some changes between 2000 and 2010, according to the Decennial U.S. Census data. There was a significant increase in those identifying as Asian/Pacific Islander and those reporting two or more races, with growth rates of 32.61% and 37.28% respectively. The percent of people with the surname Ross who identified as Hispanic also saw a substantial increase, growing by 51.10%. Meanwhile, the percentage of white individuals with the Ross surname decreased slightly by 3.50% whereas Black individuals increased by 3.34%. The proportion of American Indian and Alaskan Native stayed relatively stable, with only a marginal increase of 1.12%.

Two or More Races1.69%2.32%37.28%
American Indian and Alaskan Native0.89%0.9%1.12%
Asian/Pacific Islander0.46%0.61%32.61%

Ross 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 Ross is British & Irish, which comprises 46.3% of all ancestry found in people with the surname. The next two most common ancestries are French & German (20.4%) and Ashkenazi Jewish (7.5%). Additional ancestries include Eastern European, Italian, Scandinavian, Nigerian, and Spanish & Portuguese.

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British & Irish46.3%
French & German20.4%
Ashkenazi Jewish7.5%

Possible origins of the surname Ross

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

RECENT ANCESTRY LocationPercentage
Greater London, United Kingdom77.00%
Glasgow City, United Kingdom76.80%
Merseyside, United Kingdom76.70%
West Midlands, United Kingdom76.40%
Greater Manchester, United Kingdom76.30%

What Ross 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 Ross is R-Z23534, which is predominantly found among people with European ancestry. Haplogroup R-Z23534 is descended from haplogroup R-M343. Other common haplogroups include R-L21 and R-CTS2243, which are predominantly found among people with European and European ancestry. Other surnames with similar common haplogroups are: Smith, Miller, Fisher, Brown, Mitchell, Taylor, Young, Thompson, Cooper, Green.

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

rossPaternal 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 Ross 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.

"Ross" Surname 41.8%

23andMe Users 41.3%




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

"Ross" Surname 27.1%

23andMe Users 27.9%



Sugary Drink

Drinks one or more sugary drinks per day.

"Ross" Surname 22.1%

23andMe Users 21.1%



Cat Allergy

An allergic reaction to cats, characterized by symptoms such as sneezing, itching, and difficulty breathing.

"Ross" Surname 35.8%

23andMe Users 36.7%

Are health conditions linked to the last name Ross?

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 Ross 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%