Explore the Family Name Smith

The meaning of Smith

1. English and Scottish: occupational name denoting a worker in metal, especially iron, such as a blacksmith or farrier, from Middle English smith ‘smith’ (Old English smith, probably a derivative of smītan ‘to strike, hammer’). Early examples are also found in the Latin form Faber. Metal-working was one of the earliest occupations for which specialist skills were required, and its importance ensured that this term and its equivalents in other languages were the most widespread of all occupational surnames in Europe. Medieval smiths were important not only in making horseshoes, plowshares, and other domestic articles, but above all for their skill in forging swords, other weapons, and armor. This is also the most frequent of all surnames in the US. It is very common among African Americans and Native Americans (see also 5 below). This surname (in any of the two possible English senses; see also below) is also found in Haiti. See also Smither. 2. English: from Middle English smithe ‘smithy, forge’ (Old English smiththe). The surname may be topographic, for someone who lived in or by a blacksmith’s shop, occupational, for someone who worked in one, or habitational, from a place so named, such as Smitha in King’s Nympton (Devon). Compare Smithey. 3. Irish and Scottish: sometimes adopted for Gaelic Mac Gobhann, Irish Mac Gabhann ‘son of the smith’. See McGowan. 4. Americanized form (translation into English, or assimilation) of various European surnames meaning ‘smith’ or ‘blacksmith’, for example German and Jewish Schmidt, Dutch, Flemish, and North German Smit, Ukrainian, Rusyn, or other Slavic Koval, Slovak Kováč, Slovenian, Serbian, and Croatian Kovač (see Kovac), and Jewish Kuznetz (see Kuznetsov). 5. Native American: from English smith, adopted as an occupational name for a smith, often as a translation into English of a personal name based on an equivalent occupational name from any of the Native American languages, such as Navajo atsidí ‎‘smith’ (see Atcitty). In most cases, however, the surname Smith was probably chosen because it is the most common (English) surname in North America (see 1 above). It is also the most common surname among Native Americans. Compare Blacksmith.

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

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

Based on the Decennial U.S. Census data, the popularity of the surname "Smith" has remained consistent between 2000 and 2010, maintaining its ranking as the most common surname in the United States. The total count of individuals with the surname increased from about 2,376,206 in 2000 to 2,442,977 in 2010, marking a growth rate of approximately 2.81%. However, the proportion of people named Smith per 100,000 decreased by 5.98% over the decade.

Proportion per 100k880.85828.19-5.98%

Race and Ethnicity of people with the last name Smith

Regarding ethnic identity, the census data reveals that there were shifts among different groups between 2000 and 2010. The group identifying as White with the surname Smith saw a slight decrease in their percentage, going from 73.35% to 70.9%. On the other hand, those identifying as Hispanic and Two or more races saw the largest increases, rising by 53.85% and 34.36%, respectively. The percentage of Smiths identifying as Asian/Pacific Islander rose from 0.40% to 0.50%, while those identifying as Black and American Indian and Alaskan Native also saw small increases. This information is based on the Decennial U.S. Census data and shows the diversity and shifting demographics within the Smith surname in the United States.

Two or More Races1.63%2.19%34.36%
American Indian and Alaskan Native0.85%0.89%4.71%
Asian/Pacific Islander0.4%0.5%25%

Smith 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 Smith is British & Irish, which comprises 51.7% of all ancestry found in people with the surname. The next two most common ancestries are French & German (23.4%) and Eastern European (3.9%). Additional ancestries include Scandinavian, Nigerian, Italian, Spanish & Portuguese, and Ashkenazi Jewish.

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British & Irish51.7%
French & German23.4%
Eastern European3.9%

Possible origins of the surname Smith

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 Smith have recent ancestry locations in United Kingdom and Ireland.

RECENT ANCESTRY LocationPercentage
Greater London, United Kingdom81.70%
Greater Manchester, United Kingdom81.50%
Merseyside, United Kingdom81.50%
West Midlands, United Kingdom81.20%
Glasgow City, United Kingdom81.00%

What Smith 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 Smith is R-P311, which is predominantly found among people with European ancestry. Haplogroup R-P311 is descended from haplogroup R-M343. Other common haplogroups include R-CTS241 and R-L21, which are predominantly found among people with European and European ancestry. Other surnames with similar common haplogroups are: Brown, White, Taylor, Clark, Wilson, Young, Miller, Thompson, Hill, Johnson.

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

smithPaternal 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 Smith 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.

"Smith" 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.

"Smith" Surname 28.2%

23andMe Users 27.9%



Sugary Drink

Drinks one or more sugary drinks per day.

"Smith" Surname 23.1%

23andMe Users 21.1%



Cat Allergy

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

"Smith" Surname 35.6%

23andMe Users 36.7%

Are health conditions linked to the last name Smith?

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 Smith 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%