Explore the Family Name Stern

The meaning of Stern

1. German and Jewish (Ashkenazic): from Middle High German stern, German Stern ‘star’, a topographic or habitational name referring to a house or inn distinguished by the sign of a star, or a Jewish artificial name. It is also found in France (Alsace and Lorraine), Sweden, and in some other European countries (compare 3 below). 2. English: nickname from Middle English stern(e), stirn(e), stiarne ‘severe, strict, cruel; strong, powerful’. 3. Slovenian and Croatian (Štern): of German origin (see 1 above). Some characteristic forenames: Jewish Emanuel, Moshe, Aviva, Chaim, Meyer, Hyman, Pinkas, Zvi, Devorah, Dov.

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

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

Based on data from the Decennial U.S. Census, the popularity of the surname Stern has seen a minor shift between 2000 and 2010. In 2000, Stern was ranked 1311 in terms of popularity, but by 2010 it had dropped slightly to a rank of 1418, a change of -8.16%. However, the count of people with the surname Stern increased by 1.85%, rising from 24,618 in 2000 to 25,074 in 2010. The proportion of Sterns per 100,000 people decreased by 6.9% over this period, dropping from 9.13 to 8.5.

Proportion per 100k9.138.5-6.9%

Race and Ethnicity of people with the last name Stern

On the topic of ethnicity, the Decennial U.S. Census also provides some interesting insights. Between 2000 and 2010, there was a notable increase in the percentage of Sterns identifying as Hispanic or Asian/Pacific Islander. Those identifying as Hispanic increased by 47.55%, while the number identifying as Asian/Pacific Islander rose by 19.64%. The majority of Sterns (93.69%) identified as White in 2010, a slight decrease from 94.21% in 2000. Small portions also identified as Black (2.20%), Two or more races (1.16%), and American Indian and Alaskan Native (0.18%), all of which saw decreases in their percentages except for the Hispanic ethnicity.

Two or More Races1.35%1.16%-14.07%
Asian/Pacific Islander0.56%0.67%19.64%
American Indian and Alaskan Native0.2%0.18%-10%

Stern 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 Stern is Ashkenazi Jewish, which comprises 53.1% of all ancestry found in people with the surname. The next two most common ancestries are British & Irish (17.4%) and French & German (13.3%). Additional ancestries include Eastern European, Italian, Scandinavian, Spanish & Portuguese, and Indigenous American.

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Ashkenazi Jewish53.1%
British & Irish17.4%
French & German13.3%

Possible origins of the surname Stern

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 Stern have recent ancestry locations in United Kingdom and Ireland.

RECENT ANCESTRY LocationPercentage
Greater London, United Kingdom42.60%
Merseyside, United Kingdom42.30%
Greater Manchester, United Kingdom42.20%
West Midlands, United Kingdom41.90%
Glasgow City, United Kingdom41.80%

What Stern 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 Stern is J-CTS5368, which is predominantly found among people with European ancestry. Haplogroup J-CTS5368 is descended from haplogroup J-M304. Other common haplogroups include E-L29 and E-L791, which are predominantly found among people with European and European ancestry. Other surnames with similar common haplogroups are: Friedman, Goldberg, Rosenthal, Gold, Berman, Rubin, Rosenberg, Rosen, Goldstein, Schwartz.

The most common maternal haplogroups of people with Stern surname are: K1a1b1a, H1, H. These most commonly trace back to individuals of European ancestry.

sternPaternal Haplogroup Origins J-M304
Paternal Haplo Image

Your paternal lineage may be linked to men who spread the Semitic languages

Men carrying the J-M267 lineage took part in many waves of migrations over the millennia, and domesticated animals and plants weren't the only things they carried. They may also have been among the communities that spread the Semitic languages, a diverse group that bloomed from a single proto-Semitic tongue in the Levant nearly 5,750 years ago. These men likely carried branches of both haplogroup J and of the Semitic language family through the Arabian Peninsula to the Horn of Africa. Still later, some J-M267-bearing men re-expanded from the Arabian Peninsula back through the Middle East and across North Africa in migrations associated with the emergence and spread of Islam.

Your maternal lineage may be linked to many people of Ashkenazi Jewish descent

A few branches of haplogroup K, such as K1a9, K2a2a, and K1a1b1a, are specific to Jewish populations and especially to Ashkenazi Jews, whose roots lie in central and eastern Europe. These branches of haplogroup K are found at levels of 30% among the Ashkenazim. But they are also found at lower levels in Jewish populations from the Middle East and Africa, and among Sephardic Jews who trace their roots to medieval Spain. That indicates an origin of those K haplogroup branches in the Middle East before 70 AD, when the Roman destruction of Jerusalem scattered the Jewish people around the Mediterranean and beyond.About 1.7 million Ashkenazi Jews living today (nearly 20% of the population) share a single branch of the K haplogroup, K1a1b1a. The diversity of that haplogroup suggests that it arose in the Middle East between 2,000 and 3,000 years ago, and that everyone who shares it today could descend from a woman who lived as recently as 700 years ago. A similar pattern in two other K branches, K1a9 and K2a2, as well as the N1b branch of haplogroup N, has led researchers to conclude that 40% of the Ashkenazim living today – about 3.4 million people – could descend from as few as four women who lived within the last 2,000 years.

Maternal Haplo Image

What do people with the surname Stern 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.

"Stern" Surname 40.7%

23andMe Users 41.3%




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

"Stern" Surname 21.2%

23andMe Users 27.9%



Sugary Drink

Drinks one or more sugary drinks per day.

"Stern" Surname 16.9%

23andMe Users 21.1%




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

"Stern" Surname 14.7%

23andMe Users 16.4%

Are health conditions linked to the last name Stern?

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 Stern 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

Ashkenazi Jewish 57.0%

23andMe Users 57.2%