Explore the Family Name Wake

The meaning of Wake

English: 1. occupational name for ‘(man of) the watch’, from Middle English wak, wake ‘wake, vigil, watch, period of guard duty’ (Old English wacu, Old Norse vaka). It alternates with the synonymous Middle English wache (Old English wacce), hence the variant Watch. The surname was also interchangeable with Waite (the equivalent Old French term) which, like Wake, was sometimes translated as Latin vigil ‘(one who is) watchful, alert’. Compare the synonymous Vail. When the bearers had high social status, the surname probably denoted an officer with responsibility for the security of a castle, town, or royal person. Compare Wakeman. 2. variant of Wack.

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

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

Based on the Decennial U.S. Census data, the popularity of the surname 'Wake' has seen a slight increase between 2000 and 2010. In 2000, 'Wake' ranked 11,807 in popularity across the United States, with about 2,430 individuals bearing this surname. By 2010, the rank had slightly improved to 11,488, demonstrating a 2.7% increase. The count of people with this last name also saw an uptick, growing from 2,430 individuals in 2000 to roughly 2,739 in 2010, marking a 12.72% rise. Accordingly, the proportion of individuals named 'Wake' per 100,000 residents increased by 3.33%.

Proportion per 100k0.90.933.33%

Race and Ethnicity of people with the last name Wake

In terms of ethnicity, the Decennial U.S. Census data shows that there were some shifts in the distribution among those with the surname 'Wake'. Individuals who identified as White comprised the majority at 77.74% in 2000, decreasing marginally to 76.85% in 2010. The Asian/Pacific Islander population showed a significant rise in percentage from 2.51% in 2000 to 3.29% in 2010. Those identifying as two or more races also saw a boost, going from 1.89% to 2.34%. The Hispanic representation increased from 1.81% to 2.08%, whereas the Black population slightly decreased from 15.19% to 14.75%. Lastly, those identifying as American Indian and Alaskan Native fell from 0.86% in 2000 to 0.69% in 2010.

Asian/Pacific Islander2.51%3.29%31.08%
Two or More Races1.89%2.34%23.81%
American Indian and Alaskan Native0.86%0.69%-19.77%

Wake 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 Wake is British & Irish, which comprises 55.2% of all ancestry found in people with the surname. The next two most common ancestries are French & German (24.2%) and Eastern European (6.3%). Additional ancestries include Scandinavian, Japanese, Ashkenazi Jewish, Nigerian, and Levantine.

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British & Irish55.2%
French & German24.2%
Eastern European6.3%

Possible origins of the surname Wake

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 Wake have recent ancestry locations all within United Kingdom.

RECENT ANCESTRY LocationPercentage
Greater London, United Kingdom83.50%
Greater Manchester, United Kingdom83.50%
West Midlands, United Kingdom83.50%
Lancashire, United Kingdom83.50%
Merseyside, United Kingdom82.30%

What Wake 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 Wake is O-F2415, which is predominantly found among people with East Asian & Indigenous American ancestry. Haplogroup O-F2415 is descended from haplogroup O-M1359. Other common haplogroups include E-M183 and O-F2859, which are predominantly found among people with European and East Asian & Indigenous American ancestry.

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

wakePaternal 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 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 Wake 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.

"Wake" Surname 33.3%

23andMe Users 41.3%




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

"Wake" Surname 42.3%

23andMe Users 27.9%



Sugary Drink

Drinks one or more sugary drinks per day.

"Wake" Surname 31.0%

23andMe Users 21.1%




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

"Wake" Surname 16.9%

23andMe Users 16.4%

Are health conditions linked to the last name Wake?

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 Wake 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%