Explore the Family Name West

The meaning of West

1. English and German: from Middle English, Middle High German west ‘west’, hence a topographic name for someone who lived to the west of a settlement, or a habitational name for someone who had migrated from further west. 2. Americanized form of Finnish Vesterinen: from the personal name Vesteri (a short form of Sylvester) + the surname suffix -nen. Vesterinen is an old eastern surname, recorded since the 16th century in the Karelian Isthmus and Savonia. History: This name (see 1 above) was brought to North America independently by many bearers in the 17th and 18th centuries. Thomas West, 12th Baron De La Warre, was captain general of Virginia in 1610–11. The state of DE is named for him. One of the earliest permanent settlers was Francis West (1606–92), who came to Duxbury, MA, from Salisbury, Wiltshire, England, in or before 1638.

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

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

According to the Decennial U.S. Census, the popularity of the surname "West" saw some changes between 2000 and 2010. The rank of the last name declined by roughly 9%, moving from the 115th most popular surname in 2000 to the 125th in 2010. Despite this, the actual count of individuals with this surname increased by 3.9% during the same period, from 188,464 to 195,818. This suggests that while the relative popularity rank of the surname decreased, the absolute number of people with the surname "West" grew.

Proportion per 100k69.8666.38-4.98%

Race and Ethnicity of people with the last name West

The Decennial U.S. Census also provides insight into the ethnic identity breakdown of those bearing the surname "West". Between 2000 and 2010, there was a notable increase in the percentage of people with this surname identifying as Asian/Pacific Islander and Hispanic, at 25.64% and 47.59% respectively. Notably, the percentage identifying as White decreased slightly by 2.84%. However, despite this slight decrease, individuals of White ethnicity still made up the majority, accounting for 75.48% of the total in 2010. Meanwhile, the proportion of individuals identifying as Black or American Indian and Alaskan Native both saw modest increases, while those identifying with two or more races saw a substantial increase of 38.41%.

Two or More Races1.64%2.27%38.41%
American Indian and Alaskan Native0.81%0.83%2.47%
Asian/Pacific Islander0.39%0.49%25.64%

West 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 West is British & Irish, which comprises 54.0% of all ancestry found in people with the surname. The next two most common ancestries are French & German (22.3%) and Scandinavian (3.8%). Additional ancestries include Eastern European, Nigerian, Italian, Spanish & Portuguese, and Ashkenazi Jewish.

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British & Irish54.0%
French & German22.3%

Possible origins of the surname West

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 West have recent ancestry locations all within the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

RECENT ANCESTRY LocationPercentage
Greater London, United Kingdom85.30%
Greater Manchester, United Kingdom85.20%
Glasgow City, United Kingdom85.10%
Merseyside, United Kingdom85.00%
West Yorkshire, United Kingdom84.90%

What West 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 West 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-DF88, which are predominantly found among people with European and European ancestry. Other surnames with similar common haplogroups are: Harrison, Davis, Brown, Wilson, Andrews, Smith, Martin, Hill, Williams, Turner.

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

westPaternal 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 West 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.

"West" Surname 43.6%

23andMe Users 41.3%




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

"West" Surname 27.4%

23andMe Users 27.9%



Sugary Drink

Drinks one or more sugary drinks per day.

"West" Surname 24.8%

23andMe Users 21.1%




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

"West" Surname 19.5%

23andMe Users 16.4%

Are health conditions linked to the last name West?

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 West 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%