Surname Frequencies and Distributions

(Note: I have not updated this page for a long time.)

There have been a fair number of studies of name frequencies on the internet, but unfortunately, they can be very difficult to find. Consequently, this page has been created to list known pages dealing with this topic.

"Frequency" refers to single numbers giving the estimated frequency of a name in the dataset. "Distribution" indicates frequencies of the name given for multiple subsets, generally geographic, of the dataset.

For other countries and relatively uncommon surnames, you can often estimate frequencies from telephone listings. I would recommend as being a good place to look for that. Infobel also has a lot (they now seem be have merged or something). With these you run into problems if the name is so common (and the country so big) that you get more hits than the service will allow. There are some ways to get around this. For example, if you know the frequency of a very common first name like "John," you can search for John SURNAME and then divide the number of hits by the frequency of "John." This can be a little error prone, but it works for a rough estimate. Sometimes there's also some difficulty figuring out exactly how many listings there are in the database too, but you can usually find some way to work that out as well.

Other Name-Related Information

A number of pages dealing with first names exist, though these primarily concentrate on contemporary "baby names." Eponym is one of the best, aside from recommending one of those abysmal baby name sites. Those baby name people just make half of that stuff up - I kid you not.

Both surname and first-name origins are treated on various web sites, but I haven't seen any that I could recommend in good conscience. The surname-meaning sites I've seen are particularly careless and contain a number of obviously false etymologies along with the usual wild speculations masquerading as fact.

By Ben Buckner. If you know of other related pages, please let me know. I haven't decided yet whether I want to individually list studies covering a single name.