sur·​name | \ ˈsər-ˌnām How to pronounce surname (audio) \

Definition of surname

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : an added name derived from occupation or other circumstance : nickname sense 1
2 : the name borne in common by members of a family


surnamed; surnaming; surnames

Definition of surname (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to give a surname to

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for surname

Synonyms: Noun

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of surname in a Sentence

Noun judging from your surname, I'd guess that your family is Italian “da Vinci” was Leonardo's surname but not his family name, Vinci being the town near Florence where the great artist was born
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun My only qualm is that the dictatorial villain, Captain Queeg, may foil your escape by reminding you of an actual present-day American boogeyman with a five-letter surname. Washington Post, "Here are some of my favorite escapist novels. You may have other ideas. Share them with us.," 30 Apr. 2020 Still, there was the challenge of selling a series about a decades-old political struggle over feminism, featuring a 90 percent female cast and centered on a middle-aged conservative woman with a tongue-twisting surname. Lara Zarum, New York Times, "‘Mrs. America’ Depicts a Different Kind of Feminist: The Anti- Kind," 10 Apr. 2020 But three other candidate with Hispanic surnames could spoil Tzintzún Ramirez’s attempt to get the lion’s share of the Latino vote, particularly Garcia and Hernandez, who lost the 2018 Senate primary to former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke of El Paso. Dallas News, "With MJ Hegar rising, Democratic Senate contest against Republican John Cornyn a race for second," 2 Mar. 2020 When Bashar al-Assad succeeded his father in 2000, Ballour wondered why Syrians couldn’t elect a leader with a different surname. Rania Abouzeid, National Geographic, "This Syrian doctor saved thousands in an underground hospital," 22 Nov. 2019 An overwhelming majority of those killed in the store had Spanish surnames. NBC News, "Suspected gunman in El Paso Walmart shooting pleads not guilty to attack that killed 22," 11 Oct. 2019 The new face of Auburn’s football team has a familiar surname. Tom Green |, al, "Freshman Bo Nix named Auburn’s starting quarterback," 20 Aug. 2019 The new face of Auburn’s football team has a familiar surname. Tom Green |, oregonlive, "Freshman Bo Nix named Auburn’s starting quarterback," 20 Aug. 2019 Jeram and other gay soldiers who spoke to the human rights group did not give a surname for fear of repercussions. James Griffiths, CNN, "Gay and trans soldiers say they were abused in South Korean military," 10 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'surname.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of surname


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


15th century, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about surname

Time Traveler for surname

Time Traveler

The first known use of surname was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for surname

Last Updated

24 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Surname.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 May. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for surname


How to pronounce surname (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of surname

: the name that is shared by the people in a family


sur·​name | \ ˈsər-ˌnām How to pronounce surname (audio) \

Kids Definition of surname

: the name that comes at the end of someone's full name James Smith's surname is Smith.

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on surname

What made you want to look up surname? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

May 2020 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a blooming wisteria tree
  • Which is a synonym of exiguous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!