sur·​name | \ ˈsər-ˌnām \

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

family name, last name

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of surname in a Sentence


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

The diamond chain features bubble-like writing, personalized to feature her brand new surname. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Hailey Baldwin's New Necklace Will Inspire You to Shop Personalized Jewelry," 25 Nov. 2018 Kate Middleton's official title is Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge, as listed under the name and surname part of the birth certificate. Lyndsey Matthews, Town & Country, "How Prince Louis's Birth Certificate Compares to Prince George and Princess Charlotte’s," 1 May 2018 As with Prince George Alexander Louis, Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana, and Prince Louis Arthur Charles, most royals are given at least 3 names, but are not required to have a surname. Taylor Mead, House Beautiful, "Will Meghan Markle And Prince Harry’s Baby Be Born At Home? Plus, Other Bizarre Royal Birthing Rules," 15 Oct. 2018 In one, pundits were 126% more likely to use a surname when talking about male, as opposed to female, politicians on talk shows. Katie Langin, Science | AAAS, "Male scientists are far more likely to be referred to by their last names, impacting status and awards," 25 June 2018 Write to Richard Rubin at and Laura Saunders at Corrections & Amplifications An earlier version of this article misspelled the surname of reporter Laura Saunders as Sanders. Laura Saunders, WSJ, "Treasury Softens Parking-Tax Hit for Churches, Nonprofits," 10 Dec. 2018 The Queen's granddaughter is also expected to keep her royal title and has the option to take her husband's surname, making her HRH Princess Eugenie Brooksbank, according to the BBC. Amanda Garrity, Good Housekeeping, "Why It's No Surprise Princess Eugenie's Fiancé Jack Brooksbank Won't Receive a Royal Title," 24 July 2018 An earlier version of this article incorrectly spelled his surname. Anatoly Kurmanaev, WSJ, "U.S. Sanctions Bring Kremlin, Russian Oligarchs Closer Together," 29 Nov. 2018 The charity was founded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who started the news agency bearing his surname. Kelli Kennedy, The Seattle Times, "Parkland shooting survivors win Children’s Peace Prize," 20 Nov. 2018

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

Statistics for surname

Last Updated

19 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for surname

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for surname



English Language Learners Definition of surname

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


sur·​name | \ ˈsər-ˌnām \

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).


means, resources, or money

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Homophone Quiz

  • three-bears-two-of-them-look-like-theyre-whispering-to-a-third-bear-who-looks-chuffed-to-be-the-center-of-attention
  • In order to judge how people felt, the senator's office hired a firm to take a ______.
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Dictionary Devil

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!