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

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Synonyms for surname

Synonyms: Noun

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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 In addition to his wife, who is a producer and director, he is survived by three sons, Alexander, Timothy and Leif (who uses the surname Sutton-Williams); three daughters, Claire, Holly and Natasha; a brother, Anthony; and seven grandchildren. New York Times, "Richard Williams, Who Brought Roger Rabbit to Life, Dies at 86," 18 Aug. 2019 Wu’ was a surname, or was derived from Wuxia [martial heroes] or Wu-Tang [a martial arts sect]. Karen Chu, The Hollywood Reporter, "‘Wu Assassins’ Director Stephen Fung Talks Netflix's First Martial Arts Original Series," 7 Aug. 2019 My surname is Levine, which not so helpfully rhymes with... this. Nick Levine,, "Nicola Coughlan From Derry Girls Made The Best Point About Male Nicknames," 24 Aug. 2019 My husband, whose last name is Ryan, already had two sons who bore his surname. Adrienne Brodeur, Glamour, "Our Children Have My Last Name. No, My Husband Doesn’t Mind," 13 Aug. 2019 Carlos Santana, 72, headlined the hockey arena with his band that shares his surname. Ross Raihala, Twin Cities, "Santana celebrates Woodstock at fiery Xcel Energy Center show with assist from the Doobie Brothers," 3 Aug. 2019 The O'Neal family bond is more important to Shaqir than meeting the challenge of living up to his surname, while playing in front of college basketball scouts and coaches at the NCAA College Basketball Academy West Region camp on Wednesday. Dana Scott, azcentral, "Shaquille O'Neal's youngest son, Shaqir, chasing basketball dream at NCAA West Region College Basketball Academy," 26 July 2019 His name, James Alexander Philip Theo, was announced several days later; his full surname is Mountbatten-Windsor. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Who Is the Queen's Youngest Grandson, James, Viscount Severn?," 25 June 2019 The Duke and Duchess of Sussex's first born is named Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor and his surname is a nod to his great-grandparents, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Why Royal Baby Archie's Last Name is Mountbatten-Windsor," 8 May 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.

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First Known Use of surname


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


15th century, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for surname

Last Updated

26 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for surname

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

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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.

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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).


to spread as a report or rumor

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