18 Rare And Extinct Last Names With Meaning

Georgia Stone
Feb 16, 2024 By Georgia Stone
Originally Published on Dec 02, 2020
Family walking on a road
Age: 0-99
Read time: 3.4 Min

If you are looking for a way to trace your roots, your last name is a good place to start.

However, certain last names have gone extinct which makes it harder to trace exact genealogical roots. These extinct names have gone completely out of circulation, showing it is possible for surnames to die out, while others are incredibly rare with less than 100 bearers.

The common root cause of surnames going extinct can be seen in the age old tradition of women taking their husband’s last name in marriage. When women take their husband’s last name it is inevitable that some names will go extinct, especially in families that don’t have sons.

Some people have countered this by having compound last names with their own family name followed by their husband’s last name.

In order to preserve some names, a child might be given the mother's last name as a first name if it is rare. This helps to keep the name in circulation but it does not preserve it in its true form.

We have curated a list with some rare English surnames and extinct last names that are no longer in circulation, for more surnames take a look at these nature last names and these gothic last names.

Extinct British Surnames


A lot of these extinct surnames are old English family names that stopped being in use years ago. These last names are now extinct and no longer serve as a family name.

1. Bread (Germanic origin) means “morsel” or “broken piece”.

2. Bythesea (Anglo-Saxon origin) a name that came about when a family lived by a drain or watercourse.

3. Bytheseashore (Anglo-Saxon origin) a name that was borne by families who lived by the seashore.

4. MacCaa (Scottish origin) a variant of the name McCaw and can also be McCaa. A famous bearer was George McCaa an American footballer and coach.

5. Puscat (Dutch origin) could mean “poes”.

6. Pusset (Celtic origin) means “mouth, lip”.

7. Pussmaid (English origin) this was a name most likely given as a name of affection which became a last name but has since gone extinct.

8. Spinster (English origin) the feminine version of the name Spinner, and was a last name given to females in medieval times who has no family of their own and who spent most of their time on a spinning wheel.

Rare British Surnames

A British family walking in a garden

Endangered last names are names that are about to go extinct. These rare surnames have less than 200 bearers and are found in about one in every 50,000 households.

The list comprises of some of the most uncommon last names and some of the oldest English surnames. We hope you find a unique last name that you like among these endangered last names.

9. Ajax (Greek origin) means “of the earth”.

10. Berrycloth (English origin) this cool location surname is from Barrowclough in West Yorkshire.

11. Birdwhistle (English origin) the name is said to denote a junction on a river where birds nest.

12. Edevane (Welsh origin) could possibly mean “the younger happy one” or “the younger prosperous one”.

13. Fernsby (English origin) meaning “a dwelling near the ferns,” and was gotten from two words ‘fern’ and a Danish suffix ‘-by’.

14. Loughty (Scottish origin) this is the Anglicised form of the name Lauchra, derived from the name Lauchair which means “sedges” or “rushes”.

15. MacQuoid (Scottish origin) it is derived from the name Aodh, a cognate form of Huge.

16. Relish (English origin) the name refers to taste or flavor, and is gotten from the French word 'relaisse' which means “something remaining”.

17. Slora (Scottish origin) the meaning of this cool last name is uncertain, but it may be a derivative of the name Sluagdach meaning “leader”.

18. Tumbler (English origin) this was an occupational surname given to an acrobat or an acrobatic dancer.

Kidadl has lots of great name articles to inspire you. If you liked our suggestions for extinct last names then check out these cool last names, or for something different these Viking last names.

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Written by Georgia Stone

Bachelor of Arts specializing in French with Film Studies, Bachelor of Arts (Year Abroad) specializing in Literature, History, Language, Media, and Art

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Georgia StoneBachelor of Arts specializing in French with Film Studies, Bachelor of Arts (Year Abroad) specializing in Literature, History, Language, Media, and Art

Georgia is an experienced Content Manager with a degree in French and Film Studies from King's College London and Bachelors degree from Université Paris-Sorbonne. Her passion for exploring the world and experiencing different cultures was sparked during her childhood in Switzerland and her year abroad in Paris. In her spare time, Georgia enjoys using London's excellent travel connections to explore further afield.

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