The 100 Most Popular Southern Last Names With Meanings And History

Georgia Stone
Dec 12, 2023 By Georgia Stone
Originally Published on Oct 26, 2020
The Texas state flag waving along with the national flag of the United States of America.
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Southern last names are incredibly popular and interesting since they often carry deep meanings behind them.

Whether you’re naming your next fictional character or figuring out the name for a Southern gaming character, old Southern last names are a superb choice. The names on this list, some popular and some unique last names, are reminiscent of the Southern cultures and traditions that many of us hold so dear.

Of all American last names, Southern surnames are some of the most interesting ones you’ll ever come across. From Florida to Oklahoma to Texas, these Southern last names are perfect for you to use as character names, nicknames, or even baby names if you are feeling creative.

They are fun, sweet, fierce, and so much more.

The popularity of some of these Southern surnames can also be attributed to the great TV shows and movies in which they are used for the characters.

These films have popularised Southern names all across the world. To help you find the best Southern last name for your characters, here is a list of the 100 most popular surnames used in the South, along with their meanings and origins.

For more naming inspiration, take a look at these Scottish last names and these Native American last names.

Popular Southern Surnames

The South has enough wonderful surnames to last you a lifetime. These southern surnames have gotten so popular that you often hear them as character surnames in movies, TV shows, and even fictional novels.

Many of them carry incredible meanings, whilst others are more simple. Ava and William are the most popular first names in the South, but what about the most popular last name? Here is a surnames list of some of the most  popular southern last names.

1. Belle (Old English origin) meaning “beauty”.

2. Birdie (Anglo-Saxon origin) meaning “for God”.

3. Grady (Irish origin) meaning “noble”.

4. Hazel (Old English origin) meaning “color of the hazel tree”.

5. Jewel (English or Celtic origin) meaning “generous” or “bountiful”.

6. Juanita (Spanish origin) meaning “God is gracious”.

7. Lainis (Hawaiian origin) meaning “shining brightly”.

8. Lois (French origin) meaning “more desirable” or “wise”.

9. Lula (German origin) meaning “famous warrior”.

10. Mabel (Anglo-Saxon origin) meaning “lovable”.

11. Madison (English origin) meaning “the son of Matthew”.

12. Margaret (Greek origin) meaning “pearls”.

13. Mildred (Old English origin) meaning “gentle strength”.

14. Omega (Greek origin) meaning “the end”.

15. Patree (Greek origin) meaning “worthy”.

16. Redd (Old English origin) meaning “red” or “read”.

17. Ruth (Old English origin) meaning “friend”.

18. Shirley (Old English origin) meaning “shire” or “bright clear” or “meadow”.

19. Umbra (Latin origin) meaning “shadow”.

20. Ward (Old English or Old Gaelic origin) meaning “marsh”.

Common Southern Last Names In Texas

Texas is possibly the first place that comes into mind when we think of the South. This southern state has numerous last names that are incredibly popular. Looking to find a last name for your Texan cowboy character? We have loads of ideas right here!

21. Adams (Scottish origin) meaning “the son of Adam”.

22. Alden (Scottish origin) meaning “old friend”.

23. Allen (Celtic origin) meaning “handsome” or “little rock” or “harmony”.

24. Armstrong (Scottish origin) meaning “the son of the strong man.”

25. Barnes (English origin) meaning “granary” or “barn”.

26. Baskin (Scottish origin) meaning “someone who is a descendant of little Bass”.

27. Bates (English origin) meaning “bat” or “boat” or “lush pastures”.

28. Bowen (Welsh origin) meaning “the son of Owain”.

29. Brown (Old English origin) meaning “brun.”

30. Davis (English origin) meaning “the son of David”.

31. Garcia (Spanish origin) meaning “young”.

32. Hernandez (Spanish origin) meaning “the son of Hernando”.

33. Johnson (Scottish origin) meaning “the son of John”.

34. Jones (Welsh origin) meaning “loan’s son”.

35. Martinez (Spanish origin) meaning “the son of Martin”.

36. Rodriguez (Spanish origin) meaning “the son of Rodrigo”.

37. Smith (English origin) meaning “to smite metal”.

38. Williams (English origin) meaning “will” or “protection”.

Khlong Hae Floating Market where local people and visitors can find various of Thai food, muslim food and Menora Southern traditional dance every Friday to Sunday.

Deep Southern Last Names

Choosing a Southern last name from the Deep South is a great way to give yourself or a character a truly Southern feel. Pick the last name that suits your character best from the below list of Southern surnames.

39. Abernathy (Scottish origin) meaning “mouth of the river Nethy”.

40. Bakeman (English origin) meaning “one who bakes”.

41. Beauregard (English origin) meaning “beautiful view”.

42. Berkeley (Old English origin) meaning “birch lea”.

43. Cook (Old English origin) meaning “one who cooks”.

44. Corbin (English origin) meaning “raven”.

45. Cunningham (Scottish origin) meaning “chief” and “leader”.

46. Davenport (Old English origin) meaning “market town”.

47. Dawson (English origin) meaning “the son of David”.

48. Ellis (English origin) meaning “the Lord is my God”.

49. Evans (Welsh origin) meaning “the son of Evan”.

50. Ferrell (Irish origin) meaning “man of valor”.

51. Fuller (English origin) meaning “one who deals with woolen clothes”.

52. Goodwin (English origin) meaning “good-hearted” or “someone who has a good soul”.

53. Harding (English origin) meaning “strong” or “hardy” or “brave”.

54. Harrison (English origin) meaning “the son of Harry”.

55. Holt (German origin) meaning “forested upland”.

56. Martin (Latin origin) meaning “of Mars”.

57. Rodgers (English origin) meaning “the son of Roger”.

58. Taylor (English origin) meaning “tailor”.

Popular Southern Last Names From Movies And TV Shows

Whether it’s a Texan movie character or a TV series hero from Florida, movies and TV shows are full of popular and interesting last names. Taking inspiration from the world of popular culture when choosing your own character's last name is a great way to make your choice.

These last names have become memorable in the hearts of numerous people around the world due to their prominence in Southern culture.

59. Ventura, the most popular 'Ace Ventura' character, played by Jim Carrey, was eccentric and had amazing sleuthing skills.

60. Mendoza, quite a popular last name in Florida; Jason Mendoza is the beloved character in the TV show, 'The Good Place'.

61. Porky, a less common surname, this character was a bar owner in the film by the same name who was cunning.

62. Herman, played by Paul Reubens in 'Pee Wee’s Big Adventures', was eccentric, fun, and superbly unique.

63. Walker, Sergeant Cordell in ‘Walker, Texas Ranger’ played by Chuck Norris, was brave, courageous, and powerful.

64. Riggins, a popular Southern surname, Tim Riggins was a character on 'Friday Night Lights' played by Taylor Kitsch.

65. Marks, a character in 'Dazed And Confused', is another very popular surname in Texas.

66. Cohle, played by Matthew McConaughey in the gritty drama ‘True Detective’.

67. Pierce, the young and incredibly interesting character played by Winona Ryder in 'Reality Bites' is another popular Texan surname.

68. Face, from the most thrilling movie ever made, 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre'.

69. Chigurh, the surname of this terrifying killer from 'No Country For Old Men', makes for an excellent last name choice.

70. Hall, the powerful and iconic female character from 'Reba', played by Reba McEntire.

71. Ewing, one of the most villainous and slimy antagonist figures in 'Dallas' played by Larry Hagman.

72. Benedict, one of the most interesting and unique characters played by Elizabeth Taylor in the incredibly famous movie called ‘Giant’. She played this role alongside James Dean.

73. Gribble, the character on 'King of the Hill'.

74. Duvall, the character from the critically-acclaimed movie 'Tender Mercies'.

75. McCrae, played by Robert Duvall in the movie 'Lonesome Dove' which also has a TV show and novel versions.

76. Greenway, the powerful mother played by Shirley MacLaine in the famous and beloved movie 'Terms of Endearment'.

77. Darville, one of the coolest wheelmen in history and a popular surname in the movie 'Smokey And The Bandit'.

78. Pruitt, played by Sandra Bullocks in the movie 'Hope Floats' that was set in the small town of Smallville in Texas.

Unique And Interesting Southern Last Names

Bull in traditional spectacle in spain.

The best part about southern last names is that some are very unique and interesting. While many of them are super popular, a select few last names can really make your character stand out. Find the most unique and interesting southern last names below.

79. Boseman (German origin) meaning “cunning”.

80. Buckley (Irish origin) meaning “buck” or “a boy”.

81. Callaway (English origin) meaning “a smooth pebble”.

82. Carson (Scottish origin) meaning “the son of Carr”.

83. Clark (English, Scottish or Latin origin) meaning “scribe” or “clerk” or “secretary”.

84. Copeland (Old Norse origin) meaning “bought land”.

85. Dillard (English origin) meaning “someone who is the descendant of little Dill”.

86. Doby (Scottish origin) meaning “famous” or “renown” or “bright”.

87. Edwards (Welsh origin) meaning “the son of Edward”.

88. Elkins (Old English origin) meaning “the Jehovah is the one true God”.

89. Farrow (Medieval English origin) meaning “ironworker” or “blacksmith”.

90. Fischer (English or German origin) meaning “fisherman”.

91. Henderson (Scottish origin) meaning “the son of Henry”.

92. Howard (English origin) meaning “brave”, “heart”, “spirit” or “hardy”.

93. Moore (Middle English origin) meaning “open land”.

94. Moxon (English origin) meaning “a pearl”.

95. Perkins (Anglo-Saxon origin) meaning “kin of Pierre”.

96. Shepherd (Middle English origin) meaning “herdsman” or “guardian”.

97. Spalding (English origin) meaning “people of a district known as Spaid” or “ditches”.

98. Underwood (Old English origin) meaning “below all the trees in a particular forest”.

99. Villarreal (Spanish origin) meaning “a royal settlement”.

100. Yeller (German origin) meaning “farmer”.

Kidadl has lots of great names articles to inspire you. If you liked our suggestions for Southern last names then why not take a look at these Dominican last names, or for something different take a look at these Hungarian surnames.

Second image credit: Paksongpob Kasempisaisin /

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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

Georgia Stone picture

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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