Last Names in Spanish

SpanishLastNames

Quick Answer

Ever wondered about the meaning behind some of the most common last names in Spanish? Read on to satisfy your curiosity!

Patronymics

The last names in this first list are patronymics, which are names derived from the name of a male ancestor.

  • In Spanish, last names ending in -es, -ez, -is, or -oz are often patronymics.
  • In English, names ending in -son or beginning with Fitz-, O'-, or Mc-/Mac- are patronymics.

Let's take a look at some examples of common patronymic last names in Spanish!

Last NameMeaning
Álvarez
Son of Alvaro
Díazor DíezSon of Diego
Domínguez
Son of Domingo
Fernández
Son of Fernando
Gómez
Son of Gomes
González
Son of Gonzalo
Gutiérrez
Son of Gutier/Gutierre
Hernández
Son of Hernando
López
Son of Lope/Lopo
Márquez
Son of Marco
Martínez
Son of Martín
Pérez
Son of Pedro
Ramírez
Son of Ramiro
Rodríguez
Son of Rodrigo
Ruiz
Son of Ruy
Sánchez
Son of Sancho
Suárez
Son of Suero
Velázquez
Son of Velasco/Vasco

García Guesswork

The jury's still out on the origins of the last name García. A patronymic meaning son of García (García being a name in its own right), some sources claim it comes from the Basque word for "young." Other sources claim it comes from the Basque word for "bear," while still others say it comes from the Iberian for "graceful prince." Whatever it means, this apellido(last name) is one of the most widespread in the Spanish-speaking world.

Man and Nature

Many Spanish apellidos come from the names of objects from the natural world, such as plants, animals, or geographical features. Last names associated with man-made structures or abstract concepts are also common. Here are just a few examples.

Last NameMeaning
Arce
maple
Castillo
castle
Cruz
cross
Desoto
of the grove
Flores
flowers
Garza
heron
Guerra
war
Iglesias
churches
Luna
moon
Morales
mulberry trees
Olmos
elm trees
Ortega
sand grouse
Palacios
palaces
Paz
peace
Romero
rosemary
Ríos
rivers
Serrano
highland
Torres
towers
Vega
meadow

Occupations and Descriptions

Some Spanish last names come from common occupations or from physical descriptions. Here are a few examples.

Last NameMeaning
Bravo
brave
Cortés
courteous
Delgado
thin
Grande
large
Guerrero
warrior
Herrero
blacksmith
Moreno
dark, brown
Reyes
kings
Rubio
blond
Vicario
vicar
Zapatero
shoemaker

Habitational Last Names

Many Spanish last names are habitational, meaning they come from the names of villages, cities, states, etc. Here are some examples of habitational last names linked to a few familiar faces from the Spanish-speaking world.

Last NameOriginFamous Namesake
Almodóvar
Several Spanish provinces have villages/cities called Almodóvar, and this habitational last name was borrowed from these.Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar.
Bernal
From the Spanish for "Bernardo," there are places called Bernal in Mexico, Argentina, and Peru.Mexican actor Gael García Bernal.
Borges
Borrowed from settlements in the Basque Country.Argentinean author Jorge Luis Borges.
Cervantes
Said to come from the Latin for "servant of the Lord," there is a municipality in Galicia, Spain called Cervantes. It's a bit of a chicken-or-egg question whether the author of "Don Quijote" was named after this municipality or vice versa, but excerpts from the author's notes suggest his family was from this area.Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra.
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