baby name

HOME > Where Did the Last Name Smith Originate From?

Where Did the Last Name Smith Originate From?


The last name Smith is one of the most common surnames in the English-speaking world. According to the latest data from the United States Census Bureau, it is the most common surname in the country, with over 4 million people sharing the name. But where did this ubiquitous surname come from? What is its history and origin? In this article, we will explore the fascinating story of the Smith surname, tracing its roots back to medieval England and beyond.

The Meaning of the Name Smith

The name Smith is an occupational surname, meaning that it originally referred to a person's profession or trade. In this case, the name Smith comes from the Old English word 'smitan', which means 'to strike' or 'to hit'. A smith was someone who worked with metal, particularly iron, by striking it with a hammer or other tool. The term 'blacksmith' specifically referred to someone who worked with iron, while a 'whitesmith' worked with other metals like tin or pewter.

The History of the Smith Surname

The Smith surname can be traced back to medieval England, where it was a common occupational name. In the Domesday Book, a survey of England completed in 1086, there were over 200 people listed with the surname Smith. By the 14th century, the name had become even more widespread, and it was one of the most common surnames in England. It is likely that many people who worked with metal adopted the name Smith as their surname, as it was a way to identify their profession and distinguish themselves from others with the same first name.

Variations of the Smith Surname

Over time, the Smith surname has evolved and taken on different forms in different parts of the world. In Scotland, for example, the name is often spelled 'Smyth' or 'Smythe'. In Ireland, it is sometimes spelled 'Gowan' or 'McGowan', as well as 'Smith'. In some cases, people with the surname Smith may have changed the spelling of their name to reflect their regional dialect or accent. Other variations of the Smith surname include 'Schmidt' in Germany, 'Ferraro' in Italy, and 'Kovacs' in Hungary.

Famous People with the Smith Surname

Given the popularity of the Smith surname, it is not surprising that there have been many famous people throughout history with this name. Some notable examples include: - John Smith, one of the leaders of the Jamestown colony in Virginia - Joseph Smith, founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - Will Smith, actor and musician - Maggie Smith, actress - Adam Smith, economist and philosopher - Emmitt Smith, former NFL player - Sam Smith, musician These are just a few examples of the many famous people with the Smith surname. It is a name that has been associated with success and achievement throughout history.

Genealogy and Tracing Your Smith Ancestry

If you have the last name Smith and are interested in tracing your family history, there are many resources available to help you. One of the best places to start is with your own family members. Talk to your parents, grandparents, and other relatives to learn more about your family's origins and history. You can also use online genealogy databases like or to search for records and documents related to your ancestors. These databases can help you find birth, marriage, and death records, as well as census records and other historical documents that can shed light on your family's past.


The Smith surname is one of the most common and recognizable names in the English-speaking world. Its origins can be traced back to medieval England, where it was a common occupational name for people who worked with metal. Over time, the name has evolved and taken on different forms in different parts of the world. Today, there are millions of people around the globe who share the Smith surname, and it remains a symbol of hard work, skill, and craftsmanship.