Last Name Origin

Last name origin is not always easy to determine. Even the simplest last names may have a complicated history, and it's best not to make any assumptions about last name origin until you've done your research.

Some surnames arose independently in different areas. Brady is a well-known Irish name. But it is also a Hungarian name. Costello is Italian but also Irish. The Anderson family could be from Denmark, Sweden, or England.

Last name origin can also be complicated because of varied or simplified spellings. The German name Mueller often became Miller in the United States. Long German names were trimmed down, and French surnames were spelled phonetically.

When Eastern European immigrants arrived, their names were often transliterated from the Cyrillic into English. Mirov could become Miroff or Mirroff. Even names originally written in the Latin alphabet were shortened: Bucskowski sometimes became Butch or Bucsko. Sometimes they were changed entirely to something closer to English, such as Brooks.

When researching family name origin, the best tactic is to look for similar consonants; the vowels often tend to shift and change. That is the principle of the Soundex searching system, which can help you discover ancestors you might otherwise have missed.

Remember, you're not alone in searching for your family names or last name origin. At, you may find other researchers who have discovered important branches of your family tree. A single new link can help you discover thousands of ancestors and entire new lines. Home of the original online family tree, can help you find your family's place in the world. A single new link can help you discover thousands of ancestors and entire new lines.

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