The history of your name

The RAY surname in the USA

Frequency Comparisons
Total Rank Frequency % Per million people
United States
United States (Current snapshot) 128,794 208 0.048 477
United States (1880 census) 29,498 168 0.059 590
Change since 1880 +99296 -40 -0.011 -113
Other Countries
Australia 2,231 717 0.014 136
United Kingdom 7,977 771 0.017 174
Top States for RAY by Total
State Total Rank in State Frequency % Per million people
Texas 12,020 182 0.058 576
California 8,151 381 0.024 241
North Carolina 7,218 107 0.090 897
Georgia 6,938 116 0.085 847
Florida 6,753 255 0.042 423
Top States for RAY by Frequency
State Total Rank in State Frequency % Per million people
Alabama 5,727 91 0.129 1,288
Mississippi 3,229 109 0.114 1,135
Tennessee 6,449 92 0.113 1,134
Arkansas 2,731 92 0.102 1,022
Kentucky 3,969 102 0.098 982


'A figure of zero indicates that we don't have data for this name (usually because it's quite uncommon and our stats don't go down that far). It doesn't mean that there's no-one with that name at all!

For less common surnames, the figures get progressively less reliable the fewer holders of that name there are. This data is aggregated from several public lists, and some stats are interpolated from known values. The margin of error is well over 100% at the rarest end of the table!

For less common surnames, the frequency and "per million" values may be 0 even though there are people with that name. That's because they represent less than one in a million of the population, which ends up as 0 after rounding.

It's possible for a surname to gain in rank and/or total while being less common per million people (or vice versa) as there are now more surnames in the USA as a result of immigration. In mathematical terms, the tail has got longer, with a far larger number of less common surnames.

Figures for top states show firstly the states where most people called RAY live. This obviously tends to be biased towards the most populous states. The second set of figures show where people called RAY represent the biggest proportion of the population. So, in this case, there are more people called RAY in Texas than any other state, but you are more likely to find a RAY by picking someone at random in Alabama than anywhere else.

Classification and Origin of RAY

Region of origin: British Isles

Country of origin: England

Language of origin: English

Ethnic origin: English

Religious origin: Christian

Name derivation: Nickname

Data for religion and/or language relates to the culture in which the RAY surname originated. It does not necessarily have any correlation with the language spoken, or religion practised, by the majority of current American citizens with that name.

Data for ethnic origin relates to the region and country in which the RAY surname originated. It does not necessarily have any correlation with the ethnicity of the majority of current American citizens with that name.

Ethnic distribution of RAY in the USA

Classification Total Percent
White (Caucasian) 99,931 77.59
Black/African American 21,985 17.07
Mixed Race 2,112 1.64
White (Hispanic) 2,138 1.66
Asian/Pacific 1,610 1.25
Native American/Alaskan 1,030 0.8

Ethnic distribution data shows the number and percentage of people with the RAY surname who reported their ethnic background as being in these broad categories in the most recent national census.

Meaning of RAY in historical publications

RAY. The estate of Gill, in the parish of Bromfield, co. Cumberland, belonged to the family of Reay, or Ra_y, from tlie time of William the Lion, king of Scotland, who died in 1214. Tradition says, that the original Ray was a faithful adherent of the Scottish monarch, by whom he was greatly esteemed, for his extraordinary swiftness of foot in pursuing the deer (which, like that of the Homeric hero, woSa ii}KVQ 'AxitvQ, exceeded that of most horsemen and dogs) and who gave him the estate. The tenure was by a pepper-corn rent, with the stipulation, that the name of William should be perpetuated in the familj-. This was strictly observed from generation to generation, until the latter half of the last century, when the Mr. William Reay in possession gave to the ' hope of the house ' the name of John. From these Reaj-s have sprung most, if not all, the Rays, Wreys, and Wrays, in England. John Ray, the naturalist, originally wrote himself Wray, and his ancestors, who but a generation or two before had emigrated from Cumbei"land, spelt their name indifferently Wray or Wrey. The surname itself was probably borrowed from the sobriquet of William the Lion's fleet-footed vassal, lia, or raa. being the A-Sax., and rae the Lowland Scottish for a roe. Hutchinson's Cumberland, 1794-, vol. ii. p. 302. The fish called a ray was so named after the great naturalist. There are several Le Rays in H.R.

Lower, Mark A (1860) Patronymica Britannica: a dictionary of the family names of the United Kingdom. London: J.R. Smith. Public Domain.

This name may have several origins. Ruadh and Reagh, Gaelic, swarthy, red, sandy complexioned. Re, the moon. Ray, a beam of light, luster. Re, from ruo, to rush, applied to a stream, rapids, whence the river Reay, in Caithness, Scotland. Rea, Cor. Br., wonderful, strange. Rhe, Welsh, a run, Rhedu, to run. Rhae, Welsh, a battle, the place of a battle; a chain.

Arthur, William (1857) An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names. New York: Sheldon, Blakeman. Public Domain.

Similar names to RAY

The following names have similar spellings or pronunciations as RAY.

This does not necessarily imply a direct relationship between the names, but may indicate names that could be mistaken for this one when written down or misheard.

Matches are generated automatically by a combination of Soundex, Metaphone and Levenshtein matching.

Potential typos for RAY

The following words are slight variants of RAY that are likely to be possible typos or misspellings in written material.