The history of your name

The SMITH surname in the USA

Frequency Comparisons
Total Rank Frequency % Per million people
United States
United States (Current snapshot) 2,376,206 1 0.881 8,808
United States (1880 census) 635,242 1 1.270 12,705
Change since 1880 +1740964 0 -0.389 -3897
Other Countries
Australia 114,997 1 0.703 7,035
United Kingdom 514,897 1 1.121 11,211
Top States for SMITH by Total
State Total Rank in State Frequency % Per million people
Texas 166,697 1 0.799 7,994
California 153,324 4 0.453 4,527
Florida 143,461 1 0.898 8,976
Ohio 115,450 1 1.017 10,169
Georgia 105,389 1 1.287 12,874
Top States for SMITH by Frequency
State Total Rank in State Frequency % Per million people
Mississippi 49,274 1 1.732 17,322
Alabama 72,689 1 1.635 16,345
South Carolina 58,829 1 1.466 14,663
Tennessee 79,623 1 1.400 13,995
Arkansas 36,062 1 1.349 13,489

Notes

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

Classification and Origin of SMITH

Region of origin: British Isles

Country of origin: England

Language of origin: English

Ethnic origin: English

Religious origin: Christian

Name derivation: Occupational Name

Data for religion and/or language relates to the culture in which the SMITH 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 SMITH 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 SMITH in the USA

Classification Total Percent
Black/African American 527,993 22.22
Mixed Race 38,732 1.63
White (Hispanic) 37,069 1.56
Native American/Alaskan 20,198 0.85
Asian/Pacific 9,505 0.4
White (Caucasian) 1,742,947 73.35

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

Meaning of SMITH in historical publications

The most common of all surnames, and might of itself furnish matter enough for a volume. The word is derived from the Anglo-Saxon Smitan, to smite or strike. "From whence comes Smith, all be he knight or squire, But from the Smith that forgeth at the fire?" Verstegan. Among the Highland clans, the smith ranked third in dignity to the chief, from his skill in fabricating military weapons, and his dexterity in teaching the use of them. In Wales there were three sciences which a villain (tenant) could not teach his son without the consent of his lord, Scholarship, Bardism, and Smithcraft. This was one of the liberal sciences, and the term had a more comprehensive sense than we give to it at this time. The smith must have united in this profession, different branches of knowledge which are now practiced separately, such as raising the ore, converting it into metal, etc. The term was originally applied to artificers in wood as well as metal, in fact, to all mechanical workmen, which accounts for the great frequency of the name. The New York City Directory for 1856 (in which the names of the heads of families only, are given,) contains the names of more than eighteen hundred Smiths, of whom seventy-four are plain James Smiths, and one hundred and seventeen, John Smiths! We see in the papers, that John Smith dies, is married, hanged, drowned, and brutally murdered, daily! John Smith doesn't identify anybody, and is therefore no name at all. This numerous family is the subject of many laughable anecdotes and witty sallies. A wag, on a certain occasion, coming late to the theater, and wishing to get a seat, shouted at the top of his voice, "Mr. Smith's house is on fire!" The house was thinned five per cent., and the man of humor found a snug seat. In many neighborhoods the name is so frequent that it is necessary to append some soubriquet to identify the person. "Can you tell me where Mr. Smith lives, mister?" "Smith--Smith--what Smith? there are a good many of that name in these parts--my name is Smith." "Why, I don't know his t'other name, but he's a sour, crabbed sort of fellow, and they call him 'Crab Smith.'" "Oh, the deuce! s'pose I'm the man." But the best piece of humor relating to the name is the following which we take from Lower, which appeared some years since in the newspapers, under the title of "The Smiths. "Some very learned disquisitions are just now going on in the journals touching the origin and extraordinary extension of the family of 'the Smiths.' "Industrious explorers after derivatives and nominal roots, they say, would find in the name of John Smith a world of mystery; and a philologist in the Providence Journal, after having written some thirty columns for the enlightenment of the public thereanent, has thrown down his pen, and declared the subject exhaustless. "From what has hitherto been discovered, it appears that the great and formidable family of the Smiths are the veritable descendants, in a direct line, from Shem, the son of Noah, the father of the Shemitish tribe, or the tribe of Shem; and it is thus derived--Shem, Shemit, Shmit, Smith. Another learned pundit, in the Philadelphia Gazette, contends for the universality of the name John Smith, not only in Great Britain and America, but among all kindred and nations on the face of the earth. Beginning with the Hebrew, he says, the Hebrews had no Christian names, consequently they had no Johns, and in Hebrew the name stood simply Shem or Shemit; but in the other nations John Smith is found at full, one and indivisible. Thus, Latin, Johannes Smithius; Italian, Giovanni Smithi; Spanish, Juan Smithas; Dutch, Hans Schmidt; French, Jean Smeets; Greek, '??; Russian, Jonloff Skmittowski; Polish, Ivan Schmittiwciski; Chinese, Jahon Shimmit; Icelandic, Jahne Smithson; Welsh, Iihon Schmidd; Tuscarora, Ton Qa Smittia; Mexican, Jontli F'Smitti. "And then, to prove the antiquity of the name, the same savant observes, that 'among the cartouches deciphered by Rosselini, on the temple of Osiris in Egypt, was found the name of Pharaoh Smithosis, being the ninth in the eighteenth dynasty of Theban kings. He was the founder of the celebrated temple of Smithopolis Magna.' We heartily congratulate the respectable multitude of the Smiths on these profound researches--researches which bid fair to explode the generally received opinion that the great family of the Smiths were the descendants of mere horse-shoers and hammer-men!"

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


In entering upon the illustration of this surname, I feel almost overcome with the magnitude of my subject. Closely connected as it is with the personal identity of thousands upon thousands of my countrymen, enjoying as it does the proud pre-eminence of being the commonest of all English surnames, and associated as it must be with statistics, with anecdote, with archaeology, with varieties of orthography, the name of Smith is a topic which requires no common handling. Why, it demands a separate essay, a dissertation, a volume, to do it anything like justice! Nay, I am not quite sure that a new science to be designated Smithology would not prove quite as instructive as many existing ologies, while it would have the merit of being perhaps more amusing; assuredly it would come home both to "the business and bosoms" of a vast section of Englishmen. And I might go further afield and trace out the history of smith-craft from the days of Tubal-Cain-expatiate upon the labours of Vulcan, of Icarus, of Wayland Smith, and of St. Dunstan-show how men lived in the Iron Age-bring in the classical Fabri, and Fabricii, the Schmidts of Germany, the Lefevres of France, the Fabbroni of Italy, and the Gowana of Scotland, as members of this mighty race-and deal largely in irony and "smith's-work in general." But space forbids, and I must be as brief as possible. Let us first hammer out the archaeology of the subject. The word smith, then, is Anglo-Saxon from smitan, to smite-originally, "any one who strikes or smites with a hammer, an artificer, a carpenter, smith, workman." Boaworth. So general was the application of the word, that in the Saxon Chronicle we find the expression "mighty war-smiths" applied to valorous soldiers, and the great enemy of mankind is called "hell-smith," though this phrase, being also applied to Vulcan, has probably a direct reference to "smithery" in the modern sense. One who worked in iron was called iren-smith, an ironsmith. In later times, Smith was applied more specifically to a worker in metals, while myrhta, Wright, was the name given to artificers in wood and other materials. See Wright.

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


Similar names to SMITH

The following names have similar spellings or pronunciations as SMITH.

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 SMITH

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