25 Common Surnames That Also Make Great First Names

I find baby name inspiration from a lot of places, and when I was searching out the perfect name for this baby I’m carrying, I looked far and wide. With my older three kids, I had their names picked out early on and when I heard them, I knew that’s what we were going to go with. I wanted something for this baby boy that was going to be strong, would fit well with his last name, and would meld with the other three kids. I don’t like anything common and prefer the more unusual without being too out there.

My three kids all have names that fit that bill and I love the names they have; they fit their personalities perfectly. It can feel like a lot of pressure to find a perfect name that will be with your child for their whole life (unless you really go wrong and they change it) and so I looked to some unusual places. My older son’s first name is more typically known as a last name, my first daughter, well, we kind of made up  her name, and my youngest has a name that’s fit for how adorably cute she is. This baby, Baby S, has his name chosen already for him and it’s just like his older brother — more typically knows as a surname.

I am hugely in love with last names being used as first names — they tend to sound really strong and are never too common. Have you ever checked out the top surnames in the United States? They have some great baby name fodder in there for your to choose from and I’ve picked out 25 surnames on the top 1000 list that was compiled from the U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division, Population Analysis & Evaluation Staff back in 1990 census:

  • 25 Common Last Names That Make the Best First Names 1 of 26
    baby names

    If you're looking for strong and unique baby names, check no further than the top 1000 most common surnames!

  • Preston 2 of 26

    This typical surnames falls at number 639 in the most popular surname census, but it's not too uncommon as a first name that it will stand out too much. A strong name that any sweet little boy could pull off.

  • McCray 3 of 26

    I'd not heard of this surname (falling on spot number 942 in the list) as a first name until I started watching this season of Big Brother. It's the name of one of the contestants, and I've fallen in love with it.

  • Emerson 4 of 26

    If my youngest daughter had been a boy, this would have been our name choice for her. I've loved it long before I was even married and while a typical surname, it's not too uncommon to hear as a first name.

  • Anderson 5 of 26

    Sometimes I think we forget this is a last name thanks to the popularity of people like Anderson Cooper, who dons this as a first name. As a last name, it's the 11th most popular in the US.

  • Maxwell 6 of 26

    The name Maxwell or Max for short has risen in popularity over the past few years. I think it's probably more known as a first name now, but back when the 1990 US census was done, this last name ranked in at spot number 404.

  • Conner 7 of 26

    This name can have a few different spelling variations and it's not an uncommon name to see. Turns out, it's also a common last name as well.

  • Carter 8 of 26

    Carter as a first name has risen in popularity as well and many kids with this name are in my kids' classes. It's also a very popular surname — easily hitting the list in as the 40th most common surname.

  • Harrison 9 of 26

    Who hasn't heard of Harrison Ford? No one, which is why it may be more surprising to learn this lovely first name is actually a common last name too — taking spot 115 in the common surname list.

  • Ross 10 of 26

    We all know Ross from the uber-popular TV show Friends with that being one of the main character's first name. It's also not unheard of as a surname as well so if your'e on the fence about this name, I say go for it!

  • Luna 11 of 26

    Such a pretty name for a girl that translates to "Moon" according to Baby Center. I had no idea it was a last name as well, but it ranks in at spot 492 according to the 1990 US census.

  • Dawson 12 of 26

    Thanks to Dawson's Creek, this name is totally known as a first name that's not too common, but not totally out there. Did you know it's also a common surname?

  • Smith 13 of 26

    I bet it's no surprise to hear that the surname Smith tops the most popular list rating in at the number one spot, but many are turning to this as a first name as well.

  • Jackson 14 of 26

    Jackson, and all the different ways you can spell it, has jumped in popularity over the years. It's a great name because it can be shortened to Jack or Jax, and it's also the 13th most used on the list! 

  • Kennedy 15 of 26

    I love this name as a first name because it works so well for either a boy or girl. We all know the surname Kennedy as one of the presidential families, so it's no surprise that it ranks in the 1990 US census at spot 137.

  • McKenzie 16 of 26

    This name was one of the front-runners for my second child, a girl, and I still really love it. While it's not too uncommon as a first name, ranking at spot 152 according Baby Center's US. population list, when it comes to a surname, it's listed at spot 490 in popularity.

  • Parker 17 of 26

    When I hear the name Parker, I don't think of it as a last name, but with it ranking in at spot 47 in most common US surnames, clearly it's been a last name longer than a first.

  • Quinn 18 of 26

    If you're a fan of the TV show Glee, you've likely heard this name since it's one of the main characters in the earlier seasons. It's a great name for either gender and also ranks in at 402 most popular surname in the US.

  • Clark 19 of 26

    Who doesn't think of Clark Kent when we hear this name? I know it's the first thing that comes to my mind, and can easily see how you'd be swayed to this name if you're a fan of the Superman stories. Turns out, it's also quite the surname ranking in the US 1990's census at spot number 21!

  • Cole 20 of 26

    Ranking in at 108 in 1990's census for the US, this name is obviously a common surname, but given the cuteness, it would make a really great first name for any boy.

  • Rose 21 of 26

    I had no idea Rose was used as a surname because I've only heard it as a sweet first name for girls. Though you don't hear it used too often anymore as a first name , it's a great choice if you're looking for a feminine, strong name.

  • Walker 22 of 26

    We all know of Walker Texas Ranger, but who knew it was such a popular surname? I love this choice for a first name though because it's strong and has an old-time feel; no one will mess with anyone with this name.

  • Morgan 23 of 26

    Such a pretty name for a girl or a strong name for a boy, Morgan is also a common surname in the United States, which I am surprised by. I don't know if I've personally heard it, but it ranks in at spot 57 for common surnames, so there must be a lot of people out there.

  • Reed 24 of 26

    This name is so perfect because it's strong sounding and not too uncommon. It has the great balance of being unique without being too out there which is sometimes really hard do to. It's also a common last name in the US — at spot number 55.

  • Ellis 25 of 26

    Ellis is a lovely name and it's one I would totally consider for my own kids, if they didn't already have names. It's not too common as a first name ranking in 2012 at #612 according to Baby Center and ranks 114 as a surname in the 1990's US census.

  • Bailey 26 of 26

    Bailey ranks in surname popularity at spot number 60, but it also makes a really great first name for a fun-loving, adventurous boy or girl!

Want to see the whole list of 1000 most common surnames in the United States — head over to

:: Do you like surnames as first names?? Share in the comments! ::

Photo credits: istockphoto

Devan is a freelance writer living in Toronto, Ontario with her husband, three kids and expecting baby #4 at the end of this year. Read more from  on Babble and “like” Accustomed Chaos on Facebook!

Article Posted 3 years Ago

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