American Surnames. Explain!!

Tim_Saian

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So I noticed this trend years ago but I didn't have anyone to ask. Well, its more like I kept forgetting to ask. Anyway, it seems like Americans perhaps its just people outside my country? (Writing this I now realize that I have no idea how deep this goes.) It just seems like they have the strangest surnames ever. Like, do you purposely make your family name Rice, Register, Long, Carpenter, Leaf, Cook, Cattle, Woods, Parent, Cherry, Story, White( Black and other freaking colours including indigo!!!)??????
Is this done on purpose? I do not understand these surnames at all.
HELP.
 

Discount_Blade

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Pretty sure Leaf, Register, Parent, Cherry, Story, Cattle, and Indigo are not American surnames. And most of the ones you listed, aren't as common as you are implying. I've lived in numerous states and have never met a Carpenter though I know of someone with the surname, or a Rice though there are a few famed athletes with that surname, and the one Cook I met was "Cooke" so it was a slight variation. I've met two Whites, one Black. I don't know where you are getting American surnames from, but it is an extremely narrow and limited list. America has THE MOST varied surnames on the planet because we literally have some of nearly every nationality on the planet.

Then there are names that don't really belong to any current ethnicity. They just are. Might want to look up an American name generator.

This is one of many others. Just happened to be the first that showed up on my search engine list:

Switch the options for male or female.

A quick test and the first surnames I got were Harris, Cowan, and Davidson. None of what you said. I know of a lot of Harris's where I live and coincidentally, there are some Davidson's right down the hall from my apartment. Never met a Cowan though.
 
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Tim_Saian

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Pretty sure Leaf, Register, Prent, Cherry, Story, Cattle, and Indigo are not American surnames. And most of the ones you listed, aren't as common as you are implying. I've lived in numerous states and have never met a Carpenter though I know of someone with the surname, a Rice, and the one Cook I met was "Cooke" so it was a slight variation. I've met two Whites, one Black, and one Rice. I don't know where you are getting American surnames from, but it is an extremely weak and limited list. America has THE MOST varied surnames on the planet because we literally have some of nearly every nationality on the planet.

Then there are names that don't really belong to any current ethnicity. They just are. Might want to look up an American name generator.

Truth is iono whether they belong to americans or not, I just know that I hear them attached to names of americans most of the time. I also don't know if this extends to Canada and Australia or whatever. What I do know, and what I'm trying not to be confused about is that people have family names like that. Iono if it's a perspective thing, but from my pov it is pretty strange to have a surname like Cattle or Cherry or Parent. Can't exactly imagine being called Mr. Cattle...feels off doesn't it? Am I the only one that feels this way?
 

Discount_Blade

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Truth is iono whether they belong to americans or not, I just know that I hear them attached to names of americans most of the time. I also don't know if this extends to Canada and Australia or whatever. What I do know, and what I'm trying not to be confused about is that people have family names like that. Iono if it's a perspective thing, but from my pov it is pretty strange to have a surname like Cattle or Cherry or Parent. Can't exactly imagine being called Mr. Cattle...feels off doesn't it? Am I the only one that feels this way?
I just said I'm pretty sure there are no Parents or Cattle as a surname. Cherry is a possibility though.
 

ConTroll

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This is like asking why your surname is Saian.

You can legally change your name to whatever you want in the U.S., so long as you go through proper channels. So, the purpose really doesn't matter does it? Btw, I've never met anyone with those surnames you have listed.
 

AliceShiki

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Dunno about on other countries, but over here where I live, a bunch of people were brought in as slaves. And this kept on happening for a few hundred years IIRC.

And once they were brought in, they were forced to be baptized to the Christian Church, when that happened, the Church gave them a local surname.

Since the Church obviously didn't have enough ideas for thousands of different surnames, they gave a bunch of surnames that just meant stuff like "Jungle, Fields, Axe" and what not. Which is why those surnames are super common where I live.
 

Tim_Saian

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I just said I'm pretty sure there are no Parents or Cattle as a surname. Cherry is a possibility though.
This is like asking why your surname is Saian.

You can legally change your name to whatever you want in the U.S., so long as you go through proper channels. So, the purpose really doesn't matter does it? Btw, I've never met anyone with those surnames you have listed.

Yeah, I'm not living in any of the countries that have these surnames so I haven't met anyone with them either. The way I noticed this trend is through the credits of various movies. All of the names I pulled up were gotten from credits, including Parent, whose full name is Paul Parent and a quick google search talks about someone with that name. So I don't think they're made up for cinematic purposes or whatever.

And I kinda made up Saian, wanted something awesome sounding and rare. Turns out Saian is ethinic to some peeps in the east, not sure what culture tho.
 

Discount_Blade

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Dunno about on other countries, but over here where I live, a bunch of people were brought in as slaves. And this kept on happening for a few hundred years IIRC.

And once they were brought in, they were forced to be baptized to the Christian Church, when that happened, the Church gave them a local surname.

Since the Church obviously didn't have enough ideas for thousands of different surnames, they gave a bunch of surnames that just meant stuff like "Jungle, Fields, Axe" and what not. Which is why those surnames are super common where I live.


We have people with the surname Fields, but definitely not Jungle or Axe.
 

Discount_Blade

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Yeah, I'm not living in any of the countries that have these surnames so I haven't met anyone with them either. The way I noticed this trend is through the credits of various movies. All of the names I pulled up were gotten from credits, including Parent, whose full name is Paul Parent and a quick google search talks about someone with that name. So I don't think they're made up for cinematic purposes or whatever.

And I kinda made up Saian, wanted something awesome sounding and rare. Turns out Saian is ethinic to some peeps in the east, not sure what culture tho.
Paul Parent? Wow. Poor guy. That's one of those weird outliers. Kinda like the guy I once knew was Jim Pissant. You can imagine the jokes made about his surname.
 

Tim_Saian

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Paul Parent? Wow. Poor guy. That's one of those weird outliers. Kinda like the guy I once knew was Jim Pissant. You can imagine the jokes made about his surname.

Yup, imagine how Sydney Shoemaker, Jesse Cattle or Ben Cherry felt.
 

DubstheDuke

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I mean we don't really get to choose our last names but for a lot of cases the last name was the family trade at some point in history. Baker, Carpenter, Smith, etc might be the profession of the family. As far as colors, yeah. There are some people with last names that are just colors. Green. Brown. Black. White. Gray. I haven't heard any of the others tho. Most last names don't really have this huge larger meaning. My own is actually a profession, I will not say which- but it's one that nobody has ever heard of. Even I didn't know it was one till I got older. Either way, there are a lot of last names that just don't really have a huge meaning. Some are even just first names like Williams or Frank or Martin
 

Generic.Archdemon

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Meaning & History
Derived from Old French parent meaning either "notable" (from Latin pārēre meaning "to be apparent") or "parent" (from Latin parere meaning "to produce, to give birth").

one theory claims that:
descendant of a priest, or other dignitary of the church.
 

Daitengu

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Rice, Register, Long, Carpenter, Leaf, Cook, Cattle, Woods, Parent, Cherry, Story, White( Black and other freaking colours including indigo!!!)[/I]??????
Is this done on purpose? I do not understand these surnames at all.
HELP.
Many of those profession based names date back to around 1000 AD. That naming convention came about from the Normans(UK), and the Anglo Saxons(French). Then the name warped over time as the written languages changed and solidified.

Example: Hris -> Rhys -> Rees -> Rice. The origin of Rice, which is Anglo Saxon word Hris, means fiery warrior.

Black was a surname of a few origins. One was given to some northern Brits because of their black hair, which was uncommon among the Saxons. Another was given to a guy for infiltration via covering his face in spot. Black is also the alternate for blacksmith instead of the surname smith. And the last went to an African man for obvious reasons.

White is really literal. And given to people who were pale and/or had white hair.

There was a time when commoners didn't have surnames. So when family registration for tax purposes became a thing once nobles were removed, many surnames were made up to create family names at that time.

Also it's not uncommon to be named afore things in nature in many cultures. There's Phoenix, Lily, Daisy, Rain, Crowe, Raven, etc.
Japan had Sakura(cherry), Yuki(snow), etc. The actor River Phoenix was Native American.

I personally find those names far more interesting than all the people taking names from the bible.
 

Daitengu

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Oh yeah. Before the industrial revolution family names being their profession was a mark of pride, as the businesses was usually passed down from father to son staying in the family.
 

CupcakeNinja

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So I noticed this trend years ago but I didn't have anyone to ask. Well, its more like I kept forgetting to ask. Anyway, it seems like Americans perhaps its just people outside my country? (Writing this I now realize that I have no idea how deep this goes.) It just seems like they have the strangest surnames ever. Like, do you purposely make your family name Rice, Register, Long, Carpenter, Leaf, Cook, Cattle, Woods, Parent, Cherry, Story, White( Black and other freaking colours including indigo!!!)??????
Is this done on purpose? I do not understand these surnames at all.
HELP.
It's because back when slaves were freed they got to choose their own surnames and eventually as they married these surnames spread. They didnt have an education so they named themselves after objects they could see or things from books they would have had people read them, or they picked from physical features. Things like that.
 

AliceShiki

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We have people with the surname Fields, but definitely not Jungle or Axe.
Jungle is the most common surname over here! xD
Paul Parent? Wow. Poor guy. That's one of those weird outliers. Kinda like the guy I once knew was Jim Pissant. You can imagine the jokes made about his surname.
There was one professor that I once met... The guy taught Saturday Morning classes to an uni course that had nocturnal classes on Monday-Friday...

His name was "Jacinto Cansado"... Or in English, "I already feel tired." (Technically, "Já sinto cansado" or "Já me sinto cansado" would be what actually translates to "I already feel tired", but the reading of "Jacinto" and "Já sinto" is the same.)

Suffice to say not many people were able to stay awake at his classes, even his name didn't help on that~
 

Jemini

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Ok, serious answer to this question.

Traditionally, only nobles had surnames. Some parts of Europe were among the first places where commoners began taking surnames. However, the first surnames among commoners were the professions that they had. This is why "Smith" is one of the most common surnames in the western world. It was one of the most common among the professions considered prominent enough to become a surname.

That was the case at the start of the trend. As people say, surnames like "Cook" or others that aren't really the kind that would be your typical family profession are the results of slaves who served those roles for their masters.

Then there are your entrepreneurial names. These are the names that came from families of the newly significant who rose to prominence. Because they did not have family names before they joined the upper class, they took on the first name of the family founder instead. These are your names like Robinson, which literally means "the son of Robin." There is also the "Ericson" family who descended from "Eric the red," a famous viking conqueror. So, it's not all business that gets you that sort of family name. The most famous member of this family is Leaf Ericson who discovered America after inheriting his father's armada. (All names of this sort end in "son" because the women take the family name of their husband when they marry.)
 
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