Surnames associated with a particular ancestry

What are surnames associated with a certain ancestry? Here are some of my guesses.

Wolfe, Adams- English
Mac-anything- probably Scottish
Jones- Welsh
O’anything- Irish (O’Malley, O’Kelly, O’Neill, etc…)
Mc-anything- probably Irish but possibly Scottish
anything-son- probably Scandinavian (Larson, Ericson, etc…)
Le-anything- French (LeBrun)

Those are just my guesses. What surnames are associated with a particular ancestry or ethnicity?

Also, di-anything, Della-anything- Italian

Cohen, descendant of Aaron.


You have to actually see the names written, of course. If you just hear them, you can be fooled by last names like Mikawa and Obama. :slight_smile:

What ethnicity/ancestry?

Van followed by anything usually implies Dutch ancestry.

My name ends in ez…a dead giveaway of Hispanic ethnicity.

-ski is often Polish. -sky is more likely Russian.

-ovich or -ovna as the middle name is definitely Russian, as is -ov as the last name.

I’d put that the other way round. Mac or Mc names are more likely to be Scottish than Irish in my experience.

A name starting with Sch- is very likely German.
Names ending with -ov or -ev are Slavic, most likely Russian.

Generally, Mac indicates Scottish, but Mc indicates Irish. Except when it doesn’t.

Surnames ending in -off, or -in: Doukhobor Russian. E.g., Popoff, Varabioff, Zoobkoff, Veregin, Repin, Shukin.

Is that a whoosh?

Hebrew, in case it isn’t. Verified by genetic testing of the x chromosome of men named Cohen, or its linguistic variants in most of the world. The priests of Israel were all the descendants of Aaron. Not counting the usual incidence of infidelity, they include a lot of guys named Cohen.


Y chromosome.

I’m pretty sure this is a myth. I believe Mc is just a popular ( and modern )shortening of Mac, not, as far as I know, a genuine linguistic variation between Irish and Scottish Gaelic. Every historical Irish name I’ve ever seen is written as Mac-, whether it be MacCarthy, MacLochlainn, MacDermot, MacMurrough or MacDuinnshleibhe.

  • Tamerlane

As Tamerlane says, that’s a myth. It seems to have originated in North America, and is prevalent enough that both Scottish and Irish genealogy sites feel it necessary to address the issue.

I’m UK born-and-bred, with a “Mc” prefix courtesy of my Scots father, yet had never heard of the supposed “McIrish/MacScottish” correlation until I came to the US; one fellow was quite insistent that my father must have been from Ireland due to my “Mc” prefix, until I pointed out that my ancestors within recoded history were illiterate crofters (known rather more for their cattle-rustling and murder-for-hire proclivities than for their orthography), and that family gravestones in our local Highland kirkyard mixed “Mc” and “Mac” apparently at whim.

Ben- (or Bar-, which is strictly speaking Aramaic) – likely Hebrew/Jewish.

Names ending in “dink” or “ink” are often of low german or Netherlands origin.


Hey, the ones with X chromosomes are all descended from Eve, and she was Hebrew too!


No need to re-invent the wheel, folks. Link.

Englebert Humperdink??!? Who’d a thunk it?

Le- (as in LeBon, LeBrun, LePen, etc) is indicative of Normandy French. Also, the given name Gaetan has always been Quebecois when I’ve run across it.

Vlad/Igor (Romanian/Russian)