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99 Unique Spanish Last Names: With Interesting Meanings

These Hispanic last names could reveal your hidden history!

Hispanic last names, known as “appelidos,” have rich meanings, often from a mix of cultures, lifestyles, and languages. Many names trace their roots back hundreds of years to noble lineages, painting vivid pictures of history and the Mediterranean way of life.

We delved into the wonderful world of unique and popular Spanish surnames to give you some spicy details of how these names came about. Our list will excite you and may even link you to the distant past.

Let’s jump right in!

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99 Popular Spanish Last Names

Browse popular, unusual, and traditional Spanish last names and bring some Latin flare into your life!


Acosta derives from the Portuguese “da Costa,” related to the English word “coast,” and is often found throughout the Canary Islands within Spain. Acosta is a great “A” surname for a coast-loving family.

  • Origin: Spanish, Portuguese
  • Meaning: From the mountains or the coast
  • Pronunciation: a-KOS-ta
  • Variations: Costa, Lacoste, Delcote
  • Namesakes: Oscar “Zeta” Acosta, a political activist and writer famous for hanging out with Hunter S. Thompson while writing Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
  • Popularity: Acosta is the world’s 518th most common last name and is found most frequently in Paraguay.
Cross-cultural, Geographic


Aguilar derives from the Latin “aquilare,” meaning “place of the eagles” or “haunt of the eagles.” Its root is shared with the Arabic “Aguiar,” and both originate from a Jewish origin, coming from the Mozarabic knight of Toledo who hailed from the Iberian Peninsula in the 8th-century.

  • Origin: Spanish, Catalan
  • Meaning: From Aguilar or Aguilas
  • Pronunciation: AH-gee-lar
  • Variations: Aguillar, Aguilera, Aguiler
  • Namesakes: Christina Aguilera, an American singer-songwriter known for her ability to sustain high notes, referred to as the “Voice of a Generation.”
  • Popularity: Aguilar is a very popular Spanish last name, ranking 289th globally. The Americas is home to 90% of all people with this last name.
Musical, Geographic


Alvarado derives from the Arabic “al-barrada,”meaning “a wall of small stones,” or “albar,” meaning “hilly, whitish lands.” People who lived near this landmark, notably gothic knights who fought the moors, were referred to by their homes built in these white, hilly places.

  • Origin: Spanish, Portuguese
  • Meaning: Lives near a white hill or landmark.
  • Pronunciation: ahl-vah-RAH-doe
  • Variations: Albarado, de Alvarado
  • Popularity: Alvarado is the 465th most common name globally, occurring largely in the Americas, particularly in Mexico.
Geographic, Strong


Alvarez ends with the suffix “ez,” meaning “from” or “of.” This was a modification stemming from the Germanic invasion of Iberian regions by the Visigoths in the 5th-century. Those with this name can likely trace their genealogy to a descendant named Alvaro.

  • Origin: Spanish
  • Meaning: Son of Alvaro
  • Pronunciation: AL-VAH-res
  • Variations: Albarez, Alvaroz, Alvares
  • Namesakes: Izabella Alvarez, an American actress known for her roles in TV shows such as Shameless, Westworld, and Walk the Plank.
  • Popularity: Alvarez is not common globally but is the 26th most common Hispanic last name, with a high concentration found in Mexico and Cuba.
Patronymic, Noble


Avila stems from the verb “avilar,” derived from the Latin word “evigilare.” Avila is both a city and province in Spain, known for being temperate and fertile. It could also mean “someone who is capable, intelligent, and vigilant,” similar to its Latin root word, “habilis.”

  • Origin: Spanish
  • Meaning: To watch, to be vigilant
  • Pronunciation: ah-VEE-lah
  • Variations: Ávila, Àvila, Avíla
  • Popularity: Avila is a fairly popular name, ranked the 549th most common surname worldwide, and is most prevalent in Mexico.
Descriptive, Nickname


Ayala is a Basque family name traced back to the son of King don Sancho Ramirez of Aragon, who was born in Greece and died in Spain. Ayala is also used colloquially to express surprise or displeasure in Portuguese!

  • Origin: Spanish
  • Meaning: From Ayala, Aragon
  • Pronunciation: eye-YAH-lah
  • Variations: Ramón Luis Ayala Rodríguez, a Puerto Rican rapper, singer, and composer famous for his 2004 hit Gasolina.
  • Popularity: Ayala is a pretty popular last name, ranking 728th worldwide, and is very popular in Mexico and Paraguay.
Geographic, Ancestral


Camacho existed in the pre-Christian era and is thought to come from the Gaelic term “camb,” which means “disfigured.” Camacho is also a gender-neutral first name and is believed to come from the nickname for the Linnet Robin bird.

  • Origin: French, Spanish, Portuguese
  • Meaning: One who had a hunchback, crippled
  • Pronunciation: kah-MAH-cho
  • Variations: Cámacho
  • Namesakes: Jessica Lisa Camacho, an American actress known for her roles in The Flash, NBC drama, and Taken.
  • Popularity: Camacho is a popular last name, ranked #769 globally, with most families bearing this name in Mexico and Colombia.
Descriptive, Ancient


Campos implies lots of land and vast fields. It can also mean anyone from one of the many places named Campos throughout Spain. Campos was often used for someone who lived in the countryside.

  • Origin: Spanish, Portuguese
  • Meaning: Dweller of the fields, from Campos
  • Pronunciation: KAM-poess
  • Variations: Campós, Campõs
  • Namesakes: Adrián Campos Suñer, a Spanish Formula One driver who founded Campos racing in 1998.
  • Popularity: Campos is a popular Hispanic last name, ranked #390 most common worldwide, and is most prevalent in Brazil and Mexico.
Geographic, Nature-inspired


Carrillo has a rich history in Spanish folklore, believed to derive from two brothers who were always seen together, like two church bells or “carrillones.” Carrillo is prevalent in Mexico and quite common in Guatemala.

  • Origin: German, Spanish
  • Meaning: A prominent cheek
  • Pronunciation: kah-REEL-yo
  • Variations: Carriello, Sciarrillo, Carrilos
  • Namesakes: Elpidia Carrillo, a Mexican actress and director, known for her role in the iconic action film Predator.
  • Popularity: Carrillo is the 749th most popular name worldwide but is 340th in the U.S., which puts it in the top 10 most common Hispanic last names in the U.S.
Nickname, Descriptive


Castillo is the Spanish word for a “castle” and isn’t describing a person’s looks so much as where they lived or worked. Families were sometimes called “Del Castillo,” which meant they were “of the castle,” and often hailed from the borderlands of Spain, where castles protected against invasion.

  • Origin: Spanish
  • Meaning: Worker in a castle, lived in a castle
  • Pronunciation: kah-STEE-yo
  • Variations: Castiglione, Casteel, Castela
  • Namesakes: Joseph Castillo, an American musician and songwriter known for being the drummer in Queens of the Stone Age, Danzig, and Wasted Youth.
  • Popularity: Castillo is a popular name worldwide, ranking #204, and is the 25th most common Hispanic surname.
Occupational, Noble
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Cervantes stems from several Latin, Spanish, and Galician words. Cervantes most commonly derives from the word “servant” or “servandus,” meaning “one who cares for cattle.” Cervantes was popularized by the novel Don Quixote, which is regarded as one of the pinnacles of literature and one of the world’s most translated books.

  • Origin: Spanish, Latin
  • Meaning: From Cervanto, stag, servant
  • Pronunciation: sair-VAHN-tayss
  • Variations: Servantes, Cervantez, Cervino
  • Namesakes: Miguel de Cervantes, an author best known for his novel Don Quixote.
  • Popularity: Cervantes is somewhat popular and ranked #1,120 worldwide.
Occupational, Ancient


Chavez describes someone who makes keys or someone from the Portuguese town of Chaves, which borders Spain. Settlers with this last name have been in the Americas since 1533, but it is more common in Mexico than in any other country.

  • Origin: Portuguese, Latin, Spanish
  • Meaning: Keys, from the town of Chaves
  • Pronunciation: CHAH-vess
  • Variations: Chaves, Chevez, Chairez
  • Namesakes: Eric Cesar Chavez, an American professional baseball coach and player for the Oakland Athletics and New York Yankees who has won numerous awards.
  • Popularity: Chavez is the 83rd most common Hispanic surname in the U.S.
Traditional, Geographic


Colon derived from Colón and was taken by early Christians because of its religious connotation. It is predominantly found in Catholic areas today. Colon is believed to derive from the English name Colin which translates to Colombo in Italian and Portuguese. Willie Colón, an American trombonist, composer, and bandleader, helped to popularize salsa music in the United States.

  • Origin: Spanish, English
  • Meaning: Dove, power of the people
  • Pronunciation: KO-lon
  • Variations: Coulon, Collon, Columbus
  • Namesakes: Cristóbal Colón, the Spanish name for the famous explorer Christopher Columbus, who made the first voyage between Europe and the Americas.
  • Popularity: Colon is a rare name, ranking 3,339th worldwide, but it is the 7th most common name in Puerto Rico.
Symbolic, Cross-cultural


Contreras was the name of a Spanish village, and its inhabitants took its name with them as they traveled and spread across the country. They eventually reached as far as Switzerland and Mexico, where it is in the top 50 most common names. Carmen Contreras-Bozak was the first Hispanic woman to serve in the U.S. Women’s Army Corps in World War II.

  • Origin: Spanish
  • Meaning: From the surrounding area, lying opposite
  • Pronunciation: kone-TRAY-rehs
  • Variations: Contrera, Cantara, Correa
  • Namesakes: Joseph Contreras, a Spanish violin maker whose violins are very rare and highly prized.
  • Popularity: Contreras is fairly popular, ranking 413th worldwide, and is the 7th most common name in Chile but primarily found in Mexico.
Geographic, Traditional


Cortez, or Cortes in Portuguese, derived from Old French and was often given to a man who was well regarded due to his good education or refined manner. It is also possible that it derived from the word “courtier,” describing one who attended to their sovereign or king.

  • Origin: Spanish, Portuguese
  • Meaning: Polite, courteous, refined, accomplished
  • Pronunciation: kor-TEZ
  • Variations: Cortes, Courtes, Courtois
  • Namesakes: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, an American politician and activist who currently serves as the U.S. representative for New York’s 14th congressional district.
  • Popularity: Cortez is pretty popular in the U.S. and is the 64th most common Hispanic last name.
Nickname, Occupational


Cruz and words related to the Latin “Crux” have originated all over Europe and applied to the ancient devotional symbol of the cross. It may also refer to crossroads or meeting places in ancient times. The popularity of the last name Cruz has been steady for centuries.

  • Origin: Spanish, Portuguese
  • Meaning: Cross, dweller near a cross
  • Pronunciation: krooz
  • Variations: Cruces, De La Cruz, Cruzado, Cross
  • Namesakes: Penélope Cruz Sánchez, a Spanish actress known for her films Vanilla Sky, Blow, and Pirates of the Caribbean.
  • Popularity: Cruz ranks as the 158th most popular name worldwide and is the 17th most common Hispanic last name.
Inspirational, Ancient


Deleon is locational and was given to the lord of a piece of land and adopted by the people who worked the land. Leon is said to have been named after a Roman legion that occupied the area in 29 BC. This is a surname with a lot of history.

  • Origin: Spanish
  • Meaning: From the kingdom of Leon
  • Pronunciation: day-lee-OWN
  • Variations: Daleon, Deleone, Leona
  • Namesakes: Juan Ponce de León, a Spanish explorer and conquistador known for leading the first official European expedition to Florida and being the first governor of Puerto Rico.
  • Popularity: Deleon or De Leon is somewhat popular, just missing out on the top 1,000 most popular names, at 1,017th. Deleon is common in the Philippines and Guatemala.
Geographic, Traditional


Delgado derives from the Latin “delicatus” and was often a nickname for someone thin. It seems like it could be meant to affectionately describe someone frail or delicate.

  • Origin: Spanish, Portuguese
  • Meaning: Thin, slender, exquisite
  • Pronunciation: del-GAH-doe
  • Variations: Delgato, Delegado, Delgardo
  • Namesakes: Emilio Ernest Delgado, an American actor known for his role in Sesame Street.
  • Popularity: Delgado climbed to being the 395th most popular name worldwide in 2019 and is found mostly in Mexico, while the Delgato variant is the most popular in the U.S.
Nickname, Descriptive


Diaz is taken from the Latin “dies,” meaning “days.” It was originally used to give people more Spanish-sounding names in the 9th-century. People with fathers named Diego became Diaz or “son of Diego.”

  • Origin: Spanish, Portuguese
  • Meaning: Days, son of Diego
  • Pronunciation: DEE-as
  • Variations: Dias, Diez
  • Namesakes: Bartolomeu Dias, a Portuguese mariner, and explorer and the first European navigator to round the southern tip of Africa.
  • Popularity: Diaz is a popular name, ranking 132nd in the world rankings, and is the 14th most common Spanish last name.
Patronymic, Ancient


Dominguez was given to people who were sons of men named Domingo, a Spanish language version of Dominic. Dominic was also given to children born on the Holy day, Sunday. Someone with Dominguez as their last name most likely had a religious ancestor.

  • Origin: Spanish
  • Meaning: Son of Domingo
  • Pronunciation: do-MEEN-gayss
  • Variations: Dominguin, Domingues
  • Namesakes: Don Manuel Domínguez, a Californio ranchero and politician, and one of the signers of the Californian Constitution in 1849.
  • Popularity: Dominguez is the 409th most popular name worldwide, with the highest concentration in Mexico and Cuba.
Patronymic, Ancestral
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Duran stems from the medieval word “durand,” meaning “to endure,” which was given as a first name and later adopted as a last name. People who were given this nickname were often angry, sulky, or hard-headed.

  • Origin: Spanish, French
  • Meaning: Endure, strong
  • Pronunciation: dur-RAN
  • Variations: Dura, Durand, Duman
  • Popularity: Duran is not very popular, ranking #641 worldwide, but it is one of Bolivia’s top 50 most popular names.
Nickname, Cross-cultural


Espinoza descended from several regions in Spain, which were likely named in Latin, and called “espino,” meaning “hawthorn.” Many pedigreed people carried this name through history, bringing it to the U.S. in the 1500s.

  • Origin: Spanish, Italian
  • Meaning: Thorny, from Espinosa
  • Pronunciation: ess-PEE-no-sah
  • Variations: Espinosa, Espinoso, Espina
  • Namesakes: Mark Damon Espinoza, an American actor who played Jesse Vasquez in Beverly Hills, 90210.
  • Popularity: Espinoza is a widely popular Spanish last name, ranking #467 globally.
Geographic, Noble


The bearer of the Estrada name once held land in Spain, and the name is taken from the Latin “strata,” meaning “street” or “road.” Estrada was passed down during the Middle Ages and likely meant the bearer had a prominent ancestor in their ancient history.

  • Origin: Spanish
  • Meaning: Road, lived near the road
  • Pronunciation: eh-STRAH-dah
  • Variations: de Estrada, Estrader, Estrado
  • Namesakes: Henry Enrique Estrada, an American actor known for co-starring in the police drama series CHiPs.
  • Popularity: Estrada is the 632nd most common name worldwide and the 52nd most popular Hispanic last name in the U.S.
Symbolic, Ancestral


Fernandez is the son of Fernando or Ferdinand, which is a given name made up of Germanic words for “protection,” “journey,” and “ready.” Fernandez had brave and adventurous ancestors who likely took their father’s name boldly across the seas.

  • Origin: Spanish
  • Meaning: Journey, venture, son of Fernando
  • Pronunciation: fur-NAN-des
  • Variations: Ferranz, Ferrándiz, Fredenandiz
  • Popularity: Fernandez is the 4th most common Spanish last name and is popular worldwide.
Patronymic, Cross-cultural


Figueroa were figs cultivated to be covered with grains of sugar. People bearing this name were those who came from those regions. Figueroa may also have meant someone who sold statuettes for religious rites or decoration.

  • Origin: Spanish
  • Meaning: Lives near a fig tree, makes statuettes
  • Pronunciation: fee-guh-RO-ah
  • Variations: Higuera, Figuera, Figueras
  • Namesakes: Don Allan Figueroa, a Filipino American comic book artist and toy designer known for his work on Transformers.
  • Popularity: Figueroa is the 6th most popular Hispanic last name in the U.S.
Musical, Occupational


Flores stems from Latin, during the Roman occupation of Spain and Italy, which changed when the Visigoths defeated Rome. Flores came to mean “lord” or “master” and is rich in empirical flavor!

  • Origin: Spanish, Italian
  • Meaning: Flowers, lives near flowers
  • Pronunciation: FLOR-ehs
  • Variations: Floraz, Flor, Florán,
  • Namesakes: Erika Flores, an American former child actress and actress known for her role in Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.
  • Popularity: Flores is very popular, particularly in the U.S.
Traditional, Nature-inspired


Fuentes, or “fountains,” were widespread in Spain, especially in the Fuentes region. Fuentes is prominent among the coolest Spanish surnames and evokes images of a soothing fountain.

  • Origin: Spanish, French
  • Meaning: Fountain, spring, lives near a fountain
  • Pronunciation: FWEN-tayss
  • Variations: Fontes, Fontecilla, Fontana
  • Popularity: Fuentes is fairly popular and has a high density in Cuba and Mexico.
Nature-inspired, Inspirational


Gallegos was the term for a native of Galicia, a kingdom of Spain. People named after this region were spread far away from smaller villages and therefore took the name of the province they came from.

  • Origin: Spanish
  • Meaning: A native of Galacia
  • Pronunciation: gah-YAY-goess
  • Variations: Gallego, Gallo
  • Popularity: Gallegos is an uncommon Hispanic last name worldwide and is found mostly in Mexico.
Noble, Ancestral


The exact origin of Garcia is unknown, but it’s believed to have originated from the Basque “hartz,” meaning bear. Garcia also refers to the sons of Gerald, a name meaning “rulers of the spear,” which evokes imagery of conquerors and explorers.

  • Origin: Spanish
  • Meaning: Son of Gerald, bear
  • Pronunciation: gar-SEE-uh
  • Variations: Garsias, Gassí, Garza
  • Popularity: Garcia is very popular and ranked 47th worldwide. It is the 2nd most common last name in Mexico and the most popular surname in Spain.
Patronymic, Ancient


Garza may have been given as a nickname to someone with long legs, like a heron, but it can also translate to a bird. There were many regions named Garza in Spain, and Garza may refer to the natives of the area.

  • Origin: Spanish
  • Meaning: Heron, dove
  • Pronunciation: GAR-zuh
  • Variations: de Garza, de la Garza, Garzo
  • Namesakes: Nicole Garza, an American actress known for her roles in The O.C., Gilmore Girls, and Entourage.
  • Popularity: Garza is quite unusual globally but is fairly popular in the U.S.
Nickname, Geographic
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Gomez takes its root from the Latin “homo” and refers to the son of someone named Guma, or Gomo. This likely started as a personal name meaning “man” and later became a surname with the noble meaning “son of man.”

  • Origin: Spanish, Portuguese
  • Meaning: Man, son of man
  • Pronunciation: GO-mehz
  • Variations: Gomes, Gomis, or Gometz
  • Namesakes: Selena Marie Gomez, an American singer, actress, and film producer who began her acting career on the children’s TV series Barney & Friends.
  • Popularity: Gomez is among the more popular Hispanic surnames, ranked #122 worldwide and #9 in Spain.
Patronymic, Ancient


Gonzalo derived from the Visigoth term meaning “battle elf” or “savior.” Gonzales was given to the sons of Gonzalo and conjures images of mighty battles and heroic deeds.

  • Origin: Spanish
  • Meaning: Son of Gundisalv, metalsmith, battle
  • Pronunciation: gon-SAH-les
  • Variations: Gonzalvez, Gonzalo, Monsalve
  • Popularity: Gonzales enjoys worldwide popularity and is the 5th most popular name in Mexico according to 2006 electoral rolls.
Patronymic, Occupational


The word “guerre” is common to many language bases but is unusually not Latin. Guerra was likely given as a nickname for a soldier or someone who liked to fight like one. You can find variants of Guerra in all Hispanic countries.

  • Origin: Spanish, Portuguese, Italian
  • Meaning: War
  • Pronunciation: goo-EH-rah
  • Variations: Guierre, Laguerre, Guerrero,
  • Namesakes: Saverio Guerra, an American actor best known for his role in the sitcom Curb Your Enthusiasm.
  • Popularity: Guerra is fairly popular globally and is Cuba’s most common surname at 24th place.
Nickname, Symbolic


Guerrero is derived from “guerre” meaning “war,” and relates to a warrior returning from war. Guerrero could also be of Jewish origin, emanating from the Jewish communities within Spain and Portugal. Guerrero is one of the revered Spanish/Hispanic last names steeped in history.

  • Origin: Spanish
  • Meaning: War, warrior
  • Pronunciation: ge-rero
  • Variations: Guererro, Guerre, Guierre
  • Popularity: Guerrero is the 54th most common Hispanic surname.
Descriptive, Symbolic


Gutierre is thought to derive from the Germanic name Gunthair, which means “battle sword.” The sons of someone named Battle Sword likely came from a line of warriors or fighters. Sebastián Gutiérrez was the Venezuelan film director and screenwriter who wrote Gothika and Snakes on a Plane.

  • Origin: Spanish, German
  • Meaning: Son of Gutierre
  • Pronunciation: goo-TEE-air-es
  • Variations: Guterres, Gutrez, Butierrez,
  • Namesakes: Óscar Gutiérrez, an American professional wrestler, signed to WWE, where he is known as Rey Mysterio.
  • Popularity: Gutierrez is popular worldwide, ranked #187, and is the 18th most popular Hispanic surname in the U.S.
Patronymic, Cross-cultural


A “good man” was a term for nobility in the 13th-century. Hence, people bearing this name likely came from nobility somewhere in their ancestry. Guzman stems from a nobleman who sacrificed his son’s life to save a town.

  • Origin: Spanish, Yiddish
  • Meaning: Goodman, metalworker
  • Pronunciation: gooz-MAHN
  • Variations: Gozman, Gotmen, Gusman
  • Namesakes: Paloma Guzmán, an American actress known for her role in the series Pretty Little Liars.
  • Popularity: Guzman is a popular surname, ranked #361 worldwide and #38 in Mexico.
Noble, Occupational


Sons of Hernando, or Fernando, were named after men who were given a name that implied “courage” or “daring.” Much of its popularity is due to King Ferdinand III, who captured much of Spain back from the Moors, for which he was declared a saint.

  • Origin: Spanish Portuguese
  • Meaning: Son of Fernando, bold voyager
  • Pronunciation: hur-NAN-des
  • Variations: Hernandes, Hernande
  • Popularity: Hernandez is among the most popular Spanish last names, ranked #56 worldwide and #1 in Mexico and El Salvador.
Patronymic, Traditional


People who bore the Herrera surname worked at a herreria, where iron is forged. There are towns named Herrera in Argentina and Panama and about 20 villages in Spain alone, making this one of the most popular Hispanic surnames.

  • Origin: Spanish
  • Meaning: Worker in Iron, blacksmith
  • Pronunciation: heh-RAIR-uh
  • Variations: Hierro, Herreros, Herrerías
  • Popularity: Herrera ranked #275 globally and is the 31st most common Hispanic last name in the U.S.
Occupational, Descriptive


Jimeno is thought to be an evolution of the pre-Christian Hebrew name Shimon and the Greek name Simos, which introduced the name, Simon. Jimeno was most likely used in Spain before the 5th-century when it became Jimeno. Later, descendants became Jimenez, or “son of Jimeno.”

  • Origin: Spanish, Greek, Hebrew
  • Meaning: Son of Jimeno or Simon
  • Pronunciation: hee-MEH-nes
  • Variations: Gimeno, Gimenez, Ximenez
  • Namesakes: Phil Jimenez, an American comic artist, and writer, known for his work on Wonder Woman and X-Men.
  • Popularity: Jimenez is widely popular and ranked #178 worldwide.
Patronymic, Cross-cultural


Juarez is a medieval last name and is thought to have been a remnant of the Visigoth occupation, stemming from the term “sur hari,” meaning “south army.” The Latin word “suerius” is possibly the root of Suero and means “swine herder.”

  • Origin: German, Latin
  • Meaning: Swine herder, son of Suero
  • Pronunciation: HWAHR-ress
  • Variations: Soares, Juarez, de Juara,
  • Popularity: Juarez is fairly popular, ranked #537 worldwide, and is the 64th most frequent Hispanic last name in the U.S.
Ancient, Occupational
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Lara is derived from a village named after a plurality of gods called “lar” or “laris” in Latin. These gods were worshipped as a family. Lara also descends from a noble lineage of Gothic kings from Castile in Spain.

  • Origin: Spanish
  • Meaning: One from Lara
  • Pronunciation: LAR-ah
  • Variations: Larrea, Larrinaga, Larras
  • Namesakes: Brian Charles Lara, a former Trinidadian international cricketer widely acknowledged as one of the greatest batsmen of all time.
  • Popularity: Lara is ranked #676 globally and most popular in Mexico, where it’s the 55th most common last name.
Musical, Noble


Leon derives from a village in Spain named after a legion or the ancient kingdom of Lion. Leon is also a nickname given to someone who was as “brave as a lion” and likely had origins outside Hispanic circles, like the town of Lyon, in France.

  • Origin: French, Spanish, Italian
  • Meaning: From Leon, Lion
  • Pronunciation: LEE-ahn
  • Variations: Leoni, Leone, Leonelli
  • Namesakes: David Jeremy Leon, an English actor known for the film RocknRolla.
  • Popularity: Leon is a popular name, ranked #477 worldwide.
Strong, Ancient


Lopez is derived from the personal Latin name Lupus, meaning “wolf.” It was an honor to be named after the wolf, who is considered brave and cunning.

  • Origin: Spanish
  • Meaning: Son of Lope, wolf
  • Pronunciation: LO-pess
  • Variations: Lopes, Lopaz, Lopas
  • Namesakes: George Edward Lopez, an American comedian, and actor known for his stand-up comedy and sitcom George Lopez.
  • Popularity: Lopez is very popular and is the 59th most common surname globally and the 24th most common surname in the U.S.
Ancestral, Traditional


Luna refers to “one who comes from an open courtyard”- a habitational name in Aragonese, a Spanish dialect. Perhaps it referred to a bright and luminous person. People were also given this name if they came from the villages of Luna in Italy or Spain.

  • Origin: Spanish
  • Meaning: Moon, full-faced
  • Pronunciation: LOO-nuh
  • Variations: de Luna, de la Luna
  • Namesakes: Peggy Anne Donyale Aragonea Peugot Luna, an American supermodel and actress cited as the first black supermodel.
  • Popularity: Luna is fairly popular, ranked #558 worldwide.
Symbolic, Strong


Someone nicknamed Maldonado could have had unfortunate facial features but may also derive from the Catalan “maldar,” which means “to strive.” Either way, this name likely meant a descendant gave it their best effort.

  • Origin: Spanish
  • Meaning: Ill-favored, unlucky
  • Pronunciation: mal-do-NAH-doe
  • Variations: Maledonado, Maldenada, Maldolado
  • Namesakes: Kirstin Taylor Maldonado, an American singer, and songwriter known as the mezzo-soprano of the group Pentatonix.
  • Popularity: A fairly popular name, Maldonado is #686 in world rankings and popular in Honduras, where it ranked #41.
Descriptive, Musical


Marquez is a popular baptismal name developed from the word “mar,” which means “to gleam.” Marc and all its variations were used in pre-medieval times to name religious buildings and sanctuaries throughout Italy, Spain, and France.

  • Origin: Portuguese
  • Meaning: Son of Mark, one from St. Marks
  • Pronunciation: MAR-kays
  • Variations: Marque, Márquiz, Marco
  • Popularity: Marquez ranked #561 globally and is very popular in Venezuela, where it is the 25th most frequently found last name.
Strong, Traditional


Martinez derives from the Latin Martinus, after the Roman god of war, Mars. The namesakes were not necessarily war-like, as Mars was also the god of fertility and is considered an important name, filled with deep meaning.

  • Origin: Spanish
  • Meaning: Son of Martin
  • Pronunciation: mar-TEE-ness
  • Variations: Martiniz, Martin, Martins
  • Namesakes: Olivier Martinez, a French actor known for his roles in The Horseman on the Roof and S.W.A.T.
  • Popularity: Martinez is very popular, ranked the 4th most popular Hispanic last name in the U.S.
Symbolic, Traditional


Medina is believed to mean “Holy Place” from the Arabic “Mdina.” It was passed into Hispanic languages during the Moorish occupation of Spain. It likely referred to someone who lived near the town or the nearest market.

  • Origin: Spanish, Portuguese
  • Meaning: Dwells near the market, from Medina
  • Pronunciation: meh-DEE-nuh
  • Variations: Medinilla, Medena, de Medina
  • Namesakes: Erika Medina, an American actress, known for her appearances on the sitcoms How I Met Your Mother and Hannah Montana.
  • Popularity: Medina is the 18th most common surname in Venezuela.
Geographic, Strong


Mesia was a small village where inhabitants fled during the Moorish invasion, escaping to regions where they would later set sail for the Americas. The word is also thought to possibly derive from the Sephardic word Mesia, which means “Messiah” and could be a name bestowed by a priest.

  • Origin: Spanish
  • Meaning: From the town of Mesia
  • Pronunciation: meh-HEE-ah
  • Variations: Mejias, Megia, Mashia
  • Popularity: Mejia is widely popular and ranked #441 worldwide.
Inspirational, Ancient


Mendez derives from the medieval name Menendo, meaning “whole sacrifice.” It is said to have stemmed from the personal name of a Visigoth royal who converted to Christianity and was canonized, forever cementing his name into Hispanic history.

  • Origin: Spanish, Portuguese
  • Meaning: Son of Mendo or Mendel
  • Pronunciation: men-des
  • Variations: Ménendez, Meléndez, Mendes
  • Namesakes: Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez, a Cuban military officer known for being the first person of African heritage in space.
  • Popularity: Mendez ranked #314 globally and is very common in Mexico.
Patronymic, Noble
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Taken from Basque, Mendoza is derived from the words “mendi” and “oza,” meaning “mountain” and “cold,” respectively. Mendoza could mean “Son of a mountain dweller.” Mendoza is used as a place name in Argentina, Mexico, Peru, and Venezuela.

  • Origin: Spanish
  • Meaning: Cold Mountain, son of a mountain dweller
  • Pronunciation: men-DOE-sah
  • Variations: Mendozo, Mendosa, Mendoso
  • Popularity: Mendoza is the 209th most common name worldwide.
Ancient, Musical


Miranda refers to places in Spain and Portugal, meaning “admired place.” Miranda may also derive from the Spanish “miralla,” meaning “lookout post.” This is a communal name for people who hailed from a specific area.

  • Origin: Spanish, Portuguese
  • Meaning: A lookout, from an admired place
  • Pronunciation: mur-AN-dah
  • Variations: Mirandas, de las Mirandas, Mirando
  • Popularity: Miranda is the 37th most common last name in Chile.
Symbolic, Inspirational


“Moler” means “to grind” in Spanish, and Molina is derived from “molino,” the medieval word for “miller.” Molina originated in Castile, no doubt because the region has historically produced the most wheat in Spain, so they needed plenty of Molinas!

  • Origin: Spanish
  • Meaning: Miller, from a mill
  • Pronunciation: MO-lee-nuh
  • Variations: Molino, Molinar, Molinero
  • Namesakes: Alfredo Molina, an English-American actor known for his film debut in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
  • Popularity: Molina is somewhat popular, ranked #404 globally, and found in the highest density in El Salvador.
Occupational, Musical


Montoya is a horse pasture or mountain fort, something Spain is known for. Hispanic cultures historically placed a high value on horses. This is still true of Colombia, where the last name is common, and the area is known for its Paso Fino breed.

  • Origin: Spanish
  • Meaning: Dweller on hilly land, from the pasture
  • Pronunciation: mon-TOY-ah
  • Variations: Monte, Montes, Montero
  • Popularity: Montoya is not particularly common worldwide, ranked just within the top 1,000 at #997.
Nature-inspired, Descriptive


Morales identifies people living by natural landmarks, such as mulberry bushes. Landmarks were the easiest way to differentiate yourself from others before last names were used. Morales became the name of several Spanish towns.

  • Origin: Spanish
  • Meaning: Lives near a mulberry bush
  • Pronunciation: mo-RAH-les
  • Variations: Moral, Moreira, Morais.
  • Popularity: Morales is the 13th most common Hispanic surname in Mexico.
Geographic, Inspirational


Munoz was originally a first name meaning “hill.” Traditionally, it may sometimes be given to the ninth child born. This name is not definitive and wouldn’t have increased very quickly. Because Spain is a hilly country, saying you’re “from the hill” won’t tell people where you’re from.

  • Origin: Spanish
  • Meaning: Son of Muno, the ninth child
  • Pronunciation: MOON-yoass
  • Variations: Muñiz, Muño, Muñones
  • Popularity: Munoz is very rare, ranked #2,971 worldwide, but is the 39th most common Hispanic name in the U.S.
Patronymic, Traditional


Being the son of Nuno was quite a privilege in medieval times. Nuno could have derived from the word “nonnus,” meaning “squire” or “chamberlain”, a worthy rank to aspire to.

  • Origin: Portuguese
  • Meaning: Son of Nuno
  • Pronunciation: NOON-yez
  • Variations: Núñez, Nuñez
  • Namesakes: Oscar Nunez, a Cuban-American actor, and comedian known for his role in the sitcom The Office.
  • Popularity: Nunez is the 377th most common surname in the U.S.
Strong, Descriptive


Ochoa is a Basque name found in Spain, France, and the Philippines and is the actual term for “the wolf.” This can be a given name and is the equivalent of the Spanish name Lope also meaning “wolf.”

  • Origin: Spanish
  • Meaning: The wolf
  • Pronunciation: o-CHO-ah
  • Variations: Ochoki, Ogier, Ocho
  • Namesakes: Ellen Ochoa, an American engineer who became the first Hispanic woman to go to space in 1993.
  • Popularity: Ochoa is popular in Mexico but less in other regions.
Nature-inspired, Ancestral


Orti stems from the Basque “fortis,” meaning “brave,” or Latin “fortunius,” meaning “fortunate.” Ortiz is either a fortunate son or a brave one, either way, Ortiz is well-rooted in ancient history.

  • Origin: Spanish
  • Meaning: Son of Orti, brave, fortunate
  • Pronunciation: or-TEES
  • Variations: Ortez, Ortaz, Ortes
  • Popularity: Ortiz is the 226th most common last name worldwide, with the highest incidences in Mexico, Colombia, and the U.S.
Inspirational, Symbolic
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Pacheco is derived from the Latin Franciscus, meaning “free man,” and may have spread through Roman use. The Romans might have used this as an insult, but Pacheco and the English name Frank were eventually reclaimed over time and are common today.

  • Origin: French, Latin
  • Meaning: A free man
  • Pronunciation: pah-CHAY-ko
  • Variations: Pachico, Pachón, Pachon
  • Popularity: Pacheco ranked 559th worldwide, with much higher instances in Mexico and Peru, which ranked 86th and 95th, respectively.
Cross-cultural, Strong


Padilla was the name of several villages and is derived from the Latin “patella,” referring to a cooking pan for making bread. Likely, these villages were so named because they were built into baking hot depressions in the land.

  • Origin: Spanish
  • Meaning: Frying pan, bread pan
  • Pronunciation: pah-DEE-yah
  • Variations: Padella, Padiella
  • Popularity: Padilla is very popular in Honduras, ranked as the 32nd most popular last name and 726th worldwide.
Symbolic, Occupational


Pena is derived from the Latin “penna,” used to describe a prominent rock or a stone fortress. People who lived within sight of great fortresses might have used it as a landmark and later as a surname.

  • Origin: Spanish
  • Meaning: Rock, crag, cliff
  • Pronunciation: PAIN-yah
  • Variations: ​​Peña, Penas, Peñuela
  • Namesakes: Michael Anthony Peña, an American character actor known for starring in films like Crash, Battle Los Angeles, and Fury.
  • Popularity: Pena is the most popular last name in the Dominican Republic.
Nature-inspired, Occupational


One of the most widely used Christian names, Petros, meaning “the rock,” has derivatives in every European language. For Hispanics, it became Perez and was often given to those who were cornerstones or supportive of their communities or churches.

  • Origin: Spanish
  • Meaning: The rock, son of Pero
  • Pronunciation: PEH-rehz
  • Variations: Peres, Peret, Peretz
  • Namesakes: Armando Christian Pérez, A.K.A. Pitbull, an American rapper, singer, and songwriter, known for his breakthrough single I Know You Want Me.
  • Popularity: An exceptionally popular last name, ranking 77th globally and second most popular in Guam, the Dominican Republic, and Guatemala.
Noble, Inspirational


One of the most enduring naming legacies of the Visigoth invasion was the Germanic name Raginmari, meaning “famously wise.” Ramirez is the Hispanic derivative of this legacy. It is still considered a stately last name with a sense of quiet wisdom.

  • Origin: Spanish, German
  • Meaning: Son of Ramon, wise protector
  • Pronunciation: rah-MIH-res
  • Variations: Ranimírez, Raimiriz, Remer
  • Namesakes: Efrain Antonio Ramírez, an American actor and DJ, best known for playing Pedro Sánchez in the indie film Napoleon Dynamite.
  • Popularity: Ramirez is most prevalent in Mexico, with nearly 2 million people bearing this last name.
Ancient, Noble


Ramos was often a given name to someone born during Palm Sunday’s religious fiesta. It derives from the Latin “ramus,” meaning “shoots, outgrowth,” and could have been used to refer to a prominent landmark near a person’s home.

  • Origin: Portuguese, Spanish
  • Meaning: Palm, olive branch
  • Pronunciation: RAH-moass
  • Variations: Ramose, Ramon, Ramo
  • Namesakes: Sergio Ramos García, a Spanish professional footballer who captains Real Madrid and the Spanish national team, hailed as one of the greatest defenders in the sport’s history.
  • Popularity: Ramos is popular and ranked #160 worldwide.
Strong, Traditional


Reyes might have been given as a nickname for a person who had a kingly manner, derived from the Latin “rex,” which means “king.” It could also refer to someone who played a king in pageants and festivals.

  • Origin: Spanish, French, English
  • Meaning: Royal, King
  • Pronunciation: RAY-ess
  • Variations: del Rey, Reynosa, Reis
  • Popularity: Reyes is popular in Mexico, where 1 in every 164 people bear this last name. Reyes is the 174th most common last name globally.
Noble, Nickname


Rivas were dwellers on the river or along river embankments. Rivas is often used with a place name to create a patronymic name, for example, Rivas-Vaciamadrid, referring to a community in Madrid.

  • Origin: Spanish
  • Meaning: Bank of the river
  • Pronunciation: REE-vahss
  • Variations: Riva, de Ribas, de la Riba
  • Namesakes: Carlos Rivas, an American actor, best known for his roles in the iconic films The King and I and True Grit.
  • Popularity: El Salvador has the highest density of the last name Rivas, ranked the 15th most popular surname in the country.
Geographic, Patronymic


Rivera families resided near a stream, small river, or shoreline. Spain has approximately 1,800 rivers, so this would have been a common name and likely used with lots of local knowledge. There are many claims to French royalty, and it’s believed the name pre-dates even that.

  • Origin: Spanish, Italian
  • Meaning: Riverbank, shore
  • Pronunciation: ree-VEH-rah
  • Variations: Ribera, Ribeira, Ribero
  • Namesakes: Geraldo Rivera, an American journalist, author, political commentator, and television host known for hosting the tabloid talk show, Geraldo.
  • Popularity: Rivera is the 243rd most common surname worldwide.
Geographic, Traditional


Robles were not just any forest dwellers; they lived near the oak groves. There are many such groves in the Iberian Peninsula; one oak has been growing for over 1,200 years. Perhaps one of your ancestors took in its shade centuries ago!

  • Origin: Spanish
  • Meaning: Oak trees
  • Pronunciation: RO-buhlz
  • Variations: Robleda, Robledillo, de Robles
  • Popularity: Robles is the 87th most popular surname in Mexico.
Inspirational, Nature-inspired
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Rodriguez may have originally meant “one with red hair,” after the Germanic Visigoths’ coloring, but it became closely associated with Christianity in the 7th-century. Rodriguez is phonetically derived from the term “Rhyd-derch,” which means “powerful chief,” and it’s easy to see why the name was adopted into the Spanish culture.

  • Origin: Spanish
  • Meaning: Son of Rodrigo, powerful ruler
  • Pronunciation: road-REE-gess
  • Variations: Rhodriquez, Rodrigo, Roiz
  • Namesakes: Mayte Michelle Rodriguez, an American actress best known for the Fast & Furious franchise.
  • Popularity: This is an exceptionally common last name, ranked 57th worldwide. It is the most common last name in Uruguay, Costa Rica, Panama, Dominican Republic, Cuba, and Colombia.
Strong, Ancestral


Thought to be a nickname from the root word “rojo,” meaning “red” or “rust,” it could have referred to hair or skin color. It was also likely used as an insult, referring to a person’s resemblance to the Hun or Goth invaders of Spain.

  • Origin: Spanish, Portuguese
  • Meaning: Red
  • Pronunciation: RO-hahs
  • Variations: Roj, Rojas, Rojado
  • Popularity: Rojas is the third most popular surname in Chile, ranked 222nd in the world.
Traditional, Descriptive


Pilgrims traveling to Rome were called “Romero’s” after the Crusades. Before this, people traveled so little that they called all Italians by this description simply because they didn’t know any other Italian place names.

  • Origin: Spanish, Italian
  • Meaning: Pilgrim, one who visits a shrine
  • Pronunciation: ro-MAIR-o
  • Variations: Roman, Romain, Romeo
  • Popularity: In Argentina, Romero is the 11th most popular last name, but in Mexico, over 630,000 people bear this last name.
Nickname, Musical


Ruiz is of Visigoth origin and is the Hispanic form of Hrodric, meaning “renown, power.” Ruiz is also a short form of Rodrigo and means “son of Rodrigo.”

  • Origin: Spanish
  • Meaning: Son of Ruy
  • Pronunciation: roo-EES
  • Variations: Roiz, Roize, Ruize
  • Popularity: Nicaragua has the highest density of Ruiz, with one in every 97 people carrying the name. It is the 194th most common surname in the world.
Patronymic, Cross-cultural


Salas stems from Sal and refers to a hall or family room, traditionally a meeting place for villages or families. This was similar to the feasting halls depicted in Hun legends.

  • Origin: Spanish
  • Meaning: Building
  • Pronunciation: SAH-lahss
  • Variations: Sala, Sàlàs
  • Popularity: Salas is most prevalent in Mexico, where over 200,000 people carry the surname.
Traditional, Descriptive


Denoting ownership of a grand house and lands, de Salazar became just Salazar in modern times. A rich heritage that can be traced back to a christening by King Philip III.

  • Origin: Spanish
  • Meaning: Manor house, corral
  • Pronunciation: SA-luh-zar
  • Variations: Salaz, Salasar, de Salazar
  • Namesakes: Rosa Bianca Salazar, a Canadian-American actress known for the NBC series Parenthood.
  • Popularity: Salazar is the 351st most common last name worldwide.
Noble, Musical


Salt was a source of wealth in ancient times. People named Salinas shaped their identity based on their proximity to these natural landmarks.

  • Origin: Spanish
  • Meaning: Worker in a salt mine
  • Pronunciation: sah-LEE-nahs
  • Variations: Salina, Sala, Saliñas
  • Popularity: Salinas has its highest density in Paraguay, where it is also the 70th most common surname.
Occupational, Nature-inspired


Sanchez is used as a given name and surname. Sanchez took on a spiritual meaning from its Latin root “sanctus,” and is very popular in the largely Christian Hispanic nations.

  • Origin: Spanish
  • Meaning: Son of Sancto, sanctified
  • Pronunciation: SAHN-ches
  • Variations: Sans, Sáenz, Sánguez
  • Popularity: Sanchez is the most common surname in Puerto Rico, with one in every 28 people bearing the name.
Traditional, Strong


Sandoval is said to stem from the holy valley. Sandoval would name their place of origin Sandoval because the land name denotes freshly cleared land. Such land would be used for agriculture and settling.

  • Origin: Spanish
  • Meaning: Holy valley, grove
  • Pronunciation: sahn-do-VALL
  • Variations: Sandobal, de Sandobal, Sandovel
  • Popularity: Sandoval is a fairly common name worldwide, ranked 629th. It has its highest density in Chile, where it is the 49th most common surname.
Geographic, Traditional


Serrano refers to someone who lives near a “Sierra,” the Spanish word for a “saw-shaped mountain,” and is derived from the Latin “serrago.” Serrano is thought to be a Castilian name from the mountains of Burgos. The Serrano family name is frequently found in the state of Nevada and can also be found in the Philippines and Italy.

  • Origin: Spanish
  • Meaning: Dwells near a mountain ridge
  • Pronunciation: seh-RAH-no
  • Variations: Serano, Sarano
  • Namesakes: Nestor Serrano, an American film and television actor, famous for his role in the series 24.
  • Popularity: Serrano is a fairly popular surname, ranked #736 worldwide.
Nature-inspired, Ancient
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Solis means “sun” and “plot” and is the namesake of old, beautiful, sunny places to dwell. Solis stems from several villages throughout Spain named from the root word “soler.”

  • Origin: Spanish, English
  • Meaning: Sun
  • Pronunciation: so-LEEZ
  • Variations: Soliz, Soler, Solé
  • Namesakes: Felix Angel Solis, an American actor known for his appearances on series like The West Wing, OZ, and The Sopranos.
  • Popularity: Solis is fairly popular worldwide, ranked #795.
Geographic, Ancient


Soto denotes a thicket or grove on a river bank which conjures images of beautiful Spanish rural countryside. Soto originally referred to fertile pasture land containing forest or woods from the Latin “saltus.”

  • Origin: Spanish
  • Meaning: Grove or small wood
  • Pronunciation: SO-toe
  • Variations: de Soto, Desoto, Sota
  • Popularity: Soto is the 6th most common surname in Chile.
Strong, Ancient


“Talamo” is the “bridal bed,” and the suffix “ante” brings back medieval times when marriages were made for alliances. Bridal chambers were central to social advancement. Talamantes hailed from a village in Zaragoza and is exotic, even by Hispanic measures.

  • Origin: Spanish
  • Meaning: Bridal chamber
  • Pronunciation: tuh-luh-MUHN-tehs
  • Variations: Talamentez, Talamente
  • Popularity: A rare surname globally, ranked #33,776 worldwide.
Patronymic, Inspirational


Toledano is a Sephardic family name, which marked the bearer as coming from Toledo. Though the name was Jewish, non-Jews kept the name after Jews were expelled from Spain in the 15th-century.

  • Origin: Spanish, Jewish
  • Meaning: From Toledo
  • Pronunciation: toh-LEH-dah-no
  • Variations: Toliba, Toledo, Tolomella
  • Popularity: Toledano has its highest prevalence in Spain, where it is the 878th most common surname.
Cross-cultural, Geographic


Torres is a very cosmopolitan last name that starts with T. In the 13th-century, the bearer would have owned a fortified castle or tower, giving Torres an air of nobility and grand history.

  • Origin: Spanish, Italian, Jewish, Portuguese
  • Meaning: Dweller near a tower or spire
  • Pronunciation: toe-ress
  • Variations: Torrez, de la Torre, Turre
  • Namesakes: Fernando José Torres Sanz, a Spanish football manager and former player who, due to his consistent goalscoring rate, was nicknamed El Niño.
  • Popularity: ​​Torres is the 65th most common Hispanic last name in the U.S.
Geographic, Ancestral


Those who lived near borders, or “trevena” in old English, often took the name Trevino back with them to their villages. These were not fence-sitters; the name referred to close residences to stones or boundary markers.

  • Origin: Spanish
  • Meaning: Dweller near a boundary stone of three districts
  • Pronunciation: treh-VEE-no
  • Variations: de Treviño, Treviña, Trebiño
  • Namesakes: Lee Buck Trevino, an American retired professional golfer regarded as one of the greatest players in golf history.
  • Popularity: Trevino is a surname most commonly found in the US, where it is fairly popular, ranked #656.
Geographic, Traditional


The “turro-julio” was a citadel named after its founder, Julius Caesar. It became a notable landmark for those residing nearby. This meant that the bearer came from the tower of Julius, and the name was eventually simplified to Trujillo.

  • Origin: Spanish
  • Meaning: One who comes from Trujillo
  • Pronunciation: troo-HEE-yo
  • Variations: de Trujillo, Trujillos, Trullo
  • Popularity: Trujillo ranked #139 most common surname in Mexico.
Musical, Traditional


Urena derives from the Basque word “uranga,” meaning “water place.” The original location of the area in Salamanca is now deserted, but the city thrives and is known for its majestic views of the Tormes river.

  • Origin: Spanish
  • Meaning: One from Ureña
  • Pronunciation: Ure-AYN-nya
  • Variations: Urena, Urueña, Uranga
  • Popularity: Urena is a rare surname worldwide.


Referring to its location, “Val de Ese” was the valley of the river Ese, which became the patronymic Valdez around the 15th-century in the Americas. Wealthy families were known for setting up new territories in these areas.

  • Origin: Spanish
  • Meaning: Son of Baldo, from the valley
  • Pronunciation: vahl-DES
  • Variations: Valdés, Valdes
  • Popularity: Valdez is the 33rd most common surname in the Dominican Republic and the Philippines.
Strong, Noble


The Valientes hailed from an area in Spain known as “little Valencia” or “Valenzuela.” The area grew and became the site of many conflicts, which is possibly why people from the area were described as brave.

  • Origin: Spanish
  • Meaning: Brave
  • Pronunciation: Vah-lee-EHN-teh
  • Variations: Valenzuela, de Valenzuela, Valensuela
  • Popularity: Valiente is most prevalent in the Philippines, with over 16,700 people carrying this Spanish surname.
Descriptive, Nickname
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Thought to mean a small hut or cottage, Vargas families may have been sheep or goat herders. Early records state that the founder of the Vargas house was Ivan de Vargas, who fought as a knight in the reconquest of Madrid in 1083.

  • Origin: Spanish
  • Meaning: Steep hillside, thatch-roof hut
  • Pronunciation: VAR-guhs
  • Variations: Varga, Vargaz
  • Popularity: Vargas is widely popular and is the 2nd most popular surname in Costa Rica.
Geographic, Nature-inspired


The Basque origins of Vasquez are thought to have been a nickname for people who showed the cunning characteristics of the “vela” or “crow.” Thought to be a teasing nickname, it nevertheless stuck and spread with the wandering of the Basque people.

  • Origin: Portuguese, Spanish
  • Meaning: Shepherd, one from the Basque County
  • Pronunciation: VAHS-kes
  • Variations: Blasco, Velázquez, Vélez
  • Namesakes: Camille Vasquez, an American attorney known for representing actor Johnny Depp in the defamation case he brought against his ex-wife Amber Heard.
  • Popularity: In Peru, 1 in every 127 people is named Vasquez.
Occupational, Geographic


The Latin root name “velascus” describes Iberians or Basque people in Galicia. This was shortened to Vasco, and so in the Spanish tradition, the sons became Vazquez.

  • Origin: Spanish, Portuguese
  • Meaning: Son of Vasco
  • Pronunciation: VAHS-kays
  • Variations: Blas, Blásquez, Velasco
  • Popularity: Vazquez is a fairly common surname around the globe, belonging to more than 1,650,000 people.
Patronymic, Traditional


Vega was a very common name when last names came into being. Most people were serfs (agricultural laborers) or citizens under a Lord or King, and they took their names from where they lived, mostly in rural areas.

  • Origin: Spanish
  • Meaning: Dweller in the meadow
  • Pronunciation: VAY-guh
  • Variations: Vegas, de la Vega, Vegaz
  • Popularity: Vega is the 23rd most common surname in Puerto Rico.
Geographic, Traditional


Velasquez is the Spanish variation of Velasco derived from Germanic roots. Velasco, derived from “vigila,” which ironically meant “alert,” was a playful take on the reputation people likened to crows.

  • Origin: Spanish, Portuguese
  • Meaning: Son of Velasco, sluggish, slow, weak
  • Pronunciation: veh-LAS-kez
  • Variations: Vásquez, Velez
  • Namesakes: Patricia Carola Velásquez Semprún, a Venezuelan actress and model, known for portraying Anck-su-namun in The Mummy and The Mummy Returns.
  • Popularity: Velasquez has its highest density in Guatemala, which is also the country’s 12th most popular surname.
Patronymic, Nickname


The Visigoths left an imprint on Hispanic culture in the 5th-century, notably their names. In this case, the name derived from “Villa,” a combination of Visigoth words for “vigilant” and “war,” giving the bearer quite a fierce reputation.

  • Origin: Spanish, Portuguese
  • Meaning: Son of Vela, war-like
  • Pronunciation: veh-LEZ
  • Variations: Vélaz, Vella, Villareal
  • Namesakes: Luna Lauren Vélez, an American actress known for her roles in Showtime’s Dexter and HBO’s Oz.
  • Popularity: Velez is somewhat popular, ranked #1,525 globally.
Patronymic, Ancestral


Vicario derives from the Latin “vicarius,” which is the root for the English word “vicarious,” and the Hispanic “vicario.” Named as a stand-in for an official, this required high standing and a good reputation.

  • Origin: Spanish, Italian
  • Meaning: Vicar, substitute
  • Pronunciation: vuh-KAIR-ee-o
  • Variations: Vaca, Vacara, Vacca
  • Popularity: Only 13,976 people have Vicario as a surname worldwide, making it quite rare.
Occupational, Strong


To come from the Villareal, a royal estate, meant that the bearer would likely have some connection with the crown, and it was thus a name denoting nobility and prestige.

  • Origin: Spanish
  • Meaning: One from Villareal
  • Pronunciation: beel-yahr-ray-AHL
  • Variations: de Villarreal, Villa Real
  • Popularity: While Mexico has the most incidences of this surname at over 100,000 people, it is most common in Panama, where 1 in every 212 people bear the name.
Ancestral, Noble


The town of Zamora is directly taken from the Arabic “azemur,” which means “the wild olives.” The town is centered around its production. Taking their origins with them, Zamorano’s remembered their heritage, carrying the name of the terraced countryside to the Americas.

  • Origin: Spanish
  • Meaning: One from Zamora
  • Pronunciation: zah-mor-AHN-no
  • Variations: Zanora, Samora, Zamaura
  • Popularity: Zamorano is the 219th most common surname in Chile; nearly 17,000 people share the name.
Cross-cultural, Strong

Spanish Surnames FAQs

Why Do Spanish Have 2 Last Names?

If you look into Spanish last names, you will likely learn where someone you’re related to stayed and what they did hundreds of years ago.

Names are an important Spanish heritage, and that’s why, unlike in Western culture, women don’t lose their names when they get married; instead, they add their spousal name to their own, giving them two last names. A Spanish child will also take on the surname of their mother and father. When a child is born, they will take on one part of each parent’s last name, which is usually the father’s name on both sides.

What Are Rare Spanish Last Names?

Some of the most interesting, rare Spanish last names include Talamantes, Zugasti, Gallegos, and Colon.

Spaniards have spread across the globe for hundreds of years, taking their names with them and creating new combinations through marriage and births all the time.

Talamantes descend from the village of Borja, which has a population of less than 5,000. Zugasti is only carried by 20 people in Mexico and has a Basque origin, meaning “a grove of elm trees.”

What Are Famous Spanish Last Names?

Garcia is the most popular Spanish last name in the top 50 most common last names worldwide, reaching 47th place.

The following are also famous Spanish last names worldwide: Hernandez (56th) and Rodriguez (57th), followed by Lopez (59th) and Gonzalez (62nd).

The most historically famous Spanish last name belongs to King Philip II, whose full name was Felipe II de Habsburgo.

What Is the Longest Spanish Last Name?

The longest single Spanish family name is Larizubirrementeria-Legarretaechebarria, which is 39 characters. Still, it’s nothing compared to the Mexican name, Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y, which is 20 words long and has 122 characters!

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About the Author

Jennely Pershouse

Hi! I'm Jennely. My hands and my mind can't be still, and neither can my four-year-old and newborn. So, I'm either chasing them or my next project. I'm a qualified highschool teacher by profession and also have a master's degree in business management. Besides teaching, writing is my passion as I always learn something new in the process.