List of Common Scottish Last Names and Their Meanings

Scottish surnames have a very interesting history behind their origins. In this Buzzle article, we will take a look at some of the most common Scottish last names and understand their meanings as well.
Advertisement
Common Scottish last name and its meaning
Did You Know?

The practice of using surnames came into existence around the 10th or 12th century, but it wasn't until the 15th or 16th century that it became a regular practice all over Scotland.
Before the practice of using surnames became prevalent, people used only their first names (forenames, as they were known in Scotland). However, this practice was soon replaced with using surnames along with the forename. There are 4 theories that highlight how these surnames came into use. Some surnames were based on the geographical location―the place that the family resided in. Though the practice first started with the noblemen adopting surnames based on the location, soon everyone else had taken to this practice as well.

Certain other surnames were derived from baptismal or Christian names and indicated family relationship or descent. Though some surnames were passed down as they were, others changed with every generation, according to the name of the father. This practice continued till the 15th or 16th century, till a name was finally adopted and continued.

There were certain other surnames that came into existence based on the occupation of the family, while there were some others which were based on certain nicknames or certain character traits or physical features of a person.

List of Popular Scottish Surnames

The following is a list of the most famous Scottish surnames and their meanings.

A-F
Anderson - Son of Andrew
Aiken - Adam (Man)
Allaway - Wild field
Allen - Fair and handsome
Armstrong - Strong arms
Bateson - Son of Batte
Black - Dark complexioned or dark haired
Blair - Battlefield
Boyd - From the Scottish island of Bute
Boyle - Pledge
Brown - Denoting color of skin or hair
Bruce - From Brix, a city in Normandy
Cameron - Crooked nose
Campbell - Having a crooked or wry mouth
Clark - Scholar, clerk, cleric
Cruickshank - Bent legs
Cummins - Descendant of Cuimin
Cunningham - Rabbit home
Davis - Son of David
Donne - Person with brown hair
Douglas - Dark river
Duff - Dark
Ewart - River enclosure
Fairbairn - Beautiful child
Faulkner - Falconer
Ferguson - Son of Fergus
Fleming - From Flanders
Forbes - Field
Forney - Someone who lives around ferns
Fraser - Strawberry

G-M
Gibson - Son of Gib
Glenn - Valley
Gordon - Spacious fort
Graham - Gray home
Grant - Grand, large, great, tall
Gray - Man with gray hair
Grieve - Farm manager
Hamilton - Fortified palace
Hay - High/Tall
Hepburn - High burial mound
Hill - Hill/Battle/Cheerful, glad
Holme - Living in a fen/near a holly tree
Hunter - Someone who hunted for a living
Jardine - One who worked as a gardener
Jones - Son of John
Kerr - From a rough, wet ground
Kidd - Young goat, kid
King - Tribal leader
Kyles - Person who lived by a strait
Leslie - Garden of holly
Lithgow - Pool, damp, hollow
Logan - Little hollow
Lusk - Cave
Macangus - Son of Angus
Macbeth - Son of life
Maguire - Pale-colored
Miller - Person who worked in a grain mill
Moore - One who lived near a moor
Murphy - Descendant of sea warrior
Murray - Seaboard settlement

N-Z
Neil - Champion/Cloud
Ness - Headland
Norris - From the north
Oliver - Olive tree
Paterson - Son of Patrick
Payne - Rustic/Villager
Pottinger - Apothecary
Quigley - Lovely
Rattray - Fortress town
Ready - From Reedie
Reily - Gregarious
Robertson - Son of Robert
Rose - Person with rosy complexion
Roy - Red-haired
Russel - Someone with red hair or a red face
Sangster - Singer/Song-maker
Shaw - A clearing in the trees
Simpson - Son of Sim
Sinclaire - Pure, illustrious, renowned
Smith - Blacksmith
Stevenson - Son of Stephen
Stewart - Manager at a noble's household
Taggart - Son of the priest
Thompson - Son of Thomp/Thom
Trask - Person from Thirsk
Underwood - Person who lives at the edge of the woods
Wallace - Foreigner, stranger
Wilson - Son of Will
Wood - One who worked in a forest or wood
Young - Young or youthful

It's rather interesting to note just how these surnames came to be, and how each one of them has a history and a rich meaning and derivation behind them.
By
Published: August 1, 2014
Post a Comment
Name:
Comments
Where is MacDonald? Should be on the list! - Jan MacDonald [October 24, 2014]