Adams Last Name Popularity, Meaning and Origin

In this article we'll look at the origin and meaning of the surname Adams and how popular it is in the United States. We'll also look at the race and ethnic origin of people in the United States who are named Adams.

Adams, like all of the names we have data for, is identified by the U.S. Census Bureau as a surname which has more than 100 occurrences in the United States in the Decennial Census survey. The most recent statistics we have for the Adams surname is from the 2010 census data.

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What is the Origin and Meaning of the Last Name Adams?

The surname of Adams is considered a patronymic name that means “of Adam.” As a name, Adam may originate from the Hebrew word adama or “earth.” It is most notably associated with biblical texts in the form of the first man on earth, Adam.

As a result of its biblical connections, the given name Adam became popular throughout Europe in the Middle Ages. In the 16th century governments started to introduce personal taxation so a better form of naming needed to be established. In the British Isles, especially in Wales, it became common to add the suffix “s” to the end of the given name of a person's father to indicate a person was the offspring of that man. Adams then would mean “of Adam” and would become the family name going forward.

In 1281 Alinor Adam was mentioned in the Assize Rolls of Cheshire, England. This was likely one of the earliest mentions of Adam being used as a family name. Throughout the 13th and 14th centuries, the Adams name in a number of spellings appears frequently in the English Midlands, Wales and Scotland.

John Quincy Adams (July 11, 1767 – February 23, 1848) was a diarist, statesman and lawyer but most notably the 6th President of the United States. Adams was born in Braintree, Massachusetts and was the son of John Adams, the 2nd President of the United States. Immersed in politics from a young age, Adams would accompany his father on diplomatic missions to Europe.

Serving first as a senator for Massachusetts Adams also had stints as an ambassador and secretary of State before winning the 1824 presidential election convincingly against General Andrew Jackson.

Where Does Adams Rank in the Most Common U.S. Names?

According to the data, Adams is ranked #42 in terms of the most common surnames in America.

The Adams surname appeared 427,865 times in the 2010 census and if you were to sample 100,000 people in the United States, approximately 145.05 would have the surname Adams.

We can also compare 2010 data for Adams to data from the previous census in 2000. The table below contains all of the statistics for both years in a side-by-side comparison.

2010 2000 Change (%)
Rank 42 39 7.41%
Count 427,865 413,086 3.51%
Proportion per 100k 145.05 153.13 -5.42%

Race and Ethnic Origin of People with the Last Name Adams

We also have some data on the ancestry of people with the surname Adams.

The below race categories are the modified race categories used in the Census Bureau's population estimates program. All people were categorized into six mutually exclusive racial and Hispanic origin groups: "White only", "Black only", "American Indian and Alaskan Native only", "Asian and Pacific Islander only", "Two or More Races", and "Hispanic".

For the most recent 2010 census data, the race/ethnic origin breakdown for Adams was:

  • 74.02%, or 316,706 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic White Only".
  • 19.90%, or 85,145 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic Black Only".
  • 0.56%, or 2,396 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic Asian and Pacific Islander Only".
  • 0.79%, or 3,380 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic American Indian and Alaskan Native".
  • 2.16%, or 9,242 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic of Two or More Races".
  • 2.57%, or 10,996 total occurrences, were "Hispanic Origin".

Note: Any fields showing (S) means the data was suppressed for privacy so that the data does not in any way identify any specific individuals.

Since we have data from the previous census in 2000, we can also compare the values to see how the popularity of Adams has changed in the 10 years between the two census surveys.

2010 2000 Change (%)
White 74.02% 76.17% -2.86%
Black 19.90% 19.20% 3.58%
Asian and Pacific Islander 0.56% 0.45% 21.78%
American Indian and Alaskan Native 0.79% 0.79% 0.00%
Two or More Races 2.16% 1.63% 27.97%
Hispanic 2.57% 1.76% 37.41%

Data Source(s)

All of the data on this page is sourced from the Decennial Census survey, from the United States Census Bureau.

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