Campbell Last Name Popularity, Meaning and Origin

In this article we'll look at the origin and meaning of the surname Campbell 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 Campbell.

Campbell, 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 Campbell surname is from the 2010 census data.

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

The surname Campbell is of ancient Scottish origin and is from the Gaelic nickname Caimbeul meaning “dam" “wry" or "crooked” + beul or “mouth.” Names bestowed as nicknames often related to where someone was from, their occupation or something notable about the person based on appearance or character. The original bearer of the Campbell name may have had a crooked smile, a facial defect or perhaps a character of insincerity.

Who the original Campbell may have been is uncertain but the Clan Campbell of Scotland believe they originate from Argyll. They believe their original name was Clana Duibhne and that the original Campbell married into their clan.

In the 1263 Exchequer Rolls of Scotland, Gillespic Cambel is recorded. This is likely one of the first recordings of a modern spelling of this family name. The name is found throughout Scotland in the preceding centuries.

Thomas Campbell (27 July 1777 – 15 June 1844) was born in Glasgow the grandson of the last Laird of Kirnan Argyll. Although influential, his family was not rich which is why Thomas had to pay his own way whilst studying law in Edinburgh. Campbell did this as a tutor and writer. Among his notable works were “The Pleasures of Hope” and "Ye Mariners of England.”

Colonel Alexander Campbell of Possil (1754–1849) was a Scottish born soldier who entered the profession in 1769 as an ensign. Just one year later Campbell had become a lieutenant in the 2nd battalion Royals. Campbell's career saw service in Europe and as part of the British army in the Revolutionary wars. Ultimately Campbell rose to the rank of Colonel by 1813.

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

According to the data, Campbell is ranked #47 in terms of the most common surnames in America.

The Campbell surname appeared 386,157 times in the 2010 census and if you were to sample 100,000 people in the United States, approximately 130.91 would have the surname Campbell.

We can also compare 2010 data for Campbell 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 47 43 8.89%
Count 386,157 371,953 3.75%
Proportion per 100k 130.91 137.88 -5.19%

Race and Ethnic Origin of People with the Last Name Campbell

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

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 Campbell was:

  • 73.66%, or 284,443 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic White Only".
  • 20.47%, or 79,046 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic Black Only".
  • 0.53%, or 2,047 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic Asian and Pacific Islander Only".
  • 0.71%, or 2,742 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic American Indian and Alaskan Native".
  • 2.13%, or 8,225 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic of Two or More Races".
  • 2.49%, or 9,615 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 Campbell has changed in the 10 years between the two census surveys.

2010 2000 Change (%)
White 73.66% 76.47% -3.74%
Black 20.47% 19.13% 6.77%
Asian and Pacific Islander 0.53% 0.43% 20.83%
American Indian and Alaskan Native 0.71% 0.65% 8.82%
Two or More Races 2.13% 1.67% 24.21%
Hispanic 2.49% 1.65% 40.58%

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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