Cao last name popularity, history, and meaning

Find out how popular the last name Cao is in the United States and learn more about the meaning, history, and race and ethnic origin of people in America who are named Cao.

Meaning of Cao

A Chinese surname meaning "tall" or "high," or referring to someone living on a hill or elevated area.

Cao, like all of the last 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 Cao surname is from the 2010 census data.

Popularity of Cao in America

Cao is the 1989th most popular name in America based on the data we have collected from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The Cao surname appeared 18,138 times in the 2010 census and if you were to sample 100,000 people in the United States, approximately 6 people would have the surname Cao.

We can also compare 2010 data for Cao 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 1989 2986 -40.08%
Count 18,138 11,106 48.09%
Proportion per 100k 6.15 4.12 39.53%

The history of the last name Cao

The surname CAO is of Chinese origin, with roots dating back to ancient times. It is a monosyllabic family name that was initially used in various regions of China, particularly in the provinces of Guangdong, Guangxi, and Fujian.

The name CAO is believed to have derived from an ancient Chinese word meaning "grass" or "vegetation." This association likely stems from the agricultural background of many families bearing this surname, suggesting they may have been farmers or had a connection to the land.

Historical records indicate that the CAO surname appeared in documents as early as the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD). During this period, the name was sometimes written with different characters or spellings, such as Cao or Tsao, reflecting regional variations and changes in the Chinese writing system over time.

One notable early reference to the CAO surname can be found in the Zizhi Tongjian, a renowned historical text compiled during the Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD). This work mentions several individuals bearing the CAO surname, providing insights into their lives and contributions.

Among the earliest recorded individuals with the CAO surname was Cao Cao (155-220 AD), a famous warlord and politician during the Eastern Han Dynasty. He played a crucial role in the events that led to the Three Kingdoms period in ancient China.

Another prominent figure was Cao Xueqin (1715-1763), the author of the celebrated novel "Dream of the Red Chamber," which is considered one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature.

In the realm of arts and culture, Cao Yu (1910-1996) was a renowned Chinese playwright and author, known for his remarkable contributions to modern Chinese drama. His works, such as "Thunderstorm" and "Sunrise," explored themes of social inequality and family dynamics.

The CAO surname also has a strong presence in the field of science and technology. Cao Guoxing (1892-1986) was a distinguished Chinese physicist and educator who made significant contributions to the development of modern physics in China.

Additionally, the CAO surname has been associated with various place names throughout China's history. For example, the city of Caozhou (present-day Heze, Shandong Province) was named after a prominent CAO family that held influence in the region during the Tang Dynasty.

While the CAO surname has its origins in ancient China, it has since spread to other parts of the world through migration and cultural exchange. However, the rich history and significance of this name remain deeply rooted in Chinese culture and traditions.

Race and ethnic origin of people with the last name Cao

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

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:

  1. White only
  2. Black only
  3. American Indian and Alaskan Native only
  4. Asian and Pacific Islander only
  5. Hispanic
  6. Two or More Races

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

Race/Ethnicity Percentage Total Occurrences
Non-Hispanic White Only 1.38% 250
Non-Hispanic Black Only (S)% (S)
Non-Hispanic Asian and Pacific Islander Only 95.22% 17,271
Non-Hispanic American Indian and Alaskan Native (S)% (S)
Non-Hispanic of Two or More Races 1.05% 190
Hispanic Origin 2.12% 385

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 Cao has changed in the 10 years between the two census surveys.

2010 2000 Change (%)
White 1.38% 1.85% -29.10%
Black (S)% (S)% (S)%
Asian and Pacific Islander 95.22% 93.73% 1.58%
American Indian and Alaskan Native (S)% (S)% (S)%
Two or More Races 1.05% 1.75% -50.00%
Hispanic 2.12% 2.32% -9.01%

Data source

The last name data and ethnic breakdown of last names is sourced directly from the Decennial Census survey, conducted every 10 years by the United States Census Bureau.

The history and meaning of the name Cao was researched and written by our team of onomatology and genealogy experts.

If you have a correction or suggestion to improve the history of Cao, please contact us.

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"Cao last name popularity, history, and meaning". Accessed on July 17, 2024.

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