Chau Last Name Popularity, Meaning and Origin

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

Chau, 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 Chau surname is from the 2010 census data.

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

The surname of Chau seems to originate from the country of Vietnam and may derive from the common Chinese surnames Chow or Zhou. As a surname Zhou likely derives from the descendants of the Zhou Dynasty (1046 - 256 BC).

Lasting some 790 years, the Zhou was the longest-reigning Dynasty in China. The lineage of the Dynasty in myth dates back to the miraculous birth of Qi, “The Abandoned One.” Qi became a cultural hero and his descendants moved around a great deal. At one point parts of the clan settled in Zhou within the Wei River Valley.

Chau then is derived from Zhou which in myth at least was the name of a place making it a habitual surname. The greatest concentration of the Chau version of this name is found in Vietnam so it is logical to assume that this particular variant originates from that country. Centuries of Chinese occupation in Vietnam may explain a switch toward a different spelling or pronunciation of Zhou.

Chau Van Tiep (1738–1784) was a notable general serving under the first emperor of the unified Vietnamese monarchy Nguyen Anh. Born in Phu Yen, Chau was a master of martial arts and spoke both Siamese and Khmer.

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

According to the data, Chau is ranked #2,181 in terms of the most common surnames in America.

The Chau surname appeared 16,667 times in the 2010 census and if you were to sample 100,000 people in the United States, approximately 5.65 would have the surname Chau.

We can also compare 2010 data for Chau 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 2181 2498 -13.55%
Count 16,667 13,238 22.93%
Proportion per 100k 5.65 4.91 14.02%

Race and Ethnic Origin of People with the Last Name Chau

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

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 Chau was:

  • 1.64%, or 273 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic White Only".
  • (S), or less than 100 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic Black Only".
  • 94.44%, or 15,740 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic Asian and Pacific Islander Only".
  • (S), or less than 100 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic American Indian and Alaskan Native".
  • 1.83%, or 305 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic of Two or More Races".
  • 1.91%, or 318 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 Chau has changed in the 10 years between the two census surveys.

2010 2000 Change (%)
White 1.64% 1.58% 3.73%
Black (S) 0.20% 0.00%
Asian and Pacific Islander 94.44% 94.12% 0.34%
American Indian and Alaskan Native (S) 0.08% 0.00%
Two or More Races 1.83% 2.52% -31.72%
Hispanic 1.91% 1.51% 23.39%

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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  • "Chau Last Name Popularity, Meaning and Origin". Accessed on May 30, 2023.

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