Chavez Last Name Popularity, Meaning and Origin

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

Chavez, 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 Chavez surname is from the 2010 census data.

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

It is thought that the surname Chavez may derive from the Portuguese word for keys (Chaves) or the Spanish Latin version (Clavis). This may be an occupational surname to denote someone who makes keys. Another possible origin for the name is someone who comes from the Portuguese town of Chaves. Exactly where the name originated is unclear but Spain and Portugal seem the most likely places.

Federico Chavez (1881-1978) is a notable holder of this family name. A soldier and politician, Federico was also a student of law, earning his degree in 1905. In 1946, Chavez was appointed to the Supreme Court of Paraguay and between 1947-1949 he was foreign minister for the country. It was in 1949 that Federico assumed the presidency of Paraguay, an office he held until 1954.

Composer and conductor Carlos Chavez (1899-1978) was born in Mexico City. At the age of 16, Carlos completed his first symphony, Sinfonia. Then in 1921, Chavez completed the ballet El Fuego Nuevo, which was his first significant work in a Mexican style. His unique works were unmistakably Mexican in their inspiration but also used elements from Indigenous music as well.

Cesar Chavez (1927-1993) was born in Arizona and spent much of his early working life as a farm laborer. Chavez saw hardship with his family during the Great Depression and served in the navy during WWII. Cesar was a staunch believer in workers' rights and after the war, he started to learn organization skills. In 1965 Chavez led his first strike which lasted 5 years but led to deep reform in the grape picking industry.

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

According to the data, Chavez is ranked #83 in terms of the most common surnames in America.

The Chavez surname appeared 250,898 times in the 2010 census and if you were to sample 100,000 people in the United States, approximately 85.06 would have the surname Chavez.

We can also compare 2010 data for Chavez 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 83 118 -34.83%
Count 250,898 185,865 29.78%
Proportion per 100k 85.06 68.90 20.99%

Race and Ethnic Origin of People with the Last Name Chavez

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

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 Chavez was:

  • 5.02%, or 12,595 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic White Only".
  • 0.21%, or 527 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic Black Only".
  • 0.65%, or 1,631 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic Asian and Pacific Islander Only".
  • 0.94%, or 2,358 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic American Indian and Alaskan Native".
  • 0.23%, or 577 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic of Two or More Races".
  • 92.96%, or 233,235 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 Chavez has changed in the 10 years between the two census surveys.

2010 2000 Change (%)
White 5.02% 5.65% -11.81%
Black 0.21% 0.21% 0.00%
Asian and Pacific Islander 0.65% 0.59% 9.68%
American Indian and Alaskan Native 0.94% 1.15% -20.10%
Two or More Races 0.23% 0.43% -60.61%
Hispanic 92.96% 91.98% 1.06%

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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