Chow last name popularity, history, and meaning

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

Meaning of Chow

A Chinese occupational surname referring to a chef, cook, or someone who works with food.

Chow, 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 Chow surname is from the 2010 census data.

Popularity of Chow in America

Chow is the 2122nd most popular name in America based on the data we have collected from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The Chow surname appeared 17,059 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 Chow.

We can also compare 2010 data for Chow 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 2122 2124 -0.09%
Count 17,059 15,650 8.62%
Proportion per 100k 5.78 5.80 -0.35%

The history of the last name Chow

The surname Chow originated in China, with the earliest known records dating back to the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD). It is derived from the Chinese word "zhou," which refers to a prefecture or administrative division during ancient times. The name is believed to have originated in various regions across China, including Zhejiang, Guangdong, and Fujian provinces.

One of the earliest recorded instances of the surname Chow can be found in the "Qing Bai Lei Chao," a compilation of historical records from the Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD). This text mentions individuals with the surname Chow holding various official positions within the imperial government.

During the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 AD), the name Chow gained prominence in the southern regions of China. Notable individuals from this period include Chow Hsing-Chih (1593-1638), a renowned scholar and calligrapher, and Chow Qing-Yuan (1537-1612), a prominent Confucian philosopher and writer.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, many individuals with the surname Chow immigrated to various parts of the world, including the United States, Canada, and Southeast Asia. One of the earliest documented Chows in the United States was Chow Ah Chew (1828-1910), a merchant and community leader in San Francisco's Chinatown.

Another notable figure was Anna May Wong (1905-1961), a Chinese-American actress who became the first Asian-American leading lady in Hollywood. She was born Wong Liu Tsong and later adopted the stage name Anna May Wong.

Other famous individuals with the surname Chow include Chow Yun-Fat (born 1955), a renowned Hong Kong actor known for his roles in films like "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" and "The Replacements," and Steven Chow (born 1962), a celebrated Hong Kong actor, filmmaker, and comedian known for his work in the "Kung Fu Hustle" and "Shaolin Soccer" movies.

The surname Chow has also been associated with various place names in China, such as Chow Hsien (or Zhou Xian) in Henan Province and Chow Shan (or Zhou Shan) in Zhejiang Province. These place names likely derived from the administrative divisions or prefectures that existed during ancient times.

Race and ethnic origin of people with the last name Chow

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

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 Chow was:

Race/Ethnicity Percentage Total Occurrences
Non-Hispanic White Only 3.51% 599
Non-Hispanic Black Only 0.59% 101
Non-Hispanic Asian and Pacific Islander Only 87.04% 14,848
Non-Hispanic American Indian and Alaskan Native 0.04% 7
Non-Hispanic of Two or More Races 4.79% 817
Hispanic Origin 4.03% 687

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

2010 2000 Change (%)
White 3.51% 3.55% -1.13%
Black 0.59% 0.59% 0.00%
Asian and Pacific Islander 87.04% 88.97% -2.19%
American Indian and Alaskan Native 0.04% 0.10% -85.71%
Two or More Races 4.79% 3.73% 24.88%
Hispanic 4.03% 3.06% 27.36%

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 Chow was researched and written by our team of onomatology and genealogy experts.

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

Reference this page

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If you found the data or information on this page useful in your research, please use the tool below to properly cite or reference Name Census as the source. We appreciate your support!

"Chow last name popularity, history, and meaning". Accessed on July 13, 2024.

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