Dexter last name popularity, history, and meaning

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

Meaning of Dexter

One who dyes or one who is skilled at dyeing cloth or fabric.

Dexter, 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 Dexter surname is from the 2010 census data.

Popularity of Dexter in America

Dexter is the 3535th most popular name in America based on the data we have collected from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The Dexter surname appeared 10,099 times in the 2010 census and if you were to sample 100,000 people in the United States, approximately 3 people would have the surname Dexter.

We can also compare 2010 data for Dexter 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 3535 3390 4.19%
Count 10,099 9,660 4.44%
Proportion per 100k 3.42 3.58 -4.57%

The history of the last name Dexter

The surname Dexter originates from England and dates back to the medieval period. It is derived from the Old English word "dexter," meaning "right-handed" or "fortunate." The name was likely given as a descriptive nickname to someone who was particularly adept with their right hand or considered fortunate or skilled.

Dexter is a locational surname that may have originated from places named Dexter, such as the village of Dexter in Oxfordshire or the hamlet of Dexter in Devon. These place names are believed to have evolved from the Old English words "dexter" and "ora," meaning "right-hand shore" or "right-hand riverbank."

One of the earliest recorded instances of the surname Dexter appears in the Domesday Book of 1086, where it is mentioned as a place name in Somerset. This suggests that the surname was already in use at that time.

In the 13th century, a record from the Pipe Rolls of Gloucestershire mentions a person named William Dexter. Another early example is found in the Hundred Rolls of Bedfordshire from 1273, which includes the name Robertus Dextere.

Notable individuals with the surname Dexter throughout history include Samuel Dexter (1761-1816), an American lawyer and politician who served as the United States Secretary of War and the United States Secretary of the Treasury under President John Adams. Henry Dexter (1822-1890) was an American clergyman and writer who authored several books on Congregationalism.

Other notable Dexters include Samuel Dexter (1700-1770), an English nonconformist minister and author; Benjamin Dexter (1768-1844), an American physician and author; and Henry Martyn Dexter (1821-1890), an American Congregationalist clergyman and author.

During the 16th and 17th centuries, variations of the surname such as Dextar, Dexytre, and Dextor were also recorded in various parish registers and historical documents across England.

Race and ethnic origin of people with the last name Dexter

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

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 Dexter was:

Race/Ethnicity Percentage Total Occurrences
Non-Hispanic White Only 83.87% 8,470
Non-Hispanic Black Only 10.82% 1,093
Non-Hispanic Asian and Pacific Islander Only 0.62% 63
Non-Hispanic American Indian and Alaskan Native 0.71% 72
Non-Hispanic of Two or More Races 2.08% 210
Hispanic Origin 1.89% 191

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

2010 2000 Change (%)
White 83.87% 85.62% -2.07%
Black 10.82% 10.65% 1.58%
Asian and Pacific Islander 0.62% 0.51% 19.47%
American Indian and Alaskan Native 0.71% 0.70% 1.42%
Two or More Races 2.08% 1.36% 41.86%
Hispanic 1.89% 1.16% 47.87%

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

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

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

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