Harris Last Name Popularity, Meaning and Origin

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

Harris, 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 Harris surname is from the 2010 census data.

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

The surname Harris derives from the common name Harry which itself is considered a pet name for Henry. A name German in origin, Henry derives from the word Heinrich which translates as “home ruler.”

Naming practices in the British Isles, which add an "s" to the end of a common name to create the meaning of “son of,” are likely in play with the name Harris. This means Harris essentially means “son of Harry.” This is most certainly the case in Scotland where the version of the surname that was favored is Harrison.

The root name Henry dates back to pre-7th century but was likely introduced to England after the Norman conquest of 1066. With the proximity of what is now Germany to the French coastal region of Normandy, it is likely individuals with the name Heinrich may have been among the Norman forces.

Official recordings in Medieval charters indicate that Harry developed as a nickname for Henry due to subtle changes in spelling. The name Nicholas Herri is listed in 1327 in the rolls for Worcestershire which is likely an odd spelling of Henry.

In 1406 a William Harrys is recorded in the Eynsham Cartulary of Oxford. Walter Harris (1647-1732) is recorded as the personal physician of King Charles II and the successive monarchs William and Queen Mary.

A notorious and notable bearer of the surname was Peter Harris, a British Buccaneer who died in 1680. Along with fellow captains Richard Sawkins and John Coxon, Harris plundered the mining town of Santa Maria near Panama city. It was a bloody campaign that saw them take on a strong Spanish force. Ultimately, the Buccaneers succeeded but Captain Peter Harris was killed in the attack.

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

According to the data, Harris is ranked #25 in terms of the most common surnames in America.

The Harris surname appeared 624,252 times in the 2010 census and if you were to sample 100,000 people in the United States, approximately 211.63 would have the surname Harris.

We can also compare 2010 data for Harris 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 25 24 4.08%
Count 624,252 593,542 5.04%
Proportion per 100k 211.63 220.02 -3.89%

Race and Ethnic Origin of People with the Last Name Harris

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

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 Harris was:

  • 51.40%, or 320,866 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic White Only".
  • 42.39%, or 264,620 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic Black Only".
  • 0.47%, or 2,934 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic Asian and Pacific Islander Only".
  • 0.67%, or 4,182 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic American Indian and Alaskan Native".
  • 2.80%, or 17,479 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic of Two or More Races".
  • 2.26%, or 14,108 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 Harris has changed in the 10 years between the two census surveys.

2010 2000 Change (%)
White 51.40% 53.88% -4.71%
Black 42.39% 41.63% 1.81%
Asian and Pacific Islander 0.47% 0.36% 26.51%
American Indian and Alaskan Native 0.67% 0.65% 3.03%
Two or More Races 2.80% 2.02% 32.37%
Hispanic 2.26% 1.45% 43.67%

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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  • "Harris Last Name Popularity, Meaning and Origin". NameCensus.com. Accessed on December 8, 2022. https://namecensus.com/last-names/harris-surname-popularity/.

  • "Harris Last Name Popularity, Meaning and Origin". NameCensus.com, https://namecensus.com/last-names/harris-surname-popularity/. Accessed 8 December, 2022

  • Harris Last Name Popularity, Meaning and Origin. NameCensus.com. Retrieved from https://namecensus.com/last-names/harris-surname-popularity/.