Leary last name popularity, history, and meaning

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

Meaning of Leary

Derived from the Irish surname Ó Laoghaire, meaning "descendant of Laoghaire," a personal name meaning "calf-herder."

Leary, 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 Leary surname is from the 2010 census data.

Popularity of Leary in America

Leary is the 2351st most popular name in America based on the data we have collected from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The Leary surname appeared 15,505 times in the 2010 census and if you were to sample 100,000 people in the United States, approximately 5 people would have the surname Leary.

We can also compare 2010 data for Leary 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 2351 2203 6.50%
Count 15,505 15,127 2.47%
Proportion per 100k 5.26 5.61 -6.44%

The history of the last name Leary

The surname Leary originated in Ireland, where it is an anglicized form of the Irish Gaelic name O'Laoghaire. The name derives from the Gaelic word "laoghaire," meaning "calf-herder" or "prosperous."

The name O'Laoghaire is associated with County Cork in southern Ireland, particularly the areas around Cork City and the Corca Laidhe region. It is thought to have originated as a hereditary surname among a family of cattle herders or traders in this region during the medieval period.

One of the earliest recorded instances of the name appears in the Annals of Inisfallen, a medieval chronicle of Irish history, which mentions an individual named Máel Muire Ua Laoghaire in the year 1028. The name is also found in the Annals of the Four Masters, another important historical source, referring to various individuals with the surname O'Laoghaire from the 12th to the 16th centuries.

The surname Leary emerged as an anglicized version of O'Laoghaire during the 16th and 17th centuries, as the use of English names and spellings became more widespread in Ireland. One of the earliest recorded individuals with the anglicized spelling was Dermot Leary, who was born around 1560 in County Cork.

Notable individuals with the surname Leary include:

  1. Timothy Leary (1920-1996), an American psychologist and writer known for his advocacy of psychedelic drugs and his catchphrase "Turn on, tune in, drop out."

  2. Denis Leary (born 1957), an American actor, comedian, and writer, known for his roles in movies like "The Ref" and TV shows like "Rescue Me."

  3. Nicky Leary (born 1966), an English rally car driver and former British Rally Champion.

  4. Brendan Leary (born 1962), an American actor and voice artist known for his work in video games and animated series.

  5. Patrick Leary (1834-1920), an Irish-born American politician who served as the 39th Governor of Kansas from 1885 to 1889.

While the name Leary has spread beyond Ireland and can be found in various parts of the world today, its origins lie in the ancient Irish clan of O'Laoghaire, with a long and rich history in County Cork and the surrounding regions.

Race and ethnic origin of people with the last name Leary

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

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 Leary was:

Race/Ethnicity Percentage Total Occurrences
Non-Hispanic White Only 80.79% 12,526
Non-Hispanic Black Only 14.58% 2,261
Non-Hispanic Asian and Pacific Islander Only 0.84% 130
Non-Hispanic American Indian and Alaskan Native 0.16% 25
Non-Hispanic of Two or More Races 1.56% 242
Hispanic Origin 2.07% 321

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

2010 2000 Change (%)
White 80.79% 83.12% -2.84%
Black 14.58% 13.62% 6.81%
Asian and Pacific Islander 0.84% 0.73% 14.01%
American Indian and Alaskan Native 0.16% 0.17% -6.06%
Two or More Races 1.56% 1.09% 35.47%
Hispanic 2.07% 1.26% 48.65%

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

If you have a correction or suggestion to improve the history of Leary, 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!

"Leary last name popularity, history, and meaning". NameCensus.com. Accessed on July 17, 2024. http://namecensus.com/last-names/leary-surname-popularity/.

"Leary last name popularity, history, and meaning". NameCensus.com, http://namecensus.com/last-names/leary-surname-popularity/. Accessed 17 July, 2024

Leary last name popularity, history, and meaning. NameCensus.com. Retrieved from http://namecensus.com/last-names/leary-surname-popularity/.

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