Leon last name popularity, history, and meaning

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

Meaning of Leon

A Spanish surname derived from the Latin word "leo," meaning "lion," likely referring to a brave or fierce person.

Leon, 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 Leon surname is from the 2010 census data.

Popularity of Leon in America

Leon is the 363rd most popular name in America based on the data we have collected from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The Leon surname appeared 86,363 times in the 2010 census and if you were to sample 100,000 people in the United States, approximately 29 people would have the surname Leon.

We can also compare 2010 data for Leon 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 363 483 -28.37%
Count 86,363 62,034 32.79%
Proportion per 100k 29.28 23.00 24.02%

The history of the last name Leon

The surname Leon originated in Spain and is derived from the Latin name Leo, meaning "lion". It has its roots in the ancient Roman Empire, where the lion was a symbol of strength and courage. The name Leon likely emerged during the Visigothic Kingdom in the Iberian Peninsula, which lasted from the 5th to the 8th century.

During the Reconquista, the period when Christian kingdoms gradually regained control of the Iberian Peninsula from the Moors, Leon became a prominent name associated with nobility and military prowess. The Kingdom of Leon, established in the 10th century, played a pivotal role in this period, and the name Leon gained significance as a symbol of power and resistance against the Moorish rulers.

One of the earliest recorded instances of the surname Leon can be found in the Becerro de las Behetrías, a medieval manuscript from the 14th century that documented landholdings and privileges in Castile. The document mentions individuals with the surname Leon, indicating its widespread use during that time.

The name Leon has also been associated with various place names across Spain, such as Leon, a city in the northwestern region of the country, and the province of the same name. These place names likely derived from the surname, reflecting the influence and presence of families bearing the name in those areas.

Throughout history, several notable figures have borne the surname Leon:

  1. Antonio de León Pinelo (1589-1660), a Spanish scholar and colonial administrator in the Americas.
  2. Fray Luis de León (1527-1591), a Spanish poet and theologian known for his contributions to the Spanish Renaissance literature.
  3. Diego de León (c. 1500-1569), a Spanish conquistador who participated in the conquest of Mexico alongside Hernán Cortés.
  4. Ponce de León (c. 1460-1521), a Spanish explorer and conquistador famous for leading the first European expedition to Florida and his search for the mythical Fountain of Youth.
  5. Alfonso X of Castile, also known as Alfonso the Wise (1221-1284), was a renowned king of Castile and Leon who patronized scholars and poets, contributing significantly to the development of the Castilian language and literature.

The surname Leon has a rich and enduring history, deeply rooted in the Iberian Peninsula and intertwined with the events that shaped the region's cultural and political landscapes over centuries. Its association with strength, nobility, and resistance against foreign rule has made it a prominent and respected name throughout Spain and beyond.

Race and ethnic origin of people with the last name Leon

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

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 Leon was:

Race/Ethnicity Percentage Total Occurrences
Non-Hispanic White Only 9.99% 8,628
Non-Hispanic Black Only 2.95% 2,548
Non-Hispanic Asian and Pacific Islander Only 1.04% 898
Non-Hispanic American Indian and Alaskan Native 0.37% 320
Non-Hispanic of Two or More Races 0.44% 380
Hispanic Origin 85.21% 73,590

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

2010 2000 Change (%)
White 9.99% 13.02% -26.34%
Black 2.95% 3.02% -2.35%
Asian and Pacific Islander 1.04% 1.16% -10.91%
American Indian and Alaskan Native 0.37% 0.45% -19.51%
Two or More Races 0.44% 0.71% -46.96%
Hispanic 85.21% 81.65% 4.27%

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

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

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"Leon last name popularity, history, and meaning". NameCensus.com. Accessed on July 22, 2024. http://namecensus.com/last-names/leon-surname-popularity/.

"Leon last name popularity, history, and meaning". NameCensus.com, http://namecensus.com/last-names/leon-surname-popularity/. Accessed 22 July, 2024

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

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