Lewis Last Name Popularity, Meaning and Origin

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

Lewis, 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 Lewis surname is from the 2010 census data.

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

The surname of Lewis derives from the pre-5th century Frankish given name Hludwig which is composed of two elements, Hlud (loud or famous) and wig (battle). Originating from the founder of the Frankish Dynasty and recorded in Roman Latin texts as Ludovicus and Chlodovechus, the name Hludwig is the root to a number of European given and surnames.

Chlodovechus in particular led to the creation of French names such as Clovis, Clouis and Louis. The Lewis spelling of the Louis name likely originated in England and Wales after being brought to the British Isles by the Normans in the 11th century.

There are other potential origins for the Lewis surname within the British Isles including as a derivation of the Welsh name Llewellyn. In the Gaelic names of Scotland and Ireland, the name Mac Lughaidh has also been anglicized and minimized to Lewis. Lughaidh is an Old Irish name meaning “brightness.”

Meriwether Lewis (August 18, 1774 – October 11, 1809) the famed explorer and partner of William Clark was born in Virginia. As part of the grand expedition, Lewis helped to map and discover the American West. Collecting vast amounts of information about the as yet uncharted lands including plant and animal specimens.

Clive Staples Lewis (29 November 1898 – 22 November 1963) better known as C.S. Lewis was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland. A notable writer and theologian Lewis is probably best remembered for his works such as Alice Through the Looking Glass. Lewis, however, wrote many other publications including a series of Christian and Theology texts.

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

According to the data, Lewis is ranked #29 in terms of the most common surnames in America.

The Lewis surname appeared 531,781 times in the 2010 census and if you were to sample 100,000 people in the United States, approximately 180.28 would have the surname Lewis.

We can also compare 2010 data for Lewis 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 29 26 10.91%
Count 531,781 509,930 4.20%
Proportion per 100k 180.28 189.03 -4.74%

Race and Ethnic Origin of People with the Last Name Lewis

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

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 Lewis was:

  • 58.23%, or 309,656 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic White Only".
  • 34.84%, or 185,273 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic Black Only".
  • 0.56%, or 2,978 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic Asian and Pacific Islander Only".
  • 1.20%, or 6,381 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic American Indian and Alaskan Native".
  • 2.58%, or 13,720 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic of Two or More Races".
  • 2.58%, or 13,720 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 Lewis has changed in the 10 years between the two census surveys.

2010 2000 Change (%)
White 58.23% 60.97% -4.60%
Black 34.84% 33.83% 2.94%
Asian and Pacific Islander 0.56% 0.45% 21.78%
American Indian and Alaskan Native 1.20% 1.14% 5.13%
Two or More Races 2.58% 1.97% 26.81%
Hispanic 2.58% 1.64% 44.55%

Data Source(s)

All of the data on this page is sourced from the Decennial Census survey, from the United States Census Bureau.