Moore Last Name Popularity, Meaning and Origin

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

Moore, 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 Moore surname is from the 2010 census data.

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

The surname Moore is most likely a topographic which denotes the place a person lived. Deriving from the Middle English (10th-15th centuries) word "more," which meant a moor, marsh or fen, it likely suggested that a person lived near such an area. Alternatively, the name of the place they lived may involve the word moor.

A second possible origin could be from the Latin Maurus which was used as a descriptor for the people from northwest Africa. In Medieval England, the term moor, meaning a person from Africa, was sometimes used as a nickname for any swarthy or dark-complexioned person.

The Latin word Maurus was also used as a common name and was associated with a number of the early Christian saints including St. Maurus the 6th century son of a Roman nobleman who was born in Africa.

There are also Scottish, Welsh and Irish origins for the name which have become anglicized from their original spelling to the English version of Moore. In Ireland, at one time there was the surname O’Mordha which is made up of "O’" meaning descendant of and the given name Mordha. In the Celtic languages of Scotland and Wales, the words mor (Scotland) and mowr (Wales) both meant “large man.” These likely led to a nickname origin for some Moore families.

Early records of the Moore surname in use date to the late 11th century when William de More is listed in the 1086 Domesday Book. This manuscript was a grand census of the British Isles made in the two decades after the 1066 Norman Invasions.

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

According to the data, Moore is ranked #18 in terms of the most common surnames in America.

The Moore surname appeared 724,374 times in the 2010 census and if you were to sample 100,000 people in the United States, approximately 245.57 would have the surname Moore.

We can also compare 2010 data for Moore 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 18 16 11.76%
Count 724,374 698,671 3.61%
Proportion per 100k 245.57 259.00 -5.32%

Race and Ethnic Origin of People with the Last Name Moore

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

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 Moore was:

  • 66.41%, or 481,057 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic White Only".
  • 27.74%, or 200,941 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic Black Only".
  • 0.48%, or 3,477 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic Asian and Pacific Islander Only".
  • 0.68%, or 4,926 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic American Indian and Alaskan Native".
  • 2.34%, or 16,950 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic of Two or More Races".
  • 2.34%, or 16,950 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 Moore has changed in the 10 years between the two census surveys.

2010 2000 Change (%)
White 66.41% 68.85% -3.61%
Black 27.74% 26.92% 3.00%
Asian and Pacific Islander 0.48% 0.37% 25.88%
American Indian and Alaskan Native 0.68% 0.65% 4.51%
Two or More Races 2.34% 1.70% 31.68%
Hispanic 2.34% 1.50% 43.75%

Data Source(s)

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