Nguyen Last Name Popularity, Meaning and Origin

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

Nguyen, 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 Nguyen surname is from the 2010 census data.

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

The surname of Nguyen is of Vietnamese origin and may derive phonetically from the Chinese word ruan which is a musical instrument. It is not clear exactly when the name originated but there are mentions in the text of Nguyen as a surname as early as 317.

In the 16th century the Nguyen Lords of Dang Trong, Vietnam, claimed descent from the Than Hao Province. As a clan the Nguyen supported Le Loi in his bid for independence from the Ming Dynasty from 1419 -1423. This support helped cement the clan as a major political power in Vietnam.

It is probable that the popularity of the Nguyen surname may have been heavily influenced by the Nguyen Dynasty. The final great Vietnamese Dynasty, the Nguyen ruled largely independently from 1802 to 1884. The name may have been inherited through relation to the family but also may have been taken in homage.

Nguyen Sinh Cung (19 May 1890 – 2 September 1969) was better known by the name Hồ Chí Minh. A Vietnamese revolutionary and politician, Nguyen was well traveled and has left a lasting legacy on the country of Vietnam. After years of studying abroad, in 1941, Mguyen returned to Vietnam to take part in the country's independence struggle. Considered responsible for the deaths of millions, Nguyen is an infamous figure.

Phanxicô Xaviê Nguyễn Văn Thuận (17 April 1928 – 16 September 2002) was the nephew of South Vietnam's first president as well as Archbishop Ngô Đình Thục. As a teenager, he joined the seminary and was ordained a priest in 1953. In 1967 he was appointed Bishop of Nha Trang. Serving an illustrious career in the catholic church in 2017 Pope Francis started the process of canonization for Nguyen some 15 years after his death.

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

According to the data, Nguyen is ranked #38 in terms of the most common surnames in America.

The Nguyen surname appeared 437,645 times in the 2010 census and if you were to sample 100,000 people in the United States, approximately 148.36 would have the surname Nguyen.

We can also compare 2010 data for Nguyen 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 38 57 -40.00%
Count 437,645 310,125 34.11%
Proportion per 100k 148.36 114.96 25.37%

Race and Ethnic Origin of People with the Last Name Nguyen

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

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 Nguyen was:

  • 0.95%, or 4,158 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic White Only".
  • 0.12%, or 525 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic Black Only".
  • 96.45%, or 422,109 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic Asian and Pacific Islander Only".
  • 0.03%, or 131 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic American Indian and Alaskan Native".
  • 1.83%, or 8,009 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic of Two or More Races".
  • 0.63%, or 2,757 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 Nguyen has changed in the 10 years between the two census surveys.

2010 2000 Change (%)
White 0.95% 1.26% -28.05%
Black 0.12% 0.18% -40.00%
Asian and Pacific Islander 96.45% 95.93% 0.54%
American Indian and Alaskan Native 0.03% 0.04% -28.57%
Two or More Races 1.83% 2.01% -9.37%
Hispanic 0.63% 0.58% 8.26%

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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  • "Nguyen Last Name Popularity, Meaning and Origin". NameCensus.com. Accessed on February 6, 2023. https://namecensus.com/last-names/nguyen-surname-popularity/.

  • "Nguyen Last Name Popularity, Meaning and Origin". NameCensus.com, https://namecensus.com/last-names/nguyen-surname-popularity/. Accessed 6 February, 2023

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