Phillips Last Name Popularity, Meaning and Origin

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

Phillips, 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 Phillips surname is from the 2010 census data.

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

The surname of Phillips is originally of Greek extraction coming from the word Philippos. A compound of the two words philein, meaning “to love” and hippos or horse, it essentially translates to “horse lover.” It was largely due to the father of Alexander the Great, Phillip of Macedon (382 BC - 336 BC) that the name became popular as a given name throughout Europe.

Phillips as a surname is a patronymic version of the Phillip given name. The addition of the “s” as a suffix on the name creates the meaning “son of Phillip.” The original bearers of this family name were likely the son or ward of a man named Phillip.

The popularity of the name Phillip throughout Europe did lead to several surnames being created which are similar to Phillips. Some Phillips lines may come from non-English speaking countries and have anglicized their name from Fillipi (Italian) or Filipowicz (Polish).

In 1273 Alicia Philippes was recorded in the “Hundred Rolls” of Huntingdonshire. This was likely the first record of the name in use as a family name.

Augustine Phillips (died May 1605) was an Elizabethan actor and contemporary of William Shakespeare. Phillips is considered to be among the first generation of actors who managed to amass wealth and status through his profession.

One of the six shareholders in the Globe Theater when it was built in 1598, over time this investment brought him a great deal of wealth. In 1601 Phillips testified in front of the Privy Council regarding the theater group's connection to the Earl of Sussex uprising. They had merely performed Richard II for a group of Sussex supporters prior to the uprising so they were found innocent of wrongdoing.

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

According to the data, Phillips is ranked #52 in terms of the most common surnames in America.

The Phillips surname appeared 360,802 times in the 2010 census and if you were to sample 100,000 people in the United States, approximately 122.31 would have the surname Phillips.

We can also compare 2010 data for Phillips 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 52 47 10.10%
Count 360,802 351,848 2.51%
Proportion per 100k 122.31 130.43 -6.43%

Race and Ethnic Origin of People with the Last Name Phillips

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

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 Phillips was:

  • 76.69%, or 276,699 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic White Only".
  • 17.09%, or 61,661 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic Black Only".
  • 0.58%, or 2,093 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic Asian and Pacific Islander Only".
  • 1.03%, or 3,716 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic American Indian and Alaskan Native".
  • 2.17%, or 7,829 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic of Two or More Races".
  • 2.44%, or 8,804 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 Phillips has changed in the 10 years between the two census surveys.

2010 2000 Change (%)
White 76.69% 78.95% -2.90%
Black 17.09% 16.36% 4.36%
Asian and Pacific Islander 0.58% 0.45% 25.24%
American Indian and Alaskan Native 1.03% 0.99% 3.96%
Two or More Races 2.17% 1.68% 25.45%
Hispanic 2.44% 1.58% 42.79%

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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  • "Phillips Last Name Popularity, Meaning and Origin". Accessed on December 2, 2023.

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