Tai Last Name Popularity, Meaning and Origin

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

Tai, 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 Tai surname is from the 2010 census data.

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

The surname Tai is found in use in several cultures within Asia. It is likely a derivative of the Chinese surname Dai which translates as “to wear.” The Tai spelling of the name is a Romanized version of the name Dai. An alternate source for this name may come from the Chinese legend of Hou Ji. The legend suggests that Hou Ji is credited with introducing millet (a staple food grain) to humanity. As part of Ji’s reward for this, he was given dominion over a place known as Tai.

Tai is also a surname found in Arabic speaking countries and may be an ancient tribal name. The Tayy were a large and ancient Arab tribe whose descendants make up the modern-day Shammar tribe. Originally found in Yemen from the late 2nd century onward, mention of this tribe is found in Roman texts as the Taeni. This may have led to the Romanization of the Tayy name to Tai.

Hatim Al-Tai was a 6th century prince of the Tayy tribe who is mentioned in the Hadiths of Mohammad as well as the Arabian Nights. As well as a ruler, Hatim was also a poet and much beloved by his people for his generosity. An Arabic proverb was inspired by Al-Tai "more generous than Hatim."

Abu Sulaiman Dawud ibn Nusair Al-Tai was an 8th century Islamic scholar and Sufi mystic. Al-Tai was a noted student of the Sunni Muslim Theologian Abu Hanifa. Considered an influential teacher and mystic, his disciples include accomplished Muslim mathematicians and philosophers.

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

According to the data, Tai is ranked #7,553 in terms of the most common surnames in America.

The Tai surname appeared 4,401 times in the 2010 census and if you were to sample 100,000 people in the United States, approximately 1.49 would have the surname Tai.

We can also compare 2010 data for Tai 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 7553 8171 -7.86%
Count 4,401 3,732 16.45%
Proportion per 100k 1.49 1.38 7.67%

Race and Ethnic Origin of People with the Last Name Tai

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

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 Tai was:

  • 3.86%, or 170 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic White Only".
  • 3.18%, or 140 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic Black Only".
  • 86.18%, or 3,793 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic Asian and Pacific Islander Only".
  • 0.23%, or 10 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic American Indian and Alaskan Native".
  • 4.79%, or 211 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic of Two or More Races".
  • 1.75%, or 77 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 Tai has changed in the 10 years between the two census surveys.

2010 2000 Change (%)
White 3.86% 4.66% -18.78%
Black 3.18% 2.60% 20.07%
Asian and Pacific Islander 86.18% 86.52% -0.39%
American Indian and Alaskan Native 0.23% (S) 0.00%
Two or More Races 4.79% 5.04% -5.09%
Hispanic 1.75% (S) 0.00%

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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  • "Tai Last Name Popularity, Meaning and Origin". NameCensus.com. Accessed on August 11, 2022. https://namecensus.com/last-names/tai-surname-popularity/.

  • "Tai Last Name Popularity, Meaning and Origin". NameCensus.com, https://namecensus.com/last-names/tai-surname-popularity/. Accessed 11 August, 2022

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