Thompson Last Name Popularity, Meaning and Origin

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

Thompson, 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 Thompson surname is from the 2010 census data.

Unlocking Your Past (On Sale!)

Discover the untold stories of your family and feel the heartwarming connection to your ancestors.

My new eBook is a comprehensive guide to family history research that helps you turn the complex task of tracing your family tree into a manageable and rewarding journey.

Experience the joy of piecing together the puzzle using historical records, online tools, and DNA research and the pride of preserving these stories for future generations of your family!

Buy Now (50% Discount) →

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

The surname Thompson is a patronymic name that literally means “son of Thomas.” The Scandinavian inspired naming practices of Scotland and Northern England likely led to the creation of the Thompson name.

As a given name Thomas comes from the Aramaic word for “the twin.” The spread of the name Thomas throughout Europe is largely due to the disciple of Jesus who bore that name and who was known as the doubting apostle. In early Christian Europe, the name was only popular among priests and monks. It was after The Crusades and the martyring of the Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Becket in 1170 that the name became truly popular among the commoners.

In England and Ireland, the name is spelled with a P, likely because this helps with the pronunciation. Scottish bearers of the name usually favor Thomson without the P. This may serve to differentiate the origin of the various Thompson lines.

The first recorded Thomson is listed in the Annals of Scotland during the reign of Robert the Bruce. John Thomson is mentioned in these records in 1318. It was in 1349 that a different John Thompson is recorded in the Charters of Whitby Abbey, this time with the English spelling of the name.

Sir William Thompson (10 April 1614–1681) is a notable bearer of the surname. Born in Hertfordshire, William Thompson, along with his three brothers, grew up to be a successful businessman. Sir William, however, went even further and became a Member of Parliament for the city of London, a post he held from (1661-1679).

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

According to the data, Thompson is ranked #23 in terms of the most common surnames in America.

The Thompson surname appeared 664,644 times in the 2010 census and if you were to sample 100,000 people in the United States, approximately 225.32 would have the surname Thompson.

We can also compare 2010 data for Thompson 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 23 19 19.05%
Count 664,644 644,368 3.10%
Proportion per 100k 225.32 238.87 -5.84%

Race and Ethnic Origin of People with the Last Name Thompson

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

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 Thompson was:

  • 69.78%, or 463,789 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic White Only".
  • 23.57%, or 156,657 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic Black Only".
  • 0.57%, or 3,788 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic Asian and Pacific Islander Only".
  • 1.22%, or 8,109 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic American Indian and Alaskan Native".
  • 2.37%, or 15,752 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic of Two or More Races".
  • 2.49%, or 16,550 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 Thompson has changed in the 10 years between the two census surveys.

2010 2000 Change (%)
White 69.78% 72.48% -3.80%
Black 23.57% 22.53% 4.51%
Asian and Pacific Islander 0.57% 0.44% 25.74%
American Indian and Alaskan Native 1.22% 1.15% 5.91%
Two or More Races 2.37% 1.78% 28.43%
Hispanic 2.49% 1.62% 42.34%

Data Source(s)

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

Link To or Reference This Page

We spent a lot of time downloading, cleaning, merging, and formatting the data that is shown on the site.

If you found the data or information on this page useful in your research, please use the tool below to properly cite or reference Name Census as the source. We appreciate your support!

  • "Thompson Last Name Popularity, Meaning and Origin". Accessed on May 20, 2024.

  • "Thompson Last Name Popularity, Meaning and Origin"., Accessed 20 May, 2024

  • Thompson Last Name Popularity, Meaning and Origin. Retrieved from