Turner Last Name Popularity, Meaning and Origin

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

Turner, 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 Turner surname is from the 2010 census data.

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

The surname of Turner is a classic example of an occupational name that becomes a family name over time. It derives from the Anglo-Norman French word torner which meant “to turn.” Those in the Turner profession would use wood, metal or bone to make small items on a machine known as a lather.

This name may also derive as a nickname for a fast runner. It may come from the Middle English words turnen or “turn” and "hare" which refers to the rabbit-like animal. Someone known to be fast may have received this as a nickname and it eventually became a family name.

There is one other potential origin that may derive from the official in charge of a tournament. In this case, it would derive from the Old French word tornie.

In naming practices for occupational names, a person would use the word for their occupation as a descriptive name for themselves, for example, John the Turner. This Turner name may pass to John's son if he takes up the same profession. Eventually, it becomes a family name as it is passed on regardless of the profession chosen by the descendants.

In 1180 Warner le Turnur is mentioned in the “Pipe Rolls” of London. This is the first recorded instance of the Turner surname. The surname arises in many regional records throughout the 11th and 12th centuries in a variety of spellings.

Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775 – 1851) was a world-renowned London born artist. Educated at the Royal Academy Schools Turner took his inspiration from 17th century Dutch artists such as Willem van der Velde. A great believer in abolishing slavery, some of Turner's most notable works critiqued the brutality of the slave trade.

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

According to the data, Turner is ranked #54 in terms of the most common surnames in America.

The Turner surname appeared 348,627 times in the 2010 census and if you were to sample 100,000 people in the United States, approximately 118.19 would have the surname Turner.

We can also compare 2010 data for Turner 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 54 49 9.71%
Count 348,627 335,663 3.79%
Proportion per 100k 118.19 124.43 -5.14%

Race and Ethnic Origin of People with the Last Name Turner

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

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 Turner was:

  • 64.25%, or 223,993 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic White Only".
  • 30.13%, or 105,041 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic Black Only".
  • 0.42%, or 1,464 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic Asian and Pacific Islander Only".
  • 0.60%, or 2,092 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic American Indian and Alaskan Native".
  • 2.38%, or 8,297 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic of Two or More Races".
  • 2.23%, or 7,774 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 Turner has changed in the 10 years between the two census surveys.

2010 2000 Change (%)
White 64.25% 66.67% -3.70%
Black 30.13% 29.31% 2.76%
Asian and Pacific Islander 0.42% 0.33% 24.00%
American Indian and Alaskan Native 0.60% 0.56% 6.90%
Two or More Races 2.38% 1.72% 32.20%
Hispanic 2.23% 1.40% 45.73%

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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  • "Turner Last Name Popularity, Meaning and Origin". NameCensus.com. Accessed on December 8, 2022. https://namecensus.com/last-names/turner-surname-popularity/.

  • "Turner Last Name Popularity, Meaning and Origin". NameCensus.com, https://namecensus.com/last-names/turner-surname-popularity/. Accessed 8 December, 2022

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