Wright Last Name Popularity, Meaning and Origin

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

Wright, 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 Wright surname is from the 2010 census data.

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

The surname of Wright originates from one the first profession-based family names. Based on the Old English pre – 7th century word wyrhta or “craftsman,” which itself derives from wyrcan or “work or construct,” it is associated with jobs that require making machinery or objects out of wood.

Wyrhta is the root for several profession-based names including Cartwright, wheelwright and millwright. When wright is used on its own, however, it most likely indicates that the original bearer of the name built wind or water mills.

There is a second more recent origin which may apply to some Wright families, deriving from the French word droit or “right.” Often used as a nickname for an upright person, this likely became a family name over time. Errors in translation between French and English may mean that some Droit families' names could become Anglicized to Wright instead of the literal directional meaning, right.

Abraham Wright (23 December 1611 – 9 May 1690) was a writer of theology and deacon. A scholar at St. John’s College, Oxford, he was elected as a fellow in 1632. When King Charles I visited the college in 1636 Wright made a speech and acted in a play performed in the king's honor. Wright became a Deacon in 1637 and later an ordained Priest. On many occasions Wright preached in front of the king and was favored by Charles I.

Orville Wright (August 19, 1871 – January 30, 1948) and Wilbur Wright (April 16, 1867 – May 30, 1912), more commonly known as the Wright Brothers, lived up to their family name by being makers. Neither brother graduated high school but this did not stop their entrepreneurial spirit. At the height of the bicycle craze the Wright brothers opened a repair shop to cash in. It was years later, however, that they cemented their legacy. On December 17th 1903 the brothers performed their iconic first powered flights.

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

According to the data, Wright is ranked #35 in terms of the most common surnames in America.

The Wright surname appeared 458,980 times in the 2010 census and if you were to sample 100,000 people in the United States, approximately 155.60 would have the surname Wright.

We can also compare 2010 data for Wright 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 35 34 2.90%
Count 458,980 440,367 4.14%
Proportion per 100k 155.60 163.24 -4.79%

Race and Ethnic Origin of People with the Last Name Wright

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

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 Wright was:

  • 65.80%, or 302,009 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic White Only".
  • 28.23%, or 129,570 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic Black Only".
  • 0.51%, or 2,341 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic Asian and Pacific Islander Only".
  • 0.69%, or 3,167 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic American Indian and Alaskan Native".
  • 2.41%, or 11,061 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic of Two or More Races".
  • 2.36%, or 10,832 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 Wright has changed in the 10 years between the two census surveys.

2010 2000 Change (%)
White 65.80% 68.30% -3.73%
Black 28.23% 27.36% 3.13%
Asian and Pacific Islander 0.51% 0.40% 24.18%
American Indian and Alaskan Native 0.69% 0.66% 4.44%
Two or More Races 2.41% 1.75% 31.73%
Hispanic 2.36% 1.52% 43.30%

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

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

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