Yan last name popularity, history, and meaning

Find out how popular the last name Yan is in the United States and learn more about the meaning, history, and race and ethnic origin of people in America who are named Yan.

Meaning of Yan

A Chinese surname meaning "swallow," as in the bird, or "flame," depending on the character used.

Yan, like all of the last 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 Yan surname is from the 2010 census data.

Popularity of Yan in America

Yan is the 3182nd most popular name in America based on the data we have collected from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The Yan surname appeared 11,354 times in the 2010 census and if you were to sample 100,000 people in the United States, approximately 4 people would have the surname Yan.

We can also compare 2010 data for Yan 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 3182 4091 -25.00%
Count 11,354 8,016 34.47%
Proportion per 100k 3.85 2.97 25.81%

The history of the last name Yan

The surname Yan has its origins in China, dating back to the 6th century AD. It is believed to have derived from the Old Chinese words "yan" and "yen," meaning "flame" or "fire." The name was initially associated with people who lived near or worked with fire, such as blacksmiths or potters.

One of the earliest recorded instances of the Yan surname can be found in the historical text "Book of Sui," which documented the Sui Dynasty from 581 to 618 AD. The book mentions a nobleman named Yan Zhitui, who lived from 535 to 609 AD and served as a high-ranking official during the reign of Emperor Yang.

During the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD), the Yan surname gained prominence, with several notable figures bearing the name. One such person was Yan Zhenqing, a renowned calligrapher who lived from 709 to 785 AD and is renowned for his contributions to the development of the cursive script known as "xingshu."

In the 11th century, the Yan surname was also associated with the Yan Kingdom, a short-lived state located in present-day Beijing and Hebei provinces. The kingdom was founded by Yan Benedick, a military leader who ruled from 1038 to 1048 AD.

Over the centuries, the Yan surname has spread across various regions of China, with variations in spelling and pronunciation. For instance, in the southern provinces of Guangdong and Fujian, the name is often written as "Yim" or "Yam."

Notable individuals with the Yan surname include Yan Fu (1854-1921), a prominent scholar and translator who introduced Western ideas and philosophies to China. Another significant figure was Yan Xishan (1883-1960), a warlord and military leader who ruled over Shanxi province during the early 20th century.

Other notable Yans throughout history include Yan Liben (600-673 AD), a renowned painter and calligrapher during the Tang Dynasty; Yan Song (1480-1567 AD), a renowned scholar and poet of the Ming Dynasty; and Yan Zhenqing (709-785 AD), a celebrated calligrapher and artist of the Tang Dynasty.

Race and ethnic origin of people with the last name Yan

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

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:

  1. White only
  2. Black only
  3. American Indian and Alaskan Native only
  4. Asian and Pacific Islander only
  5. Hispanic
  6. Two or More Races

For the most recent 2010 census data, the race/ethnic origin breakdown for Yan was:

Race/Ethnicity Percentage Total Occurrences
Non-Hispanic White Only 2.97% 337
Non-Hispanic Black Only (S)% (S)
Non-Hispanic Asian and Pacific Islander Only 94.06% 10,680
Non-Hispanic American Indian and Alaskan Native (S)% (S)
Non-Hispanic of Two or More Races 1.07% 121
Hispanic Origin 1.33% 151

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 Yan has changed in the 10 years between the two census surveys.

2010 2000 Change (%)
White 2.97% 6.11% -69.16%
Black (S)% 1.53% (S)%
Asian and Pacific Islander 94.06% 89.13% 5.38%
American Indian and Alaskan Native (S)% 0.11% (S)%
Two or More Races 1.07% 1.63% -41.48%
Hispanic 1.33% 1.47% -10.00%

Data source

The last name data and ethnic breakdown of last names is sourced directly from the Decennial Census survey, conducted every 10 years by the United States Census Bureau.

The history and meaning of the name Yan was researched and written by our team of onomatology and genealogy experts.

If you have a correction or suggestion to improve the history of Yan, please contact us.

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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!

"Yan last name popularity, history, and meaning". NameCensus.com. Accessed on July 17, 2024. http://namecensus.com/last-names/yan-surname-popularity/.

"Yan last name popularity, history, and meaning". NameCensus.com, http://namecensus.com/last-names/yan-surname-popularity/. Accessed 17 July, 2024

Yan last name popularity, history, and meaning. NameCensus.com. Retrieved from http://namecensus.com/last-names/yan-surname-popularity/.

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