Short Last Names Beginning With C

This article is about short last names beginning with C that are under five letters.

We look at the most common four-letter, three-letter, and two-letter C family names in the United States in recent years.

We also investigate whether anybody in the United States is named simply “C”.

Using The 2010 U.S. Census

We used the 2010 U.S. Census to look at the numbers for these names.

That allowed us to grab the top ten in each category of four, three, and two-letter names.

The 2010 census also gives a breakdown of how people reported their ethnicity. Many of these names have at least tiny percentages of all the possible ethnic categories.

We’ve included the top two ethnicities in the tables below. The first listed ethnicity has the higher percentage.

Four Letter Last Names Starting With C

Last NameNumberMostly
Chan76,664Asian & PI
Chen169,580Asian & PI
Choi50,786Asian & PI
Clay48,844White, Black
Cobb65,125White, Black

Cruz is the most common four-letter name in America starting with C, with Cook also above 300 thousand bearers in 2010.

Cruz is predominantly Hispanic (88%) while Cook is predominantly white (82%).

Two four-letter names that have several substantial ethnic origins. Clay was about 53% white and 41% black.

Cobb wasn’t as close with about 70% of people reporting as white and 25% reporting as black.

Origins and meanings

When Cook is of English heritage, it is an occupational name. In other words, it was conferred on people who cooked and/or sold cooked produce.

We cover the meaning and origins of the name Cruz in our article on Hispanic surnames starting with C.

Chen is a Chinese name that can stem from the Mandarin word for explaining or for honesty.

Early bearers in England of the name Clay were likely living near fields of clay soil.

Three Letter Last Names Starting With C

You can see by the numbers in the table below that three-letter last names are a little less common than those with four letters.

Last NameNumberMostly
Cai8,457Asian & PI
Cao18,138Asian & PI
Cha9,732Asian & PI
Chi7,273Asian & PI
Cho33,490Asian & PI
Chu28,508Asian & PI


Cox is the most common three-letter surname starting with C in America. The name is of English heritage and it is a variant of the name Cook, that we reviewed in the previous section.

Cyr isn’t a name I’ve come across, but the origins are French.

Cho is predominantly a Korean name, while Chu is a Chinese name.

Two Letter Last Names Starting With C

I can’t give you the top ten two-letter names starting with C because there are only three in the 2010 U.S. census.

That doesn’t mean that there isn’t a smattering of people with other two-letter names that I don’t include here. It’s just that other names didn’t have at least one hundred bearers in 2010.

The U.S. National Archives only publishes details of surnames with one hundred or more bearers. This is to avoid providing identifying details about a small number of people.

Here is a summary of the three names from the census:

Last NameNumberMostly
Ci317Asian & PI
Co2,642Asian & PI
Cu768Asian & PI

Both Co and Cu were over 78% Asian in the 2010 census. Ci has more of a spread across three ethnicities. The breakdown was like this:

  • Asian & PI: 64%
  • White: 22%
  • Hispanic: 9%

C As A One-Letter Last Name?

Statistics for the name “C” aren’t in the published U.S. census of 2010. That means that even if it exists in the country, there weren’t one hundred people with the name.

Could there still be a few people named C?

The late mathematician A. Ross Eckler conducted a study of one-letter names in the 1970s using telephone directories.

Eckler pointed out that many examples in the books were errors that came from reversing initials, first names, and last names.

For example, someone recorded in the directory as “James C” was probably a mistake for “C James”. That’s not a real example, but I’ll show you the entries he found for C. There are only two.

If you’re too young to remember telephone directories stacked on the hall table, then I’ll tell you that they were formatted as lists under the name.

These were the first names listed under the last name of “C”:

  • Culloch Marilyn
  • Randolph Blythe

Eckler thought some examples of other letters were genuine. But he thought that the entries for the name C looked like mistakes.

Other Surnames That Start With C

If you want to check out more names, check out these articles:

Index Of Other Short Last Names


Margaret created a family tree on a genealogy website in 2012. She purchased her first DNA kit in 2017. She created this website to share insights and how-to guides on DNA, genealogy, and family research.

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