Short Last Names Beginning With J

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

We look at the most common four-letter, three-letter, and two-letter J surnames in America in recent years.

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

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. Some 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 when the second is above 20%. The first listed ethnicity has the higher percentage.

Most Common Four Letter Last Names Starting With J

John is the most common four-letter surname starting with J in America. There were over 33 thousand bearers in 2010.

Jean and Jung are the only names that had above twenty thousand people in the 2010 census.

Last NameNumberMostly
Jack15,256White, Black
Jain11,626Asian & PI
Jang9,125Asian & PI
Jean21,140Black, White
Jett12,008White, Black
John33,543White, Black, Asian & PI
Jose10,697Hispanic, Asian & PI
Jung24,026Asian & PI, White

People with the surname John were spread across several ethnicities. This was the breakdown of ethnicities with over 10% of the people:

  • White: 41%
  • Asian & Pacific Islands: 21%
  • Black: 21%
  • Native American: 11%

I was surprised that people named Jung were split like this:

  • Asian & Pacific Islands: 68%
  • White: 28%

I associate the name with the Swiss psychologist, Carl Gustav Jung. so I assumed it would be predominantly European heritage. But that is not the case.

Again, I would have assumed that Jose was predominantly Hispanic. But this is the breakdown:

  • Hispanic: 37%
  • Asian & Pacific Islands: 37%
  • White: 15%


John is of English origins. It is a variant of the name Johannes that spread through Europe in honor of Saint John the Baptist.


Jack’s English origins are as a variant of John.

Jung as a Germanic name comes from the word for “young”. It was often given to a son who had the same name as his father.

The Asian origins of Jung are Chinese.

Most Common Three Letter Last Names Starting With J

You can see in the table below that three-letter last names starting with J are generally less common than in the previous section.

There are only two with over ten thousand bearers.

Last NameNumberMostly
Jan2,046Asian & PI, White
Jia2,409Asian & PI
Jim3,544Asian & PI
Jin10,432Asian & PI
Joe9,280Asian & PI, Black
Joo3,121Asian & PI
Jun4,059Asian & PI

Joy is the most common three-letter surname starting with J in the United States.

Nearly 78% of people named Joy identified as white in the census.

The English origins come from the French name of Joie.

96% of people named Jin ticked the box for Asian or Pacific Islander. The name is of Chinese origin.

Two Letter Last Names Starting With J

I can’t give you the top ten two-letter names starting with J in this section.

That’s because there are only a total of five examples in the 2010 U.S. census.

That doesn’t mean that there aren’t a few more two-letter J family names in America. 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. Here is a summary of the five names from the census:

Last NameNumberMostly
Ja275Asian & PI, White
Je215Asian & PI
Ji4,039Asian & PI
Jo3,588Asian & PI
Ju2,502Asian & PI

As you can see, most bearers in the census were predominantly Asian or Pacific Islanders.

Ji was the most common two-letter name starting with J with just over four thousand people.

About 97% of respondents named Ji identified as being Asian or Pacific Islander. The name has Chinese origins.

Ja is the name with the most spread of heritages. The breakdown is like this:

  • Asian & Pacific Islands: 41%
  • White: 26%
  • Black: 19%
  • Hispanic: 9%

J As A One-Letter Last Name

Statistics for the name “J” 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 be a few families with “J” as their name in the United States?

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

You may be too young to remember telephone directories stacked on the hall table. Here’s a picture:

The entries were formatted as lists under the name.

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

These were the four entries he found for J:

  • G Anderson
  • Reine Harris
  • B Reiley-Resnick
  • Tanatip

Could some of these be typographic errors for someone with an initial J? For example, could the correct name be “J G Anderson” instead of “G Anderson J”?

Probably. In fact, I suspect they were all errors.

Other Surnames That Start With J

If you want to look at 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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