Short Last Names Beginning With L

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

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

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

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 L

Long is the most common four-letter surname starting with L in America.

There were nearly 230 thousand bearers in 2010. That makes it one of the most common names in the country.

Two other names in the top ten have above 100 thousand bearers. That makes them relatively common.

Last NameNumberMostly
Love82,873White, Black

About eighty percent of people named Long reported as white in 2010. Twelve percent reported as black.

Early bearers of the name in England would have likely been notably tall in their community.

Seventy-seven percent of people named Lane reported as white. Seventeen percent reported as black.

The early English bearers of the name Lane likely lived near narrow paths across rural areas and in towns.

Luna has a different profile in that eighty-nine percent of people in the census reported as Hispanic.

The word “luna” means moon in Spain. There are many places with the name across Spanish territory. Early bearers likely came from those places.

Most Common Three Letter Last Names Starting With L

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

However, there are three with over seventy thousand bearers. And the name of Lee is one of the most common names in the United States.

Last NameNumberMostly
Lai19,157Asian & PI
Lam55,554Asian & PI
Lau29,792Asian & PI
Lee693,023Asian & PI, White
Lim37,021Asian & PI
Lin79,508Asian & PI
Liu78,370Asian & PI
Luu15,702Asian & PI

Lee is the most common three-letter surname starting with L in the United States.

There is a fairly close representation between two heritages:

  • Asian & Pacific Islander: 42%
  • White: 36%
  • Black: 16%

The origins are different across regions. As an Asian name, it is of Chinese origins.

The English origins derive from the old word for a meadow or glade. Early bearers would have lived near such places.

Two Letter Last Names Starting With L

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

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

That doesn’t mean that there aren’t a few more two-letter L 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 six names from the census:

Last NameNumberMostly
La6,655Asian & PI
Le110,967Asian & PI
Li111,786Asian & PI
Lo17,687Asian & PI
Lu35,628Asian & PI
Ly29,891Asian & PI

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

With the exception of La, over ninety percent of people self-reported as that category in the census. And even La was at 89%.

Le and Li are quite common with over one hundred thousand bearers. Both have Chinese origins.

La is of Vietnamese origins.

L As A One-Letter Last Name

Statistics for the name “L” 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 “L” 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 two entries he found for L:

  • Bau
  • Forrest

Could some of these be typographic errors for someone with an initial L?

For example, could the correct name be “L Forrest” instead of “Forrest L”?

Probably. In fact, I suspect they are both errors.

Other Surnames That Start With L

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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