Short Last Names Beginning With M

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

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

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

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 M

Mann is the most common four-letter surname starting with M in America.

There were over 83,500 people named Mann in the USA in 2010. Two other names, Moss and Mack, had above seventy thousand bearers.

Last NameNumberMostly
Mack71,056Black, White
Mayo35,228White, Black
Mays40,408White, Black
Moss76,908White, Black

About eighty percent of people named Mann reported in the census as white in 2010. Ten percent reported as black.

There are several origins depending on the region. The Germanic origins are from the word for a hardy or strong man.

Early English bearers may also have come from the Isle of Man, an island off the coast of England.

Moss has this breakdown of heritage in the 2010 census:

  • White: 70%
  • Black: 25%
  • Hispanic: 2%

Moss has English origins. The early meaning comes from the word for a boggy field or place. The name would have been given to people who lived near such places.

Mack has quite an even breakdown between the two main ethnicities:

  • Black: 49%
  • White: 45%

The European origins differ depending on the region. Early Scottish and English bearers took the meaning from the Gaelic word for a son (mac).

The Germanic origins are from the word for a kinsman (mag).

Most Common Three Letter Last Names Starting With M

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

Last NameNumberMostly
Mai17,445Asian & PI
Mak5,170Asian & PI
Mao5,565Asian & PI
Mar5,375Asian & PI, Hispanic
Mei7,867Asian & PI
Min6,982Asian & PI
Moy8,781Asian & PI

May is the most common three-letter surname starting with M in the United States. It had over one hundred thousand bearers in 2010.

The breakdown of reported heritage was:

  • White: 84%
  • Black: 10%
  • Hispanic: 3%

Early European bearers may have been born in the month of May. It was also an English nickname for Matthew.

Many people with these three-letter M names ticked the box for “Asian & Pacific Islander”.

Mai is of Chinese origins. The meaning in Mandarin comes from the word for wheat.

Two Letter Last Names Starting With M

I can’t give you the top ten two-letter names starting with M.

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 M 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
Ma28,452Asian & PI
Mi767Asian & PI
Mo3,983Asian & PI
Mu1,803Asian & PI
My304Asian & PI

Ma is the most common two-letter name starting with M in the United States.

Nearly 94% reported in the census as Asian or Pacific Islander.

Ma is of Chinese origins. The meaning may come from the word for a horse. Several military leaders through the Chinese Dynasties adopted the name.

Aside from Ma, the other top names here were also predominantly Asian or Pacific Islander.

With the exception of Mi, over eighty percent of people self-reported as that category in the census.

Mi had a different profile with a wider spread of heritage:

  • Asian & PI: 73%
  • White: 16%
  • Black: 5%
  • Hispanic: 4%

M As A One-Letter Last Name

Statistics for the name “M” 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 “M” 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 five entries he found for M:

  • Funke
  • J Kamaruddin
  • Thos
  • C Wagner jr.

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

For example, could the correct name be “M Funke” instead of “Funke M”?

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

Other Surnames That Start With M

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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