Short Last Names Beginning With O

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

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

We also investigate whether anybody in the United States is named simply “O”. There are probably more than you think!

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 O

Owen is the most common four-letter surname starting with O in America.

There were over 61 thousand people named Owen in the USA in 2010.

Last NameNumberMostly
Oden8,240White, Black
Odom35,020White, Black
Omar7,660Black, White

About eighty-seven percent of people named Owen reported as white in the 2010 census. About eight percent reported as black.

The European origins of the name are Welsh from the name Owain. This was also a variant of Eugene.

Odom was more evenly split as 70% white and 26% black.

The European origins are in England. The early meaning derives from the word for a brother-in-law or son-in law. It could be conferred on the in-law of an important local person.

Otto is the third name in this top-ten section with over twenty thousand bearers. This was predominantly reported as white in the census at nearly 92% of people with the name.

The name has Germanic origins. The meaning comes from an old German word for wealth.

Most Common Three Letter Last Names Starting With O

You can see in the table below that three-letter last names starting with O tend to have fewer numbers than in the previous section.

Last NameNumberMostly
Ong9,584Asian & PI
Ono2,143Asian & PI
Ore1,862White, Hispanic
Ota1,984Asian & PI

Orr is the most common three-letter surname starting with N in the United States. It had over fourty-four thousand bearers in 2010.

People named Orr reported as about 79% white. The number of black respondents in the census was about fifteen percent.

When the name is of European origins, the meaning differs depending on the region. The early English name may have come from the Norse word for a grouse (a bird).

Early Scottish bearers were given the nickname for a person of darker complexion.

People named Ott reported predominantly as white, which was 94% of the total in 2010.

The name Ott is of Germanic origin. It has a similar meaning to the name Otto, which we covered in the previous section.

Two Letter Last Names Starting With O

I’ve covered the other letters in the alphabet in a series of articles and I usually can’t give the top ten two-letter names.

That’s because there are usually less than ten in the 2010 U.S. census.

Two-letter surnames starting with O are the big exception. They are generally more numerous. Here is the top ten.

Last NameNumberMostly
Oh18,285Asian & PI
Oi207Asian & PI
Ok961Asian & PI
Om784Asian & PI
On1,309Asian & PI
Oo1,601Asian & PI
Or630Asian & PI
Ou4,196Asian & PI
Ow405Asian & PI

Oh is the most common two-letter name starting with O in the United States. There were over eighteen thousand holders in 2010.

About 95% declared as Asian or Pacific Islander in the census. The name Oh can have Chinese, Japanese, or Korean origins.

Most of the top names here are predominantly Asian or Pacific Islander.

The exception is the surname Oz, which was reported at 88% of white respondents.

Oz has several origins depending on the region. It can be of Jewish origin with the meaning coming from the Hebrew word for strength.

It can also be of Turkish origin.

O As A One-Letter Last Name

Statistics for the name “O” 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 “O” 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:

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

However, he was satisfied that the letter “O” was an exception.

Eckler noted that the name was relatively common in Korea. Therefore, we should expect it to appear in the United States from immigration.

He found fifty-two entries under the single-letter name “O” in a review of directories from 1972 to 1981.

Here are some examples:

  • Taekun O
  • Kumsok O
  • Jong Sok O
  • Ook Whon O
  • Thomas O jr.

Let’s take a closer at the last example of “Thomas O jr.”. Could this be a typographic error for someone with an initial O?

For example, could the correct name be “O Thomas jr.”?

Probably. However, when the names appear to be of Korean origin, some are surely correct. Judge for yourself – I’ve put the full list in the tables below.

Full list of 52 entries

Do YoungIn YongUichol
ThomasCherylUye Chung
Song TokChong SuKyong Hwan
Yong HunChong LolYong Dae
Young KapIn SukKun Cha
Takeun Jong SokSang Kil
Young KunKittySangkil
Sung HeyungTong RiNam-che
Chae SokUi HwanChat Wai
KumsokJong SokDuc Huu
Kyung DSe-HongHouse The
Sae MunSukSoh Taek
SeanChang SukSu
Chan SonChon KyounOok Whon
Jil YoungYong HwanYun-Kil
Sae UnChun HuiLy
Se YonMyong B
Yong HTak Kyun
Telephone entries with surname O

Other Surnames That Start With O

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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