This article is about short last names beginning with P that are under five letters.
We look at the most common four-letter, three-letter, and two-letter P surnames in America in recent years.
We also investigate whether anybody in the United States is named simply “P”.
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 P
Pena is the most common four-letter surname starting with P in America.
There were over 130 thousand people named Pena in the USA in 2010.
|Park||106,696||Asian & PI, White|
|Pham||84,320||Asian & PI|
|Phan||37,836||Asian & PI|
Over 92% of people named Pena reported as being Hispanic in the 2010 census.
The word in Spanish refers to rocky lands. The name refers to people who lived near that kind of terrain.
The surname of Park is the other name here that had over one hundred thousand bearers. Most (73%) ticked the box in the census for Asian & Pacific Islander.
The Asian origins of the name are often Korean. Park and its variants of Bak or Pak are very common now in Korea.
Nearly a quarter (23%) of people with the name reported as white. The European origins of the name derive from large English estates where the estate owners hunted game.
These walled estates were called parks. The name of Park was conferred upon gamekeepers and other workers on the estate.
Page had over eighty thousand bearers with the heritages breaking down like this:
- White: 75%
- Black: 19%
The European origins are English. The name was given to boys serving in a household, who were known as page boys.
Most Common Three Letter Last Names Starting With P
You can see in the table below that three-letter last names starting with P are generally less common than in the previous section.
|Pai||2,136||Asian & PI|
|Pak||10,846||Asian & PI|
|Pal||3,844||Asian & PI, White|
|Pan||12,664||Asian & PI|
|Paw||2,220||Asian & PI|
|Phu||2,230||Asian & PI|
Paz is the most common three-letter surname starting with P in the United States. It had over twenty-five thousand bearers in 2010.
About 89% of people named Paz reported as Hispanic. The meaning comes from the Latin word for peace (pax).
Poe was the other three-letter name here with over twenty thousand bearers. This was the heritage breakdown:
- White: 80%
- Black: 13%
- Asian & PI: 2%
- Hispanic: 2%
The origins of Poe as an English name come from the old word for a peacock.
Two Letter Last Names Starting With P
I can’t give you the top ten two-letter names starting with P.
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 P 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:
|Pa||739||Asian & PI, White|
|Pe||582||Asian & PI, White|
|Pi||1,006||Asian & PI|
|Po||1,213||Asian & PI|
|Pu||1,299||Asian & PI|
|Py||204||White, Asian & PI|
Pu is the most common two-letter name starting with P in the United States.
It doesn’t have many more people than the names of Po and Pi. These three all had over one thousand bearers.
Many holders of these names declared as Asian or Pacific Islander in the census.
Pu is of Chinese origin.
Po can also be of Chinese origin. However, it may also be of Italian or Spanish origins.
Py is unlike these other names in that 65% of people reported as white.
It is likely a variant of the name Pye. The early English origins come from the word for a magpie.
P As A One-Letter Last Name
Statistics for the name “P” 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 “P” 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.
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.
He found these three entries for P:
- Anneman Kent
- Procaska Richard
Could these be typographic errors for someone with an initial P?
For example, could the correct name be “P Dodd” instead of “Dodd P”?
I think so. My guess is that these three names are errors.
Other Surnames That Start With P
If you want to look at more names, check out these articles: