Short Last Names Beginning With S

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

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

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

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.

By the way, the initials PI stand for “Pacific Islander”.

Most Common Four Letter Last Names Starting With S

Shaw is the most common four-letter surname starting with S in America.

There were over 160 thousand people named Shaw in the USA in 2010.

Last NameNumberMostly
Shah58,287Asian & PI
Shaw160,400White, Black
Sims113,374White, Black
Song25,110Asian & PI

The name of Shaw was held primarily by two heritages in the census:

  • White: 72%
  • Black: 22%

The English origins are from the old English word for a small wood. Many places across England that are near a wood have Shaw as part of their name.

Soto is the next most common name here. It was predominantly of one heritage with 93% of people reporting as Hispanic in the census.

There was more of an even spread for the name of Sims.

  • White: 54%
  • Black: 40%

English and Scottish origins can be as a variant of the name Simon. The name Simon spread through Europe in the Middle Ages in deference to the Apostle Simon.


Most Common Three Letter Last Names Starting With S

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

Last NameNumberMostly
Sam12,053Asian & PI, Black
Seo7,033Asian & PI
Shi10,055Asian & PI
Sim6,047Asian & PI, White
Siu4,877Asian & PI
Sok4,569Asian & PI
Son10,094Asian & PI
Suh7,089Asian & PI
Sun24,058Asian & PI

Sun is the most common three-letter surname starting with S in the United States. It had just over twenty-four thousand bearers in 2010.

A majority of 94% of holders reported as Asian or Pacific Islander in the census. The name is usually of Chinese origins.

Sam is the second most common name in this section. It has more of a spread of heritages:

  • Asian & PI: 34%
  • Black: 28%
  • American Indian: 18%
  • White: 12%
  • Hispanic: 5%

This is one of the few short names I’ve seen across the alphabet with significant Native American heritage from the census.

Two Letter Last Names Starting With S

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

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 S 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
Sa1,600White, Asian & PI
Se384Asian & PI, White
Si1,166Asian & PI
So7,456Asian & PI
Su12,973Asian & PI
Sy4,457Asian & PI

Su is the most common two-letter name starting with S in the United States.

Many holders of these names declared as Asian or Pacific Islander in the census.

The name of Su is of Chinese origin.

Sa was the name with the widest spread of heritages:

  • White: 45%
  • Asian & PI: 38%
  • Hispanic: 10%
  • Black: 4%

The Asian origins are likely Korean or Chinese.

The European origins are likely Portuguese.

S As A One-Letter Last Name

Statistics for the name “S” 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 “S” 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.

He found these five entries under S:

  • Ford
  • Hal
  • Maria Del Posso
  • Radha Krishnan
  • J Whitton

Could these be typographic errors for someone with an initial S?

For example, could “J Whitton S” really be “S J Whitton”?

I think so. My guess is that all these names are errors.

Other Surnames That Start With S

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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