This article is about short last names beginning with W that are under five letters.
We look at the most common four-letter, three-letter, and two-letter W surnames in America in recent years.
We also investigate whether anybody in the United States is named simply “W”.
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 W
Ward is the most common four-letter surname starting with W in America.
There were over 260 thousand people named Ward in the USA in 2010. That makes it one of the more common names.
|Wang||109,883||Asian & PI|
|Wong||111,371||Asian & PI|
76% of people named Ward reported as white in the 2010 census. 19% reported as black.
The English origins are from the Middle English word for a guard.
The name was given to night watchmen who walked through towns with a lantern in one hand and a stick in the other.
Wood is the next highest name with over 250 thousand bearers. Eighty-nine percent reported as white.
Early English bearers would have lived near woodland.
Most Common Three Letter Last Names Starting With W
You can see in the table below that three-letter last names starting with W are generally less common than in the previous section.
|Wah||1,550||Asian & PI|
|Wan||5,831||Asian & PI|
|Wei||9,578||Asian & PI|
|Wen||5,870||Asian & PI|
|Win||2,820||Asian & PI|
|Won||4,309||Asian & PI|
|Woo||13,003||Asian & PI|
Way is the most common three-letter surname starting with W in the United States. It had over fourteen thousand bearers in 2010.
80% of holders reported as white in the census while 12% reported as black.
Early English bearers likely lived near a path from one place to another.
87% of people named Woo ticked the census box for “Asian or Pacific Islander”. This is often a spelling variant of the shorter Chinese name “Wu”.
Two Letter Last Names Starting With W
I can’t give you the top ten two-letter names starting with W.
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 V 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:
|Wa||423||Asian & PI, White|
|We||338||Asian & PI, White|
|Wi||538||Asian & PI, White|
|Wo||443||Asian & PI|
|Wu||71,721||Asian & PI|
Wu is the most common two-letter name starting with W in the United States. The name is of Chinese origin.
Wa was the name that was spread most across different heritages:
- Asian & PI: 47%
- White: 34%
- Black: 14%
W As A One-Letter Last Name
Statistics for the surname “W” 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 “W” 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 three entries under W:
Could these be typographic errors for someone with an initial V?
For example, could “Britt W” really be “W Britt”?
I think so. My guess is that each of these names are errors.
Although, if you’ve come across a real person with W as their surname, drop me a comment below!
Other Surnames That Start With W
If you want to look at more names, check out these articles: