Short Last Names Beginning With Y

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

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

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

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 Y

Yang is the most common four-letter surname starting with Y in America.

There were over 106 thousand people named Yang in the USA in 2010.

Last NameNumberMostly
Yang106,033Asian & PI
Yong3,123Asian & PI
Yoon15,936Asian & PI
Yuan8,588Asian & PI
Yuen7,688Asian & PI
Yung4,218Asian & PI

97% of people named Yang ticked the census box for Asian or Pacific Islander. The name is Chinese in origin.

The next most common name in this section has about half the numbers as Yang.

York had over fifty-three thousand bearers in 2010. 86% of respondents reported as white with about 8% reporting as black.

The European origins of the name come from the town of York in England. It would have been conferred upon people who came from the town.

Town of York

Most Common Three Letter Last Names Starting With Y

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

Last NameNumberMostly
Yan11,354Asian & PI
Yao7,192Asian & PI
Yee20,591Asian & PI
Yeh6,958Asian & PI
Yim6,144Asian & PI
Yin6,548Asian & PI
Yip6,208Asian & PI
Yoo13,225Asian & PI
You5,234Asian & PI
Yun8,933Asian & PI

Yee is the most common three-letter surname starting with W in the United States. It had over twenty thousand bearers in 2010.

This was the spread of heritages in the census:

  • Asian & PI: 84%
  • White: 6%
  • Hispanic: 3%

From the Asian point of view, the name can be of Chinese or Korean origin.

All the other names in this section had a higher percentage of Asian heritage.

Two Letter Last Names Starting With Y

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

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 Y 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
Ya600Asian & PI
Ye9,839Asian & PI
Yi17,934Asian & PI
Yo707Asian & PI
Yu52,035Asian & PI

Yu is the most common two-letter name starting with Y in the United States. The name is of Chinese origin.

It’s the only name in this section that had more than fifty thousand people. The next most common name had under half those numbers.

Yi has nearly eighteen thousand bearers. The name can be of Korean or Chinese origin.

Y As A One-Letter Last Name

Statistics for the surname “Y” 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 “Y” 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.

He found only one entry under Y: “Jessie L Y”.

Could this be a typographic error that should have read “Y L Jessie?”

I think so.

Other Surnames That Start With Y

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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