Short Last Names Beginning With Z

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

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

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

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 Z

Zhou is the most common four-letter surname starting with Z in America.

There were over 23 thousand people named Zhao in the USA in 2010.

Last NameNumberMostly
Zeng7,605Asian & PI
Zhao22,301Asian & PI
Zhou23,437Asian & PI

98% of people named Zhou ticked the census box for Asian or Pacific Islander. The name is Chinese in origin.

The name Zhao seems similar but these names aren’t variants of each other. Zhao is also a name of Chinese origin.

Zook had nearly ten thousand bearers in the census. About 97% reported as white, with one percent as Hispanic.

The name has Germanic origins and comes from the German name Zug.

The name Zink is close in numbers and also is of Germanic origin. The meaning comes from an old German word for a peak or a pointed piece of high ground.

Early bearers may have lived near a peaked hill or craggy region.

rocky peaks

Most Common Three Letter Last Names Starting With Z

Zhu is the most common three-letter surname starting with Z in the United States. It had over 21 thousand bearers in 2010.

Zar680White, Asian & PI
Zea1,337Hispanic, White
Zee964Asian & PI, White
Zhu21,265Asian & PI
Zia1,495Asian & PI, White
Zou4,493Asian & PI
Zuo857Asian & PI

A whopping 98% of people named Zhu reported as Asian or Pacific Islander. The name is of Chinese origins.

The next highest name is well below those numbers. Zak had just over 5,100 bearers.

96% of people named Zak reported as white. The name is of Eastern European origins. There are forms of the name in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Poland.

The meaning comes from words for a schoolboy or a student. Early bearers may have been scholars.

Two Letter Last Names Starting With Z

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

That’s because there are only a total of three examples in the 2010 U.S. census.

That doesn’t mean that there aren’t a few more two-letter Z 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 three names from the census:

Last NameNumberMostly
Za137Asian & PI, Hispanic
Zi222Asian & PI
Zu276Asian & PI

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

Za was the name that was spread most across different heritages

  • Asian & PI: 38%
  • Hispanic: 29%
  • White: 25%

Z As A One-Letter Last Name

Statistics for the surname “Z” 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 “Z” 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 Z: “Zkleroy Z”.

Could this be a typographic error that should have read “Z Zkleroy”.

I actually think this name should read as “Z K leRoy”.

Other Surnames That Start With Z

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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