Geneanet > Resources > Family Names > BROWN

Origin and popularity of the name BROWN


Brown : 1: English Scottish and Irish: generally a nickname referring to the color of the hair or complexion Middle English br(o)un from Old English brūn or Old French brun. This word is occasionally found in Old French Middle English and Old Norse as a personal name or byname (Middle English personal name Brun Broun ancient Germanic Bruno Old English Brūn or possibly Old Norse Brúnn or Brúni). Brun- was also an ancient Germanic name-forming element. Some instances of Old English Brūn as a personal name may therefore be short forms of compound names such as Brūngar Brūnwine etc. As a Scottish and Irish name it sometimes represents a translation of Gaelic Donn (see below). Brown (including in the senses below) is the fourth most frequent surname in the US. It is also very common among African Americans and Native Americans (see also 5 below).2: Irish and Scottish: adopted for Ó Duinn (see Dunn) or for any of the many Irish and Scottish Gaelic names containing the element donn ‘brown-haired’ (also meaning ‘chieftain’) for example Donahue.3: Irish: phonetic Anglicization of Mac an Bhreitheamhnaigh; see Breheny.4: Americanized form (translation into English or assimilation) of various European surnames meaning ‘brown’ or derived from a word meaning ‘brown’ including the like-sounding German and Jewish surname Braun which is by far most common among them Jewish Bron and Slovenian Erjavec.5: Native American: translation into English and shortening of a personal name composed of a word meaning ‘brown’. In many cases however this surname was chosen because it is a one of the most common English surnames in North America (see 1 above).


Source : DAFN2 : Dictionary of American Family Names 2nd edition, ©2022 by Patrick Hanks and Oxford University Press
FANBI : The Oxford Dictionary if Family Names in Britain and Ireland, ©2016, University of the West of England

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Last name frequency

Geographic distribution of the 809,818 individuals with the name BROWN on Geneanet.


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