Did you know that some of the most popular names have origins in Spain? Today, common Spanish names are used around the world. First and last names evolved based on where you are in the world, but exploring traditional and modern names, many times you can pinpoint exactly where in Spain they originated.
Where do the most common Spanish names come from?
Common names in Spain tell a lot about a person, even more than just who their parents are. It often reveals where in the country their family came from, the original dialect of Spanish that they spoke, and even the period they were born. Common Spanish names can be categorized by region and language.
Common last names by region
You don’t have to scientifically examine someone’s DNA to tell what region of Spain their family came from. Spain has 17 different regions, each with a set of common last names that have been used for centuries.
One of the most common last names in the world is Garcia, which was originally used in several regions in the country. Today, approximately 3% of Spaniards have the last name, making it the most popular. And because of colonization around the world, the last name is also common in Latin America and the Philippines.
Here are the most common Spanish names based on the region:
|Canary Islands||González, Rodríguez|
|Castilla La Mancha||Garcia, Rodriguez|
|Castilla y León||Sanchez, Garcia, Fernández|
|Galicia||Rodriguez, López, Garcia|
|Principado de Asturias||Fernández|
As much as Spain influenced last names from around the world, today, it showcases outside influences with a much wider variety in common last names. Anyone with either of the last names can typically trace their family roots to Spain.
Common first names by language
When you travel across Spain, you’ll notice that each region speaks Spanish slightly differently than the next. Part of the reason is different accents and local slang you may come across. If the regional Spanish doesn’t seem like the “Spanish” you learned, chances are it isn’t!
In Spain, the language is divided into a variety of dialects, typically determined by the regional origin. As much as common names differ based on the region, the local language also has a significant effect on how Spaniards name their children.
About 20% of the country speaks Catalan. It’s mostly common along the eastern coast and in the Balearic Islands. Some of the common names from the Catalan language are:
|Boys||Alex, Marc, Pau|
|Girls||Julia, Laia, Carla|
Significantly fewer Spaniards speak Galician, only approximately 5% of the population, mainly within the Galician region in the northwest of Spain – it’s the co-official language. Common names from the Galician language are:
The Basque language has the fewest native speakers, only consisting of 2% of Spain, namely in the north. Some of the common names that originated in the language include:
|Girls||Ana, Nahia, June|
Spain also has two autonomous cities located in North Morocco. Because of their location, the locals developed dialects called Ceuta and Melilla, both highly influenced by the region. Islam influenced the common names in these locations:
|Boys||Mohamed, Adam, Ibrahim|
|Girls||Yasmin, Salma, Sara|
Common Spanish names and their secret meanings
Last names get passed down by generations (keep reading to see how it works!), but first names change with every new birth. It’s easier to name a child based on current trends as opposed to changing their last name. Spain has particular trends with names that often can determine the era they were born based on popular names of that time period.
Some of the most common Spanish names are classic, used traditionally for older generations and current generations.
In Spain, you’ll find a lot of guys with names: Santiago, Javier, Álvaro, Pablo, Luis, Domingo, Jorge, Ignacio, Alonzo, Pedro, and Martín.
For ladies, some of the traditional common Spanish names are Cristina, Marcela, Lela, Alba, Laura, Selena, Paula, Ana, Catalina, and Sofia.
See below for their hidden meanings:
|Santiago||Of St. James|
|Domingo||Of the Lord|
|Alonzo||Noble and ready|
|Martin||God of War|
Last name structure in Spain
When you look at someone’s name who is from Spain, you might be confused about why they have two last names. Spain has a unique way of how last names get passed down from the parents to the child.
In Spanish names, the primary last name comes from the child’s father, and the secondary last name comes from the child’s mother.
For example, if someone is named Martín López García, “López” is their father’s last name and “García” is their mother’s last name.
Suppose that Martí Lòpez García has a child with Ana Ruíz González. The child’s last name will become Lòpez Ruíz, taking both primary last names from each parent.
For guys, the patriarch's last name gets carried down multiple generations. For ladies, the last name gets lost after the next generation.
Names in Spanish tell a lot about who a person is. By examining common Spanish names from various regions, languages, and eras, a name reveals a lot about the origin of someone’s family.
You just might’ve discovered that your name has origins in Spain. Let us know in the comments if you have one of these common Spanish names.