How Common Is My Last Name? Genealogical Website Forebears Will Tell You All About Your Surname
As someone with a strictly unexceptional surname, I've often found myself wondering how common my last name is — especially in third grade, when I was fully convinced that I was secretly a fairy princess on the verge of discovering her magical powers, after which I would be whisked off to an enchanted land suspiciously similar to Fern Gully . As a fairy princess, of course, I was determined that I couldn't answer to a boring name, and so I embarked on a quest to determine whether I should repudiate my surname and adopt a more fairy-like moniker. Then I got distracted by a new episode of Sailor Moon and forgot all about it.
Until today, that is, when I was introduced to the genealogical website Forebears, whose "surname" function provides all the information you could ever want about your last name, and then some. All you have to do is type in your last name, or the last name of your crush (why not?), and voila! The website provides a wealth of information, including its meaning, prevalence, and an estimation of how many people share that name. There's even a handy world map showing the distribution of the name by country, proving that the Internet really is full of useless-yet-strangely-fascinating information.
Tragically, it turns out that my surname is pretty ordinary; there are almost 150,000 people with the same last name, so either my family is weirdly prolific, or it's just common. On the other hand, the meaning makes up for its frequency — apparently, I am the proud possessor of an "ancient baptismal name." The site even gives examples of the name's predecessors, which is how I decided to only answer to Claire Warnerius from this day forth. I may not have a fairy princess name, but at least I can pretend I'm a Roman general. You win some, you lose some.
You can learn all about your own last name at Forebears. Have fun!