Spanish Surnames
How Spanish Last Names are Formed

Spanish surnames can often be a source of confusion for those not familiar with their structure and they way they're formed.

I remember when I first started studying Spanish and was introduced to last names in Spanish. For some reason I had the hardest time figuring it out.

"Why are there two last names?," I wondered on more than one occasion.

It wasn't until I had spent some time in Latin America (Ecuador to be exact) that it finally clicked and I understood how most Spanish names (both first and last) were formed.

So what's the secret?

If you're the person that is trying to figure this out, how do you go about it?

Well, the first thing to remember is that it's not necessarily difficult to figure out, it's just different. For many people in English-speaking countries, the tradition has been for the wife to take the last name of the husband and then any child born to that couple would have the last name of the father.

Granted this isn't always the case and there are always exceptions to this, but there's no argument that this has been the traditional way surnames were passed down from one generation to another in English-speaking locations.

In Spanish, there is also a traditional rule that is followed in most Spanish-speaking countries, but again, there are exceptions to this rule.

So what's the rule?

Well, again, traditionally the way that surnames have been passed on is that a person would normally have a first name, a possible middle name, and two surnames. The first surname would be the father's surname, while the second surname would be the mother's surname (this name is the surname passed down from her father).

OK, let's look at an example.

Let's say that there's a guy named Mario Lopez Antonio Banderas. He's married to a girl named Selma Hayek Selena Quintanilla. In this example, Antonio would most likely be the surname of Mario's father, and Banderas would be his mother's surname. Same with Selma: Selena would be her father's surname while Quintanilla would be the surname of her mother.

Now if they decided to have a kid and named her Shakira Domingo as her (composite) first name, then her surname would most probably be Antonio Selena, thereby making her full name Shakira Domingo Antonio Selena.

But then again, rules are made to be broken and this isn't always going to be the case 100% of the time. This is especially the case when Latinos move to English-speaking countries like the United States where the naming customs are different. Many times, the couple will keep the custom of having two surnames, but oftentimes people will change the custom to conform to the traditional English style of having one surname, and will usually assign the father's surname to a child born.

Why are Surnames Important in Translation?

So if this site is all about Spanish translation, why then is it so important to know about Spanish surnames?

Well, one of the main reasons is because as translators we should have an excellent grasp of the culture we're translating. And naming conventions are definitely part of culture.

Translators most of the time don't translate names. However, there are times when it's important that we know what those names and how they might fit into the overall meaning and structure of a document. If we lack a clear understanding of those naming conventions, it would be very easy to miss something in translation.

Another important reason to know about Spanish surnames, and why it could be useful to have a list of them is in case you do any transcription. I don't talk about transcription too much on this site since it's devoted to the business of freelance translation, but I have had experience in the past with transcribing Spanish speakers.

And I will say that while I consider my Spanish to be good, there were plenty of times when I just couldn't quite catch everything that a particular Spanish speaker would be saying. And while I could get most words, some of the hardest ones to get were the names.

Names can be hard because they're not spoken as often as commonly-spoken words, so when a name comes up that you're not necessarily quite familiar with, it can be tough to decipher.

And that's one of the reasons I've decided to put out this list of Spanish surnames below. At least here you can have a ready reference of names that you can consult in case you are called to transcribe someone that might reference a Spanish last name.

The list below is a list of the most common Spanish surnames in the United States. Of course there are many last names in Spanish that aren't included in this list, but this list will get you started at least.

Enjoy.

Spanish Surnames

A
Abeyta
Abrego
Abreu
Acevedo
Acosta
Acuña
Adame
Adorno
Agosto
Aguayo
Águilar
Aguilera
Aguirre
Alanis
Alaniz
Alarcón
Alba
Alcala
Alcántar
Alcaraz
Alejandro
Alemán
Alfaro
Alicea
Almanza
Almaraz
Almonte
Alonso
Alonzo
Altamirano
Alva
Alvarado
Álvarez
Amador
Amaya
Anaya
Anguiano
Angulo
Aparicio
Apodaca
Aponte
Aragón
Araña
Aranda
Arce
Archuleta
Arellano
Arenas
Arevalo
Arguello
Arias
Armas
Armendáriz
Armenta
Armijo
Arredondo
Arreola
Arriaga
Arroyo
Arteaga
Atencio
Ávalos
Ávila
Avilés
Ayala

B
Baca
Badillo
Báez
Baeza
Bahena
Balderas
Ballesteros
Banda
Bañuelos
Barajas
Barela
Barragán
Barraza
Barrera
Barreto
Barrientos
Barrios
Batista
Becerra
Beltrán
Benavides
Benavídez
Benítez
Bermúdez
Bernal
Berríos
Bétancourt
Blanco
Bonilla
Borrego
Botello
Bravo
Briones
Briseño
Brito
Bueno
Burgos
Bustamante
Bustos

C
Caballero
Cabán
Cabrera
Cadena
Caldera
Calderón
Calvillo
Camacho
Camarillo
Campos
Canales
Candelaria
Cano
Cantú
Caraballo
Carbajal
Cardenas
Cardona
Carmona
Carranza
Carrasco
Carrasquillo
Carreón
Carrera
Carrero
Carrillo
Carrion
Carvajal
Casanova
Casares
Casárez
Casas
Casillas
Castañeda
Castellanos
Castillo
Castro
Cavazos
Cazares
Ceballos
Cedillo
Ceja
Centeno
Cepeda
Cerda
Cervantes
Cervántez
Chacón
Chapa
Chavarría
Chávez
Cintrón
Cisneros
Collado
Collazo
Colón
Colunga
Concepción
Contreras
Cordero
Córdova
Cornejo
Corona
Coronado
Corral
Corrales
Correa
Cortés
Cortez
Cotto
Covarrubias
Crespo
Cruz
Cuellar
Curiel

D
Dávila
de Anda
de Jesús
Delacrúz
Delafuente
Delagarza
Delao
Delapaz
Delarosa
Delatorre
Deleón
Delgadillo
Delgado
Delrío
Delvalle
Díaz
Domínguez
Domínquez
Duarte
Dueñas
Duran

E
Echevarría
Elizondo
Enríquez
Escalante
Escamilla
Escobar
Escobedo
Esparza
Espinal
Espino
Espinosa
Espinoza
Esquibel
Esquivel
Estévez
Estrada

F
Fajardo
Farías
Feliciano
Fernández
Ferrer
Fierro
Figueroa
Flores
Flórez
Fonseca
Franco
Frías
Fuentes

G
Gaitán
Galarza
Galindo
Gallardo
Gallegos
Galván
Gálvez
Gamboa
Gamez
Gaona
Garay
García
Garibay
Garica
Garrido
Garza
Gastélum
Gaytán
Gil
Girón
Godínez
Godoy
Gómez
Gonzales
González
Gracia
Granado
Granados
Griego
Grijalva
Guajardo
Guardado
Guerra
Guerrero
Guevara
Guillen
Gurule
Gutiérrez
Guzmán

H
Haro
Henríquez
Heredia
Hernádez
Hernandes
Hernández
Herrera
Hidalgo
Hinojosa
Holguín
Huerta
Hurtado

I
Ibarra
Iglesias
Irizarry

J
Jaime
Jaimes
Jáquez
Jaramillo
Jasso
Jiménez
Jimínez
Juárez
Jurado

L
Laboy
Lara
Laureano
Leal
Lebrón
Ledesma
Leiva
Lemus
León
Lerma
Leyva
Limón
Linares
Lira
Llamas
Loera
Lomeli
Longoria
López
Lovato
Loya
Lozada
Lozano
Lucero
Lucio
Luevano
Lugo
Luján
Luna


M
Macías
Madera
Madrid
Madrigal
Maestas
Magaña
Malave
Maldonado
Manzanares
Mares
Marín
Márquez
Marrero
Marroquín
Martínez
Mascareñas
Mata
Mateo
Matías
Matos
Maya
Mayorga
Medina
Medrano
Mejía
Meléndez
Melgar
Mena
Menchaca
Méndez
Mendoza
Menéndez
Meraz
Mercado
Merino
Mesa
Meza
Miramontes
Miranda
Mireles
Mojica
Molina
Mondragón
Monroy
Montalvo
Montañez
Montaño
Montemayor
Montenegro
Montero
Montes
Montez
Montoya
Mora
Morales
Moreno
Mota
Moya
Munguía
Muñiz
Muñoz
Murillo
Muro

N
Nájera
Naranjo
Narváez
Nava
Navarrete
Navarro
Nazario
Negrete
Negrón
Nevárez
Nieto
Nieves
Niño
Noriega
Núñez

O
Ocampo
Ocasio
Ochoa
Ojeda
Olivares
Olivárez
Olivas
Olivera
Olivo
Olmos
Olvera
Ontiveros
Oquendo
Ordóñez
Orellana
Ornelas
Orosco
Orozco
Orta
Ortega
Ortiz
Osorio
Otero
Ozuna

P
Pabón
Pacheco
Padilla
Padrón
Páez
Pagan
Palacios
Palomino
Palomo
Pantoja
Paredes
Parra
Partida
Patiño
Paz
Pedraza
Pedroza
Pelayo
Peña
Perales
Peralta
Perea
Peres
Pérez
Pichardo
Piña
Pineda
Pizarro
Polanco
Ponce
Porras
Portillo
Posada
Prado
Preciado
Prieto
Puente
Puga
Pulido

Q
Quesada
Quezada
Quiñones
Quiñónez
Quintana
Quintanilla
Quintero
Quiroz

R
Rael
Ramírez
Ramón
Ramos
Rangel
Rascón
Raya
Razo
Regalado
Rendón
Rentería
Reséndez
Reyes
Reyna
Reynoso
Rico
Rincón
Riojas
Ríos
Rivas
Rivera
Rivero
Robledo
Robles
Rocha
Rodarte
Rodrígez
Rodríguez
Rodríquez
Rojas
Rojo
Roldán
Rolón
Romero
Romo
Roque
Rosado
Rosales
Rosario
Rosas
Roybal
Rubio
Ruelas
Ruiz
Ruvalcaba

S
Saavedra
Sáenz
Saiz
Salas
Salazar
Salcedo
Salcido
Saldaña
Saldivar
Salgado
Salinas
Samaniego
Sanabria
Sanches
Sánchez
Sandoval
Santacruz
Santana
Santiago
Santillán
Sarabia
Sauceda
Saucedo
Sedillo
Segovia
Segura
Sepúlveda
Serna
Serrano
Serrato
Sevilla
Sierra
Sisneros
Solano
Solís
Soliz
Solorio
Solorzano
Soria
Sosa
Sotelo
Soto
Suárez

T
Tafoya
Tamayo
Tamez
Tapia
Tejada
Tejeda
Téllez
Tello
Terán
Terrazas
Tijerina
Tirado
Toledo
Toro
Torres
Tórrez
Tovar
Trejo
Treviño
Trujillo

U
Ulibarri
Ulloa
Urbina
Ureña
Urías
Uribe
Urrutia

V
Vaca
Valadez
Valdés
Valdez
Valdivia
Valencia
Valentín
Valenzuela
Valladares
Valle
Vallejo
Valles
Valverde
Vanegas
Varela
Vargas
Vásquez
Vázquez
Vega
Vela
Velasco
Velásquez
Velázquez
Vélez
Véliz
Venegas
Vera
Verdugo
Verduzco
Vergara
Viera
Vigil
Villa
Villagómez
Villalobos
Villalpando
Villanueva
Villareal
Villarreal
Villaseñor
Villegas

Y
Yáñez
Ybarra

Z
Zambrano
Zamora
Zamudio
Zapata
Zaragoza
Zarate
Zavala
Zayas
Zelaya
Zepeda
Zúñiga


Return from Spanish Surnames back to Translation, Language, and Culture.