Start My Family Tree Welcome to Geni, home of the world's largest family tree.
Join Geni to explore your genealogy and family history in the World's Largest Family Tree.

White Family Surname Origin

Project Tags

view all


English: from Middle English white wit (Old English hwīt ‘white’) hence a nickname for someone with white hair or a pale complexion. In some cases it is perhaps from a Middle English survival of the Old English personal name Hwīta a short form of names in Hwīt- (from hwīt ‘white’). The name may also be topographic referring to someone who lived by a bend or curve in a river or road (from Old English wiht ‘bend’) the source of the placename of Great Whyte in Ramsey Huntingdonshire (compare Wight ). This name is also a variant of Wight . The surname White is also very common among African Americans. Irish and Scottish: adopted for any of several Irish and Scottish Gaelic names based on bán ‘white fair’ (see Bain 1 McElwain ) or fionn ‘fair’ (see Finn ). The English surname has been Gaelicized in Ireland as de Faoite. Americanized form (translation into English) of various European surnames meaning ‘white’ for example German Weiss French Blanc Polish Białas (see Bialas ) Slovenian Belec or any other synonymous Slavic surname beginning with Bel- Bev- Biel- or Bil-. Native American: translation into English and shortening of a personal name composed of a word meaning ‘white’ such as Lakota Sioux Waŋbli Ska ‘White Eagle’ (see Whiteeagle ) or Tataŋka Ska ‘White Bull’ (see Whitebull ). In many cases however this surname was probably chosen because it is a very common English surname in North America.

Source: Dictionary of American Family Names 2nd edition, 2022