English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I understand the background of names such as Baker, Carver and Hammer but, what are the origins of names such as Black, Blue, Brown, Green and White? Are they based on some common structure or do they each have their own twisted tale?

share|improve this question
This question appears to be off-topic because it is about surname conventions and not the English language. – Kit Z. Fox Mar 26 '14 at 19:45
Voting to re-open because I think closing it is premature given that the relevant discussion on English Language & Usage Meta has not yet reached consensus. – Bradd Szonye Mar 26 '14 at 22:06
I asked a question about the spelling of the surname Gray/Grey several months ago and received some interesting comments and answers regarding its origin. However, they were specific to that last name and (maybe) color. – Sven Yargs Mar 26 '15 at 4:39
up vote 7 down vote accepted

It looks like some are related to physical appearance:

Again, most of them seemed to harp on some element of physical appearance.

share|improve this answer
I hadn't heard of this site. This'll give me a good start. Cheers! – somehume Oct 15 '11 at 16:23

Color Surnames have different origins and depends what cultural where their born or their descendants like Ireland, Scotland Britain or England, Wales Cornish evenly other origins of europe color surnames Like my Surname "White" is Irish gaelic celtic its means in irish Ban or Bane or Macfaoitigh or MacWhite. I am Half Irish and Half German also White could be German but my Irish whites are not Germans. But Color surnames are Saxon or Celtic names too of Color surnames. My Irish White's or Macfaoitigh's sound very cool and my surname is 50 common surname name in Ireland and 20 common surname in United states.

share|improve this answer
why they call you randy? – Marshal Jon Mark Perry Mar 26 '15 at 4:34
My Randy name is english as given name but as first name its not famous name but my father name me after "Randy lee White" Dallas Cowboys football player one best defensive players that time, But people can call me Randy or Randall don't matter to me. Its meaning of Randy "House wolf; protector a Mythological wolf was esteemed for courage".. To me in my its not good name for a pet lol One my uncles name his dog Randy dont sound right at all lol but i respect that. – Randy White Mar 27 '15 at 23:23
@JonMarkPerry - It's only within the past 15-20 years that people have started making derisive comments about the name "Randy" (often short for "Randall" or "Randolf"). It was a very common name when I was growing up, and no one thought it odd. – Hot Licks Mar 28 '15 at 3:18

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.