An etymology / genealogy question: Americans sometimes have European country names as last names, presumably due to origin. But I only see SOME European countries as surnames, not others. I hear countries ending in "-land" as last names: Kathy Ireland (model,actress), Chris Poland (guitarist for Megadeth), Lynndie England (Abu Ghraib scandal), Kathy & Samantha Netherland (Bardstown murder victims). But I don't see European countries NOT ending in "-land" (e.g. Germany, Italy, Sweden, Greece) used as last names, even though immigrants from those countries are numerous. Also, I've never heard of an American called "Finland" (even though this country ends in "-land"), but it could be because Finnish immigrants are much less numerous than the others. Is there an unspoken historical pattern that turns European countries into last names in the US, but only if they end in "-land" (and have sufficiently large number of immigrants)?

  • Spain is a surname. France is also a surname. So is Portugal. – user337391 Mar 14 at 10:26
  • Are there any reasonably well-known Americans with such surnames? If such surnames exist, they seem to be very rare. – MrSparkly Mar 14 at 10:34
  • All of those I found in Wikipedia with Americans listed in them, known enough to have their Wikipedia pages. On the other hand, given that the origin of all those surnames (including those that you mentioned) have nothing to do with America, I don't know what that would matter. – user337391 Mar 14 at 10:38
  • 1
    I don't know if some people ended up with Finland as surname, but Finn and Suomi are surnames. Maybe Finland was not used because at the time that the corresponding toponymic surname formed because people preferred using those alternatives. Just guessing. – user337391 Mar 14 at 11:02
  • For most people, running remains a hobby at the end of the practice, the end of the race, the end of the day. Not for David Finland. (Run Washington). – Michael Harvey Mar 14 at 16:44

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.