TECH

How Popular Is Your Surname And What Does It Mean? This Online Tool Can Tell You

03/03/2016 09:05 GMT | Updated 03/03/2016 11:59 GMT

Ever found yourself being curious about where your surname originated from? Or indeed how many people in the world might share it with you?

Well this online tool can give you some answers.

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It's called Forebears and it's able to not only show you what your surname means but also how many people have your surname but also where they are in the world.

Did you know that while Smith is commonly believed to be one of the most popular names it's actually the 117th most popular name in the world with only 4.2m people.

wang

Putting Smith to shame is Li, the fourth most common name in the world with a staggering 56m people sharing the same surname.

So what's the most popular? Well it'll come as no surprise that thanks to China's enormous population of 1.3 billion people the most common surname in the world is Wang with an impressive 76.5m people all sharing the same surname.

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Before you start tracking down your long lost ancestors though a word of warning, the creators have confessed that Forebears is not 100 per cent accurate.

forebears

Due to the sheer size of the records and data the team behind it gathered as many pieces of information as possible and then pieced it all together into a meaningful statistic.

An example being that they might have only had access to certain records for just over half the population of a country but then were able to multiply that to approximate the rest of the population.

forebears

One rather useful statistic it can show though is the prevalence of a surname. Harris for example is a surname with roots heavily embedded in Scotland, Ireland and England. Yet when you look at Forebears you'll find that the country with the highest density of that surname is in fact a tiny island off the coast of Australia.

On the island of Nauru, 1 in 43 people have the surname Harris.