60 Origin of Brazilian surnames

60 Origin of Brazilian surnames: The most common surnames in Brazil, such as Silva, Santos, and Souza, are of Portuguese origin. However, you may be surprised because many others also carry Arabic, Celtic, and even French origins and make reference to very interesting stories. We have selected the most popular surnames in Brazil, pointing out their origins and meanings!

60 Origin of Brazilian surnames
60 Origin of Brazilian surnames

Origin of 60 Brazilian surnames


Albuquerque is a Brazilian surname of Portuguese origin, derived from the junction of two Latin terms that mean “white oak”. The Albuquerque family in Portugal originated from the descendants of Dom João Afonso Telo de Meneses, lord of the town and castle of Albuquerque. In Brazil, the first people to arrive with this surname in the country settled in the northeastern region during the colonization period.


The origin of the surname Almeida is Arabic, through a word with elements that refer to the plain and to glory, thus the meaning of “glorious conquest” is related to this surname. In Portugal, there are records of this name that refer to a glorious conquest, resulting from the episode in which the noble knight Dom Payo Guterres Amado would have taken possession of Almeida Castle in a region of Portugal. From this conquest, the name of the castle began to be used as the family name, and the first member to receive it was the son of a nobleman named Dom Payo, Pedro Paes de Almeida.


Alves is a surname of Portuguese origin that appeared as a diminutive of the first name Alvaro. It means “son of Álvaro”. In turn, the name Álvaro has Nordic origins, with the meanings of “army of elves” or “elf warrior”.


The surname Andrade is said to have originated from an important family that lived in the parish of Andrade, in the kingdom of Galicia, where the city of Pontedeume is now located in Spain. Among the Portuguese, it has been present since the 14th century, but it is estimated that the first family to have this name was from the 12th century. Andrade carries the meanings of “toponym of the kingdom of Galicia” or “a reference to the New Jews”.


This surname is associated with families that had a patriarch named Antônio. Antunes means “family of Antônio”, “descendants of Antônio” or “son of the valuable one”. Therefore, many families arose based on this same name, not meaning that they have any kind of consanguineous relationship.


This Brazilian surname has Spanish and Portuguese origins, being widely found in the Minho region, in the north of Portugal. Scholars believe that the first records of this name refer to the lord of the Castle of Araújo, who became known as Rodrigo Anes de Araújo, from Galicia. In Portugal, Rodrigo de Araújo’s great-grandson, Pedro Anes de Araújo, was the first person to receive this surname which proliferated in the Minho region. Araújo carries the meanings of “tree” and “from Minho”.


This surname of Portuguese origin came from a Latin word that refers to “thorny bushes”. In Portugal, the first people to receive this name would be inhabitants of the famous Quinta de Azevedo who, in turn, would have received this name due to the predominant vegetation of the place, i.e., places that had vegetation with thorny trees.


D. Sancho Nunes Barbosa is listed as the first person to use the surname Barbosa in reference to the property he inherited, called Quinta de Barbosa. Barbosa pseudococcus is the scientific name for a plant of the palm family very similar to a palm tree. Thus, probably in the region where the farm was located were found specimens of this plant.


The surname Batista has a Greek origin from a word that has the meanings of “to submerge, to dive”. This surname originated from John the Baptist, a biblical character known for having baptized Jesus Christ in the Jordan River. Thus, the surname Batista has the meaning “the one who baptizes.


The origin of surname Cardoso comes from around the year 1100 and is of Portuguese origin. The name came from the existence of a thorny plant called cardo in a region inhabited by the first Cardoso families. That is why the surname Cardoso means “inhabitant of a place where thistles are abundant”.


The first records of the surname Carvalho in Portugal date back to the 12th century, in the form of Carvalio. The popularization of the surname began in the 17th century, when Iberian Jews began to adopt Portuguese and Spanish surnames to escape religious and political persecution, becoming known as “new Christians. The meanings attached to the surname Carvalho are “longevity”, “endurance” or “tree of multiple characteristics”.


This surname of Portuguese origin came from a Latin word meaning “fortress. The surname was used to identify people who were born or lived near fortresses or castles. Thus, the surname Castro has the meanings of “one who was born near castles”, “one who lives in a place characterized by the existence of fortresses”.


The first known Coelho is the Portuguese king D. Soeiro Viegas Coelho, who lived during the reign of King D. Sancho II, in the 13th century. One theory suggests that the origin of the name Coelho is related to the Coelha farm, which belonged to the family. A second theory, suggested by historians, points out that D. Soeiro Viegas received the nickname coelho (rabbit) because during wartime he would sneak around. The surname Coelho, however, carries the qualities associated with this animal, such as “prosperity”, “abundance”, “intelligence”, “and cleverness”.


There are many possible origins for the popular surname Costa around the world. Some of them are Greek, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese. In Brazil, the name arrived with the Portuguese families during the colonization period. In Portugal, Costa may have been used to name a noble medieval Portuguese family that lived in a coastal area. That is why the surname carries the meanings of “who lives on the coast”, “who lives near the hillside”, and “who is a native of the coast”.


This surname has Portuguese origins and was initially used as a nickname by individuals in the Ribadouro family. It is also considered a geographical name, as it was taken from the “couto” of Leomil, a Portuguese village located in the Viseu district in northern Portugal. The Coutinhos became a high social class and noble family in the 15th century. This happened because they supported João I of Portugal, better known as Mestre de Avis, with military troops.


Couto is a surname of Portuguese origin, derived from a Latin word meaning “protection” or “defense.” Until the 9th century, this term was commonly used to represent a place considered safe and immune, as well as it could also mean a fine or seizure of goods. The Couto family is quite common in Brazil. The first members of this lineage would have landed in Brazilian lands during the Portuguese colonization process.


This surname dates back to the Middle Ages when people added the element “cross” to their first name as a way of showing their religiosity. It is a surname of Spanish and Portuguese origin and is very popular among families from these two countries.


Cunha is a Brazilian surname of Portuguese origin that has a geographical origin. This means that its origin comes from the name of a place where there was probably a rock shaped like a wedge. This surname, therefore, means “born in a place characterized by a wedge-shaped rock” and “one who inhabits a place characterized by a wedge-shaped rock.


Dias is a surname that has a Spanish origin, arising from Diez. It means “son of Diego” or “son of Diogo”, which in turn are names that have a Hebrew origin since they are equivalent to the biblical name Jacob. Referring to the biblical character, the surname Dias can also mean “relative of the one who comes from the heel.


It is believed that the surname Duarte may have originated from the transformation of the English name Edward into the Portuguese Eduarte, which over the years lost the initial “e,” probably through D. Duarte, eleventh king of Portugal, son of D. João I. Because of its noble origin, the surname carries the meanings of “rich guardian” or “guardian of riches.


The surname Fernandes comes from the Spanish Fernandez, which was a name given to the children of a patriarch named Fernando. Thus, it carries the meanings of “son of the man daring to achieve peace” or “son of the man daring to travel”. The name Fernando, in turn, originates from Germanic words with the meanings “peace” or “brave traveler.


The profession of blacksmithing is one of the oldest in the world, and it is no wonder that many of the most popular surnames around the globe refer to this craft. This is the case of Smith in the United States and Ferreira in Brazil. The surname Ferreira came to our country through the Portuguese, having appeared around the 11th century in the region of the Iberian Peninsula. It carries, therefore, the meanings of “who comes from the land rich in iron”, “blacksmith”, and “who works with iron”.


Scholars believe that the surname Figueiredo originated from a knight of Goda (Germanic tribe) origin named Guesto Ansur, born in the time of the king of Asturias between 783 and 788. This family lineage reached Portugal, and Soeiro Martins de Figueiredo was the first with this surname in the territory. Figueiredo carries the meaning of “place where there are fig trees”.


Scholars believe that the surname Fonseca may have arisen from a word in Catalan to designate a “fountain that is dry”. It is a very popular surname in Portugal and Spain and was brought to Brazilian lands through Portuguese colonization in the middle of the 16th century.


This surname of Portuguese origin possibly came to Brazil through a family from Portugal that before coming to our country inhabited a place characterized by the large existence of stones and rocks. Freitas means “inhabitant of a rocky place”, or “one who comes from a place abundant in rocks”.


Garcia is a surname of medieval Spanish origin, possibly related to the Basque word hartz, which means “bear”. In this sense, the surname Garcia reflects the attributes of the bear. In the symbolism of family coats of arms, the bear is the personification of the magnanimous man, that is, the generous one.


One theory for the origin of the surname Gomes is that it would come from a Visigothic word meaning “man”. The suffix “s” at the end turned the word into a patronymic, that is, the name of an individual who probably gave rise to the family line. In Spain, it is a popular surname in the form of Gomez as an abbreviation of a word meaning “man of war.”


This beautiful surname has medieval origins from a Latin word derived from Germanic with elements meaning “warrior”. Gonçalves has the same root as Gonçalo. It is a common surname in Portuguese families and its variant is González in Spanish. It carries the meanings of “son, or descendant, of Gonçalo” or “son, or descendant, of a man willing to take part in every fight”.


The Lima river begins in Spain, crosses Portugal, and flows into the Atlantic Ocean. The surname Lima has a Latin origin and is closely associated with a legend about the passage of this river which, according to mythology, could cause people to lose their memory. In Celtic, the word limit also means “forgetfulness”. This is the story of the origin of the surname Lima, which carries the meanings of “he who belongs to the Lima River” or “he who has crossed the river of forgetfulness”.


This prestigious surname of Spanish origin, in the form López, gained a very popular Portuguese version in the form Lopes. This surname comes from the Latin word that means “wolf”. Thus, it carries the attributes related to the animal, such as “brave”, “victorious” and “son of the wolf”.


Machado is a surname of Portuguese origin, probably used by people who made or worked with the tool of the same name. Other sources suggest the possibility that the name Machado arose on an occasion when people would have forced the doors of the Portuguese city Santarém using axes. The meanings attached to the surname are “one who makes axes”, “axe maker” or “one who works with axes”.


According to some studies, all the Marques families arose from a Spanish trunk called Marquez. In Brazil, this surname has spread to every corner of the country since the first years of colonization. It has the meanings of “son of Marcos” or “son of Marcus”.


The surname Martins is a diminutive of Mars, as well as Martinho, which was found in Portugal in the early twelfth century first as Martino and Martinos. Of Latin origin, for years the name Matins was related to royalty or power, for having an intrinsic history with quite important historical personalities. Martins has the meanings of “warrior” or “dedicated to the God Mars.


Mendes is a surname that originated in the Iberian Peninsula (Portugal and Spain). It was initially the name given to the children of an individual named Menendo. According to some scholars, there is the possibility that the surname Mendes has an Egyptian root, because Mendo would be a variation of the name of a mythological deity for the Egyptians. Mendes, therefore, means “son of Mendo” or “son of total sacrifice”.


Some scholars believe that the surname Mesquita may have arisen from a region in Spain, Galicia, called Mezquita. It is said that in Portugal the first member of this family was named Estevão Pires da Mesquita, who lived in the country in the 14th century and married Aldonça Nunes de Meireles, thus passing the surname to future generations. They lived in Trás-os-Montes, in northern Portugal.


Monteiro is a name of Portuguese origin that arose from a profession or a region that had hills. This popular surname found in Brazil means “mountain guard”, “mountain hunter”; “mountain inhabitant”, and “one who was born on a mountain”.


This surname of Portuguese origin came from a family that lived in Portugal and originated in the village of Morais, in the region of Trás-os-Montes. The Spanish part of this family would be from the town of Morales, Spain. The surname refers to a land that had many mulberry trees.


According to historical records, this surname originated in the parish of Santa Maria de Moreira (currently known as Moreira do Castelo) in Portugal. Language scholars believe that the region was named this way because of the number of mulberry trees that existed in the place. Thus, the surname carries the meaning of “those who live near the mulberry tree.


This surname originated in the town of Moura, which belongs to the District of Beja, in the Alentejo region of Portugal. The first people to adopt Moura as a family name belonged to this town. That is why the meanings attached to this surname are “who is born in Moura”, “wall” or “land of the Moors”.


Nascimento is a surname of Portuguese origin, which appeared as a tribute to the episode of the birth of Jesus Christ, from a religious point of view. It was very common to use it to baptize people who were born on December 25 in Portugal. Thus, the meaning attached to the surname is “homage to the birth of Christ.


The surname Neves is Portuguese, but it has Italian origins since it was taken from the title of the Virgin Mary who is also known as Our Lady of the Snows. According to Christian scholars, the name Our Lady of the Snows came from a miracle. According to them, the Virgin made it snow in Italy during the hottest time of the year.


Nunes is a surname that arose as a variant of Nunez. It is likely to have Latin as its origin and to be linked to the Portuguese proper name Nuno. Other sources indicate as the root nonius, meaning “monk,” or nonius, meaning “ninth. The surname was found in the Portuguese language in the 13th century in the form Nunho.


The origin of this surname of Portuguese origin is strictly related to places that had many olive trees. The owners of large portions of land where the plants were cultivated, as well as those who worked on it, were called “Oliveira” (an important occupation considering the importance of olive oil).


The origin of the surname Pereira is Portuguese and is linked to a locality, in this case, to places where there were trees that produced pears. More specifically, Pereira was the name of a farm or property in the Esmeriz area, in Vila Nova de Famalicão, in northern Portugal. The surname pera, therefore, means “tree that produces pears”.


Scholars believe that this surname arose as a surname of a medieval Portuguese soldier named Vasco Martins, “o Pimentel”, son of Martim Fernandes Novais. That is why this surname of Portuguese origin means “the one nicknamed Pimentel”.


The surname Pires is associated with the sons of a patriarch named Pedro. In turn, this popular first name has a Greek origin. Thus, there are several families that have adopted this surname without consanguineous ties among them around the world. Pires, therefore, means “descendants of Peter” or “sons of the rock”, since the first name Peter means “rock”.


Ramos is a family name that originated in the Iberian region (Portugal and Spain), in honor of the religious cult of “Palm Sunday,” a Christian festival that precedes Easter and commemorates the triumphal entry of Jesus Christ into the city of Jerusalem. Ramo carries the meaning of “homage to the religious festival of “Palm Sunday”.


This surname originated in the Iberian Peninsula region, where it came from a Latin word for “small river”, “small water passage” or “river passage”. In Portugal, the Ribeiro family may have originated from families that had as reference a small stream in their properties, being known in the region because of this geographical detail.


Of French origin, the surname Rocha is quite popular in Brazil, Mexico, and Portugal. It derives from a French word that means just rock, but by extension, it gained other meanings, such as “strong man,” “stable man,” or “serene man.


The first families with the surname Rodrigues began to appear in historical records around the 14th and 15th centuries. They revealed families that had as patriarch someone with the name Rodrigo. In Portugal, there are three main branches of the Rodrigues family, which belonged to the nobility in the medieval period. The surname Rodrigues means “son of Rodrigo.


Of Portuguese, Spanish, and Italian origin, Santana is an ancient surname that refers to Christ’s grandmother, Saint Anne. In the past, it was also a popular first name for people born on July 26, the day of Saint Anne. Santana, therefore, has the meanings of “Saint Anne”, “the grandmother of Christ” or “blessed saint”.


The first name Santiago is also a popular surname in Brazil and Portugal. It was probably brought to Brazil by noble families during the colonization period. Santiago has Hebrew, Spanish and Galician origins, with the meanings “Santo Iago”, or agglutination of “Santo Tiago”.


This popular Brazilian surname began to be used for people born on All Saints’ Day, November 1. It is a surname coming from a Latin word that literally means “all the saints”. Some historians believe that the name began to spread in Portuguese lands thanks to the Spanish immigrants who popularized the region.


This is the most popular surname in Brazil, where 1 in every 93 Brazilian citizens is registered with it. Studies indicate that this surname has been present in the world since the 10th century, even before the creation of Portugal. It also appears in families in Spain and Italy. Silva carries the meanings of “forest”, “jungle” or “woods”.


The origin of the surname Soares goes back to the Middle Ages when the raising of pigs was very important for society. In Portugal, it was no different. This surname is derived from the name Soeiro, which means “swine herder. Thus, the surname Soares carries the meanings of “son of the protector of swine”, “son of the southern army” or “one who has reddish hair”.


The popular surname of Portuguese origin Souza is related to a locality. It is a variation of the surname Sousa, which originates in Latin from a word that means “pebble” or “stone. It may also be related to seixa, a kind of wild and aggressive pigeon typical of the Iberian region that in the 11th century was called Sausa in Portugal.


The Portuguese surname Simões refers to the sons of a family patriarch with the name Simão, which in turn is a biblical name of Hebrew origin. Simon means “one who listens” or “listener”. Thus, the surname Simões carries the meanings of “son or descendant of Simon”, or “son of the one who hears”.


Yew is an ornamental tree and the surname Teixeira is related to the Portuguese localities that had vast fields with these trees. Everything indicates that people who were born or who lived in a place where there was a large number of yew trees began to be identified by the surname Teixeira. That is why this popular Brazilian surname carries the meanings of “born in the area of the yews”, and “inhabitant of the place where there are many yews”.


The Vieira family initially spread in Portugal, starting from two main provinces: Vieira does Minho and Vieira de Leiria. This surname is associated with the place where these families lived, that is, coastal places, where there was the presence of mollusks or stone-producing shells since Vieira means “mollusk” or “shell that produces pearls”.

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