Most Brazilian surnames have Latin origins, but due to the immense miscegenation in our country, we also find surnames of Spanish, Nordic, and even Arabic origin. We have selected the most common and beautiful surnames found in Brazil.
It looks Portuguese, but it’s actually Arabic! This name originates from the junction of the words al, the same as “the” (definite article), and majíd, the same as glorious, or, in a geographical sense, the same as plain. It means, then, “glorious” or “the plain”.
It began to be used as a surname after a knight named Dom Payo Guterres Amado would have taken possession of Castelo de Almeida, in Portugal. From there, the name of the castle became a family name, especially in Portuguese, since the 14th century.
Learn more about the Almeida surname by clicking here.
The origin of the name is Nordic, formed by the elements Alves, which means “elf”, or “genius” and arr, which means “warrior”, “protector” or even “army”.
But Alves is a Portuguese surname and patronymic: that is, it originated from the name of an important member of a family who was male, most often the father. It is a diminutive of Álvares, meaning “son of Álvaro”.
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It was the name of a farm that belonged to D. Sancho Nunes in the 12th century. He incorporated the farm’s name into his last name, which is now very popular in Brazil. Barbosa means “place full of trees” and is the name of a very popular plant in Brazil, from the palm family.
Learn more about the history of the Barbosa surname here.
The etymology of the name is Greek and derives from baptizes, which means “to submerge, to immerse”. It means, then, “one who baptizes”. The biblical link many know: John the Baptist is a character known for having been the one who baptized Jesus. Catholic countries started to adopt the nickname and that’s how it gained notoriety.
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The origin of Castro is from the Latin, word castra, which means “fortress”. According to researchers, it is a toponymic name, that is, it refers to a place. In this case, it seems to have been a name used to identify people who were born in or inhabited fortresses and castles.
Therefore, it has the meaning “those who were born near castles”, and “those who live in places characterized by the existence of fortresses”. It arrived in Brazil via the Portuguese, as the Castro family coat of arms is among the 72 main Portuguese families.
Find out more about the Castro surname by clicking here.
Duarte is a name derived from the English, Edward, joining the Germanic elements read “rich” or “blessed” and weird “guardian”. It means “rich guardian” or “guardian of wealth”.
It is believed that it was transformed into the Portuguese Eduarte version, and over the years it lost the initial “e”. Portuguese nobles and royalty adhered to the name in the Middle Ages, including Portugal’s eleventh king, D. Duarte.
Be sure to read the complete description of the last name Duarte.
This is another case of a toponymic name. People who lived in the village of Ferrera in Castile (now known as Herrera de Rupisverga in Spain) were called Ferreira.
In Portugal, the founder of the Ferreira family would have been D. Fernando Álvares Ferreira, lord of Paço de Ferreira, in the parish of São João de Eiriz, in the north of the country. Another hypothesis is that it was a name used as a nickname for people who worked with iron and later came to be adopted as a family name.
Learn more about the Ferreira surname by clicking here.
There are some possibilities for the origin of the name Garcia, which was used as a first name, only later gaining the function of a surname.
It may have Spanish origin, from Garsea, a medieval name related to the Basque word hartz, which means “bear”. In this sense, the name reflects the attributes of the bear, which in the study of coats of arms, is the personification of the magnanimous man, that is, who is generous.
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A word originating in Latin, coming from Gomo or Gome, which means “man”. It gained the “s” at the end and became a patronymic name, that is, the name of an individual who probably gave rise to the family line. It means, then, “son of Gome”, or “son of man”.
It is a very traditional name in Spain, even in its variants Gomez, Gomiz, or Comis. Apparently, he arrived in Portugal from an Italian family. And, in Brazil, soon after the arrival of the first colonizers, it is now one of the most common surnames in the country.
Read more about the last name Gomes here.
Another name is based on the region of the people who live there. In this case, the Iberian region (Spain and Portugal) where there was a river called Limia.
There are very interesting legends about this river and the people who lived there, which you can read here in the full description. In Portugal, the first person to adopt Lima as a surname was Dom João Fernandes de Lima, known as “o Bom”, son of Dom Fernando Arias.
The origin of name Lopes is derived from the Latin, lupus, from which Lope comes, which means wolf.
The “es” at the end of the word means that it is a family name, “son of”, that is, the meaning is “son of Wolf”. There are several Spanish families with this surname, in the form of López. It is also present in the French language, in the form of Loup or Leu.
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People with “Nascimento” are not lacking in Brazil, super common! The etymon of the name is from Latin. In Portugal, it came to be used to name people who were born on December 25, the birthday of Jesus Christ, according to Catholic belief.
Some etymologists believe, however, that the origin of the surname Nascimento is a Latinized form of Nassau, a family name quite common in the Netherlands and Germanic countries.
Learn more about the surname Nascimento by clicking here.
Coming from the Latin Oliveira, Oliveira is the tree that produces olives, and from which olive oil is extracted. The origin has toponymic characteristics, it was the name adopted or given to people who made a living from cultivating these trees.
Another possibility of origin would be Jewish. Thus, in an attempt to disguise their names, upon arriving in Portugal, the Marranos (Jews forcibly converted to Catholicism) would have adopted that name so that they would not be persecuted.
Pedro de Oliveira, the Portuguese nobleman, would have been the first person to adopt this name.
Be sure to read the full description of the name Oliveira.
Another tree, this time the one that produces pears. The origin is toponymic, it was the name of a farm or property in the Esmeriz area, in Vila Nova de Famalicão, in the north of Portugal. The people of the region were called “pear trees”.
According to historical records, D. Rui Gonçalves Pereira, who lived in the 12th century, was the first person to use this surname.
Learn more about the last name Pereira here.
The word Rocha comes from the French Rocque, which literally means “rock”, so that, by extension, the name has the sense of “strong man”, “stable man” or “serene man”.
In France, it was given to people who lived near rocky places, and that’s how it became a surname. Another theory is that it comes from the Latin Rocu, Rochus, originated from the Germanic heroic, hooch, which means “the one who shouts”.
Find out more about the Rocha surname by clicking here.
The Patriarch Rodrigo gave rise to this patronymic name which, as we explained above, with the ending “es”, means “son of Rodrigo”.
The name Rodrigo, on the other hand, means “famous for his glory” or “famous king”. Of Germanic origin, it results from the combination of the elements hruot, meaning “fame”, and risk, meaning “prince, ruler”.
Do you want to know more? Be sure to read the full description of Rodrigues’s name.
After Silva, this is the most common last name in Brazil, it comes from Latin and literally means “of the saints”, from the word Sanctorum.
Historians believe that this name came to Portugal from a Spanish family that came from Andalusia, precisely from the region called Sierra de Los Santos.
The first families to adopt this surname would originate in Italy and France, under the variant “Santi” and “Santy”, respectively.
Read more about the Santos surname here.
The most common surname champion in Brazil!
The origin is toponymic, as the first people to use this name would have lived near Torre e Honra de Silva, next to Calença, the current Portuguese city of Valença.
The first families with this surname would have lived around the 10th century, before the creation of the Portuguese nation. The Silva family crest is a purple or red lion engraved on a silver background, in reference to the coat of arms of the Kingdom of León.
Learn more about Silva by clicking here.
This is a surname with its origins in the Latin saza or saxa, which means “pebble” or “stone”. Souza may still be related to Seixa, a species of wild and aggressive pigeon typical of the Iberian region, which in the eleventh century was called Sausa in Portugal.
It came to be used as a name from Dom Egas Gomes de Souza, owner of the land where the Sousa river passed, located in the Minho region, in Portugal. Egas Gomes de Souza belonged to one of the noblest and most important families in Portugal, descendants of Visigoth kings during the early years of the 8th century.
The Souza family adopted the name of the river (Sousa) that ran through their property – Terras de Sousa – and created a noble lineage for the surname.
Do you want to know more? Be sure to read the full description of the Souza name.
The yew tree is an ornamental tree. That’s where the name Teixeira came from, given to people who live in a place in Portugal with a lot of this tree.
The Teixeira family coat of arms is among the 72 most important in Portugal. Blue, with a yellow cross, and a silver unicorn over the shield.
Learn more here about the last name Teixeira.
The origin of this surname is Portuguese and means “mollusk” or “shell that produces pearls”.
Vieira initially spread in Portugal through two families hailing from two different provinces, Vieira do Minho and Vieira de Leiria. In Brazil, scholars believe that the first family with this surname landed in Pernambuco.
With Portuguese and Spanish origin, the name Soares means “son of the protector of pigs”, “son of the southern army” or “the one with reddish hair”.
It may be a derivation of the first name Soeiro, which comes from Latin and means “swine herdsman”.
Scholars believe that this surname is a nickname for Jesus Christ’s grandmother, Santa Ana. With Portuguese, Spanish, and Italian origin, Santana means “Saint Ana”, “Christ’s grandmother” or “blessed saint”.
In the past, it was also a popular first name for people born on July 26 (St. Anne’s Day).
Gonçalves carries the meanings of “son, or descendant, of Gonçalo”, “son, or descendant, of a man willing to take part in every fight”, and “son, or descendant, of a warrior man”.
It is a name of Portuguese origin, but it comes from Latin from Germanic by the combination of elements for words related to “combat” and “warrior”.
The last name Ribeiro means “small river”, or “stream”. Some scholars believe that it began to be used in Portugal by families who owned a creek on their properties.
Ribeiro originates from a Latin word and emerged in the Iberian Peninsula, being considered a toponymic name for referring to geographical regions.
This popular surname is closely linked to the Christian festivity that precedes Easter. Ramos means “tribute to the religious feast of Palm Sunday”.
It has a Latin origin and Manuel Francisco Ramos is said to have been the first person to be registered with this surname in Portugal in 1649.
Brazil, Portugal, Spain, and Italy all have families with the Costa surname. It means “one who lives on the coast”, “one who lives on the slopes”, and “one who is native to the coast”.
Another theory points out that the name would have arisen from the Greek word Kosta, the meaning “that belongs to the nature of someone constant, persevering or animated”, the same meaning as Constantine.
A Portuguese surname of Latin origin, Carvalho means “longevity”, “resistance” or “tree with multiple characteristics”.
Carvalho is a surname related to a geographic region and is therefore considered toponymic. Studies point out that probably the first individual with this name lived close to an oak tree, which would be considered a reference tree in the region at the time.
Derived from the first name Martim, the surname Martins carries the meanings of “warrior” or “dedicated to the God Mars”.
It has a Latin origin and was found in Portugal at the beginning of the 12th century, primarily as Martino and Martinos. However, the head of the surname came from Spain in the form of Martinez.
Of Portuguese origin, the Cardoso surname carries the meaning of “inhabitant of a place where thistles are abundant”. It is a name related to a geographic region, due to the existence of thistles in a given region. Thistles are a species of thorny plants.
Thistle is also the national flower of Scotland and the Cardoso surname has in its coat of arms the representation of this plant, along with two animals.
It comes from the Latin word Fraga. Freitas means “inhabitant of rocky places”, and “one who comes from places abundant in stones”.
Language scholars point out that this surname arrived in Brazil through a Portuguese family that before coming to our country inhabited a place characterized by the great existence of stones and rocks.
Mendes was the name given to the children of an individual called Menendo and was therefore considered a patronymic. It means “son of Mendo” or “son of total sacrifice”.
It is a surname of Portuguese and Spanish origin, but other studies point to an etymological root of the surname Mendes in Egypt.
The surname of Portuguese origin Machado means “the one who makes Machados”, “Machados maker” or “the one who works with axes”.
There are sources that indicate the possibility of the name Machado having arisen on an occasion when people would have forced the doors of the Portuguese city Santarém using Machado.
According to studies, all Marques families came from a Spanish trunk called Marquez. It is considered a surname of Spanish and Portuguese origin.
Marques means “son of Mark” or “son of Marcus”, as the suffix es was usually assigned to children or other members of a patriarchal family.
The last name appeared as a variant of Nunez. Nunes carries the meanings of “pai”, “aio”; “monk”; “ninth” or “descended from Nuno”.
It is likely that it has a Latin origin and is based on the same root as the name Nuno.
Of Portuguese origin, the surname Moreira carries the meaning of “those who live close to the blackberry tree“.
It is a name related to a geographic region, probably referring to the families that owned properties close to blackberry trees.
Of Spanish and Portuguese origin, the surname Andrade emerged in the region of Galízia. It means “toponym of the kingdom of Galicia” or “a reference to New Jews“.
In Portugal, the Andrade surname has been present since the fourteenth century, according to historical records.
Dias is a surname of Spanish and Portuguese origin meaning “son of Diego”, “son of Diogo”, or “relative of the one who comes from the heel“
This beautiful surname may also have a Hebrew origin, as Diego is modeled on the biblical name Jacob.
The last name Fernandes is related to the families that had a patriarch named Fernando. It, therefore, means “son of Fernando”, “son of the man daring to achieve peace” or “son of the man who dares to travel”.
Diogo Fernandes is one of the first known ancestors of the Iberian Peninsula to receive this name in the 19th century.
The popular surname Reis has some possibilities of origin, such as Latin and Turkish. It means “king”, “monarch”, “leader”, and “boss” and was brought to Brazil through Portuguese families.
In Portugal, the surname was used initially as a first name in the register of boys born on Epiphany.
This surname emerged as a geographical reference to a Portuguese region, more precisely the city of Moura which belongs to the District of Beja, in the Alentejo region.
The last name means “who is born in Moura (Portugal region)”, “wall” or “land of the Moors”.
Studies point out that the Moraes family, who resided in Portugal, originated in the village of Morais, in the Trás-os-Montes region; while the Spanish part of this family would be from the town of Morales in Spain.
The surname Moraes means “land of blackberries” or “mulberry tree” and originally refers to the families that lived in regions that had this type of fruit tree.
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