Other names may be trying to catch up with Smith, but we will never give up the championship. Despite a bit of a decline, we are still number 1! From the NYT story:
Smith remains the most common surname in the United States, according to a new analysis released yesterday by the Census Bureau. But for the first time, two Hispanic surnames–Garcia and Rodriguez–are among the top 10 most common in the nation, and Martinez nearly edged out Wilson for 10th place. Smith–which would be even more common if all its variations, like Schmidt and Schmitt, were tallied–is among the names derived from occupations.
Among the most famous early bearers of the name was Capt. John Smith, who helped establish the first permanent English settlement in North America at Jamestown, Va., 400 years ago…nearly 3.4 million Smiths lived in the United States. In 1990, the census counted 2.5 million. By 2000, the Smith population had declined to fewer than 2.4 million.
The name Smith has a venerable pedigree. According to Wikipedia:
The name originally derives from smitan, the Anglo-Saxon term meaning to smite or strike. This term led to the name of the occupation, smith or blacksmith, because such persons must continuously strike metal with a hammer in order to shape it. Metallurgy required the development of specialist skills, and was practiced throughout the world from the Bronze Age. The use of Smith as an occupational surname dates back to Anglo-Saxon times, when inherited surnames were still unknown: Ecceard Smith of Durham County was recorded in 975. Smithers may also have derived from the Celtic word “smiterin” which meant “blown to bits”. This explains the common expression “blown to smithereens”.
Alright, so we have had a bit of a decline. Can happen to anybody. But the name Smith will never give up the championship. You Johnsons can try to keep up, and good luck to you. Jones? You guys haven’t a chance. Garcia and Rodriguez? Always nice to have a challenge from the new guys: Do your best but be prepared to suffer the heartbreak of defeat.
(Er, all you young Smith couples out there? Get busy procreating! They’re catching up.)