Last Name Generator; Getting The Best Surnames

last name generator
by CJ McDaniel // February 27  

There is a lot of freedom for writers, and you can give your characters virtually any name you want to, but it might be more complicated depending on your story’s setting. If the setting is official, you might have to consider using two names for most characters.

You might also have to consider surnames if it is a royal family or a significant character. You could have a hard time coming up with last names that make sense. Thanks to the last name generator, you don’t have to struggle in coming up with the perfect last names.

This name generator will help you find the right last names for your characters. However, aside from using this tool, here’s a guide to help you narrow down on the best name for your story;

Where Did Last Names Come From?

Today, everyone has at least two names, first and last names. Nobody thinks about where last names came from or why all societies adopted them. Let us break this down and help you understand everything there is to know about it;

Chinese family names go back so far that they need legends to explain them. According to the Chinese, an Emperor, Fu Xi, was god-like and ruled for over 200 years, and he implemented the family names.

He implemented this system about 3000 BCE, and at the start, people took their mother’s names. Around 12 centuries BCE, they began using their father’s name, and it remained so till date. These names came from the person’s title, name, or occupation.

Japan and Korea did not have last names until around 1900, and the Koreans borrowed most of their last names from the Chinese. 

In Japan, people chose their names or asked their priests to choose a name with religious meaning for them.

Before 500 BCE, people in ancient Greece only used their first names, and later on, they introduced last names. 

This is why Aristotle doesn’t have a surname. At first, it was only a system to identify people living in Athens. 

Cleisthenes started a system that needed people to have their first names and regions, which was the starting point of last names. Eventually, the names evolved, and people chose names unique to their families.

In the Roman Empire, people originally had one name, but it is hard to know precisely when last names became common because of the many shifts in leadership and naming. Eventually, Romans ended up having three names.

One name the child got from the parents at birth, the second name identified the person’s clan and the third name was a hereditary name, last name, or a nickname. England started using the last name around 1066.

This happened after the Norman Conquest since the Norman imposed the system. The English used occupation, hometown, nickname, and baptismal name. 

Eventually, this system spread to most English colonized continents, and now it is the most common.

What To Consider When Choosing The Last Name

1. Marriage

If two of your characters get married, their second names will be affected, and you need to reflect that in your work. You could change depending on the type of society you created and following their rules.

In most communities, the woman adopts the man’s name after marriage, and you can do the same for your book. 

It is becoming common for men to take their wives’ names, and you can also choose to go in this direction, and your book will sell nonetheless.

Of course, at this point, they will have been independent characters for some time, and you will have to come up with their separate names. If the story starts with them as a couple, you can maintain one last name for both of them.

2. The character’s family and society

The most crucial purpose of a second name in most societies is to identify a person as a member of a given family, and this is something you have to keep in mind. Most family members have the same last name since it identifies them.

If you have last names for the parents, you can have all the children use the same last name since that is what happens in real life. 

For most situations, you can use the first names to refer to the characters or add middle names to make it easier for the reader to follow your story.

The family position and a person’s position in the family can also influence their last name. Many families have names that say something about their social standing, so you might consider using that in critical themes.

3. How it goes with the first name

Picking a cool last name can be challenging, but you need to give it time and choose a name that matches the first one. 

Sometimes simple is better when choosing names for your characters, making your job much easier. 

This tip could seem like a no-brainer, but it can make a massive difference in how natural the name sounds to a reader. 

After choosing the last name, say it out loud in several situations to see how it flows and if it is hard in some situations.

You should try to avoid exceedingly long names that might be hard to pronounce, especially if they are in a foreign language. 

The more syllables you have in a name, the harder it is to remember, so make it short and appropriate for readers to have an easy time.

4. Uniqueness

Last names should be memorable, and it is easier to remember something unique. Depending on your character’s backstory, you might want to choose a name that stands out from the rest to give them a different feel from the rest of the characters.

The names don’t always have to be new; you can use a common name like Smith but correctly identify a character. 

It would help to consider how familiar that name will be to a reader and how they will place it when reading.

5. The feeling it brings to readers

The last name or any name speaks volumes to some readers, so you need to use a name that will get readers in the suitable mental space about a character. You can create the feeling by using the name in a different context or using a name with a meaning.

You need to know your audience and their beliefs for this to work, so you pick a name they will connect with. Follow their naming traditions, and you should get a perfect name in no time.

Ideas For Last Names

Now that you understand the source of last names and how to choose one, it’s time to get creative and come up with names. 

The name will mostly depend on your story, your characters, and their lives. There are many exceptional last names, and the last name generator will help you get the best, yet here are some excellent ideas you can try;

  • Baker. This is a common English name, and it can be a good name for any character, more so one that runs a bakery or comes from a line of bakers.
  • Hill. This can be a perfect name for someone who lives on the hillside or moved from a hilly region, so the family adopts it to identify with their home.
  • Woods. James Woods is a celebrity, and you can use this name in your story. It can also show where a person lives or they come from.
  • Smith. Naming a character based on their role in the community can make it easier for the readers to remember, and Smith will leave a clear picture.
  • Taylor. This classy name can work well for many male characters whether they associate with the profession or not. It is a common name, so it won’t always suggest a tailor, but you can use it however you please.
  • Fox. Foxes are often cunning animals, and you can use the name for a character that is intelligent or tricks others into doing things for them.
  • Chalut. This Latin word means beyond, so it can be a name for an explorer in your book or someone outside societal norms.
  • Lawless. Lawless is a cool last name for a character against the law. Depending on your plot and how the characters in power treat the underdogs, it can be a hero or villain.
  • Ajax. This can be a nickname or last name for someone brave.
  • Dempsey. This Irish name means proud, and it will be a fitting name for a character with that trait.
  • Butterworth. Most of your readers will connect with this name if you use it for a character that makes butter or as a family name for such a character.


Last names are common today, but that was not always the case. Most civilizations did not have surnames, and that is why some of the most significant historical figures have only one name. If you write a novel, you will need surnames for most of your characters. That is where our last name generator comes in handy! 

When choosing a name, consider the purpose of the character in their community, the feelings of society towards them, and the culture in which they live. These factors dictate names in real life, so you need to make your story accurate.

The last name generator is an essential tool that you can use. It is intuitive, fast, and straightforward. Explore our last name generator now and and focus on writing rather than guessing.

If you’re looking for more random name generators for your fiction, check out our collection of Fiction Name Generators here.

Also experience the strength of our author tools such as the book mockup generator and our story title generator.

About the Author

CJ grew up admiring books. His family owned a small bookstore throughout his early childhood, and he would spend weekends flipping through book after book, always sure to read the ones that looked the most interesting. Not much has changed since then, except now some of those interesting books he picks off the shelf were designed by his company!