The Worldwide Distribution of Scalzis
Posted on February 2, 2016 Posted by John Scalzi 69 Comments
A website named Forebears.io claims to know the number of people who share one’s surname and their distribution worldwide (presumably via publicly available census materials), so I figured, what the heck, I would plug “Scalzi” in there and see what happened.
What happened: If the information on the site is at all reasonably accurate, then there aren’t a whole lot of Scalzis out there — just over 2,000 worldwide, just under half of them (somewhat logically) in Italy, with the US in second place with just over 700 (as a contrast, there are over four million people with the surname of “Smith” worldwide). There are more than four times as many people named “Scalzo” out there. “Scalzi” is, according to this Web site, the 175,162nd most common name in the world.
This doesn’t really tell me anything that I didn’t already know, i.e., that there aren’t a whole lot of Scalzis in the world. I knew that because outside of my extended family I only know of relatively few Scalzis, particularly here in the US, although of course of those there are, the Internet makes them easier to find. Hi, guys!
It also explains why, for all intents and purposes, I am the Scalzi online, which is to say that I’m all over the search engine results for the name. It’s not that I’m all that amazing; it’s that the field of other players with the name is limited. I mean, I’ll take it; I like being very easy to find on Google. But it’s a case of being a big Internet fish in a small online pond. I do once again apologize to all the other Scalzis out there. Sorry for hogging the bandwidth on the name.
Interestingly, my wife’s previous last name, Blauser, is even less common than Scalzi, worldwide, although it has nearly 100 more people using it in the US than Scalzi has. What can I say? We’re uncommon people.
I’m guessing the accuracy is terrible. I put my own surname in, and whole countries full of people with the same surname as mine were excluded.
I put my surname in and as expected it is quite rare. I only know 4 other people: my husband and his family. :) But there are a few of us in the US.
They are stunningly wrong about the etymology of mine– my last name has a homophone from another country by chance that is completely unrelated. They’re only pronounced the same in the US, not in their countries of origin. But the site provides information on the homophone rather than on the name itself (even though 0 people have my last name in said homophone country).
And how frequently occurs the surname of your good friend John Scalvi?
I just did it with my surname. I remember looking for my surname in a White Pages online site years ago, and the only people with it were either relatives or one guy over in Maine.
Sure enough, it’s extremely rare worldwide. A whopping 19 people in the US share it, and even in Great Britain only about 86 matches came up.
Oh boy, I already knew I had a common name. My married name is the 1,731st most common. My maiden name… oh boy… 202nd most common, with 2,391,310 people worldwide sharing it. And enough of them share my first name (in both names) that I am un-Googleable.
I found this interesting, my husband’s surname is Hungarian (he’s first generation US), and there are only 683 in Hungary versus 25090 in the US.
Hm. There are zero people with my surname in Ireland. Where I live. I just had an existential crisis.
The site is not very clear about who is operating it or the reliability of their data – rather than placing information on an ‘about’ page or one explaining methodology, there’s a ‘credits’ page which points to “key reference sources” that seem kind of….random?
422 for me. 540,986th most common. Not too surprising. The 3 in Argentina are a surprise.
Wow, there are only 15 people worldwide with my surname.
My sister hogs our surname on the Google, so I feel for your siblings, Scalzi.
238, all in the US. Not surprising as our family name is a corruption of some dude’s name who came over from Netherlands, in 1780s and settled in Ohio river valley area. Lots of variants, but all still in the US.
My wife’s surname is extremely rare. It has two “o”s in it so people think it’s Dutch, but it isn’t. No one knows where it’s from. According to this site there are 26 in the US and one in Iran. I’m about certain she’s the only person in the world with her name. Unlike mine. In the last two towns where I lived (one with population about 40,000 and one with population 2500) there is another person with my name. The previous one was a college town and I once got a long telephone message intended for my namesake from his thesis advisor telling him what changes he should make in his thesis.
One in 855,279 by surname … Yep, that’s me. :-)
My surname seems to be almost exclusively US: 160 here, 9 in Australia, 3 in each of France, the Czech Republic and Spain.
I suspect that the US is overcalculated (by double-counting phone records) and France undercalculated, because (a) each case of the name I’ve encountered in the US has turned out to a relative or ex-wife, and (b) because I’ve seen photos of gravestones with the surname in Alsace and in Germany. Of course, those European Jews may have all been removed in one way or another in the Hitler era.
I have the 766th most common surname with close 685k people out there.
I put in my mother’s maiden name into a similar site to verify my Irish ancestry. I was surprised to find out it was Welsh, not Irish. This site gives more folks with the name in the US than in Wales, and England comes in #2, but Wales has the highest density.
Or, maybe? The data it has for the US is supposedly from 2014, but the data for the British Isles seems to be from 1881-1901. I’m not sure the two are comparable.
There are about 260 Italian families called Scalzi, and you can see in which Italian regions they live here. Scalzo is an adjective (male singular; scalzi is male plural) and means barefoot.
Where you go to check your name at ,please let me know. Thanks D
Finnish Population register centre https://verkkopalvelu.vrk.fi/Nimipalvelu/default.asp?L=3 , the most official source possible, says that 647 people currently have my surname.
Forebears.io says 338, dated 2014. Which interestingly is the number of women with my name according to the Population register centre.
So much for accuracy.
There’s a shade over 39K ppl in the US with the Ewing surname (my married name). Kinda surprised the number is so low in England (roughly 3K) and Scotland (just under 1400), since it’s a bastardization of MacEwen, a Scottish name.
Almost 1.2 million Davises (maiden name) in the US alone.
According to this site, my surname is 1,024,262nd in the world. 145 of us in the USofA and 2 in Germany. I know this to be incorrect, because I personally know several family members with my surname in and around Bischofsheim, Germany.
My surname is the 5,523,051st most common, shared by approximately two people in the world, both in the US. I saw my wife an hour ago, so now I’m worried since I haven’t talked to my parents in awhile. Or my sister. Or my cousins. There aren’t a whole lot of us, but more than two!
Until Justin showed up in the public consciousness I regularly had to spell my last name on the phone. No longer. Thanks, Justin!
Yeah, this isn’t the sort of thing to expect high accuracy from, but it is fun. Nothing too surprising about my last name (although interesting that it found 1 person with it in a couple odd countries which makes me wonder who those people are and let them know they aren’t alone.) :)
But, out of curiosity,I tried some of the surnames on the maternal sides of my family. My grandmother (my Nain actually) was a Jones from Wales. I know the name is ridiculously common there (and even more specifically John Jones is common – I think half the men in that part of my family tree are named John Jones – makes genealogy real fun.) But wow! According to this, 1:36 people have that surname in Wales. When you think about, that’s pretty crazy common and definitely beats Smith for density. Anyone find any surnames with a higher density than that? I’m sure there are, even confining it to countries with at least a million people or something to avoid statistical anomalies.
When I Google my name, I used to mostly get results for a somewhat unsuccessful professional boxer and now, recently, I get results for a freshman college basketball player. I’m perfectly happy with that. I would not want to be a public figure with easily accessible data. It is hard enough to be a virtual nobody and still protected your personal information. Pretty much anyone can find the data on the internet and abuse it. @Scalzi I wonder if you take pains to secure your private details (address, phone, etc.) and if you have been successful. For reference, see this article about SWATting and the problem it has become – http://www.engadget.com/2016/02/02/katherine-clark-swatting/. Given your penchant for acting as the lodestone for enraged a-holes, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this has happened to you.
Oh, who could resist?
According to this site, there is exactly one Ctein in the world (many would consider that more than sufficient, some even one too many), making it the “6,300,947th most common surname in the world.”
I do know two others on Facebook, one Scandinavian and one Taiwanese, but they’re not their legal names. And there is an EU standard organization with the initials C.T.E.I.N.
OTOH, there are 368,307 people with my housemate’s surname, as Butler isn’t all that unusual, placing it 1,455th in the rankings.
Combined statistics can be … odd. Many years back, Chip Morningstar observed that there are an awful lot of people in the world named Mohammad and possibly even more with the surname Wong, but there are remarkably few Mohammad Wongs. Which became the name of the CEO of a fictitious media conglomerate he created, Fudco. The CEO’s portrait is a merge of Abdul Nasser and Chiang Kai-Chek, and he’s a fox!
But… life is too strange even for art. A current Google search turns up a real Fudco, an Indian grocer and importer, in the UK.
pax / Ctein
Using the Forebears site and a Google search, I’ve been able to determine there are approximately 60 Sears people for each Sears store. Also, the site says there are 37,499 Searses in the US. I’ll have to convince my wife to have another child just to get it to an even number. It might be easier to convince her to let me have a second wife.
My grandmother’s maiden name is a good one – only 724 in the world! And I looked at the locations and could go, oh yes, that’s the cousins who emigrated to Argentina, and that must be the descndants of Nonna’s uncle who went to the USA in the early 20th century, and those are the cousins back in Corleto… Though I don’t know which are the three who ended up in Germany.
There are enormous numbers of people with both my names, but I have managed to be googleable by dint of never shutting up online. Still, I know what name I’ll be using if I ever want to be really unique on the Internet.
Yeah, seeing some holes in their sources. A couple hundred thousand for my name, spread where you’d expect, but my wife’s maiden name (with under a thousand in the US) has none in Ireland, where her family came from.
I don’t know how accurate the site is overall, but I got about the results I figured: pretty much everyone with my surname lives in the U.S. The consequences of having an Ellis Island Name, I suspect . . .
Re: Suspicion of data trustworthiness — yup, I would take it with a grain of salt, and with the understanding this is mostly for entertainment purposes.
There’s only 988 of us (my name-sharers) in the world, none in the U.S., and apparently only one in the country where I live. As does my brother, who has the same last name as me. So yeah – not perfect accuracy but probably a small margin of error.
According to this site there are zero people with my last name. Which is also my dad’s and my sister’s last name, and possibly my aunt’s. (I think I’m the only Google hit for it.)
To be fair, it’s a hyphenated last name. The less-common (that is, non-Anglicized) half of the name turned up no matches directly and six variants, one of which has a few hundred people in the family’s country of origin. Probably someone had a spelling crisis at some point.
I’m one of 1,537, and many of us are in Brazil, of all places.
@Ctein: one is exactly enough.
About the same number with my last name (virtually all in the US) but only about 90 with my son’s. Fun.
It says there’s only 2500 ish Blinn folks in the U.S., which seems low as I can name about 100 cousins and uncles without trying too hard.
@ kenmarable – I had a colleague called Jill Jones who married a chap called John Jones (both were Welsh). I’m not sure if she kept her maiden name on marriage or took her husband’s.
As for my name, there are (apparently, perhaps) 70,000 of us in the world, not very exciting either way. There are 12+ times as many with the most common misspelling of it.
But someone at primary school with me had what to me sounds like an fairly unexceptional-sounding, easily-pronounced surname of Armenian background: but there are only 22 in the world. The relative accuracy of that low number is supported by the fact that the only 9 people I can see on Facebook with that surname are him and his wife and kids and sister and mother and other close relatives.
Supposedly, 8,139 other people share my name. For fun, I searched several of the other family branches – one had only 219 users!
Naturally we all ran off and checked ourselves. After checking Barnes: oh, man. I knew Dad got around, but geez.
Not only was my great-grandmother, Lizzie Jones, daughter of a John Jones, but she married a John Jones as well (I did ask the potentially awkward but obvious question – and, no, they weren’t the same John Jones). I do think she was a rebel and kept her maiden name, however. ;)
But while talking about common names, I haven’t performed a rigorous study, obviously, but from asking acquaintances for years, I’m pretty sure here in the U.S. if you or your father isn’t named Bob/Robert, then there’s 50/50 odds that you have an Uncle Bob. I don’t know if it’s just a midwest or other cultural thing, but I swear, at least half the people I know either have an Uncle Bob or are one themselves.
“This surname may be extinct” Incidence 1
If I put in my last name the biggest number is Australia, then Ireland, then England then U.S. (Origin and highest density is Ireland). If I put it in without the O’ then highest number is U.S. then Ireland then Australia. So Irish in the U.S. have a greater tendancy to drop the O’ – or to not have an ancestor that put it back – the reason I have an O’ is that my great-grandfather (in Ireland about 1900 when there was a rise in Irish nationalism ) put it back after it had been dropped at some time in the past.
Numbers for me:
19,243rd most common surname in the world
Approximately 27,073 people bear this surname
It’s accurate that Ireland has the highest density and prevalence…
The etymology is half-right, I believe, though it omits what I thought was the meaning (instead replacing it with stuff I hadn’t been aware of….)
A better website might be https://www.houseofnames.com/ – it has family crests and surname information. The page on my surname has the correct crest. It’s funny how these things are…. my current surname is the anglicised version of an Irish surname which probably came from a first name or title and possibly Irish royalty???
Huh. I’m not surprised that the US, Canada, and Germany were three of the top four countries for my last name, as those are the three countries where regular Pontius reunions are held. But Indonesia, really? And surely there are still SOME Pontii left in Italy.
Hmm, “Hitler” is apparently the 1,527th most popular surname in Nicaragua. Seems a little suspect.
Yep…1250 Hoddes worldwide. That seems about right. Thanks for the link!
Well… I don’t think that ad4ed11bffcaa8236cbe82c80eef6317 is that common of a surname.
My surname is extremely common, shared with the founder of a major tech company that used to employ a guy named Scalzi. Makes me, essentially, un-google-able. Which I am quite happy with.
They say: “Surname distribution statistics are generated from a global sample of 1.6 billion people”.
Does this mean we need to multiply by 4.5 to get a figure closer to the actual total or are their figures adjusted?
Oh wait… Never mind. I did a bit of math and looked at the demographics for South Africa and there is no way that there is half a million people with my particular surname in my country. That would mean that, for whites, one out of every nine people I run into would have my surname.
The figures are adjusted.
The US has the most people with my last name, but that’s because our population is large. It’s rather more popular as a percentage of the population on small British islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, and…Ghana. Which I suppose shouldn’t be surprising, considering that the English colonized Ghana.
My family is Irish, but we do make jokes about our Sassenach surname. Given several generations of only one boy being born, I only have two relatives who share the name; the rest of the clan has more traditional Irish names.
I’m a bit amused by the idea that there are only 160 some people with my mom’s maiden name in the world. Seems unlikely, I’m pretty sure about 100 of those are my cousins and their numerous offspring (I’m not kidding, the underachievers have three kids). A bit surprised though, I always assumed it was another Swiss/German name like every other branch of the family tree but it might be Irish. Although, if you believe them, nobody in Ireland is named that now, it’s found only in the US and Russia/Ukraine. Which, if you assume they’re descendants of Russian Mennonites, would get us back to the Swiss/German theory. May need to do research.
Unfortunately both my maiden name and husbands name were changed to something more common in the US sometime after our ancestors came into the country, so…
So, according to this site, my last name is super rare (about 1700 worldwide) and most common in the U.S., Germany, and Israel. The thing that I find a little startling is that it turns up no one with my last name in Ukraine or Poland; my Kritzer ancestor came from Galicia, and his (microscopic) village is now in Ukraine. (I’ve looked at it on Google Earth. It’s like Nebraska but with crappier roads and fewer people.)
That said, Gershom paid a visit to some friend or family member in Germany in the early 1930s — we have no idea who this person is, but we have pictures from the trip. And the Jews of his village who didn’t get out while the getting was good were pretty much murdered wholesale, there were very few survivors from that part of Europe.
My parents told me that “Kritzer” came from the Yiddish word for “scribe.” It actually means “scratcher,” apparently, so….maybe it comes from the Yiddish word for, “you call yourself a scribe?!?” (The name that ACTUALLY comes from the Yiddish/German for scribe is “Schreiber” and its variants.)
I will say this much: I am the only Naomi Kritzer I have ever found on the Internet, ever. I did once find another Naomi Kritzer in a public records database; she died in NYC in the 1970s, I think.
When the newspaper I was then writing for subscribed to a major people-finding service, I discovered that there were exactly four people in the United States who shared my first and last name. Unfortunately, one of the other three is also a writer, who has published a new-agey book about the emerging spirituality of the cosmos or some such thing, and I had to figure out a way to warn people (especially scientists!) whom I was calling for interviews that I was not the same person as the one Google would find for them.
Thank you for posting this. I have an ethnically italian last name. When I was a kid my parents would check phone books for my last name any time we would travel. We never found unexpected members of the family. There are not that many in the US. About 1100 in italy. About 350 in Argentina. This doesn’t surprise me since Argentina is largely German/Italian immigrants (its a majority white Spanish speaking country). There was 1 in Qatar which gets me wondering… huh? How do I contact this guy to learn his story. Interestingly my name is very similiar to Iranian sounding names. So a lot of Iranians think I am Iranian. Maybe some part of me is?
I then looked up my mothers maiden name. This is the Jewish side the family. More common. About 23,000 total world wide. 8300 in Germany. My first thought was how many were there in 1930 and my second thought was why would so many want to stay after the holocaust. I would want to get the hell out.
I was just talking to guy I worked with yesterday from Pakistan. He can trace his routes back to Persia in the 700s. He lives in Texas now. His kids are basically Texans in heart and soul. Unfortunately they picked up Dallas Cowboys cooties and follow them. So they are the worst of Texas. He was telling me I should trace my roots. Its interesting. I know both sides of my family came over around 1900 and went through Ellis Island. I wonder if that site goes back to other countries? I never really thought about it.
It is entirely possible that I am descended from Moses, Julius Caesar, and Cyrus the Great. Damn. Go me.
Not surprisingly, there was a ton of Terrys all over the place. What I was more curious about was my mother’s maiden name, Lounsbery, with that odd spelling, a single r, and there were about 540 on the planet, which doesn’t surprise me much. I’ve only run into it one other place, which was on an old movie credit somewhere.
Lee is already a common surname, but if you include spelling variants of the original logogram which includes the mainland Chinese ‘Li’, then I’ve got one of the most common surnames in the world.
395 for my surname, 315 in the US, with the U.K. next with 50 or so. Makes sense to me, because nearly every time I google my last name, I only get family members. That said, I am another person who doesn’t register in my current country of residence.
Just under 4500 of my last name in the world, including over 3k in India (hence no relation, but it explains all the spam emails I got in grad school inviting me to join some Indian-American profession group ). Biggest concentration is in Slovenia, which is where my grandparents came from.
My wife’s maiden name comes up with 44 incidences worldwide, split between the US and her ancestral Germany.
My surname is most prevalent in… Tanzania?
2728 with my surname, but ⅔ of them live in Mongolia – I don’t think they’re related to me. :-) (I’ve had my DNA checked through Family Tree DNA, and my ancestry is almost exclusively from northwestern Europe, except for a very small bit of Native American. Scandinavia, the Low Countries, and the British Isles.)
Accuracy is a bit suspect, since they say there’s no one with my name in the country I’m living in right now.
All numbers based on site you linked.
I started life with a very common name of Benson 359,749 worldwide
I post/comment using my pen/professional name Turner honoring my maternal grandparents is the most common of all names I’ve used 582,327 worldwide
1st marriage ex-husband’s name Boireau fairly rare about 2,235 worldwide
Current husband’s last name Lennhoff is really rare 50 people worldwide shows only 1 person left in Germany all the rest are in US
BTW changing your name requires tons of paperwork when you consider bank accounts, employment, credit cards, social security, taxes, drivers license, passport, 401k, IRAs, car registration, multiple insurances, will, house/apartment related, utilities, and more. Yes I’m lucky to have all that stuff. Beats being poor. A poor woman has tons of documents to change, some were on my list, others might be social services related. Men this is another something to add to things you don’t have to deal with while going through life unless you choose to.
Checked mine and it claims there are 941 people with that name. Most of them in Tanzania.
Most common way people misspell it has 28,495 hits.
Scalzis waving back at ya from CT! We are fine with you monopolizing Google. It’s all good.
My maiden name is 1,557,632nd most common name in the world with 62 people listed pretty much all here in the USA. My dad was obsessed with our family tree and the whole genealogy thing. My sister and I feel massive pangs of guilt that we haven’t been keeping the records current since he passed away 4 years ago.
Dear Mr. Scalzi, you may want no know you are NOT “the Scalzi” in Italy: there’s a famous songwriter playing with a band called “New Trolls”