Why is the last name “Smith” so common?


Why is the last name “Smith” so common?

In: Culture

Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but I was once told that in certain cultures last names were frequently related to your job. The Smiths were the local blacksmiths, the Bakers were the local bakers, the Potter’s were pottery makers, etc.

And that is why these names are fairly common even if they aren’t all related.

Just scanned the wiki. From what I understand the name began when people were being named for their occupation. For instance a blacksmith would have the last name smith. These people were considered esteemed members of their communities, so when genealogical names came around and you didn’t have a family name, you were likely to choose smith. This initially may have caused some popularity. However after this it’s popularity was mostly compounded simply by how common it was. People who needed a name were likely to choose it.

Then in the US smith’s were among the first family move to the new world. This could have helped the name become even more common but again the main factor was simply that people who needed a name often chose names they were familiar with. Native Americans sometimes added smith to their name to deal with colonists. African American slaves would often be given the surname smith, and many Germans during WWII Americanized names like Schmidt or Schmitz to smith to avoid discrimination. Over time all of these factors added up, contributing to the use of the name today.

I’ve also heard a story about smith being common because blacksmiths didn’t have to fight in wars, so we’re more likely to survive. But I don’t think there’s much to back it up.

Here’s what the [Wiki](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smith_(surname)) has to say:

It is common for people in English-speaking countries to adopt the surname Smith in order to maintain a secret identity, when they wish to avoid being found. Smith is an extremely common name among English Gypsies
During the colonization of North America, some Native Americans took the name for use in dealing with colonists

During the period of slavery in the United States, many other slaves were known by the surname of their masters, or adopted those surnames upon their emancipation

During the world wars, many German Americans anglicised the common and equivalent German surname *Schmidt* to *Smith* to avoid discrimination

I wonder if with wars and everything if that helped keep people that could Smith alive more often than more common farmers etc?

Because back in the day the only man in the village who had keys to every woman’s chastity belt was the lockSMITH.