Ever wondered about the meanings and history of Brazilian names?
In this article, I will briefly discuss how last names were installed in the country, how they were chosen, and what the current naming convention is.
I will also list the most common Brazilian names, both first and surnames.
Names in Brazil
As a former Portugal colony, most names in Brazil have not only Portuguese influence, but also Spanish, Roman, Italian, Latin, and even French.
There is a massive diversity not only in culture, people, and landscapes but also in the names in the country.
Nowadays, the most common names in Brazil have Portuguese, English, Germanic, Spanish, Latin, Italian, or Indigenous Brazilian origins.
You can even find lots of English and American influences, especially in first names.
Some of the most popular Brazilian names from each ethnicity
- Portuguese – Margarida, Manuel, André, João
- Spanish – Juan, Heitor, Carlos
- Greek – Joana, Sofia
- Italian – Fabrício, Alessandra
- Latin – Maria, Augusto
- French – Eloísa, Monique
- German – Bruna, Bruno
- English – Wilson, Wesley
- American – Anderson, Jackson
Nicknames in Brazil
Usually, nicknames based on the person’s first name are the diminutive, augmentative, or the first syllable.
For instance, my name is Bruna and many people call me Bruninha (diminutive). Sometimes, people call me Bru, short for Bruna.
Someone called Marcos could have one of the following nicknames: Marquinhos (diminutive), Marcão (augmentative), or Ma (short for Marcos).
Obviously, nicknames don’t necessarily need to be based on the person’s name, but when it does happen, these are generally the unspoken rules.
Last name in Brazil: How does it work?
When the Portuguese installed the use of last names in Brazil to identify natives better, they chose names based on people’s place of birth, living, profession, physical attributes, religion, or parent’s name.
For instance, Silva—the most common last name in Brazil—was given to people born or lived in or near forests. Silva is Latin for forest.
Machado—Portuguese word for axe—was given to people who used to manufacture this object. And so on.
Slaves used to have a single name as they had no right to be registered with their family names. Still, once freed, most former slaves adopted their last owner’s surnames.
That’s also the reason why African last names are rare in Brazil, even though we have a massive community of African descents.
How do Brazilian last names work?
The convention says every citizen born in Brazil has a first name and at least one last name, but usually two.
The first surname comes from the mother and the second from the father.
So if Beatriz Pereira dos Santos would have a child with Carlos Andrade Azevedo, their child would hypothetically be named Paulo dos Santos Azevedo.
Note that only the last names from both parents are given to the newborn, so every citizen usually has two surnames.
Names after marriage
When couples get married in Brazil, the woman often adds her husband’s last name, so using the example above, her married name would be Beatriz Pereira dos Santos Azevedo.
It’s very unlikely for men in Brazil to change their last names after getting married.
Juniors and Netos
On a different note, when a boy is named after his father, he is given the name Junior after his last surname.
For instance, Brazilian soccer player Neymar da Silva Santos Junior is named after his father, who is also named Neymar.
When a boy is named after his grandfather, he is given the name Neto after his last surname. Neto means grandson in the Portuguese language.
Brazil names: Most common first and last names
These are the 20 most common Brazilian names and last names.
Brazilian names for girls
- Maria – 11,694,738 people
- Ana – 3,079,729 people
- Francisca – 721,637 people
- Antônia – 588,783 people
- Adriana – 565,621 people
- Juliana – 562,589 people
- Márcia – 551,855 people
- Fernanda – 531,607 people
- Patrícia – 529,446 people
- Aline – 509,869 people
- Sandra – 479,230 people
- Camila – 469,851 people
- Amanda – 464,624 people
- Bruna – 460,770 people
- Jéssica – 456,472 people
- Letícia – 434,056 people
- Julia – 430,067 people
- Luciana – 429,769 people
- Vanessa – 417,512 people
- Mariana – 381,778 people
Brazilian names for boys
- José – 5,732,508 people
- João – 2,971,935 people
- Antônio – 2,567,494 people
- Francisco – 1,765,197 people
- Carlos – 1,483,121 people
- Paulo – 1,417,907 people
- Pedro – 1,213,557 people
- Lucas – 1,116,818 people
- Luiz – 1,102,927 people
- Marcos – 1,101,126 people
- Luís – 931,530 people
- Gabriel – 922,744 people
- Rafael – 814,709 people
- Daniel – 706,527 people
- Marcelo – 690,098 people
- Bruno – 663,271 people
- Eduardo – 628,539 people
- Felipe – 615,924 people
- Raimundo – 611,174 people
- Rodrigo – 598,825 people
Brazilian last names
These are the most common Brazilian last names as of 2010.
- Silva (and variations, such as da Silva) – 6.2 million
- Santos (and variations, such as dos Santos) – 5 million
- Oliveira (and variations, such as de Oliveira) – 4.3 million
- Souza (and variations, such as Sousa) – 2.6 million
- Rodrigues – 2.4 million
- Ferreira – 2.4 million
- Alves – 2.2 million
- Pereira – 2.2 million
- Lima – 2 million
- Gomes – 1.6 million
- Costa – 1.6 million
- Ribeiro – 1.6 million
- Martins – 1.5 million
- Carvalho – 1.4 million
- Almeida – 1.3 million
- Lopes – 1.2 million
- Soares – 1.2 million
- Fernandes – 1.2 million
- Vieira – 1.1 million
- Barbosa – 1.1 million
Names in Brazil
Even though many Brazilian names have roots in Portugal, it is not uncommon to see Spanish, German, French, or even Italian names in the country.
What about you? Do you know the meaning and history of your name?
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