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What nationality is the last name long?

What nationality is the last name long?

The last name Long can potentially have multiple national origins. Surnames or last names are passed down through generations and can be indicative of a family’s ethnic background and nationality. There are many factors that can influence last names like immigration, changing social norms around names, transliteration of names in different languages, and more. To determine the nationalities associated with the last name Long, we need to examine historical records, name frequency data, and linguistic origins.

The Origins of Surnames

Surnames or last names originated as a way to distinguish between individuals with the same first name living in small communities. Some of the earliest instances of surnames come from China in the 5th century BCE. In Western societies, the use of surnames became common during the Middle Ages. As populations grew, names like John or Mary were no longer sufficient for identification. Last names were often based on occupation (Smith, Baker), location (Hill, Brook), or familial lineage (Johnson, Wilson).

Over generations, spellings and prefixes/suffixes evolved, but core surname origins often remain identifiable today. Immigration and cultural assimilation also impacted name changes. Despite this, a last name still carries clues about ancestral nationality for many families.

Frequency and Distribution of the Surname Long

To understand the nationalities associated with Long, we can examine which countries and regions have higher concentrations of people with that last name. According to data from Forebears, a genealogical database, here are the countries with the highest prevalence of the surname Long:

Country Number of People with Surname
China 4,379,000
United States 281,471
Vietnam 137,506
England 39,041
Australia 26,035
South Africa 17,659

This data shows that the last name Long is overwhelmingly associated with China in terms of total numbers. The name’s derivation in Chinese and prevalence points to it having origins as a Chinese surname.

However, the name also has notable numbers in English-speaking Western countries like the United States, England, and Australia. The presence of Long in Vietnam can also be attributed to the Chinese diaspora in Southeast Asia.

Origins of the Surname Long in China

The Long surname has existed in China for thousands of years and is one of the hundred most common Chinese surnames. It is estimated that more people with the last name Long live in China than the entire population of the United States!

The surname ??????, romanized as L??ng in Mandarin and Lung in Cantonese, has its roots in the ancient Chinese kingdom of Longxi located in modern-day Gansu province. People from this region adopted Long as their surname, which explains the concentration among Northwestern Han Chinese people. However, Long later became a popular surname throughout all of China.

The Long surname is now so ubiquitous that it provides little clue into someone’s specific regional heritage within China. The Chinese characters can also be transliterated in alternate ways into English, resulting in different spellings like Long, Lung, and Look that all share the same origin.

Origins of the Surname Long in Vietnam

The Long surname spread from China to Vietnam. Up to 40% of Vietnamese people have Chinese surnames due to influence from centuries of Chinese rule over Vietnam.

The Vietnamese surname L??ng arose as an altered transliteration of the Chinese name ?????? (L??ng/Long) in Vietnamese language. Those with the name L??ng in Vietnam today are mostly descendants of Chinese immigrants who assimilated and adopted Vietnamese customs and language.

The Chinese Long surname is generally pronounced as “Lung” in Cantonese or other Southern Chinese dialects that were spoken by early Chinese settlers in Vietnam. When these Chinese names were adopted into Vietnamese language, they became altered into forms like L??ng.

Origins of the Surname Long in Anglo Countries

In countries like the United Kingdom and United States, Long is historically an English surname. It originated as a nickname referencing someone’s height or body size.

The medieval period in England saw surnames shift from patronymic names like “Williamson” to descriptive nicknames. People called a tall man “Long” and over generations, it stuck as a hereditary surname.

Long can also be an Anglicized form of other European surnames derived from words for “long” or “tall” – Lang (German), Lange (Dutch), Lung (Romanian), etc. Immigrants from European countries may have adapted their name into the spelling Long upon arrival in English-speaking countries.

Spelling variations like Lang and Lange are more common in the United States among families of German or Dutch origin, while Long remains quintessentially English. Data from the 2000 US Census shows Long as the 596th most common surname, separate from other variations.

Other European Origins

While less common, the Long surname is also found in other parts of Europe in forms like Longo (Italian), Lungu (Romanian), Lung (Slovenian), and more. These names derive from similar descriptive terms for long/tall in their native languages. In Hungary, Long may be a Magyarized form of Polish or Ukrainian surnames with the same meaning.

Outside of the British Isles and parts of Central/Eastern Europe though, Long is relatively rare as a surname and more likely linked to English immigrant ancestors than origins in that country.

Notable People with the Surname Long

Some famous contemporary individuals with the surname Long illustrate the name’s diverse cultural roots:

  • Ngo Dinh Long – Vietnamese politician
  • Long Long – Chinese pianist
  • Howie Long – American football player
  • Huey Long – Former Louisiana governor
  • Crawford Long – American physician who pioneered anesthesia

Based on their ancestral backgrounds, we can see Chinese, Vietnamese, and English origins for the Long surname among notable figures.

Origins in Other Languages and Cultures

In some rare cases, Long may originate from languages other than Chinese/Vietnamese/English where it means “dragon” or “grand/great” instead of “long”:

  • Long – The Khmer surname translated as “dragon” in the Cambodian language.
  • Leung – The Cantonese spelling of Chinese surnames meaning “dragon” – ?????? (Li??ng) or ?????? (L??ng).
  • Long/Lang – Occasionally a spelling variation of Scandanavian surnames meaning “great” like Lang/Lange (Norwegian) or L??ng (Swedish).

But these cases likely make up only a tiny percentage of occurrences. Overall, the Long surname overwhelmingly originates from Chinese, Vietnamese, and English roots meaning “long”.


In summary, while the surname Long has some origins across Europe and other parts of the world, it is overwhelmingly a Chinese surname that spread through the Chinese diaspora and immigration. The Chinese surname ?????? (L??ng/Long) accounts for the vast majority of people named Long worldwide.

Outside of China, the name also has notable prevalence in Vietnam as a Chinese-origin name adapted into Vietnamese language. And in Anglo countries, it arose independently as a nickname for someone tall that later became an inherited English surname.

So in conclusion, the nationality for the surname Long is predominantly Chinese in origin, with secondary associations with Vietnamese and English ancestries. The Chinese root ?????? represents the oldest and most common derivation. But cultural assimilation and transliteration into other languages also spawned variations like Long/Lung/L??ng/Look that carry the same core meaning.