Infographic: Vietnamese Last Names – How Many Nguyens Are There, Really?

Graph of Vietnamese Last Names | OneVietnam Network

If you had to guess a Vietnamese person’s last name, you’ll be right almost half of the time if you say “Nguyen.”  Yes, the stereotype is true, the majority of Vietnamese people have Nguyen (46%) or Tran (13%) as their last name.  About 85% of Vietnamese people have one of the ten last names in the chart above; that’s about 75 million of us.

A few other things worth noting: Huynh and Hoang and Vu and Vo are essentially the same last names.  It is similar to how Chan and Chen are spelt differently depending on where the person is from in China.  Try saying Huynh and Hoang out loud; you can see how they might have evolved from the same name.

Without further adieu, here is the complete list of Vietnamese last names I was able to find.  This is part of an important cultural history project, so please let me know if there are mistakes to fix or additions to make.

All Vietnamese Last Names

 

Edit: For those who are asking (looking at you, Redditors), here’s how to pronounce these last names:

 

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34 Responses

  1. Paul Pham says:

    great article, very informative, here are a few off the top of my head: Quan, Quảng, Lại, Lã, Mạc, Đới/Đái.

  2. brian says:

    glad you didn’t forget the Luongs!!!!

  3. rosalie says:

    actually Đường is also a Vietnamese last name, though I have only met 3 Vietnamese people with that surname.

  4. Trang says:

    I’m not sure if “Kim”, “Hàn” and “Quynh” are Vietnamese last names.  I think you forgot a few uncommon ones like “Lu”, “Bạch”, “Từ” , “Thái”.  That’s all I can think of now.

  5. Ntson2 says:

    Where did you get the statistic from? I’m surprised to know Nguyen is so popular.

  6. Xuan says:

    how big was your sample? 

  7. Pham says:

    “Quynh”: is a last name that is new to me.
    There are some other last names that are not in your lists (and from other comments):  Quách, Lều (trong VN Idol gần đây có cô Lều Phương Anh), Diệp, Ưng, Ông, Tạ, 

  8. Leofff says:

    Good information. But again, the info here is base on????? OVN Shouldnt post something without providing the source

  9. Where do you  get the data from? Using Facebook API and retrieve all the result of the name and generate this statistics? So how many results did you get would be interesting to know how many users in Facebook have VN names 😉

  10. Ha Na says:

    There is no “Đinh”?:(

  11. Ganges says:

    How about ” Cong Tan Ton Nu …” ? That is a common last name for people from Hue who was closed to the “Nguyen” dynasty
    Song Hang

    • James H. Bao says:

      I didn’t include those since they are in a special class.  I’ll write about that in another article.  I didn’t include Buu, Vinh, Bao either.

      • Lillie says:

        yes I my question would be considered in those last names too …like Bao isn’t that last name from the last King Bao Dai ??? or what ? i also noticed your last name is Bao too 😀

        • James H. Bao says:

          There’s a special set of last names that comes from the “Imperial Succession poem” by Emperor Minh Mang. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minh_Mang). I included it below:
            Miên Hồng Ưng Bữu VĩnhBảo Quý Định Long TrườngHiền Năng Khang Kế ThuậtThế Thụy Quốc Gia Xương

          Since my last name is Bao, my son’s last name would be Quy.

  12. James H. Bao says:

    Thank you everyone for adding to the list! I will update it.

  13. Hoangdungiss says:

    Hi anh Bao, how can you calculate? pls tell me where is the data………… Your article look interesting. 

  14. SBN88 says:

    I know a Vietnamese with the last name Bang. like how one would say table in vietnamese lol
    anyway, I’m pretty sure there are more last name then that ^_^ah…wonder why there are so many nguyen???

  15. Nguyen Ruler says:

    Dude, are you making these numbers up?  Please tell the people how you arrived at the numbers.  We understand that you don’t have access to Vietnamese census data, that’s okay.  I hope you just didn’t change the labels on some pie chart and call it a day.

    • James H. Bao says:

      Hello Nguyen,

      The source for last names is here:  Lê Trung Hoa, Vietnamese Family and Personal Names, Social Sciences Publishing House (2005).  Also, for the percentages, here’s a list of all US last names and their relative distribution: http://www.census.gov/genealogy/names/dist.all.last .  Use the current US population or ratios to arrive at the proper percentages.  Have fun!

      I appreciate skepticism as a mechanism to verify facts but also encourage a bit of good faith in that people in our community don’t just make things up.

  16. Tom Lancaster says:

    I think you mean “Kinh” rather than Vietnamese. If you want to include all surnames found in Vietnam you’d need names from many other ethnicities. Hmong is one example which has a further 18 principal clan names or surnames.

  17. bsa says:

    interesting!

  18. Ethan Nguyen says:

    What about Du or Mach?

  19. guest says:

    Quá lâu trong lịch sử, bọn tà đạo “thiên chúa” phá hủy văn hóa chúng ta nói riêng và thế giới nói chung (http://www.ftarchives.net/foote/crimes/c7.htm). Thomas Jefferson”Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone on man.”John Adams”As I understand the Christian religion, it was, and is, a revelation. But how has it happened that millions of fables, tales, legends, have been blended with both Jewish and Christian revelation that have made them the most bloody religion that ever existed?”Đệ tử tàn bạo ác nhất của bọn tà đạo “thiên chúa” là Hitlerhttp://www.nobeliefs.com/hitler.htmĐây là chính sách bạo ác phá hủy đất nước tahttp://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=1018677197583161392 và đến ngày hôm nay vẫn cònhttp://www.channelapa.com/2011/01/agent-orange-35-years-later.htmlBrought to you by members of http://new.exchristian.net/Tà đạo xâm hại tình dục. Vụ án tố cáo vatican do International Criminal Court http://ccrjustice.org/ICCVaticanProsecutionTà đạo tuyên truyền đầy bạo lược.Cruelty and Violence in the BibleGenesisGod likes Abel’s dead animals better than Cain’s fruits and vegetables. Why? Well, no reason is given, but it probably has something to do with the amount of pain, blood, and gore involved. 4:3-5Because God liked Abel’s animal sacrifice more than Cain’s vegetables, Cain kills his brother Abel in a fit of religious jealousy. 4:8God is angry. He decides to destroy all humans, beasts, creeping things, fowls, and “all flesh wherein there is breath of life.” He plans to drown them all. 6:7, 17God repeats his intention to kill “every living substance … from off the face of the earth.” But why does God kill all the innocent animals? What had they done to deserve his wrath? It seems God never gets his fill of tormenting animals. 7:4God drowns everything that breathes air. From newborn babies to koala bears — all creatures great and small, the Lord God drowned them all.7:21-23Noah kills the “clean beasts” and burns their dead bodies for God. According to 7:8 this would have caused the extinction of all “clean” animals since only two of each were taken onto the ark. “And the Lord smelled a sweet savor.” 8:20To free Lot from captivity, Abram sends an army of slaves to pursue and smite his captors. 14:14-15God tells Abram to kill some animals for him. The needless slaughter makes God feel better. 15:9-10Hagar conceives, making Sarai jealous. Abram tells Sarai to do to Hagar whatever she wants. “And when Sarai dealt hardly with her, she fled.”16:6Lot refuses to give up his angels to the perverted mob, offering his two “virgin daughters” instead. He tells the bunch of angel rapers to “do unto them [his daughters] as is good in your eyes.” This is the same man that is called “just” and “righteous” in 2 Pet.2:7-8. 19:7-8God kills everyone (men, women, children, infants, newborns) in Sodom and Gomorrah by raining “fire and brimstone from the Lord out of heaven.” Well, almost everyone — he spares the “just and righteous” Lot and his family. 19:24God threatens to kill Abimelech and his people for believing Abe’s lie. 20:3-7God orders Abraham to kill Isaac as a burnt offering. Abraham shows his love for God by his willingness to murder his son. But finally, just before Isaac’s throat is slit, God provides a goat to kill instead. 22:2-13Dinah, the daughter of Jacob, is “defiled” by a man who seems to love her dearly. Her brothers trick all of the men of the town and kill them (after first having them all circumcised), and then take their wives and children captive. 34:1-31″The terror of God was upon the cities that were round about them.” I don’t know what the “terror of God” is, but I’ll bet it isn’t pleasant. 35:5″And Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the Lord; and the Lord slew him.” What did Er do to elicit God’s wrath? The Bible doesn’t say. Maybe he picked up some sticks on Saturday. 38:7After God killed Er, Judah tells Onan to “go in unto they brother’s wife.” But “Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and … when he went in unto his brother’s wife … he spilled it on the ground…. And the thing which he did displeased the Lord; wherefore he slew him also.” This lovely Bible story is seldom read in Sunday School, but it is the basis of many Christian doctrines, including the condemnation of both masturbation and birth control. 38:8-10After Judah pays Tamar for her services, he is told that she “played the harlot” and “is with child by whoredom.” When Judah hears this, he says, “Bring her forth, and let her be burnt.” 38:24Joseph interprets the baker’s dream. He says that the pharaoh will cut off the baker’s head, and hang his headless body on a tree for the birds to eat.40:19

  20. eskiloliver says:

    Hi, James!

    First of all I would like to thank you for the interesting article about vietnamese last names. I have a question to you about the last name Thang or Tang. My husband is trying to find his biological mother in Vietnam (he was adopted to Sweden in 1975, Operation Babylift) and Tang is her last name (Thi Le is her first name). The birth name of my husband is Hoang Quan Tang.

    You seem to know a lot about Vietname names, can you please help us to understand more about the name Tang?

    Thank u! 🙂

    Lisa Lehikoinen, Sweden

    • I guest her last name would be Tăng, and her full name would be whether Tăng thị Lễ or Tăng thị Lê.

      • eskiloliver says:

         Hi,

        On my husband´s birth certificate it says Tăng Thị Lệ. Written with Vietnamese characters, my husband´s name is Tăng Hoàng Quân. I´ve learned that Tăng is a Chinese last name, but which ethnic group it belongs to I don´t know. Do you know if their first names are Chinese too?

    • andreana says:

      My last name’s Tang too. I was born in the USA so I don’t know much about last names in vietnamese. But I know that “Tang” is a Chinese last name. Although I’m vietnamese, my father’s father was from China so he has a chinese last name. Hope this helps!
      Andreana Tang, USA >.<

  21. Jssmith3 says:

    Ngày 30/4 thì như hàng năm ở hải ngoại sẻ có diển hành với cờ vàng ba sọc đỏ.

    Hơn 35 năm sao chỉ có một số nhỏ chia rẻ dân tộc. Như Ông Nguyễn Cao Kỳ đả trình bày; sự thật vẩn còn! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3GzYOkgS-fw&feature=related Những tên côn đồ là tiểu số. Phần đông họ là lính thất học, vô văn hóa, cùng lấm là sĩ quan hạ cấp, hoạc là bọn trẻ thanh niên rời Việt Nam còn nhỏ nên không nấm hiểu VNCH là gì và chưa hề cầm súng ra trận. Những đứa con trẻ đó giờ hơn 40/50 tuổi phần rất ích nuôi hận vô lý vì tư tưởng không chính đáng. Đây là một thí dụ cụ thể với văn hóa thô lổ của kẻ thất học http://latdocongsan.wordpress.com/2009/10/11/ho-chi-minh-is-son-of-bitch-ho-chi-minh-is-cock-sucker-ho-chi-minh-is-mother-fucker-ho-chi-minh-is-fucking-animal/Sau 35 năm, bọn phản động tiểu số lấy danh nghĩa giả tạo kêu gọi “hòa giải dân tộc” nhưng thực sự là xuất ngôn của tiểu số thổi phồng tạo ra vấn đề cần “hòa giải.” Ở hải ngoại là bọn côn đồ bị nhiều người cười và cho họ là bọn hề. Người Mỹ gọi họ là “anti-goverment protesters” thì là xếp vào hàng “terrorist.” Thực tế nhiều quốc gia, như Mỹ đả ban giao tốt với Việt Nam http://vietnam.usembassy.gov/ Thực tế nhiều người Việt Nam ở hải ngoại, ở Mỹ ích có phát ngôn vì họ luôn lo công ăn việc làm nuôi con. Tiểu số lấy cơ hội làm ồn; như bài “Cờ Vàng Mách Bu” trình bày trên http://sachhiem.net/XICHLOV/XichloViet06.php. Bọn tiểu số đó sẻ không bao giờ bỏ hận thù đâu. Đừng bận tâm mất thì giờ vì bọn chó săn cho ngoại xâm. Chúng tôi đả ghi tên họ và download những hình ảnh trên fb của họ nếu có và đồng thời hình ảnh của gia đình họ. Khi họ nạp hồ sơ xin visa vào Việt Nam chúng tôi có cách phòng hờ bọn phản động chó săn.Bọn phản động phần đông là những đứa con trẻ rời Việt Nam trong năm 1975 – 1985. Họ đã bị nhiểm độc hận thù từ Cha Ông nên tâm trí không vững. Cha Ông họ bị bệnh tâm thần mà Mỹ gọi là Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) Thương cho những đứa con trẻ giờ hơn 40/50 tuổi lên mạng chửi rủa nhau và gây rối cho Việt Nam. Họ sống trong gia đình bệnh PTSD nên chính họ cũng có phần bệnh tâm thần nầy. Họ là chó săn cho một quốc gia đang bị thối nác từ trong ra ngoài; http://endoftheamericandream.com/archives/40-signs-that-america-is-rotting-from-the-inside-out

  22. ISABELLA LOPEZ says:

    I love Vietnamese MAN they are really CUTE!.. 🙂

  23. Yoshi says:

    An and Au, need to include those.

  24. Mimi Nguyen says:

    My last name is Nguyen. From my dad side it is Nguyen and from my mom side her last name is Vu but my grandmas last name is Pham. I’m only 12 years old but I was interested about the Nguyen’s family. So does it mean I’m in it too?

  25. Robert Nguyen says:

    James, great article. If I were your teacher or professor, I would give you an A for this if I were not vietnamese and not a Nguyen.

    Here’s my two cents about having so many Nguyen: Since common knowledge has led many to believe that many people change their last name to Nguyen to avoid prosecution or to uphold the ruler’s decree, I do not believe this, because as a ruler, it would be an insult if commoners or my subjects changed their surnames to mine, whatever that may be. I wouldn’t be able to distinguished them from my family. I would behead these people. My answer to why we have so many Nguyen is because the Nguyen lords or just any lords usually have many wives-leading to many children. More children having more children. Multiple pyramids. I believe this is the same in all races, that for the most part, people with the same last name are related. I’m an example, because I have many cousins who are 20 to 30 years older than I am who has kids that are my age, a little older, or a little younger living in the same city and elsewhere which I have grown up to not associate with ( because we are all too busy trying to win the rat race or whatever). I barely know or to recognize many as related until our reunion again. Although contradicting, I do know and do remember who they are at the reunions, but on the streets, just passing by, on the bus I wouldn’t know them. We all changed and forget, but not our name. Robert Nguyen