What is the origin of the last name Arnold?

The last name Arnold has an ancient and rich origin, tracing back to the pre-7th century Old French and Germanic personal name "Arnwald" or "Arnulf," meaning "eagle power" or "power of the eagle." Derived from the elements "arn," denoting an eagle, and "wald" or "ulf," referring to power or rule, the name Arnold gained popularity in medieval England and Europe as a patronymic surname, passed down from father to son. Over time, it spread across various regions and evolved in spelling and pronunciation, resulting in different variations like Arnaud, Arnell, and Arnaldo. This name etymology showcases the significance of eagles and power in the historical context, perhaps reflecting the noble and influential lineage associated with the surname Arnold.

Countries of origin for the last name Arnold

The last name Arnold is of English origin and is classified as a patronymic surname, meaning it is derived from a personal name. In this case, the name Arnold is derived from the given name “Arnwald,” which was composed of the elements “arn” meaning “eagle” and “wald” meaning “rule” or “ruler.”

One prominent theory suggests that the surname Arnold may have been introduced to England by the Normans after the 1066 Norman Conquest. The Norman-French version of the name was “Arnaut” or “Ernaut,” which ultimately evolved into Arnold.

The distribution of the Arnold surname is widespread, with notable concentrations in England, Scotland, Ireland, and the United States. In England, the surname is most commonly found in the southern counties, particularly in the historic county of Yorkshire. Arnold is also a prevalent surname in Scotland, especially in Aberdeenshire and Lanarkshire.

The popularity of the surname Arnold in the United States can be attributed to various factors, including immigration patterns and significant historical figures who bore the name. Many individuals bearing the surname Arnold arrived in America during the 17th and 18th centuries, contributing to the surname’s prevalence in the country.

Furthermore, the surname Arnold gained additional recognition due to the renowned American General Benedict Arnold, who played a substantial role in the American Revolutionary War. Benedict Arnold’s defection to the British side continues to contribute to the public’s familiarity with the Arnold surname.

Throughout history, individuals bearing the surname Arnold have made notable contributions in various fields. In the world of literature, Matthew Arnold, an esteemed Victorian poet and critic, stands out. Additionally, Thomas Arnold, an influential educator known for his tenure as the headmaster of Rugby School, left a lasting impact on the field of education.

The Arnold surname has become well-established in many different industries and professions. Among the notable individuals with the surname Arnold are politicians, entrepreneurs, athletes, and entertainers. The surname’s diverse representation across these fields highlights its adaptability and enduring presence.

Overall, the last name Arnold exhibits a rich historical background and has a longstanding presence in multiple countries, including the United States. Its origin from the personal name “Arnwald” connects it to characteristics such as leadership and strength, which may have influenced the surname’s widespread adoption. While this analysis provides insight into the name’s origins, distribution, and notable bearers, it is essential to acknowledge the potential for further research and discovery in the realm of surname studies.

Interesting facts about the last name Arnold

  • The surname Arnold originated in England and is derived from the personal name “Arnold,” which means “eagle power” or “ruler” in Old German.
  • The name Arnold can be traced back to the 11th century, making it an ancient surname with a rich history.
  • Arnold is a fairly common surname, especially in English-speaking countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia.
  • Famous individuals with the surname Arnold include American actor and politician Arnold Schwarzenegger, British filmmaker and photographer Arnold Genthe, and American poet and novelist Edwin Arnold.
  • The term “arnold,” derived from the surname, is sometimes used colloquially in military slang to refer to someone who inadvertently causes trouble or makes mistakes.
  • The Arnold family motto is “Arte et marte,” which translates to “by skill and by fighting” in Latin, reflecting qualities of bravery and expertise.
  • There are several variations of the surname Arnold, including Arnod, Arnaud, Arno, and Arnault.
  • The surname Arnold is associated with nobility and aristocracy, with numerous historical figures and members of prominent families carrying the name.
  • In modern times, the surname Arnold has expanded beyond English-speaking countries and can be found in various parts of the world, illustrating the global reach and migration of the name.
  • Genealogical research and DNA testing can help individuals with the surname Arnold trace their lineage and uncover potential connections to other Arnold families around the world.

Name Rank


There are around 138893 people with the last name Arnold in the US

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