What is the origin of the last name Terry?

The last name Terry traces its origin to medieval England. Derived from the Old French personal name Thierry, ultimately derived from the Germanic name Theodoric, meaning "ruler of the people." Over time, this name was anglicized to Terry, which today is a widely spread surname across English-speaking countries.

Countries of origin for the last name Terry

The last name Terry is of English origin and is primarily found in the United States and in English-speaking countries. It is a variant of the medieval given name “Thierry,” which is derived from the Germanic name “Theodoric.” The surname Terry is believed to have originated as a patronymic, meaning it indicated familial descent from an ancestor named Terry or Thierry.

The name Thierry itself derives from the Germanic elements “theud,” meaning “people” or “nation,” and “ric,” meaning “ruler” or “king.” Therefore, the name Terry can be interpreted as meaning “ruler of the people” or “king of the nation.” This suggests that the original bearers of the surname Terry were likely individuals of noble or leadership status within their community.

Historical records indicate that the surname Terry has been in use since medieval times. It has undergone various spelling variations over the centuries, including Terrey, Tarry, and Terrie. This evolution of spellings can be attributed to factors such as dialectal differences and the lack of standardized spelling practices during earlier time periods.

The migration of individuals with the surname Terry to the United States can be traced back to the 17th century. Many Terry families originally settled in Virginia, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. Over time, the surname Terry has spread throughout the country, with concentrations in states such as Texas, California, and Florida.

Given the popularity and widespread use of the surname Terry, it is unlikely to have a single specific meaning or association in contemporary society. However, it is worth noting that individuals with the surname Terry may feel a sense of connection to their English ancestry and the historical significance of the name.

In conclusion, the last name Terry has a rich history rooted in English origins and the Germanic name “Thierry.” It is associated with the concepts of leadership and nobility, and its use dates back to medieval times. The migration of Terry families to the United States has contributed to its prevalence in the country. While the specific meaning of the surname may vary among individuals, it remains a significant part of their ancestral identity.

Interesting facts about the last name Terry

  • The surname Terry is of French origin and is derived from the medieval given name “Thierry”, which means “ruler of the people”.
  • Terry is a relatively common surname in English-speaking countries, especially in the United States and England.
  • In England, the Terry surname can be traced back to the 13th century, with notable variations such as Terri and Terray.
  • In France, the name Thierry was popularized by various saints, including Saint Thierry of Reims.
  • The name Terry gained popularity as a surname during the Norman Conquest of England in the 11th century.
  • Famous individuals with the surname Terry include Ellen Terry, a prominent Victorian stage actress, and John Terry, a former English football player.
  • The Terry family name also became associated with the iconic Terry’s Chocolate Orange, a popular confectionery product produced in York, England.
  • Variant forms of the Terry surname include Terrie, Terrey, and Terre.
  • The name Terry is also commonly used as a given name, and it can be both masculine and feminine.
  • According to genealogical records, the surname Terry has spread across the world, with Terry families found in countries such as Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.

Name Rank


There are around 87000 people with the last name Terry in the US

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