Vietnamese do not follow the rules in their surname. In most cases, they change their names as a symbol of royalty to their ruler. They never even had last names until 111 B.C. After this, Vietnam was ruled by the Han Dynasty of China. As the Chinese have practiced using last names, Vietnamese followed this trend too (1).
This is why, as you go through our list of the common Vietnamese last names or surnames with meanings, you will notice that most are either derived or are a variable of common Chinese last names. You also notice that the Vietnamese last names take inspiration from other Asian countries.
Common Vietnamese Last Names Or Surnames
It means “mugwort” and is a common Vietnamese name originating from China.
Similar to the Chinese surname Wang, it means “to rule.”
Derived from Sino-Vietnamese, anh means “flower.”
This Vietnamese surname reflects calmness and serenity as it means “peace.” It is of Chinese and Vietnamese origin and may also refer to a “stream.”
It is a variant of the name Peng, which is of Chinese origin. It means “big.”
The last name Bao, although of Chinese origin, is one of the popular names in Vietnam. It means “treasure.”
It is a Chinese last name used to refer to those living in the West. It means “finish.”
Bui is a surname inspired by nature. It has Chinese and Korean origins, and means “plum.”
Meaning “sweet,” Cam is of Chinese origin. This last name is a variant of Kam.
Derived from French, the last name Can means “hound.”
Cao is a popular Chinese surname and is the Romanized version of Tsao. It means “defendant” and was one of the departments of the central government in Ancient China.
The surname Chau is of Vietnamese and Chinese origin. It is a variant of the Chinese Chow and means “pearl.”
This is a Chinese origin name dating back to the Han Dynasty. It means “cart” as it was inspired by a Chinese Prime Minister who commuted to work in a cart.
The last name Chi originates from the Bemba Tribe. It also has Chinese origins where it means “pond.”
This name originated in China and is the name of a state of the Zhou Dynasty.
The common Vietnamese surname Co is of Chinese origin. It means “to praise.”
This popular name of Chinese origin has its prominence in Vietnam too. It means “bush.”
With origins in Chinese, the Vietnamese name Dai means “to support.”
Dan is a beautiful Vietnamese surname with Biblical touch to it. The name means “God is my judge” in Hebrew and in Chinese, it means “indifferent.”
This Chinese surname originates from a branch of the Zhou dynasty. It means “association.”
The surname Dau is taken from Old German and it means “tradition.”
The Vietnamese surname Dinh is uncommon,. It means encampment and has origins in Vietnamese.
Meaning “at the down,” Doan is a topographical surname. Doan is a prestigious name as people bearing it were considered as the protectors of the nation.
This popular Vietnamese name takes its inspiration from the English word Don. It means “ruler of the world.”
It means “birch leaf pear” and is of Chinese origin.
The Chinese originated Vietnamese surname Duong means “popular.”
This name is popular in Vietnam and means “save.”
This name is of Sino-Vietnamese origin. It means “river.”
Hai is a surname that originated from Chinese and is often referred to as a Sino-Vietnamese name. It means “ocean.”
It is common Chinese surname that means “together.”
Meaning “perfect,” this is a Chinese origin last name.
Hoang in Chinese and Vietnamese means “yellow.” It is one of the most popular surnames.
It means “flood” and is also the name of a popular Chinese dynasty. Gongongshi took over the surname Gong, but to escape from enemies, they had to change it to Hong.
This is a topographical Vietnamese name of Chinese origin. It refers to the habitats of the people from Mount Hua in China.
Meaning “to praise,” this Vietnamese name has origins in China.
Meaning “friend,” Huu is a common Sino-Vietnamese name.
The Chinese origin surname, Huy is popular in Vietnam and means “to promise.”
This is another variant of the Chinese and Vietnamese origin last name Hoang. It means “yellow.”
Of Chinese origin, the name Hy means “to praise.”
This Chinese origin name is popular among overseas Chinese communities, who have migrated from China. The meaning also represents division as it means “tree branch.”
The name is prominent in Vietnam and means “resembling a precious stone.”
The surname Khong is quite popular in Vietnam. It is similar to the Chinese and Korean name Kong, which means “peaceful.”
Khuu is derived from the Chinese surname Qiu, which means “autumn.”
The Sien-Vietnamese surname Kien means “hard.”
Although Kieu is used as a first name for females, it is also considered a unisexual surname. It is of Vietnamese origin and means “graceful.”
This is a Korean origin surname, which also has a variant Keum. It means “gold.”
The surname Ky is of Vietnamese origin and it means “good luck.”
Lac is a common Vietnamese name of Chinese origin. This name is popular among the emigrants of China. It means “camel.”
This surname of Chinese origin is common in many East-Asian countries. It means “trustworthy.”
Inspired by the Chinese surname Luo, Lam means “to gather.”
This Hebrew origin name means “white.’
The name Le has origins in Vietnam. It was the name of the popular Le Dynasty.
Liang, is a name of the ancient Chinese dynasty. Also, popular as a Vietnamese surname, it means “bridge.”
This prevalent surname of Vietnamese origin means “willow tree.” It is also the first name given to Vietnamese baby girls.
Derived from Vietnamese, this common family last name means “spirit.”
Lo in Chinese means “to sift.”
It means “thunder” and is a common last name in China and Vietnam.
It is a Chinese surname meaning “road.”
The surname Luong oscillates between Vietnamese and Chinese origins. It is similar to the Chinese surname Long which means “dragon.”
It is a variant of the Chinese surname Liu and is popular in East Asia. This surname refers to a “battle-ax.”
The Vietnamese surname Ly means “reason.”
It is a popular Chinese surname that is also common in Vietnam, and it means “horse.”
Mac is a surname of Vietnamese and Scottish origins. In its Gaelic version, it means “son.” The name is popular in Vietnam due to the clan named Mac who ruled Northern Vietnam during the 16th century.
Mai is of Vietnamese origin and means “to flaunt.”
The name is popular among Chinese communities that migrated to Vietnam. This name refers to the “eldest amongst brothers.”
Similar to the Chinese Ming, this Vietnamese surname means “bright.”
Nam is a common Korean originating family name, meaning “south.”
Meaning “to fall through,” this name is of Chinese origin.
The surname Ngo has Chinese ancestry. It is a variant of the Chinese Ao which means “squad of five soldiers.”
Ngoc is a name of Sino-Vietnamese origin and means “precious.”
This popular Chinese origin Vietnamese surname means “to anticipate.”
Nguy means “to endanger.” It has Chinese origins.
Derived from the Chinese Ruan, it is the name of a Vietnamese royal dynasty. Many Vietnamese changed their names to Nguyen as a symbol of loyalty towards the Nguyen dynasty. This surname refers to a “musical instrument.”
The name is popular as both surname and middle name. It is of Chinese origin and means “former.”
This name is common as a first name and last name in Vietnam. It means “alike.”
Nong is a common Chinese origin occupational surname in Vietnam. It means “peasant.”
This popular surname O has been carried on by the famous clans of Vietnam. This surname is a variant of the Chinese Wu and the Korean Oh.
As a variant of Ahn, the Vietnamese last name On means “peace.”
It is a Chinese surname that is a variant of Vuong meaning “yellow.”
The last name Pe and its variant Peng, common in Vietnam, are Chinese last names meaning “long.”
This surname has its roots in Vietnamese and Chinese. It means “extensive.”
Phan, alternatively spelled as Fan, is a surname of Chinese origin. It means “fence.”
With its origin in Vietnamese, Phong means “wind.” It is also used as a first name.
This Vietnamese origin name means “Phoenix.”
Alternatively known as Pung and Fung, this Chinese origin surname means “great.”
Quach is a Vietnamese surname that has variants in Chinese, Cantonese, and Japanese. Guo, Kuoko, and Gwak are its other Asian variants. It is a habitational last name referring to someone “living near the outer city wall.”
Alternatively called Sohn or Shon, this last name is of Korean origin. It was originally the name of a clan, who were named after the Sun.
This name is of Chinese origin and means “constellation.”
It means “thank you.” This surname was opted by Southern Chinese who moved to Vietnam.
This is a Chinese surname and means “to display.”
This is a habitational name, which means it refers to someone “hailing from Thailand.”
It means “famous” and is a Vietnamese origin name.
Than is a name of Burmese origin and is also popular around Asia. It means “million.”
The Chinese origin Vietnamese surname Thang means “rushing current.”
The surname Thanh is known in Chinese and Vietnamese communities. It means “sound.”
This is a Sino-Vietnamese last name that means “poetry.”
Of Chinese origin, the surname Thong means “intelligent.”
Thu is a Sino-Vietnamese surname, mostly common in Vietnam and means “autumn.”
The last name Thuy has its origins in Vietnamese and means “water.”
According to the Vietnamese, Tien is a “fairy.”
This name originates from the Chinese community settled in Malaysia. It means “descendant.”
Tong is a topographical name for “someone living in the center of the land.”
Tran is the Vietnamese variant of the Koran Jin and the Chinese Chen. It means “ancient.”
This name is popular among Vietnamese with Chinese ancestry. It means “serious.”
This is an Indonesian origin name that means “third.”
Being similar to the Chinese surname Zhao, which was one of the seven states of the Warring States, Trieu is its Vietnamese version.
The popular Chinese and Vietnamese surname Trinh means “to rule.”
This Chinese surname refers to “a sheet of paper.”
This name has origins in Vietnamese and means “middle.”
The name is derived from the Chinese military city of Zoutu, which gave rise to two surnames Zou and Tu. It is a popular Chinese surname and is similar to the surname Du, meaning “capital.”
This Chinese-derived Vietnamese surname means “chivalrous.”
The name is of Vietnamese origin and means “clear.”
With origins in both Chinese and Vietnamese, Quoc means “country.”
It has Dutch origins and is commonly used as a prefix to surnames. This last name is prepositional as it means “from” and “of.”
Vi is the last name of Chinese origin that is popular overseas. It means “soft leather.”
Vo is a popular name among the Chinese and Vietnamese communities. It is a surname of unity as it means “harmonious.”
Vu is a variant of the Chinese surname Wu and means “shaman.”
This Vietnamese surname means “king.”
Derived from the Chinese Wang it means “to rule.”
Originating in Chinese, this Vietnamese name means “quiet.”
Although superficially Vietnamese names do not speak much of its history, these names do tell a story of the citizens of Vietnam. As one need not be of a particular clan to carry a Vietnamese last name, you can choose one as per your liking.
- Two-fifths of the people in Vietnam have the surname Nguyen. Why?; University of Pennsylvania