Asian Last Names in the United States

How many of the most common last names for Asian-Americans can you name?
Some of these names use the same Chinese character. This quiz is based on English spelling.
To make it easier, we give you the first letter
Quiz by Quizmaster
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Last updated: September 26, 2020
First submittedApril 9, 2017
Times taken16,009
Rating4.30
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# Asians
Ethnicity
Letter
Name
422,000
Vietnamese
N
Nguyen
293,000
Chinese
L
Lee
248,000
Korean
K
Kim
218,000
Indian
P
Patel
181,000
Vietnamese
T
Tran
163,000
Chinese
C
Chen
108,000
Chinese
L
Li
106,000
Chinese
L
Le
105,000
Chinese
W
Wang
103,000
Chinese
Y
Yang
97,000
Indian
S
Singh
# Asians
Ethnicity
Letter
Name
96,000
Chinese
W
Wong
81,000
Vietnamese
P
Pham
78,000
Korean
P
Park
76,000
Chinese
L
Lin
75,000
Chinese
L
Liu
73,000
Chinese
C
Chang
70,000
Chinese
H
Huang
69,000
Chinese
W
Wu
69,000
Chinese
Z
Zhang
68,000
Chinese
C
Chan
62,000
Central Asia
K
Khan
+7
Level 81
Apr 9, 2017
The Vietnamese were the hard ones for me, apart from the most common name. I surprised myself pretty much by guessing the Indian names and all but one Chinese. Missed a Korean one too.
+5
Level 63
Apr 9, 2017
I just thought of the 2 Korean dictators, Chung Hee and Jong-Un
+1
Level 65
Feb 16, 2018
Come on, dude. Park Chung Hee may have been a hardline figure but he wasn't a dictator. I know this is a contested issue but to group him with the DPRK's Kim dynasty sucks.
+14
Level 48
Feb 16, 2018
@Jamesgoatcatcher, I think you're definitely a dictator if your regime steals elections, detains and tortures people for owning "forbidden" books, picks up homeless people off the street to use as slave labor, and even executes people for merely mentioning the names of certain dissident groups during phony "emergencies". But what can you expect from someone like Park Chung-hee (or his preferred name in the early 1940s, Takagi Masao) who willingly served the Japanese occupiers during one of Korea's darkest hours?
+2
Level 78
Apr 9, 2017
No Filipinos? Or do the Spanish last names not count despite being Asian?
+7
Level ∞
Apr 9, 2017
Guess not. The stats adjust for race so I assume they are accurate. For example, about 600,000 people in the U.S. have the last name Lee, but only about 229,000 of them are Asian.
+2
Level 78
Apr 12, 2017
Ok then. Judging from the few Filipinos I've come across, they do seem to have more diverse last names than other Asians.
+3
Level ∞
Sep 26, 2020
Highest ranking Filipino names are Reyes at #43, Santos at #44, and Cruz at #45.
+3
Level ∞
Sep 26, 2020
Oddly enough, I got a DNA test a few years ago. It said my ancestry was mostly northern European, no surprise there. But then, randomly, it said I was 0.2% Filipino. I am trying to formulate a theory for how that could have happened. According to my calculations, the Filipino influence would have happened around 9 generations ago, so probably in the 1700s. Possibly a sailor from the Philippines came to the U.K. (or at least visited a port, haha). Other that that, my DNA was pretty boring.
+3
Level 78
Sep 26, 2020
AFAIK the DNA test isn't particularly reliable. Especially when people get wildly different results when trying different providers.
+1
Level 46
Jan 1, 2021
Quizmaster, Le is a Vietnamese name, not Chinese. It's related to the Chinese Li. It was even a major dynasty in Vietnam. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Le_(surname)
+2
Level 81
Feb 16, 2018
There are tons of Filipinos in the USA, more than the numbers from any of these other countries I think, but like Djilas said they have much more variety in their last names. The surname Nguyen is more common in Vietnam than any single surname from any other country. In South Korea, more than half the population has one of three last names (Kim, Lee, or Park/Pak). The most common last name in the Philippines is DelaCruz and only something like 3% of Filipinos have that name.
+15
Level 73
Apr 9, 2017
I felt really racist taking this quiz. I didn't know most of them so I just started typing random "Chinesy" names...made me feel all dirty inside.
+18
Level 80
Oct 18, 2017
If guessing names like Wong and Wang and Lee and Kim and Patel makes you feel racist, then you have the wrong idea of what racism is. There's a reason these names come quickly to mind and it has nothing to do with looking down upon or feeling superior to other races or nationalities. It's because...they are common.
+17
Level 63
Feb 17, 2018
I don't think that was his point. Like many other people I assume, I eventually had to resort to typing random Asian-sounding words, like "Ching", Chong", "Chang".
+5
Level 32
Sep 25, 2019
I am asian and did that as well.
+8
Level 72
Jul 31, 2020
Not racist at all (and I'm Asian and did the same)
+1
Level 83
Sep 26, 2020
Being able to distinguish a sound system between say Russian, Xhosa, Chinese and Japanese isn't bigotry.
+2
Level 84
Sep 29, 2020
"Made me feel dirty inside", sounds like a joke to me by buck. But maybe that's just my 2020 sensibilities shining through, where everything everywhere (at least in America) is branded racist.
+1
Level 71
Apr 9, 2017
I live in China, but really struggled with the Chinese names. I managed to get most of the Mandarin ones (a bit surprised Zhang/Zhou weren't there), but the non-Mandarin names/names that aren't based on modern pinyin/romanisation were tough.
+2
Level 83
Apr 11, 2017
Lee is also Korean surname.
+4
Level 81
Feb 16, 2018
Yes. I'm guessing most of those Lees are Korean, not Chinese.
+4
Level 65
Feb 16, 2018
Easiest way to remember Korean names : Lee-Kim-Park (metal band)
+2
Level 27
Feb 16, 2018
Fun fact it is against Korean tradition to marry another person with the same last name, which makes it hard when the three largest groups: Kim, Lee and Park, make up over 50% of the population.
+4
Level 38
Feb 17, 2018
The tradition (and until the late 1990s the law) was that Koreans couldn’t marry someone from the same “clan.” If two people had the same surname but were from different clans, e.g. an Andong Kim wanted to marry a Gimhae Kim, that was fine. What was traditionally prohibited was an Andong Kim marrying another Andong Kim.

Given that their last common ancestor could have been many generations ago, and that the system was entirely patrilineal so it was legal to marry close maternal relatives, it was a pretty ridiculous system - but not quite as ridiculous as not being able to marry someone with the same surname in a country where most of the population is a Kim, Lee, or Park.

+1
Level 67
Jun 30, 2019
Victoulapin, did you mean linkin (lincoln) park?
+1
Level 50
Dec 29, 2020
There's much easier ways.
+1
Level 72
Feb 16, 2018
As someone who goes to a top US university and therefore knows a lot of Chinese people, some of these stats surprise me. I know at least 5 Wangs but I've never met a Lee or a Wong
+3
Level 67
Jun 30, 2019
You must be wong..
+1
Level 76
Sep 27, 2020
Wong is the ridiculous romanized name. They are the same name.
+1
Level 72
Dec 29, 2020
It is romanised, but I don't see how it's ridiculous. Being from Malaysia I know plenty of people with the surnames Lee or Wong (and romanised versions of other Chinese last names).
+1
Level 72
Dec 29, 2020
Maybe because they are from Mainland China, whose last names are not romanised in English, but are instead based on Pinyin. Ethnic Chinese from outside the Mainland tend to have romanised last names.
+2
Level 78
Feb 16, 2018
Are people from, for example, Israel or Saudi Arabia considered Asian-Americans?
+1
Level ∞
Sep 26, 2020
Usually not, but people can decide for themselves when they fill out the census form. Most people from Israel and the Middle East would check the non-Hispanic white box.
+1
Level 72
Dec 29, 2020
Wow.
+3
Level 48
Feb 16, 2018
Surprised Smith is not on this list.
+1
Level ∞
Sep 26, 2020
Smith is #49. The highest ranking English name is Thomas at #42.
+1
Level 72
Dec 29, 2020
That does not seem to be an Asian name.
+1
Level 35
Feb 16, 2018
Fun quiz! May I ask why Huang and Wong have their own boxes? They're the same thing.
+3
Level 52
Apr 24, 2018
The English spellings are different, so they are assumed to be different names.
+3
Level 67
Feb 28, 2018
I wonder why there are so many Patels in the USA and UK but not Australia? Plenty of Singhs here, but I don't know any Patels.

(5057 vs 609 according to one site)

+6
Level 78
Sep 26, 2020
I guess it depends on where they immigrate from. Some surnames are more common in certain regions or ethnic/linguistic groups, and people don't emigrate from a region equally to all countries.
+1
Level 67
Dec 29, 2020
There are plenty of Singh's in Canada too, due to how many Punjabis live here (Singh being a typical Sikh name).
+1
Level 45
Oct 10, 2018
What is it about the "Nguyen" obsession among vietnamese?
+2
Level 78
Sep 26, 2020
Very simplified it was used by people to show sympathy for a current ruler at the time who had the name.
+1
Level 72
Jul 31, 2020
I got all Chinese (since I live in China), the first two Vietnamese, and neither Indian (although I should have got them).
+1
Level 72
Dec 29, 2020
Now I got everything except the last two Vietnamese and the Central Asian.
+2
Level 47
Sep 26, 2020
Yang is also a moderately common Korean surname, although maybe not as common as its Chinese counterpart percentage-wise
+2
Level 36
Sep 26, 2020
I tried Patel many times... did not work...
+1
Level 58
Dec 29, 2020
Same. Though I think I spelled it Patil.
+1
Level 70
Sep 28, 2020
This was tricky because of the various ways the most popular names can be anglicized. Definitely encourage others to keep trying various possible spellings. :-)
+2
Level 62
Sep 29, 2020
Interesting to note that Tran, Chen and Chan are all the same surname but in different language/dialect/transliteration. The same for Lee and Li, Chang and Zhang. While Wong is the Cantonese version of both Wang and Huang in Mandarin, i.e. the two different surnames sound the same in Cantonese but different in Mandarin.
+2
Level 45
Oct 3, 2020
Khan is a Central Asian name..?
+1
Level 79
Oct 4, 2020
there were a couple of famous ones
+5
Level 66
Oct 7, 2020
I was just going to comment on this. It may be a name of Central Asian (specifically Mongolian I guess) origin, but it's incredibly common among other groups, especially South Asian Muslims.
+1
Level 72
Dec 29, 2020
From Wikipedia: Khan is a surname deriving from the title khan originating among nomadic tribes in the Central and Eastern Steppe during antiquity and popularized by Turkic dynasties in the rest of Asia during the medieval period. Used in the Rourans firstly, and also by the early rulers of Bulgaria, it was more widely spread by the Islamic chieftains in what is now Turkey, Iran, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

Khan is a common surname particularly among Muslims of Central Asian and South Asian origin. It is one of the most common surnames in the world, shared by over 12 million people in Asia and 24 million worldwide. It is the surname of over 108,674 British Asians, making it the 12th most common surname in the United Kingdom.

+1
Level 48
Dec 29, 2020
I'm from Vietnam, so it's easier
+1
Level 66
Dec 29, 2020
Decided to check out my own last name! Apparently ~53,000 people have it, but only about 10% of them are Asian.
+2
Level 52
Dec 29, 2020
Pretty sure Le is a Vietnamese last name. It’s “Lê”, representing around 10% of Vietnam’s population, more than Phạm (named in this quiz) at around 7% of the population.