The A-Z of Vietnamese Last Names

Vietnamese Last NamesVietnam has a fascinating culture when it comes to naming. If you’re here, then you definitely want to know about the amazing naming culture of Vietnam, namely Vietnamese last names.

Vietnamese names usually contain between three and five words. In order to keep it easy to remember, usually first and last names are used. The surname always comes first, and the personal name comes second.

Vietnamese surnames are traditionally patrilineal, i.e. children inherit their father’s family name by birth but the lady does not change her surname after marriage. Instead, they use their husband’s personal name to address themselves, for example, if Nguyen Tuan Minh is the husband and Pham Van Hue is the wife, she can use Mrs. Minh to address herself after marriage.

Sometimes children inherit both surnames of their parents. Using the mother and father mentioned before, Nguyen Tuan Minh as the father and Pham Van Hue as the wife, their child can be named either Nguyen Am Bian or Nguyen Pham Am Bian (Am Bian is the child’s personal name chosen by the parents).

If both names are given to the child, the father’s surname always comes first and the mother’s surname becomes the child’s middle name.

Some surnames, like Nguyen, are basically the Western versions of Smith or Jones; so common that it can get a bit confusing at times!

Vietnamese Last Names Contents

The 12 Most Common Last Names in Vietname
The Number One Last Name in Vietnam
The A-Z of Popular Last Names (A-Y Actually)
Starting With A
Starting With B
Starting With C
Starting With D
Starting With G
Starting With H
Starting With K
Starting With L
Starting With M
Starting With N
Starting With P
Starting With Q
Starting With T
Starting With V
Starting With Y

The 12 Most Common Vietnamese Last Names

Rural Vietnamese Family

1. Nguyen


Nguyen is the most common Vietnamese last name, meaning “musical instrument.” It originates from the Chinese wordruan. In Vietnam, about 40% of the families have surnamed Nguyen. Other countries like Australia, France, and America also have Nguyen as a popular name due to their historical relationships with Vietnam.

Nguyen has its roots in China – its story goes like this:

In the Middle Ages, there was chaos in China; a large number of the royal family named Nguyen migrated to Vietnam in order to survive and started to adopt Vietnamese culture. The immigration of Nguyen families increased by the end of the first century and, in this way, the base of the widespread Nguyen name was set.

Whenever the country was ruled by new emperors, they changed their names to Nguyen so that their enemies could not find them.

Back then, middle and lower-class people didn’t have family names, so in order to give them a family name, royal people or upper-class people gave them theirs. Nguyen.

Due to this, the Nguyen name spread most rapidly and is now the most common Vietnamese surname.

2. Tran


Meaning “ancient” and “family name.” It originates from Vietnam and is also used for boys’ personal names.

3. Le


It means “joy” and originated in China. This surname was most popular in Vietnamese royal families.

4. Pham


Its meaning is “plants” and “extensive.” This name has its roots in both China and Vietnam.

5. Vu


Meaning “feather,” “fighting,” and “dancing.” It is a popular Vietnamese last name.

6. Vo


It means “harmonious” and has its roots in both Vietnam and China.

7. Dang


Its meaning is “association” – this popular Vietnamese surname originates from China.

8. Bui


It has different meanings like “plum,” “wood,” and “match,” originating from China and Korea.

9. Do


Meaning “gift of God” and originated in Greece.

10. Ho


It means “together” and originates from China.

11. Ngo


Its meaning is “squad.” This name has its roots in China.

12. Duong


In China it means “popular” and in Vietnam its meaning is “virile.”

Vietnamese Boy Shows Grandmother Laptop
Here is an alphabetically ordered list of common Vietnamese last names. Most of them have Chinese origin because of the countries’ entwined histories history.

Last Names Starting With “A”

Anh – It originated in Vietnam itself and has many different meanings like “brave,” “petal,” “intelligent,” “flower,” and “bright” because it usually comes alongside different words.

Ai – Meaning “mugwort” and originates from China.

Ang – It means “to rule.”

Au – It’s a rare Vietnamese last name having meaning “peace” and “water.” It originates from China and Vietnam.

Last Names Starting With “B”

Bian – Meaning “secretive” and originated in Vietnam.

Banh – It means “big” and originates from China.

Ba – This last name is also used as a boy’s personal name and has two meanings “father” and “three.”

Bien – It means “sea” or “ocean” and originated in Vietnam.

Bao – Meaning “protection” and originated in Vietnam.

Last Names Starting With “C”

Cam – Meaning “sweet” and originates from Vietnam.

Can – It means “hound” and originated in France.

Chau – Meaning “pearl” and originates from China. Chau is often given to girls as a personal name.

Cao – It means “defendant” and originates from China.

Cong – It has different meanings like bush, fair, equitable, fair, and public. It originated in China.

Che – It means “cart” and originated in China.

Chi – Of Chinese origin, meaning “pond.”

Co – Meaning “praise” and originates from China.

Cuong – It has its roots in Vietnam and means “healthy, flourishing.” This name is usually used for boys.

Last Names Starting With “D”

Dai – Meaning “great” and is related to royal family. It originated in China.

Dan – It has two meanings. In China, it means “indifferent” and in Vietnam, it means “God is my judge” or “positive.”

Du – It means “the elm tree” or “playful” and this Vietnamese surname has its roots in China.

Don – Meaning “ruler of the world” and is inspired by the English word don. It originates from England.

Danh – Its meaning is “famous” and originated in Vietnam.

Dinh – Meaning “encampment” and originates from Vietnam. This name can also be used as a personal name for boys.

Doan – Its meaning is “elegance” and “powerful.” It is a prestigious name and is linked to all those people who had protected the Vietnamese nation.

Duc – It means “good” and “moral.” It originated in Vietnam.

Duy – Meaning “Save” and “virtuous.” It originates from Vietnam.

Dau – It means “tradition” and originated in Germany.

Last Names Starting With “G”

Gia – Its meaning is “family” and originates from Vietnam. This name can be used for both boys and girls.

Giang – Meaning “river” and originated in Vietnam. This name mostly used for girls.

Last Names Starting With “H”

Hang – It means “moon” and it is a girl’s name originated in Vietnam.

Hieu – Meaning “conscientious to parents” and originates from Vietnam.

Hoa – In Vietnam, its meaning is “flower” ad is also used for girls. In China, its meaning is “perfect.”

Hoai – Meaning “eternal” and “always.” It originates from Vietnam and is also used for boys.

Hong – In Vietnam Hong means pink, red, and rosy and is. In China, its meaning is “flood.”

Hai – Meaning “ocean” and originated in China.

Hoang – Meaning “yellow.” This name has its roots both in Vietnam and China.

Hue/ Hy – Its meaning is “to praise.” This Vietnamese name originates from China.

Huyen – Its meaning is “jet black.. This name is also used for girls and has Vietnamese roots.

Huu – Its meaning is “friend” and originates from Vietnam.

Huy – Meaning “to promise” and originated in China.

Last Names Starting With “K”

Kha – Meaning “tree branch.” This name originates from China.

Ky – In Vietnam, its meaning is “good luck.” This name has also Irish roots and has the meaning “lovely.”

Kim – Meaning “gold” or “metal.” This Vietnamese name originated in Korea.

Kieu – Its meaning is “graceful” and “beloved.” It originates from Vietnam and is also used for girls.

Khanh – Meaning “identical to some precious stone” or” congratulation” and “celebrate.” It originated in Vietnam.

Khong – It means “peaceful.” This Vietnamese surname has its roots in both China and Korea.

Khuu – Its meaning is “autumn” and originates from China.

Kien – Its meaning is “hard.” This surname originated in Vietnam.

Children Playing in Vietnam

Last Names Starting With “L”

Long/Luong – Meaning “dragon” and has roots both in China and Vietnam. This name is also used for boys.

Lieu – Meaning “willow tree” and originates from Vietnam.

Lai – Its meaning is trustworthy and originated in China.

Lang – Meaning “tall one” and originates from China.

Lac – Its meaning is “camel.” This Vietnamese surname originated in China and is well known among Chinese emigrants.

Liang – Its meaning is “bridge” and originates from China.

Linh – Meaning “spirit.” This name has its roots in Vietnam.

Lam – Its meaning is “forest” or “to gather.” This surname has its roots both in China and Vietnam.

Lu – Meaning “road” and originated in China.

Luu – Its meaning is “battle-ax” and originates from China.

Ly – Meaning “reason” and originated in Vietnam.

Last Names Starting With “M”

Ma – Its meaning is “horse.” This Vietnamese surname originates from China.

Minh – Meaning “bright” and originated in China.

Mac – Meaning “son.” This Vietnamese name originates from Scotland.

Manh – Meaning “powerful“, “strong,” “eldest.” This name originated in China and is most popular to Chinese emigrants.

Mai – Its meaning is “flaunt.” This name has its roots in Vietnam.

Last Names Starting With “N”

Ng – This Vietnamese last name originates from China and has meaning “to fall through.”

Nam – Its meaning is “manly” and “south.” This Vietnamese surname has its origin both in Vietnam and Korea.

Nguy – Meaning “to endanger.” This Vietnamese last name has Chinese roots.

Nhu – This Vietnamese surname has the meaning “alike.”

Ngu – It has different meanings like “foolish,” “doltish,” “stupid” and “to anticipate.” This name has its roots in China and Vietnam.

Nhan – Meaning “person” and “former.” It is also used as a middle name and has its roots in both Vietnam and China.

Last Names Starting With “P”

Phuc – Its meaning is “happiness” and “blessings.” It originates from Vietnam.

Phuong – Meaning “phoenix” and originated in Vietnam.

Last Names Starting With “Q”

Quach – Its meaning is “the city that surrounds a city” and “living near the outer city wall.” This name has its roots in China and Vietnam.

Quang – Meaning “clear” and “bright.” It originates from Vietnam and is usually used for boys.

Quoc – Its meaning is “country” and originated in China.

Last Names Starting With “T”

Than – Its meaning is “million” and originates from Myanmar.

Tien – Meaning “fairy” in Vietnamese culture and is usually used for girl.

Thi – Its meaning is “poetry” and originated in Vietnam.

Thong – Meaning “intelligent” and originates from China.

Ton – Its meaning is “descendant” and “sun.” It originated in China.

Tram – Its meaning is “luxury” and “special.” It originates from Vietnam.

Trang – Meaning “serious” and “elegant.” It originated in China.

Tri – Its meaning is “third” and originates from Indonesia.

Trieu – Meaning “million” and originated in Vietnam.

Trinh – Its meaning is “to rule,” “virginal,” “pure.” This name has its roots both in Vietnam and China.

Troung – Its meaning is “school,” “field,” “sheet of paper.” It has its roots in both Vietnam and China.

Tu – Meaning “bright,” “sharp” and “capital.” This name has its roots in both China and Vietnam.

Tuan – Its meaning is “chivalrous” and “gentlemen.” This name has its origin in both China and Vietnam.

Last Names Starting With “V”

Vang – Meaning “field,” “meadow” and “golden.” This name has Scandinavian origin.

Van – Its meaning is “cloud,” “culture” and “knowledge.” It has Dutch origin and is usually used for boys.

Vein – Meaning “full” or “complete.” It originates from Vietnam.

Vuong – Meaning “to rule” and originated in China.

Viet – Its meaning is “Vietnamese descent.” It originates from Vietnam.

Vinh – Meaning glory and originated in Vietnam.

Voong – Its meaning is “king” and originates from Vietnam.

Vi – Its meaning is “soft leather” and originated in China.

Last Names Starting With “Y”

Yen – Meaning “quite” and originates from China.

Vietnamese Last Names Summary

Fancy Vietnamese Family Reading Magazine
Vietnamese last names have many origins like Chinese, Korean, French, Greek, and Dutch, because these nations have an ancient history of ruling Vietnam. There, every surname has a story behind it.

Usually in Vietnamese culture, a person is addressed by his/her given name and not a family name, and on some occasions, a person is addressed with his/her full name.

To be addressed solely by your surname is very rare in Vietnamese culture.

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David is the pet lover behind My Pet's Name. He is a member of the Dog Writers Association of America, holds two degrees and has studied Applied Animal Behavior and Welfare. As well as writing, David has helped over 2 Million people choose the best name for their pet.

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