Family Health


Names by Meaning


Names by Origin


Miller: Family Name, Meaning, History, and More

Close up of old English dictionary page with word surname

Miller: Family Name, Meaning, History, and More

There are approximately 1,361,879 people with the family name or surname of Miller in the United States, so chances are you know someone with this name. Or perhaps it is your family name. Read on to learn more about the history and origins of this ancient family name. We will also examine genealogical resources and suggest best practices for family researchers. Finally, we will share some trivia about this surname and note some of the most famous Millers in history.

Meaning and Origins of the Miller Family Name

Miller is an occupational family name, meaning the last name denotes what the family did for a living. Miller was the name for someone who ground flour at a mill or perhaps owned the mill. However, there may be a connection between the name and the Gaelic language. Some historians suggest that the name Miller may have originated from Gaelic terms such as “Meilleur,” meaning “having large lips,” “malair,” meaning “merchant,” or “maillor” meaning “soldier”.

Furthermore, the Miller family name has connections to the German name Mueller, the French name Meunier, the Dutch name Molenaar, and the Italian family name Molinaro. These names are cognates of Miller, meaning they are names in a different language originating from the same root word.

The Miller name first appears in Dumfriesshire, Scotland, where one line of the Miller family had an ancestral home. Like most family names originating in the Middle Ages, there are many spelling variations due to the fact that people wrote names down by sounds rather than a specific set of spelling rules. It is not uncommon to find the name spelled Millar, Myllar, Mylar, Millare, and Myllair, to name just a few.

Genealogical Records for the Miller Family Name

Online researchers will find a wealth of information regarding this family name. The popular genealogical website Ancestry alone provides twenty-eight million historical records, including immigration and military records, census and voter lists, and birth, marriage, and death records.

Census records are particularly helpful in locating family members. Census data records the number of family members, their occupations and ages, and, in some cases, when they immigrated to America. For instance, in the 1940 census, the top jobs for Miller were Farmer and Housewife.

In the case of surnames like Miller, a name with a long history and many family branches, there are specific websites dedicated to family research. These include websites like the Miller Family DNA Project, where men with this last name may receive a free DNA test. Furthermore, you may collaborate with other researchers in Miller genealogy using Wikitree. Also, there is free genealogical information about this name on Family Search.

community large family in the park. a large group of people holding hands walking silhouette on nature sunset in the park. big family kid dream concept. people in the park. large sunlight family
There are many genealogy websites specializing in the Miller name to help you research your family history.

©maxim ibragimov/Shutterstock.com

Best Practices for Researching the Miller Family Name

If you are beginning your research, the National Archives offers free resources. Here are some tips for genealogical research.

  • Identify your goals and write them down.
  • Write down what you already know about your family history. Create a family tree. Mark areas needing more info.
  • Write down your research questions. What do you hope to find out?
  • Interview relatives and record their memories.
  • Identify resources that will help you in your family history search.
  • Preserve original copies of family documents. Make backup copies.
  • Digitize your research. Share your results with others through a website or a blog. This will connect you with other researchers.
  • Double-check your research and reanalyze your previous conclusions if you hit a wall. Consult census records and other sources for more information.
  • Analyze and correlate all of your information and identify new research avenues.
  • Understand that it may take a long time to uncover your family history. Enjoy the process.

Finally, don't forget that online resources are not the only research sources available. Explore libraries, historical societies, and church records.

Fun Facts About the Miller Family Name

Now that you know the history and origins of this name, here is some fun trivia about the Miller last name.

  • Since the mill was essential in medieval society, Millers typically enjoyed a privileged status.
  • Seventy-six percent of those with the last name Miller live in the Americas.
  • California has the largest number of people with the surname Miller in the United States.
  • The average salary of someone with the last name Miller in the United States is $42,532, slightly less than the national average.
  • The Miller family has no less than thirty Coat of Arms. One of the earliest Coat of Arms featured three wolves' heads in silver.
  • In The Miller's Tale from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, a drunken miller tells the story of Nicholas, a scholar who has an affair with a carpenter's wife.
  • Miller is one of the most common Amish family names. While most Amish Millers are found in the Midwest, some are also in Pennsylvania.
  • Frederick Miller established the Miller Brewing Company in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1855.
  • Miller is spelled Миллер in Russian. In Arabic, it is spelled ميللر.
California on the map of USA
The Miller surname is most common in the United States, particularly in California.

©Alexander Lukatskiy/Shutterstock.com

Famous People Named Miller

No longer is the name Miller simply associated with grinding flour. People named Miller have gone on to great success in a variety of fields, including these Millers you may recognize.

  • Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller – Better known by her pen name, Agatha Christie, this prolific mystery writer wrote Death on the Nile and Murder on the Orient Express.
  • Arthur Miller – American playwright who won the Pulitzer Prize for his play Death of a Salesman.
  • Dominic Miller – This Argentine-born guitarist has played with Sting for most of his career and has also released a number of solo albums.
  • Frank Miller – Comic book artist and writer famous for his graphic novels Daredevil and Sin City.
  • Glenn Miller – Legendary American Big Band band leader and composer best known for his song “In the Mood.”
  • Henry Miller – American author who wrote about his bohemian life in avant-garde novels that were often challenged or banned.
  • Johnny Lee Miller – British actor best known for his role as “Sick Boy” in Trainspotting and his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes in the television series Elementary.
  • Mac Miller – American rapper and record producer whose posthumous album “Circles” debuted at number three on the American record charts in 2020.
  • Matthew Paul Miller – Better known by his stage name Matisyahu, this musician is known for blending rap, reggae, and rock music.
  • Reggie Miller – Former professional basketball player who played for the Indiana Pacers for his entire career.
  • Shaunae Miller-Uibo -Bahamian sprinter who won the gold medal in the 400-meter race in the 2016 Olympics.
  • Sienna Miller – British-American actress, model, and fashion designer.
Amish Boys by a stream, Lancaster PA
Miller is the most common Amish family name.

©Melody Edwards/Shutterstock.com

Final Thoughts

Miller, a family name first recorded in the Middle Ages, was once associated with grinding flour. It also has connections to the Gaelic language. Today, the Miller name is one of the most common names in the world. It is found most often in the United States but is also common in Canada and Great Britain.

There are unique challenges to researching a common family name like Miller, but many genealogical resources are available, both free and with subscription costs. There are also specific resources for those who share the Miller family name. Gathering as much information as possible from family members at the start of your family history research can significantly increase your chances of success. Although uncovering your family's history may take some time, enjoy the process and happy researching!

To top