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Surname Pagan - Meaning and Origin

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Tracing the Roots of Surname 'Pagan': A Deep Dive into Ancestry with iGENEA DNA Testing

Recently, I delved into my ancestry by availing iGENEA's DNA testing service. The test, focused on decoding the genetic details imbibed in my Y-DNA, mtDNA, and autosomal DNA, offered an unprecedented insight into the roots of my surname, Pagan.

K. Pagan

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Pagan: What does the surname Pagan mean?

The last name Pagan likely originates from the Latin term "paganus," which translates to "rural" or "rustic" in English. This was often used colloquially to refer to civilians or non-combatants during the Roman Empire. Later, with the spread of Christianity, it was used to signify non-Christians and adherents of other religions considered to be 'heathens' or 'non-believers'. As a surname, it might have been a nickname for a heathen or for someone who lived in a remote area, far from major Christian communities. It could also be associated with the Italian "pagano", meaning "peasant". The surname has variations in different countries, such as Paganini in Italy, Pagan in France, and Pagan and Payen in England. It's important to note that the meaning of a surname often evolves over centuries and can be linked to the historical, cultural, and linguistic context of a region.

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Pagan: Where does the name Pagan come from?

The last name Pagan is mostly found today in the United States and Mexico. In the United States, the surname is historically associated with the American Southwest, specifically Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico, although there are some in other parts of the country as well. It is also common in Puerto Rico. According to the 2000 census, the Puerto Rican census of 2000 marked Pagan as the seventh most common last name in that US territory.

The surname also appears to be most common in Mexico, especially in Chihuahua, Coahuila, Guerrero, Hidalgo, and Jalisco. One study showed that Pagan is the 77th most popular last name in Mexico, with over 535,000 occurrences of the name.

The name Pagan is likely derived from the Old French word ‘PAG’, which means 'small village', or 'villager'. This term was sometimes used as a name for foreign immigrants, as these were typically people who had moved from small, rural areas to enter larger cities. Today, the Pagan surname is still typically associated with people of Hispanic or Latin American origin.

Variations of the surname Pagan

The surname Pagan can take multiple forms and spellings. From its roots in Latin, it has undergone various changes to accommodate different nationalities and languages over time.

In Spanish, the same name is spelled as Pagán, and variations on this spelling are also common. In France, the name as changed to its feminine form, Paganée. In Italy, it is often spelled as Pagano. Similarly, Paganschissel is a common spelling in Bavaria, while Pagans is found in Ukraine, Romania, and Slovenia.

In Portugal, the family name is spelled as Pagãn and another variant, Paganelli, is popular in Italy. The Polish version, named Pagán, is found in Poland and Lithuania. The Hungarian spelling is based on the Polish form of Pagán, while countries such as the Netherlands and Denmark adopted the spelling as Paggen.

The family name also has multiple surnames that have the same origin. These include Payan, Paghani, and Paganetto. In the Greek-speaking world and some parts of the Balkan region, the name is changed to Pagantzoglou or Pagantzoglides.

Overall, the origin of this surname can be traced back to the Latin root “pagānus”, meaning heathen or unbeliever. It reflects the ancient customs of many regions, which adopted these names to identify those who do not share the same religion. Despite the various spellings and variations, all of these names ultimately still bear the same origin.

Famous people with the name Pagan

  • Ricky Pagan: former professional baseball player.
  • Robert Pagan: former professional baseketball player.
  • Ashley Pagan: professional dancer and actress.
  • Karen Pagan: professional improvisational dancer.
  • Vaughn Pagan: former professional ice hockey player.
  • Melissa Pagan: entrepreneur who specializes in fashion.
  • Christine Pagan: professional party planner and event designer.
  • Oliver Pagan: former NFL player and coach.
  • Marlo Pagan: professional dog behaviorist.
  • Vanessa Pagan: former fitness and lifestyle blogger.

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