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Surname Stills - Meaning and Origin

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Stills: What does the surname Stills mean?

The last name Stills is of English origin. It typically originated from an occupational name for a person who either worked at or operated a still. In this context, a still refers to an apparatus used in the process of distillation, predominantly in the production of alcoholic beverages. The term is derived from the Old English word 'stiell', which translates to 'a still' (apparatus) or 'a hill'. In some instances, the surname could also be a geographic name for people who lived near a still body of water, or any kind of feature associated with a 'still' characteristic. As with any surname, specific meanings can vary based on the historical and personal context attached to each family line. Hence, while the general thematic origin could be traced to the concept of 'stillness' or 'distillation', interpretation of its symbolism can differ across different branches and traditions.

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Stills: Where does the name Stills come from?

The last name Stills is considered to be an English or Scottish name, with records of the name existing as far back as the 1600s. The name is still common among both the English and Scottish populations, and those with Scottish ancestry living outside of the British Islands.

In the United Kingdom, the name Stills can be seen most prominently in the cities of London, Edinburgh, Manchester, and Birmingham. According to recent records from the Office of National Statistics, Stills is the 3,867th most common surname in England and Wales, and 893rd most common in Scotland.

Outside of the British Isles, the last name Stills is predominantly found in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. In the United States, the surname appears to be most commonly found in the Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Maryland and New York. Records indicate that Stills is the 5,289th most common last name in the U.S., and the 1,739th most common in Canada. It has even made its way down to South America, with records showing over 250 Stills’ living in Argentina in the last census.

The surname Stills is still common today, with records of the name showing up in various countries both in and outside the British Isles. Its commonness in past centuries indicates that it is here to stay for many more to come.

Variations of the surname Stills

The surname Stills is believed to be of English or Scottish origin and is derived from the Old English term ‘styll’, which means a narrow lane or passage. Variants, spellings and surnames of the same origin for the surname Stills include Still, Steel, Stell, Steele, Styll, and Styl.

The use of double consonant endings such as ‘steel’ and ‘stell’ was common in British Isles and Scandinavian countries. These variants are derived from local dialects and even though they may look different they still hold the same meaning.

An alternate version of the surname Stills is Steel. During the Middle Ages in Europe, the Steel surname originated in Scotland and was generally found in the northern regions. Although Steel is a common English and Scottish surname, it also occurs in Irish, French, Dutch and German places.

The spelling Stille is also seen in America but it is possible that this is a variant of Dutch, German, or Scandinavian surnames which developed differently than those in British Isles.

The Irish, Scots and British who emigrated to America and Canada are thought to have carried the Steele, Stell, Styl, and Stills surname. Later variations of the same origin included Stillwell, Stiles, and Steelman.

Overall, the surname Stills has various variants, spellings, and surnames that all originate from the same root.

Famous people with the name Stills

  • Stephen Stills: musician, singer, and songwriter who achieved success both with the 1960s rock band Buffalo Springfield and as part of the superstar group Crosby, Stills & Nash.
  • Michael Stills: singer-songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist who is best known from his work with the 1990's rap group The Roots.
  • Richard Stills: blues and rock guitarist who is best known for his contributions to the Allman Brothers.
  • Maud Stills: an American painter and musician who was part of the intersecting spheres of music, art, and civil rights.
  • Kate Stills: a British rock vocalist, songwriter, and TV presenter.
  • Chris Stills: an American singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, best known for his work with the band Sons of season and his wife Vanessa Carlton.
  • David Stills: the son of Stephen Stills and an American singer and songwriter, best known for his songwriting and acoustic guitar work.
  • Don Stills: a bass player, and the long-time director of the famous Allman Brothers Band.
  • Jean Stills: an American violinist, accompanist, arranger, and teacher.
  • Mike Stills: an American saxophonist who has performed with Aretha Franklin, Pink Floyd, James Taylor, Billy Joel, and Diana Ross.

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