First Name
in the U.S.
since 1880
Last Name
in the U.S.
in 2010
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Meaning and Origin

What does the name Tan mean? Find out below.

Origin and Meaning of Tan

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Webster's Unabridged Dictionary
noun Tan
See Picul.

Etymology: Chin

noun Tan
  1. The bark of the oak, and some other trees, bruised and broken by a mill, for tanning hides; -- so called both before and after it has been used. Called also tan bark.
  2. A yellowish-brown color, like that of tan.
  3. A brown color imparted to the skin by exposure to the sun; as, hands covered with tan .

Etymology: F. tan, perhaps fr. Armor. tann an oak, oak bar; or of Teutonic origin; cf. G. tanne a fir, OHG. tanna a fir, oak, MHG. tan a forest. Cf. Tawny

adjective Tan
Of the color of tan; yellowish-brown.
verb Tan
  1. To convert (the skin of an animal) into leather, as by usual process of steeping it in an infusion of oak or some other bark, whereby it is impregnated with tannin, or tannic acid (which exists in several species of bark), and is thus rendered firm, durable, and in some degree impervious to water.
  2. To make brown; to imbrown, as by exposure to the rays of the sun; as, to tan the skin.
  3. To thrash or beat; to flog; to switch; as, to tan a disobedient child's hide.(Colloq)

Note: ☞ The essential result in tanning is due to the fact that the tannins form, with gelatins and albuminoids, a series of insoluble compounds which constitute leather. Similar results may be produced by the use of other reagents in place of tannin, as alum, and some acids or chlorides, which are employed in certain processes of tanning.

Etymology: F. tanner, LL. tannare. See Tan (n.)

verb Tan
To get or become tanned.
Other Dictionary Sources
  1. A light brown the color of topaz
  2. Ratio of the opposite to the adjacent side of a right-angled triangle
  3. A browning of the skin resulting from exposure to the rays of the sun
  4. Get a tan, from wind or sun
  5. Treat skins and hides with tannic acid so as to convert them into leather
  6. Of a light yellowish-brown color
  1. An English surname derived from the transliteration of various Asian surnames, particularly originating from China and Vietnam.

Tan was also found in the following language(s): Tagalog and Turkish

Notable Persons Named Tan

Vincent Tan is a chairman of berjaya group, owner of cardiff city football club, owner of fk sarajevo, co-owner, director of los angeles football club, owner of k.v. kortrijk, berjaya group, cardiff city f.c., fk sarajevo, los angeles fc, and k.v. kortrijk. Vincent was given the name Tan Sri Dato' Seri Vincent Tan Chee Yioun in 1952 in Batu Pahat, Johor, Malaysia.


Tan Jing is a c-pop, bel canto, and guoyue musician. She has been prominent since 1996. Tan was born on September 11th, 1977 in Houma, Shanxi.


Tan Le is a technology entrepreneur. co-founder of emotiv. Tan was given the name Lê Thị Thái Tần on May 20th, 1977 in Vietnam.


Tan Yuling was royalty. Tan was born in Republic of China (1912–49). She breathed her last breath on August 14th, 1942.


Sitar Tan Weiwei is a mandopop musician. They were most prominent from 2006 to 2006. Sitar was given the name Tan Weiwei on October 8th, 1981. Sitar is also known as Sitar Tan.


She holds the title Woman Grandmaster(2009) and FIDE titles. Tan was born on May 29th, 1991 in Chongqing, China.


Notable Persons With the Last Name Tan

Amy Tan is a writer. Amy was born Amy Tan on February 19th, 1952 in Oakland, California.


Tony Tan is a 7th President of Singapore, Minister for Security, Defence, Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore, Minister for Defence, Minister for Education, Minister for Finance, Co-ordinating Minister for National Security, Ministry of Defence (Singapore), Ministry o. Tony was born on February 7th, 1940 in Singapore.


Vincent Tan is a chairman of berjaya group, owner of cardiff city football club, owner of fk sarajevo, co-owner, director of los angeles football club, owner of k.v. kortrijk, berjaya group, cardiff city f.c., fk sarajevo, los angeles fc, and k.v. kortrijk. Vincent was given the name Tan Sri Dato' Seri Vincent Tan Chee Yioun in 1952 in Batu Pahat, Johor, Malaysia.


Sr. was born on July 17th, 1934 in Xiamen.


Min-Liang Tan is a ceo, creative director of razer inc., chief executive officer, creative director, and ceoandcreative directorofrazer inc. Min-Liang was born on November 5th, 1977 in Singapore.


Shaun Tan is a comics creator.


How popular is the baby name Tan in the U.S.?

Click Here to Show Chart Data
Year Total Babies Born Girls Born Boys Born
1976 6 0 6
1977 8 0 8
1978 14 0 14
1979 16 5 11
1980 24 6 18
1981 17 0 17
1982 23 0 23
1983 17 0 17
1984 23 0 23
1985 29 0 29
1986 17 0 17
1987 20 0 20
1988 15 0 15
1989 23 0 23
1990 27 0 27
1991 20 0 20
1992 25 0 25
1993 18 0 18
1994 13 0 13
1995 15 0 15
1996 15 0 15
1997 13 0 13
1998 14 0 14
1999 18 0 18
2000 9 0 9
2001 18 0 18
2002 19 0 19
2003 12 0 12
2004 16 0 16
2005 9 0 9
2006 12 0 12
2007 16 0 16
2009 9 0 9
2010 11 0 11
2011 6 0 6
2012 8 0 8
2013 7 0 7

Where is the name Tan popular?

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Popularity of Tan as a last name

The map shows the absolute popularity of the name Tan as a last name in each of the states. See other popular names in California, New York, or Illinois.

Common last names for Tan

  • Nguyen
  • Tran
  • Le
  • Duong
  • Dang
  • Doan

Common first names for Tan

Ethnicity Distribution

Ethnicity Tan U.S.
  White 3.30% 64.26%
  African American 0.19% 11.96%
  Asian, Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander 92.37% 4.85%
  American Indian and Alaska Native 0.11% 0.69%
  Two or More Ethnicities 2.62% 1.76%
  Hispanic or Latino 1.42% 16.26%

Of Last Name Tan

People with the last name Tan are most frequently Asian, Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander

Entire United States

Fun Facts about the name Tan

  • How Popular is the name Tan? Tan is the 14,847th most popular name of all time. As a last name Tan was the 1,090th most popular name in 2010.
  • How many people with the first name Tan have been born in the United States? From 1880 to 2017, the Social Security Administration has recorded 582 babies born with the first name Tan in the United States. That's more than enough people named Tan to occupy the territory of Pitcairn Islands (United Kingdom) with an estimated population of 66 (as of July 1, 2008).
  • What year were 5 or more babies first named Tan? The name was first given to 5 or more babies in the year 1976 when it was given as a first name to 6 new born babies.
  • When was Tan first recorded in the United States? The oldest recorded birth by the Social Security Administration for the first name Tan is Wednesday, October 13th, 1886.
  • What year had the most people named Tan born? The highest recorded use of the first name Tan was in 1985 with a total of 29 babies.
  • Random Tan Factoid: According to the 2010 U.S. Social Security Administration data, the first name Tan is not a popular baby boy's name in California. Imagine that, only 5 babies in California have the same name as you in 2010.
  • Weird things about the name Tan: Your name in reverse order is Nat. A random rearrangement of the letters in your name (anagram) will give Nat. How do you pronounce that?
  • How many people have the last name Tan? In 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau surveyed 32,120 people with the last name Tan.
  • How likely are you to meet someone with the last name of Tan? If you manage to meet 100,000 people in your life, chances are that 11 of them will have Tan as their last name.

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  • Sources:
  • U.S. Census Bureau: Frequently Occurring Surnames from the Census 2000 (public domain).
  • U.S. Social Security Administration: Popular Baby Names, Death Master File (public domain).
  • 1913 Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary via the Collaborative International Dictionary of English (License)
  • Other Dictionary Sources: WordNet 3.1 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University (License).
  • Wiktionary: Titles and License.
  • Notable persons via Wikipedia: Titles and License. Click each image for the attribution information.