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 Yew mean? Find out below.

Origin and Meaning of Yew

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Webster's Unabridged Dictionary
verb Yew
See Yaw.
noun Yew
  1. [Bot] An evergreen tree (Taxus baccata) of Europe, allied to the pines, but having a peculiar berrylike fruit instead of a cone. It frequently grows in British churchyards.
  2. The wood of the yew. It is light red in color, compact, fine-grained, and very elastic. It is preferred to all other kinds of wood for bows and whipstocks, the best for these purposes coming from Spain.
  3. A bow for shooting, made of the yew.

Note: ☞ The American yew Taxus baccata, var. Canadensis) is a low and straggling or prostrate bush, never forming an erect trunk. The California yew Taxus brevifolia) is a good-sized tree, and its wood is used for bows, spear handles, paddles, and other similar implements. Another yew is found in Florida, and there are species in Japan and the Himalayas.

Etymology: OE. ew, AS. eów īw eoh; akin to D. ijf, OHG. īwa īha, G. eibe, Icel. ȳr; cf. Ir. iubhar, Gael. iubhar iughar, W. yw ywen, Lith. jëva the black alder tree

adjective Yew
Of or pertaining to yew trees; made of the wood of a yew tree; as, a yew whipstock.
Other Dictionary Sources
  1. Any of numerous evergreen trees or shrubs having red cup-shaped berries and flattened needlelike leaves
  2. Wood of a yew; especially the durable fine-grained light brown or red wood of the English yew valued for cabinetwork and archery bows

From Middle English ew, from Old English īw, ēow, from Proto-Germanic *īwaz, *īhwaz (compare Icelandic ýr), masculine variant of *īwō (compare Dutch ijf, German Eibe), from Proto-Indo-European *h₁eyHweh₂ (compare Hittite [script needed] (eja, “type of evergreen”), Welsh yw (“yews”), Lithuanian ievà (“bird cherry”), Russian и́ва (íva, “willow”)).

  1. (countable) A species of coniferous tree, Taxus baccata, with dark-green flat needle-like leaves and seeds bearing red arils, native to western, central and southern Europe, northwest Africa, northern Iran and southwest Asia.
  2. (countable, by extension) Any tree or shrub of the genus Taxus.
  3. Other conifers resembling plants in genus Taxus
    1. in family Podocarpaceae
    2. in family Cephalotaxaceae
  4. (uncountable) The wood of the such trees.
  5. A bow for archery, made of yew wood.

yew was also found in the following language(s): Noone

Notable Persons Named Yew

Dr. was given the name Yew Kam Keong in 1950 in Kuala Lumpur, Federation of Malaya.


Notable Persons With the Last Name Yew

Lee Kuan Yew was a Secretary-General of the People's Action Party, 1st Prime Minister of Singapore, Senior Minister, Minister Mentor, and Secretary-General of thePeople's Action Party. Lee was born on September 16th, 1923 in Straits Settlements. He left this life on March 23rd, 2015.


Loke was given the name Wong Loke Yew on October 9th, 1845 in Heshan, Guangdong, China. Loke is also known as Wong Loke Yew. He left this life on February 24th, 1917.


He passed away in 1948.


Cheng was born in 1943.


Lee was born on March 19th, 1966.


Lawrence was born on January 17th, 1942 in Beauval, Saskatchewan. He breathed his last breath on April 18th, 1998.


Where is the name Yew popular?

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Popularity of Yew as a last name

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

Common last names for Yew

  • Lee
  • Wong

Ethnicity Distribution

Ethnicity Yew U.S.
  White 10.97% 64.26%
  African American 0.00% 11.96%
  Asian, Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander 80.88% 4.85%
  American Indian and Alaska Native 0.00% 0.69%
  Two or More Ethnicities 6.27% 1.76%
  Hispanic or Latino 0.00% 16.26%

Of Last Name Yew

People with the last name Yew are most frequently White or Asian, Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander

Entire United States

Fun Facts about the name Yew

  • How Popular is the name Yew? As a last name Yew was the 62,714th most popular name in 2010.
  • When was the first name Yew first recorded in the United States? The oldest recorded birth by the Social Security Administration for the name Yew is Sunday, May 5th, 1889.
  • How unique is the name Yew? From 1880 to 2017 less than 5 people per year have been born with the first name Yew. Hoorah! You are a unique individual.
  • Weird things about the name Yew: Your name in reverse order is Wey. A random rearrangement of the letters in your name (anagram) will give Wye. How do you pronounce that?
  • How many people have the last name Yew? In 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau surveyed 319 people with the last name Yew.
  • How likely are you to meet someone with the last name of Yew? Chances are, most people haven't met someone with Yew as their last name since less than 1 person in 909k people have that last name. If you know one, consider yourself lucky!

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  • Sources:
  • U.S. Census Bureau: Frequently Occurring Surnames from the Census 2000 (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.