Monday, December 11, 2017

Etymology Of The Last Name "Moore" & Its Frequency In The United States, With Special Attention To African Americans

Edited by Azizi Powell

This pancocojams post provides information about the etymology of the last name (surname) "Moore" and its frequency in the United States, particularly with Black Americans.

The content of this post is given for etymological purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post.
Click for the somewhat related post on the etymology of the last name "Jones" & its frequency in the USA.

Also, click for a related 2016 pancocojams post entitled "Washington"- The Blackest Last Name In The United States.

"Moore is a popular English-language surname. It is the 34th most common surname in Australia, 32nd most common in England,[1] and was the 16th most common surname in the United States in 2000.[2]

It can have several meanings and derivations, as it appeared as a surname long before written language had developed in most of the population, resulting in a variety of spellings.

Variations of the name can appear as O'More or Moor; as well as the Scottish Gaelic originations Muir, Mure and Mor/Mór; the Manx Gaelic origination Moar; the Irish Gaelic originations O'More and Ó Mórda; and the later Irish variants O'Moore or 'Moore and the French de la Mora (William De La More).

The similarly pronounced surname Mohr is of Germanic lineage and is not related to the Gaelic/English variations.

Meanings and origins
From Middle English mor meaning "open land" or "bog" and given to persons dwelling near a moor or heath.

The Old Irish Moores are O'Morda, from the Irish Gaelic word morda, meaning "stately and noble". The French persons named de Mora, who were established in Ireland's Munster province, were known as O'More after 200 years in Co. Leix. After WW1, "Moore" as a phonetic rendering of the name derived from the word "moor", or "healthy mountain," became the written version for similar-sounding names. Alternatively of Gaelic/Manx origin Moar, this name was for a collector of manorial rents on the Isle of Man.

The spelling "Moore" was sometimes used to indicate a son of someone called More - this being one use where spelling is significant.

Possibly derived from Maurus, a Roman first name which meant "dark skinned" in Latin, and related to the Old French More meaning "Moor," such as Berber, a colloquial nickname for a person of dark complexion, often describing someone of North African descent.

Possibly originated from early references to persons who worked with boats at a wharf or moorage.

The De La Mare surname from French Normandy was progressively anglicized in England as "de la Mare" (Walter de la Mare), "De La More", "More", and "Moore" in England.

In the United States, "Moore" ranked 16th among all surnames in the 2000 census, accounting for 0.26% of the population, falling from 9th in the 1990 census.[2][3]

"The term "Moors" refers primarily to the Muslim inhabitants of the Maghreb, the Iberian Peninsula, Sicily, and Malta during the Middle Ages. The Moors initially were the Berber autochthones of the Maghreb.[1] The name was later also applied to Arabs.[2][3]

Moors are not a distinct or self-defined people,[4] and the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica observed that "The term 'Moors' has no real ethnological value."[5] Medieval and early modern Europeans variously applied the name to Arabs, North African Berbers, and Muslim Europeans.[6]

The term has also been used in Europe in a broader, somewhat derogatory sense to refer to Muslims in general,[7] especially those of Arab or Berber descent, whether living in Spain or North Africa.[8] During the colonial era, the Portuguese introduced the names "Ceylon Moors" and "Indian Moors" in Sri Lanka, and the Bengali Muslims were also called Moors.[9]

In 711, troops mostly formed by Moors from North Africa led the Umayyad conquest of Hispania. The Iberian peninsula then came to be known in classical Arabic as Al-Andalus, which at its peak included most of Septimania and modern-day Spain and Portugal.

In 827, the Moors occupied Mazara on Sicily, developing it as a port.[10] They eventually consolidated the rest of the island and some of southern Italy. Differences in religion and culture led to a centuries-long conflict with the Christian kingdoms of Europe, which tried to reclaim control of Muslim areas; this conflict was referred to as the Reconquista. In 1224 the Muslims were expelled from Sicily to the settlement of Lucera, which was destroyed by European Christians in 1300.

The fall of Granada in 1492 marked the end of Muslim rule in Iberia, although a Muslim minority persisted until their expulsion in 1609.[11]

During the classical period, the Romans interacted with, and later conquered, parts of Mauretania, a state that covered modern northern Morocco, western Algeria, and the Spanish cities Ceuta and Melilla.[12] The Berber tribes of the region were noted in Classical literature as Mauri, which was subsequently rendered as "Moors" in English and in related variations in other European languages.[13] Mauri (Μαῦροι) is recorded as the native name by Strabo in the early 1st century. This appellation was also adopted into Latin, whereas the Greek name for the tribe was Maurusii (Μαυρούσιοι).[14] The Moors were also mentioned by Tacitus as having revolted against the Roman Empire in 24 AD.[15]

The 16th century scholar Leo Africanus (c. 1494–1554) of Al-Andalus identified the Moors as the native Berber inhabitants of the former Roman Africa Province (Africans). He described Moors as one of five main population groups on the continent alongside Egyptians, Abyssinians (Abassins), Arabians and Cafri (Cafates).[1]

Modern meanings
In medieval Romance languages, variations of the Latin word for the Moors (for instance, Italian and Spanish: moro, French: maure, Portuguese: mouro, Romanian: maur) developed different applications and connotations. The term initially denoted a specific Berber people in western Libya, but the name acquired more general meaning during the medieval period, associated with "Muslim", similar to associations with "Saracens". During the context of the Crusades and the Reconquista, the term Moors included the derogatory suggestion of "infidels".

Apart from these historic associations and context, Moor and Moorish designate a specific ethnic group speaking Hassaniya Arabic. They inhabit Mauritania and parts of Algeria, Western Sahara, Tunisia, Morocco, Niger, and Mali. In Niger and Mali, these peoples are also known as the Azawagh Arabs, after the Azawagh region of the Sahara.[16]

The authoritative dictionary of the Spanish language does not list any derogatory meaning for the word moro, a term generally referring to people of Maghrebian origin in particular or Muslims in general.[17] Some authors have pointed out that in modern colloquial Spanish use of the term moro is derogatory for Moroccans in particular[18][19][20][21][22] and Muslims in general.

In modern, colloquial Portuguese, the term Mouro was primarily used as a designation for North Africans and secondarily as a derogatory and ironic term by northern Portuguese to refer to the inhabitants of the southern parts of the country (Lisbon, Alentejo, and Algarve). However, this designation has gained more acceptance in the south.

In the Philippines, a former Spanish colony, many modern Filipinos call the large, local Muslim minority concentrated in Mindanao and other southern islands Moros. The word is a catch-all term, as Moro may come from several distinct ethno-linguistic groups such as the Maranao people. The term was introduced by Spanish colonisers, and has since been appropriated by Filipino Muslims as an endonym, with many self-identifying as members of the Bangsamoro "Moro Nation".

Moreno can mean dark-skinned in Spain, Portugal, Brazil, and the Philippines. Also in Spanish, morapio is a humorous name for "wine", especially that which has not been "baptized" or mixed with water, i.e., pure unadulterated wine. Among Spanish speakers, moro came to have a broader meaning, applied to both Filipino Moros from Mindanao, and the moriscos of Granada. Moro refers to all things dark, as in "Moor", moreno, etc. It was also used as a nickname; for instance, the Milanese Duke Ludovico Sforza was called Il Moro because of his dark complexion.[23]

In Portugal, mouro (feminine, moura) may refer to supernatural beings known as enchanted moura, where "moor" implies 'alien' and 'non-Christian'. These beings were siren-like fairies with golden or reddish hair and a fair face. They were believed to have magical properties.[24] From this root, the name moor is applied to unbaptized children, meaning not Christian.[25][26] In Basque, mairu means moor and also refers to a mythical people.[2]”....

Excerpt #1:
Most common last names for Blacks in the U.S. [2000]
"The following is a list of the most common surnames for people who self-identified as "Black" in America during the 2000 Census [updated data]. The data, which may include people who identified themselves as African-American, African, or other ethnic or racial groups, is derived from the U.S. Bureau of the Census.

Last name / Surname: MOORE


Surname rank among blacks: 13


% of people with surname self-identifying as 'black': 26.9%

U.S. Rank: 16 "

Excerpt #2:
From [2010]


Surname rank among blacks: 13

% black in genpop 2010: 27.74


% Total general population rank: 18 "

Excerpt #3:
From "50 MOST COMMON AFRICAN AMERICAN SURNAMES (Based on Births among Allegheny County, Pennsylvania Residents) During 1992-2001
"Note: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is the largest city in Allegheny County.

20. Moore (151) [# of Black babies* with the surname "Moore" who were born in Allegheny County during those years; "Black" defined as anyone of Black descent, included children of Black/non-Black birth parents]


These names are given in no particular order.

Reverend James Moore Sr. (February 1, 1956 – June 7, 2000), born James Leslie Moore in Detroit, Michigan, was a gospel artist well known throughout the gospel recording industry for his powerful vocal abilities

Arnold Dwight "Gatemouth" Moore (November 8, 1913 – May 19, 2004)[1] was an American blues and gospel singer, songwriter, radio disc jockey, community leader and pastor, later known as Reverend Gatemouth Moore.

Jackie Moore (born 1946, Jacksonville, Florida[1]) is an American R&B singer. She is best known for her gold single 1970 song "Precious, Precious," which reached #30 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart on March 6, 1971. This disc sold over one million copies, and received a gold disc awarded by the R.I.A.A. in March 1971.[1]

Rudolph Frank Moore (March 17, 1927 – October 19, 2008), known as Rudy Ray Moore, was an American comedian, musician, singer, film actor, and film producer.[1] He was perhaps best known as Dolemite (the name derived from the mineral dolomite),[2] the uniquely articulate pimp from the 1975 film Dolemite, and its sequels, The Human Tornado and The Return of Dolemite.[3] The persona was developed during his earlier comedy records,[4][5] for which Moore has been called "the Godfather of Rap".

"James Isaac Moore (January 11, 1924 – January 31, 1970),[1][nb 1] better known by his stage name Slim Harpo, was an American blues musician, a leading exponent of the swamp blues style, and "one of the most commercially successful blues artists of his day."...

"Bebe Moore Campbell (born Elizabeth Bebe Moore; February 18, 1950 – November 27, 2006), was an American author, journalist and teacher."...

Shemar Franklin Moore (born April 20, 1970) is an American actor and former fashion model."...[male]

Leonard Edward Moore (born November 25, 1933) is a former American football halfback. He played college football at Pennsylvania State University and professionally in the National Football League (NFL) for the Baltimore Colts from 1956 to 1967"...

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  1. The idea for this pancocojams post came to me after reading about the Alabama political race for United States Senator between Doug Jones and Roy Moore.

    I certainly wholeheartedly agree with the quote that I read that the United States and the state of Alabama deserve better than Roy Moore.

    Aside from that name in the news, my interest in the last name "Moore" is fueled in part because "Powell", "Moore" and "Jackson" are all associated with my former husband's family who come from North Carolina.

  2. As something of an aside, here's an excerpt from the Wikipedia page about the "Moorish Science Temple":
    "The Moorish Science Temple of America is an American national and religious organization founded by Noble Drew Ali. He based it on the belief that African Americans are descendants of the Moorish Empire and thus were Moorish by nationality, and Islamic by faith. Ali put together elements of major traditions to develop a message of personal transformation through historical education, racial pride and spiritual upliftment. His doctrine was also intended to provide African Americans with a sense of identity in the world and to promote civic involvement.

    One primary tenet of the Moorish Science Temple is the belief that African Americans are of Moorish ancestry, specifically from the "Moroccan Empire." According to Ali, this area included other countries that today surround Morocco. To join the movement, individuals had to proclaim their "Moorish nationality." They were given "nationality cards." In religious texts, adherents refer to themselves racially as "Asiatics," as the Middle East is also western Asia.[1] Adherents of this movement are known as "Moorish-American Moslems" and are called "Moorish Scientists" in some circles.

    The Moorish Science Temple of America was incorporated under the Illinois Religious Corporation Act 805 ILCS 110. Timothy Drew, known to its members as Prophet Noble Drew Ali, founded the Moorish Science Temple of America in 1913 in Newark, New Jersey, a booming industrial city. After some difficulties, Ali moved to Chicago, establishing a center there, as well as temples in other major cities. The movement expanded rapidly during the late 1920s. The quick expansion of the Moorish Science Temple arose in large part from the search for identity and context among black Americans at the time of the Great Migration to northern and midwestern cities, as they were becoming an urbanized people.[2]"...
    People who are affiliated with the Moorish Science Temple are a very very small part of the population that are commonly referred to as "Black Americans" or "African Americans".

    Moorish Science Temple men may be identified by the red fez with a tassel that they wear (as shown in a segment of this pancocojams post: 12:13-13:19. In that segment a Moorish American man provides some explanation about his fez and about the term "Moorish Americans.

    Members of the Moorish American Temple usually have the last name "Bey", "Ali", or "El" affixed to another last name (such as "Johnson-Bey", "Morgan-Ali", "Owens-El" or they may use the last names "Bey", "Ali", or "El" without another surname.

  3. Hello. Chaves Moore. Thanks for that suggestion.

    Here's an excerpt from one online site that came up when I googled "Nanticoke Moors":
    "Copied from the papers of Wilson S. Davis of Clayton, Wilmington, Bishop's Corner and Dover, DE, and Beltsville, MD.

    The Moors of Delaware:

    A Look at a Tri-Racial Group (author unknown)

    An intermingling of races was one of the products which occurred with the early European exploration and settlement of the North American continent. Stemming from these earlier interminglings, there exists within the Eastern United States today, in numbers totaling between fifty thousand and one hundred thousand persons, a variety of surviving, localized strains of mixed blood peoples.1 Those called the Moors or the Delaware Moors are a group of such descent.


    Geography has played some part in setting the Moors start from the mainstream American population, but the racial composition of this group, linked to their origins, has played a more primary role. A number of scholars have taken note of this group which, for the most part, considers itself distinct from both Negro and white races. Researchers have examined their mixed blood characteristics and have endeavored to trace the precise origins of the Moors.5

    In discussing the physical appearance of the Moors, as well as the Nanticoke Indian descendants to whom some Moors are related, C. A. Weslager wrote:
    "certain facial characteristics...set them apart from both whites and Negroes. The darkest have brown skins and the lightest resemble their white neighbors in complexion. Blonde, red and sandy hair may be seen, but the majority have brown or black hair, either wavy or straight and coarse like that of the full blooded American Indian. Kinky or woolen not often seen...straight noses and thin lips are typical. Eye colors range from grays and blues to dark brown and black. Many of the mixed bloods have sharply chiseled features, swarthy complexions and straight hair.... Others are distinctly Indian-like in appearance, having high and wide cheekbones, even among the same family. Light skinned Parent often have dark skinned children and vice versa. 6"


    Although the specific origins of the Delaware Moors is unclear, most scholars and the Moors themselves, have tended to come to the consensus that the group can be identified as being a racial mixture of the Indians who once occupied the Delmarva region (the Nanticokes and the Lenni Lenape), of whites of European descent, and of some unspecified African strain. Also agreed upon is that the Moors of Delaware have come to be related, by blood and marriage ties, to the Nanticoke Indian descendants of Indian River Hundred, Sussex County, Delaware.

    Returning to Price's thesis concerning tri-racial groups, one finds that, as with other groups, the Delaware Moors developed their particular racial mixture in much earlier times, (in this case, during the Colonial period), and that the present numbers in the group are descendants of that earlier mixed population. According, to written sources and informants, it has been customary for Moors to marry Moors.12 Because of this endogamy, the Delaware Moors today, as a group, consist of members of closely interrelated families. Informant Dorothy Carney listed eighteen Moor families of Cheswold and stated that branches of some of these families make up the Moor populations in both Sussex County, Delaware and in southern New Jersey.13"...