Chinese: Mandarin form of the surname 莫 meaning ‘nothing; nonexistent’ in Chinese: (i) from the placename Mo (鄚) the name of a fief (located in Renqiu in present-day Hebei province) in the state of Zhao during the Warring States period (475–221 BC). This fief may be identical with the city of Mo built by the legendary king Zhuanxu (traditional dates: 2514–2437 BC). When the name of the fiefdom was adopted as a surname the Chinese character 鄚 was simplified as 莫 and adopted as a surname. (ii) from Mo Ao (莫敖) said to be the name of an official position in the state of Chu during the Spring and Autumn period (770–476 BC) approximately equivalent to ‘deputy prime minister’. Descendants of people who were appointed to this position adopted 莫 (Mo) as their surname. However it is said that Mo Ao (莫敖) was also the name of an official in the state of Chu during the Spring and Autumn period (770–476 BC) whose descendants inherited 莫 as their surname. (iii) shortened form of Xing Mo (刑莫) Mo Na Lou (莫那婁) and Mo Duo Lou (莫多婁) surnames from the Xianbei ethnic group in ancient northern China during the Northern Wei dynasty (386–534 AD). (iv) simplified form of another ancient Chinese surname 幕 (Mu in Mandarin pinyin) said to be borne by descendants of Yu Mu ancestor of the legendary Emperor Shun (c. 23rd century BC). They settled mainly in Julu and Jiangling in Hubei province. Chinese: Mandarin form of the surname 墨 meaning ‘ink’ in Chinese: (i) from the personal name of Mo Ru (墨如) said to be the teacher of Yu the first emperor of the Xia dynasty (2070–1600 BC). (ii) shortened form of the compound surname Mo-Tai (墨台 or 墨胎) the surname of the royal family of an ancient state called Gu Zhu (located in present-day Hebei province) during the late Shang dynasty (1600–1046 BC). (iii) it is also said that the surname is borne by descendants of Mo Tai (墨台) a prince of the state of Song (located in present-day Shangqiu in Henan province) during the Spring and Autumn period (770–476 BC). Chinese: Cantonese Teochew Hokkien and Taiwanese form of the surname 毛 see Mao Chinese: variant Romanization of the surname 牟 see Mou Chinese: Cantonese form of the surnames 武 and 巫 see Wu 3 and Chinese: variant Romanization of the surname 茅 see Mao Also Cantonese form of the surname 冒 see Mao 7: Chinese: Cantonese form of the surname 慕 see Mu 8: Burmese: variant of Moe 5.9: Amerindian (Guatemala): Mayan name from mo ‘macaw’ a kind of parrot. Compare Moo .10: Norwegian: variant of Moe 1 Portuguese and Galician: habitational name from any of the places called Mó or A Mó in Portugal and Galicia (Spain) from Latin molam ‘millstone’ referring to a great stone.
Source: Dictionary of American Family Names ©2013, Oxford University Press