English French German Dutch Swedish West Indian (mainly Haiti also e.g. Saint Lucia) and African (mainly Nigeria and Tanzania): from the personal name Paul (from Latin Paulus ‘small’) which has always been popular in Christendom. It was the name adopted by the Pharisee Saul of Tarsus after his conversion to Christianity on the road to Damascus in about AD 3 He was a most energetic missionary to the Gentiles in the Roman Empire and played a very significant role in establishing Christianity as a major world religion. The name was borne also by numerous other early Christian saints. It is also occasionally borne by Jews; the reasons for this are not clear. In North America the English form of the surname has absorbed many cognates from other languages and their patronymics and other derivatives e.g. Greek Pavlis Slovenian Pavel and Pavlič (see Pavlic ) Polish Paweł (see Pawel ) and Pawlicki Assyrian/Chaldean Polous and Polus . In France this surname is most common in Brittany (see 2 below). Breton (mainly Finistère): from a Frenchified form of the personal name Paol Breton form of Paul . Irish: shortened Anglicized form of Gaelic Mac Phóil ‘son of Paul’. Compare McFall . Catalan (Paül): habitational name from any of several places called Paül. Spanish (Paúl): topographic name from paúl ‘marsh lagoon’. Basque: Castilianized form (Paúl) of a habitational name from Padul a place in Araba/Álava province Basque Country (Spain).
Source: Dictionary of American Family Names 2nd edition, 2022