Transferred use of the surname derived from the regional name for the district around Middlesbrough, so named from Old English clif ‘bank, slope’ (genitive clifa) + land ‘land’. Grover Cleveland (1837–1908) was the 22nd and 24th president of the U.S.; Cleveland is also the name of a city in Ohio: both of these may be factors influencing its use as a given name in the U.S.
English and Welsh: patronymic from the Middle English personal name Jon(e) (see John). The surname is especially common in Wales and southern central England. In North America this name has absorbed various cognate and like-sounding surnames from other languages. (For forms, see Hanks and Hodges 1988).