Germanic Surname Lexikon
German Last Names with English Meanings

Introduction
For each Germanic surname in this databank we have provided the English meaning, which may or may not be a surname in English. This is not a list of equivalent names, but rather a sampling of English translations of German names. In many cases, there may be several possible origins or translations for a surname. The translation shown for a surname may not be the only possibility. Some names are derived from Old German and may have a different meaning from that in modern German. Name research is not always an exact science.

Abbreviations: OHG (Old High German)

Germanic Last Names (A-K)
With English Meanings
Nachname  Last Name English Meaning
  A
Aachen/Achen Aachen/Aix-la-Chapelle (German city)
Abend/Abendroth evening/dusk
Abt abbott
Ackerman(n) farmer
Adler eagle
Amsel blackbird
  B
Bach brook
Bachmeier farmer by the brook
Bader/Baader bath, spa keeper
Baecker/Becker baker
Baer/Bar bear
Barth beard
Bauer farmer, peasant
Baum tree
Bayer/Beyer Bavarian
Beckenbauer basin/bowl maker
Beich/Beike slope (OHG)
Berg mountain
Bergmann miner
Bieber beaver (industrious)
Biermann beer man (brewer)
Blau blue
Boehm/Bohm of Bohemia
Brandt fire, land cleared by fire
Brauer brewer
Braun brown
Bürger/Burger townsman, citizen
Busch/Bosch bush
  D
Daecher/Decker roofer, tyler
Diederich/Dietrich skeleton key; ruler (OHG)
Drechsler/Dreher turner
Dresdner/Dresner of Dresden
Drescher thresher
Duerr/Durr dry, thin, drought
ALSO SEE: German Last Names - More about German family names from your Guide. For the new Duden FAMILIENNAMEN book with the origin and meaning of 20,000 German names see our Books: German Names.
  E
Ebersbach/Ebersbacher boar brook
Eberhardt/Eberhart strong as a boar
Eichel acorn, oak
Eichelberger of the oak hill
Eichmann oak man
Ehrlichmann honest man
Eiffel German mountain range
Eisenberg iron mountain
Eisenhauer (-hower) iron hewer, miner
Egger/Eggers harrow, plow man
Engel angel
  F
Faber smith (Latin)
Faerber/Farber dyer
Fassbinder cooper
Faust fist
Feierabend time off, non-work hours
Fenstermacher window maker
Fiedler fiddler
Fink/Finkel finch
Fleischer butcher
Foerster forester
Frankfurter of Frankfurt
Freitag/Freytag Friday
Freud joy
Frei/Frey free (man)
Frueh/Freeh early (riser)
Fruehauf up early
Fuchs fox
Fuerst/Furst prince
Fuhrmann carter, driver
  G
Gaertner/Gärtner gardener
Gerber tanner
Gerste/Gersten barley
Gloeckner/Glockner bell man
Gottschalk God's servant
Gru(e)newald green forest
  H
Hertz/Herz heart
Hertzog/Herzog duke
Himmel (-reich) heaven
Hirsch buck, deer
Hoch high, tall
  J
Jaeger hunter, huntsman
Jung young
Junker nobleman, squire
  K
Kaiser emperor
Kalb calf
Kaestner/Kastner cabinet maker
Kappel chapel
Kaufmann merchant
Kirsch cherry
Klein short, small
Klug/Kluge smart, clever
Koch cook
Koehler/Kohler charcoal-maker
Koenig/Konig king
Krause curly haired
Kuefer cooper
Kuester/Kuster sexton
Kuhn/Kunze councilman; smart
ALSO SEE: German Last Names - More about German family names from your Guide. For the new Duden FAMILIENNAMEN book with the origin and meaning of 20,000 German names see our Books: German Names.

Germanic Last Names (L-Z)
With English Meanings
Nachname  Last Name English Meaning
  L
Lang long
Lehmann/Lemann serf, fief man
Lehrer teacher
Loewe/Lowe lion
Luft air
  M
Mahler/Mehler grinder, miller
Mauer wall
Maurer mason
Meister master
Metzger butcher
Meier/Meyer dairy farmer; landowner
Mueller/Muller miller
Moench/Muench monk
  N
Nacht night
Nadel needle
Nagel nail
Naumann/Neumann new man
Neudorf/Neustadt new town (Newton)
Nussbaum nut tree
  O
Oster east, Easter
Osterhagen east grove, hedge
Ostermann eastern man
ALSO SEE: German Last Names - More about German family names from your Guide. For the new Duden FAMILIENNAMEN book with the origin and meaning of 20,000 German names see our Books: German Names.
  P
Pabst/Papst pope
Pfaff cleric, parson
Pfeffer pepper
Pfeifer/Pfeiffer piper
Probst/Propst provost
  R
Reinhard(t) determined
Richter judge
Ritter knight
Roth red
Rothschild red shield
Rothstein red stone
  S
Saenger/Sanger singer
Sankt saint
Scherer shearer, barber
Schiffer boatman
Schmidt/Schmitt smith
Schneider tailor
Schreiber scribe, scribner, writer
Schreiner joiner, cabinet maker
Schroeder dray man
Schuhmacher shoemaker
Schultheiss/Schultz debt broker; mayor
S(c)huster cobbler, shoemaker
Schwab Swabian
Schwar(t)z black
Schweitzer Swiss; dairy man
Seiler roper
Sommer summer
Strauss bouquet
  T
Thalberg valley (and) mountain
Theiss/Theissen form of Matthias
Traugott trust in God
Trommler drummer
  U
Unger Hungarian
Urner of Uri (Swiss canton)
  V
Vogel bird
Vogler fowler, bird man
Vogt steward
von of (indicates nobility)
  W
Waechter warden, watchman
Wagner wagoner, wainwright
Wannemaker basket maker
Weber weaver
Wechsler/Wexler money changer
Weiss white/wheat
Weissmuller wheat miller
Winkel corner, angle
Wirth/Wirtz innkeeper, landlord
Wolf/Wulf wolf
Wurfel/Werfel die, cube
  Z
Ziegler brick or tilemaker
Zimmermann carpenter
Zweig twig, branch
ALSO SEE: German Last Names - More about German family names from your Guide. For the new Duden FAMILIENNAMEN book with the origin and meaning of 20,000 German names see our Books: German Names.

BACK > Surname Lexikon 1 - Page 1, 2, 3

Glossary of German First Names with English meanings


WIKIPEDIA Pages in category "German surnames"

There are 199 pages in this section of this category.

A

B

D

E

F

F cont.

G

H

J

K

K cont.

L

M

N

WIKIPEDIA Pages in category "German surnames"

There are 155 pages in this section of this category.

N

O

P

R

S

S cont.

T

U

V

W

W cont.

Z

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IDENTIFYING GERMAN NAMES

Many German names have their roots in the Germanic middle ages. A name identified a specific person and later a group of persons (family name); at first through verbal usage, it was later fixed through writing. All social classes and demographic strata aided in the development of names.

The earliest are the names derived from the place of dwelling and the location of the homestead. If a person or family migrated from one place to another, they were identified by the place they came from. The largest group and the most easily recognizable names are those derived from the vocation or profession of the first bearer. They tell you what the first bearer did for a living. There is one group where the name derives from the first names of first bearer and another where the names come for a physical or other characteristic of first bearer. Finally there are names which tell you the state or region a first bearer and his family came from; the age old division in tribes and regions (low German, middle German and upper German) is often reflected in names. But for non-German speakers they are at first hard to "localize. Especially those on the Dutch border and Northern Germany sound very much like Dutch or English names.

Furthermore, if you know a little German, you will be able to recognize names more easily; if you do not know German there are a number of clues to look for.


SPELLING

Look for names which begin with sch, the consonant cluster and sound represented in English by sh, like in shoe: Schaefer, (Schafer, Schaeffer, Schaffer, Shaffer), Schlitz, Schluter, Schmid (Schmidt, Schmitt, Schmitz) Schneider, Schrader, Schroeder, Schul(t)z (Schulz, Shulz) Schumacher, Schu(h)mann, Schwar(t)z and Schneider.

Look for names with ue, oe, indicating umlauts; beginning with Kn: Knopf, Knecht, Knefler, Kno(e)del; Pf: Pflaume, Pfrommer, Pfister, Pfizer; beginning with Str: Stroh.

Names with ei are mostly German (but not all): Reichmann, Reimann, Reimers, Eisenhower, Heilemann, Klein, Weimer, Weiss.


PREFIXES, SUFFIXES

Neu is German for new: Neuman(n), Neuberger, Nieman(n), Nauman(n).

If a name ends in -mann, -burg, -berg, lich, -stein or t(h)al, it is a likely indication that the name is German. But in certain settlement areas, these endings could also refer to Swedish and Russian Jewish backgrounds.

There are German place names ending in -burg (castle), -bruck (bridge); -furt (ford), -berg (mountain), -reuth, -rode (clearing in woods).


MEANINGS

Names derived from profession of first bearer:
Arzt - doctor; Bader - barber: Bauer - farmer; Bauman(n) - builder; Becker - baker; Brenner - distiller; Brauer, Breuer - brewer, brower, brewster; Eisenhauer, Eisenhower - iron cutter, miner; Farber - painter; Fischer - fisher; Fleischer - butcher; Gebauer - peasant or tiller of the field; Gerber - tanner; Kellerman - worker or dweller in a wine cellar or tavern; Kessler - coppersmith, own who sold or made cettles; Kramer - merchant; Krieg, Krieger - war, warrior, in Yiddish could mean tavern keeper; Kuster (Kuester) - sexton, Kunstler - artist or skilled artisan; Lederer, Lederman(n) - leather maker, tanner; Lehrer - teacher; Lesser - custodian of a forest, game keeper; Lichtermann - one who lit lamps, lamplighter; Lichtman - candle maker; Maurer - stone mason; Mehler (Mahler) - painter; Mehlinger, Mehlman(n), Melman - one who works with flour; Metzger - butcher; Muller - miller; Nachtman(n) - night watchman; Pfannnenschmidt - maker of pots and pans; Postman(n) - postal worker, (also a person from Postau); Puttkam(m)er - person who cleans rooms; Rader - wheelwright, one who makes wheels; or a person from Raden (moor, reedy place), one who thatched with reed; Reifsneider, Reifsnyder - one who made barrel hops; Reiter - horseman, also one who cleared land for tilling; Richter - judge or magistrate; Saltz, Saltzman(n) - one who processed and sold salt; Sandler - one who carts sand, repairs shoes, a cobbler; Schafer (German with Umlaut) was a sheperd; Schenker - one who kept a public house; Scherer - one who shaved others, a barber; Schlosser - lock smith; Schluter (Schlueter, Schluter with Umlaut) - the keeper of supplies; Schmidt - smith; Schmuker, Schmu(c)kler - one who decorates, ornaments; Schneider and Schroeder - tailor; Schultz, Schultheis - village mayor; Schreiber - secretary or scribe; Schreiner - cabinet maker; Schubert - one who made or sold shoes; Schulman(n) - school or synagogue man; Schumacher, Schu(h)man(n), Schuster - shoe maker, cobbler; Steinhauer - one who cuts and breaks stone; Studebaker - one who prepared or sold pastries; Wagner - wagoner, wagon maker; Weber - weaver; Wechsler - money changer.

Names derived from location of homestead:
Zumwald - at the forest; Kaltenbach - cold creek; Waldschmidt - smith at/in the woods. Meer - from the sea, ocean; Borg (northern German) or Burg - from or near a fortified castle; Bullwinkel - corner where bulls were kept; Adler (zum Adler) - eagle, may have derived from a house name; Rabe - crow.

The place a person came from:
Cullen from Koeln/Cologne; Dannenberg, town of Dannenberg - pine tree covered mountain, three places in Germany; Dresdner from Dresden; Halpern or Halperin - one who came from Heilbronn in Wurttemberg; Mel(t)zer - can be a brewer or a person who came from Meltz; Berlin, Klutz and Lowenthal - place names in Germany; Silberg - two place names in Germany; Stein - numerous villages in German-speaking countries; stone, rock, marker; Sternberg - name of ten places in Germany; Shapiro, Shapira, Shapero, Shapera - one from Spyer, in the middle ages spelled Spira, and by Jews spelled Shapira; Pollack - one who came from Poland; Frank - from Franconia; Rockower, Rockow - ow is frequent and only in the low lands of Germany; Schlesinger - one who came from Silesia or Schleusingen in Thuringia; Schwei(t)zer - person from Switzerland, but also a dairyman.

First names of first bearer:
Friedrich, Fritz, Albrecht (Albright), Dietrich, Dietz, Eberhard(t), Georg(e), Heinrich, Heinz, Hinz, Konrad, Kunz, Ludwig, Lutz, Ott(o), Paul(us), Reinhard, Werner.

Names derived from a physical or other characteristic of first bearer:
Altmann - old man; Hellmann - light man; Dick - fat person; Klein - short; Lange - the long one; Kurz - the short one. Lustig - happy person; Grossmann - the big one; Rot(h)bart - red beard; Weiss - white appearance; Schwar(t)z - black appearance; Schwarzkopf - black haired; Sus(s)man - affectionate person; Unruh - agitator or trouble maker; Schatz - treasure; Stamm, Stump - trunk (as of a tree); Stammler - stutterer; Stock - stick, tree trunk.

Dating back to the old Germanic world:
Albrecht (Albright), Die(d)trich, Gu(81)nther, Hagen, Hildebrandt, Hillenbrand, Oswald, Siegfried (Seyfried). Short forms: Konrad-Kunz, Heinrich-Hinz.

Names of saints:
Lukas, Matthias, Matthaeus, Paulus, Ruprecht and Nikolaus, which became family names.

After days of the week: Montag, Freitag, Sonntag; or Month: May.

Relating to objects/materials:
Hammer - hammer; Nagel - nail; Knopf - button, Stahl - steel; Eisen - iron; Erzberger - ore mountain; Gold - gold; Silber - silver; Baum - tree; Holz - wood; Stroh - straw; Keller - cellar, food storage space.

Regional differences:
Diminutives (-chen, -lein, -lin) can indicate regional origin. Examples: Buechlein, Boeglin.

Allemanic (Switzerland, Alsace, Baden) endings in -li; Swabian: -le; Bavaria/Austrian: -erl; North German: -gen, -ken.

Schleswig-Holstein and Friesland share the North-European tradition of adding -sen or -so(h)n to the father's name: Hansen, Claussen, Petersen, Petersohn, Jacobsohn, T(h)omsen.

Where immigration from the northeastern provinces of Mecklenburg and Pomerania was strong, you will find names ending in -ow (but note that Polish and Russian have that ending too).


Hans Bahlow, Dictionary of German Names, 1993, 641 pp., $22.50, ISBN 0-924119-35-7, Max Kade Institute for German-American Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 901 University Bay Drive, Madison, WI 52705

George F. Jones, German-American Names, 1995, 320 pp., $25.00, ISBN 0-8063-1481-8, Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc. 1001 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21202-3897

From the Max Kade Center's Teaching Unit: GERMAN-AMERICANS AND THEIR CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE AMERICAN MAINSTREAM CULTURE: GERMAN NAMES AND WORDS

Common German Words in everyday American usage and cognates.

Another useful source: Do You Have a German Name?


Related Pages

Books: German Names
Books on first and last names in German and English selected by your Guide.

Germanic Genealogy - Contents/Inhalt
Our genealogy starting page. Lists all the articles, glossaries and link pages for tracing your Germanic roots.

German Names (1)
An article by your Guide: First Names (Vornamen).

German Names (3)
An article by your Guide: Place Names (Ortsnamen). From your Guide.

German and Genealogy
A beginner's genealogy vocabulary guide and hints for tracing your Austrian, German, or Swiss roots. From your Guide.

German Names - Links
A special collection of Web links related to names. From your Guide.

What's in a Name? - Ludwig
Ludwig (Louis) is one of those Germanic names that have fallen out of favor, but it has a long and interesting history.

Germanic Genealogy
More information about Germanic genealogy and online resources.



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