How do German surnames work?
Most Germans have two personal names (one that is a first name and one as a middle name) and a family name (e.g. Maria Anna SCHAFER). Surnames are passed down to subsequent generations through the father’s lineage. Women often adopt their husband’s surname in marriage but sometimes choose to keep their maiden name.
When did last names start in Germany?
In most of Germany, the practice of using surnames was well established by the 1500s. In 1790, Baden was the first German state to require fixed surnames. Preußen issued an edict on 11 March 1812 that required that permanent family names be adopted within six months.
Where do German last names come from?
Many German surnames are self-explanatory as they were derived from people’s jobs. These occupational names form the largest group among the German family names. They include Schneider (tailor), Fischer (fisherman), Weber (weaver) and Meier (also Mayer and Meyer).
How are names written in Germany?
A name is usually cited in the “Western order” of “given name, surname”, unless it occurs in an alphabetized list of surnames, e.g. “Bach, Johann Sebastian”. In this, the German conventions parallel the naming conventions in most of Western and Central Europe, including English, Dutch, Italian, and French.
What is the rarest surname in Germany?
5 of the Most Unusual German Surnames (with English Translations)
- Bierhals – beer-throat.
- Durchdenwald – through-the-forest.
- Handschuh – glove.
- Nachtnebel – night fog.
- Trinkenschuh – drink-shoe.
What does the von before a German surname mean?
The term von ([fɔn]) is used in German language surnames either as a nobiliary particle indicating a noble patrilineality, or as a simple preposition used by commoners that means of or from. Nobility directories like the Almanach de Gotha often abbreviate the noble term von to v.
Why did German immigrants change their names?
As German immigrants moved into English-speaking countries, their surnames were impacted in a variety of ways. Most of the time the surname spelling changed to accommodate the different phonetic spelling in the English language.
What is the most German last name?
Most Common Last Names In Germany