Discover the meaning of your name.

Start Now

Free Surname Dictionary Over 70,000 Surname Origins



German Surname Origins & Genealogy Resources



Our German ancestors began to use surnames in the 1400s. Occupational names are the most common among our German ancestors, but nicknames and location names are also used.

Every village had similar trades from which people took their surnames, so people of different German villages who had the same trade and therefore the same surname are not necessarily related to each other.

Today German surnames have undergone many spelling changes, especially as Germans have immigrated to the United States. For example; Meyer, Mayer, Maier, Meier all have the same meaning - a tenant farmer.

Suffixes which can indicate a German occupational name are:
  • -er  (meaning "one who")
  • -hauer  (meaning ""cutter")
  • -macher.  (meaning "maker")
These prefixes do not necessarily indicate a noble origin
  • von  (meaning "of")
  • an  (meaning "on")
While the nobility surnames did have a prefix of von to indicate their main castle or estate,  it is just as true than a person not of the nobility could also have the surname with a prefix signifying that he was originally from a different town.

Some German surnames are derived from locations, a place near the person who adopted the surname.
  • -berg (meaning "mountain")
  • -bruck (meaning "bridge")
  • -burg (meaning "castle")
  • -furt (meaning "ford")
  • -holz (meaning "wood")
  • -rode (clearing in woods)
  • -wald (meaning "forest" or "woods")

Some German towns and villages have names ending in
  • -heim (meaning "home")
  • -dorf (meaning "village")
Some of your family surnames with these suffixes may include a clue to an ancestral village of long ago.



Some Common German Surnames in the U. S.:

Ackerman

Auer

Bader

Bauer

Bayer

Becker

Berger

Braun

Brinker

Bruder

Eisenhower

Fischer

Fleisher

Fleischman

Fuchs

Gerber

Gross

Hahn

Hartman

Heinz

Hermann

Hoffman

Hoffmeyer

Huber

Jaeger

Jung

Kaiser

Kaufman

Kellerman

Kessler

Klein

Koch

Kohler

Krause

Kruger

Lang

Lehmann

Meyer

Mauer

Morgen

Muller

Neuman

Peters

Richter

Roth

Schafer

Schmidt

Schneider

Schubert

Schumacher

Schuler

Schultz

Schultz

Schuster

Schwartz

Snyder

Studebaker

Vogel

Wagner

Walter

Weber

Weir

Werner

Wolf

Zahn

Zedler

Zimmerman

Zuckerman

To find additional surnames, choose the first letter of surname:
A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z