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")
- von (meaning "of")
- an (meaning "on")
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 Common German Surnames in the U. S.: