Last Names Derived from Professions

Many of today's last names (including many of the most common last names) derive from the medieval tradition of appending people's trade to their given name (for a fictional example, see Ken Follett's "The Pillars of the Earth" and "World Without End"). So let's bring them all together here, those Smiths, Millers, Bakers, Farmers, etc.!

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Comments Showing 1-27 of 27 (27 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Thom (new)

Thom Dunn FOOTNOTE: Sartoris....."taylor" in Latin.


Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) Yes, of course! (What am I missing about Atwood's "Blind Assassin," though?)


message 3: by Hayes (new)

Hayes Meyer, Maier, Mayer?


message 4: by Bettie (new)

Bettie Was Forster a rapist by trade?


message 5: by Hayes (last edited Jul 08, 2010 08:21AM) (new)

Hayes Forester, perhaps.

Wagner? Muller? Ferber?

(Just found Ferber... Farber=Dyer in german)


message 6: by Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) (last edited Jul 08, 2010 08:50AM) (new)

Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) Meier (or in last names, any variant spelling) refers to a poulty farmer in German.

Wagner => wagonner (a wagon driver). Same in German for a wagon, or rather, cart wheel maker, btw.

Müller = German for miller.

Forster = forester (forest keeper); again, virtually the same in German (Förster).

And, yes, Ferber (or actually, Färber) = German for dyer.

Anyone for French names? (Boulanger? Patissier? Boucher?)


message 7: by Hayes (new)

Hayes Thanks T.-A. You learn something new every day!

Färber: can't do the umlaut thing on my keyboard... or accents...

Wiki failed me on these!


Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) Yeah, I know -- that used to drive me nuts when I was living in the States! I hated always having to open a Word doc, insert the umlaut as a special symbol and then copy it ...


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads It's not bad on a Mac, but I never have figured out how to do it on a PC keyboard.

And what is "Atwood"?


message 10: by Hayes (last edited Jul 08, 2010 09:27AM) (new)

Hayes Susanna wrote: "It's not bad on a Mac, but I never have figured out how to do it on a PC keyboard.

I know there is a way, but I cant remember the stupid code numbers...

Themis-Athena wrote: "Yeah, I know -- that used to drive me nuts when I was living in the States! I hated always having to open a Word doc, insert the umlaut as a special symbol and then copy it ..."

...so I've got the ones I use most on my Google side bar, so I just have to copy and paste. No umlaut in Italian, however!


message 11: by Thom (new)

Thom Dunn Themis-Athena wrote: "Yes, of course! (What am I missing about Atwood's "Blind Assassin," though?)"

Well, it's kinda grim, but "assassin" is a profession in the story-within-the-story. They are higherlings, and there are several of them, the blind assassins. And, of course, there are many books about professional assassins, more's the pity. Martin Sheen plays a professional assassin in Apocalypse Now, a film I wish was a book so I could make GR questions about it.


Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) No, but other diacritical marks (à etc.) ...


Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) Susanna wrote: "It's not bad on a Mac, but I never have figured out how to do it on a PC keyboard.

And what is "Atwood"?"


Yes, I'm wondering about that as well!


message 14: by Thom (new)

Thom Dunn Themis-Athena wrote: "Susanna wrote: "It's not bad on a Mac, but I never have figured out how to do it on a PC keyboard.

And what is "Atwood"?"

Yes, I'm wondering about that as well!"


One of my grad school classmates was one Alfred KLEINERKREUTZMAN......What's that about ?


Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) Little cross man??!!


message 16: by Thom (new)

Thom Dunn Themis-Athena wrote: "Little cross man??!!"

Yes, he said his grandfather would tell the story of how the name came to be, but if Al ever told ME the story, I forgot it. I'm guessing it was the person who was "kleiner", not the cross.


message 17: by Valerie (new)

Valerie Don't forget 'cooper', 'chandler', 'baker', etc. Any such list could get really unweildy really fast.


Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) Do feel free to add books by Coopers, Chandlers, Bakers, etc. ... the more the merrier, as far as I'm concerned! :)


message 19: by BookLovingLady (last edited Jun 16, 2016 08:55AM) (new)

BookLovingLady What's a 'James'? (As in Henry James, #10)

'Bakker' is Dutch for baker, by the way. 'Boer' is Dutch for farmer and 'Brouwer' is Dutch for brewer. 'Molenaar' is miller, 'Meester' is (school) master and 'Visser' is fisherman.


message 20: by Koenraad (new)

Koenraad 'Kuyper' is the old Dutch form of 'Kuiper' - Cooper in English
'Craemer' is the old Dutch form of 'Kramer' - Peddler/Pedlar in English
'Coster' is the old Dutch form of 'Koster' - Sacristan in English
'Volder' is Dutch for Fuller
'Olyslaegers' is Dutch for a person who crushes plant seeds to get the oil (I don't know the English translation for this)


message 21: by BookLovingLady (last edited Jun 15, 2016 09:10PM) (new)

BookLovingLady Koenraad wrote: "''Olyslaegers' is Dutch for a person who crushes plant seeds to get the oil (I don't know the English translation for this).."

Olyslaegers (Olieslager) = oil-crusher/oil-presser :-)

Coster/Koster is also Sexton. She isn't in the list yet, and I don't have any of her work, otherwise I would have added something by Anne Sexton.


message 22: by BookLovingLady (last edited Jun 15, 2016 09:01PM) (new)

BookLovingLady Hayes wrote: "(Just found Ferber... Farber=Dyer in german)"

The Dutch surname 'Verver'/'Verwer' also means 'dyer'.


message 23: by Koenraad (new)

Koenraad Booklovinglady wrote: "Olyslaegers (Olieslager) = oil-crusher/oil-presser :-)"

Thanks for the translation - didn't realize it was quite that simple :-)

"Coster/Koster is also Sexton. She isn't in the list yet, and I don't have any of her work, otherwise I would have added something by Anne Sexton."

You can add books that are not on your shelves to a list. Just go to "Add Books To This List" and click on Search where it says "Add books from: My Books or a Search". Then you can look up a title, an ISBN or an author and add books from the results.


message 24: by Koenraad (new)

Koenraad Added Felix Timmermans and Lia Timmermans (father and daughter btw). Dutch for' Carpenter'.


message 25: by BookLovingLady (last edited Jun 16, 2016 09:07AM) (new)

BookLovingLady Koenraad wrote: "Added Felix Timmermans and Lia Timmermans (father and daughter btw). Dutch for' Carpenter'."

Completely forgot about Felix Timmermans.... I've added an omnibus with his work. Thanks Koenraad.

Added another one too, by the way: Snijders (son of 'Snijder') = cutter


message 26: by BookLovingLady (last edited Jun 16, 2016 09:18AM) (new)

BookLovingLady Koenraad wrote: "You can add books that are not on your shelves to a list...."

I know I can ;-) but I rarely do. Except for Listopia's used for the seasonal challenges of the Netherlands & Flanders group (in which only titles of books translated into Dutch are mentioned), because if I stuck to the titles on my own shelves for these, I wouldn't have a Listopia to refer to :-)


message 27: by BookLovingLady (last edited Jun 16, 2016 09:16AM) (new)

BookLovingLady Hayes wrote: "Wagner? Muller? Ferber..."

"Wagner" is German and if I remember correctly it has something or other to do with carts/wagons. So maybe someone who makes carts and wagons. I'm sorry, but it is nearly 40 years ago since I took German classes in high school :-)


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