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Occupational Surnames


Occupational names that were derived from the common trades of the medieval era transcended European cultural and linguistic boundaries. This phenomenon is demonstrated by names such as the German name Schumaker, which means a maker of shoes, the Ashkenazic Jewish name Zimmerman, which means carpenter, the Polish and Jewish name Stolarski, which means joiner, the Dutch name Schuyler, which means teacher and the Italian name Calderone, which means seller of spices. Similarly, surnames of office, which include military, judicial, papal and other positions of authority, are widespread throughout Europe. Those who were involved in the military, or feudal armies, were given names such as the English surname Archer, the French name Chevalier and the German name Jeger, which means hunter. Names that were derived from judicial and papal titles, such as Bailiffe, Squire and Abbott, are still commonly seen with the same surname spelling today.

Occupational names frequently were derived from the principal object associated with the activity of the original bearer, such as tools or products. These types of occupational surnames are called metonymic surnames.

The most common suffixes for occupational names are maker, herd, hewer, smith, er, ing, and man.


This page was last modified on 8 May 2007.

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