From Italian abate
meaning "abbot, priest", derived via Latin and Greek from an Aramaic word meaning "father". This was used either as a nickname or an occupational name for a worker in a priest's house.
Indicated a person who lived near an abbey or worked in an abbey, from Middle English abbeye
From a Scottish place name, itself derived from alla
"wild" and mhagh
From the name of various English towns, derived from Old English æppel
"apple" and Old Norse býr
Occupational name for one who practiced archery, from Latin arcus
"bow" (via Old French).
Means "strong arm" from Middle English. Tradition holds that the family is descended from Siward, an 11th-century Earl of Northumbria. Famous bearers of this name include the Americans Louis Armstrong (1901-1971), a jazz musician, and Neil Armstrong (1930-2012), an astronaut who was the first person to walk on the moon.
From Old English æsc
meaning "ash tree", indicating a person who lived near ash trees.
From an English place name meaning "ash enclosure" in Old English.
Occupational name meaning "baker", derived from Middle English bakere
From Middle English bal
, Old English beall
meaning "ball". This was either a nickname for a rotund or bald person, or a topographic name for someone who lived near a ball-shaped feature.
Originally indicated someone who lived near a hillside or a bank of land.
Occupational name for a flag carrier, derived from Old French baniere
meaning "banner", ultimately of Germanic origin.
From Norman French banastre
meaning "basket". This was originally a name for a maker of baskets.
From Middle English bark
meaning "to tan". This was an occupational name for a leather tanner.
From a nickname for a combative person. In some cases it may come from the name of English places called Battle
, so named because they were sites of battles.
BECK (4) English
From Old English becca
meaning "pickaxe", an occupational surname.
From a Middle English version of Old French bel chiere
meaning "beautiful face". It later came to refer to a person who had a cheerful and pleasant temperament.
BELL (1) English
From Middle English belle
meaning "bell". It originated as a nickname for a person who lived near the town bell, or who had a job as a bell-ringer.
Derived from a place name, which was derived from Old English burh
BEST (1) English
Derived from Middle English beste
meaning "beast", an occupational name for a keeper of animals or a nickname for someone who acted like a beast. A famous bearer of this surname was soccer legend George Best (1946-2005).
Occupational name for a person who raised or hunted birds.
Means simply "bishop", ultimately from Greek επισκοπος (episkopos)
meaning "overseer". It probably originally referred to a person who served a bishop.
Means either "black" (from Old English blæc
) or "pale" (from Old English blac
). It could refer to a person with a pale or a dark complexion, or a person who worked with black dye.
From the name of a city in Lancashire, meaning "black stream" in Old English.
Originally indicated someone from the town of Blidworth in Nottinghamshire, which was derived from the Old English byname Blīþa
(meaning "happy, blithe") combined with worð
From a nickname for a person with blue eyes or blue clothing.
Occupational name for a peasant farmer, from Middle English bonde
Topographic name derived from Middle English both
meaning "hut, stall".
Occupational name for an archer, derived from Middle English bowe
, Old English boga
Means "brass worker", derived from Old English bræs
From a place name derived from Cornish bre
Denoted a person who lived near a brook, a word derived from Old English broc
Originally a nickname for a person who had brown hair or skin. A notable bearer is Charlie Brown from the 'Peanuts' comic strip by Charles Schulz.
From Old English brun
meaning "brown" and hlaw
meaning "mound, small hill". The name was probably given to a family living on a small hill covered with bracken.
From a nickname for a person who acted like a bull.
Derived from Old French bon cuer
meaning "good heart".
From Old French burel
, diminutive of bure
, a type of woolen cloth. It may have originated as a nickname for a person who dressed in the material or as an occupational name for someone who worked with it.
BURNS (1) English, Scottish
Derived from Old English burna
"stream, spring". A famous bearer was the Scottish poet Robert Burns (1759-1796).
Originally a name for a person who lived near a prominent bush or thicket.
Occupational name for a butcher, derived from Old French bouchier
BUTLER English, Irish
Occupational name derived from Norman French butiller
"wine steward", ultimately from Late Latin butticula
"bottle". A famous bearer of this surname is the fictional character Rhett Butler, created by Margaret Mitchell for her novel 'Gone with the Wind' (1936).
From a nickname meaning "thick, stumpy", from Middle English butt
From the ecclesiastical usage of canon
, referring to a church official or servant who worked in a clergy house.
From the occupation, derived from Middle English carpentier
(ultimately from Latin carpentarius
meaning "carriage maker").
Occupational name for a person who operated a cart to transport goods, from Norman French caretier
. A famous bearer is the former American president Jimmy Carter (1924-).
Occupational surname for a carver, from Middle English kerve
From Middle English castel
meaning "castle", from Late Latin castellum
, originally indicating a person who lived near a castle.
Occupational name for one who made leggings, derived from Old French chausse
From Old French chambre
"chamber, room", an occupational name for a person who worked in the inner rooms of a mansion.
Occupational name for a hunter, from Middle English chase
From a nickname derived from French chevalier
meaning "knight", itself from cheval
meaning "horse", ultimately from Latin caballus
From the English word, derived from Old English cirice
, ultimately from Greek κυριακον (kyriakon)
meaning "(house) of the lord". It probably referred to a person who lived close to a church.
Means simply "clay", originally referring to a person who lived near or worked with of clay.
From Middle English clos
meaning "enclosure", a topographic name for someone who lived near a courtyard or farmyard.
Derived from the medieval nickname cok
meaning "rooster, cock". The nickname was commonly added to given names to create diminutives such as Hancock
Occupational name for a keeper of horses, derived from Middle English colt
From Old French conestable
, ultimately from Latin comes stabuli
meaning "officer of the stable".
Derived from Old English coc
meaning "cook", ultimately from Latin coquus
. It was an occupational name for a cook, a man who sold cooked meats, or a keeper of an eating house.
From Cornish cough
"red", indicating the original bearer had red hair.
Means "quiet, shy, coy" from Middle English coi
Occupational name derived from Middle English croppe
"crop", referring to a fruit picker or a crop reaper.
Locative name meaning "cross", ultimately from Latin crux
. It denoted one who lived near a cross symbol or near a crossroads.
From Old English dæl
meaning "valley", originally indicating a person who lived there.
DAM Dutch, Danish
Means "dike, dam" in Dutch and Danish. In modern Danish it also means "pond".
DEAN (2) English
Occupational surname meaning "dean", referring to a person who either was a dean or worked for one. It is from Middle English deen
(ultimately from Latin decanus
meaning "chief of ten").
From Middle English dene
"valley" combined with man
Originally denoted someone who was a doctor, ultimately from Latin doctor
Name for someone who lived on or near a down, which an English word meaning "hill".
Derived from the Old Norse byname Draki
or the Old English byname Draca
both meaning "dragon", both via Latin from Greek δρακων (drakon)
meaning "dragon, serpent".
Occupational name for a maker or seller of woolen cloth, from Anglo-Norman French draper
(Old French drapier
, an agent derivative of drap
From the noble title, which was originally from Latin dux
"leader". It was a nickname for a person who behaved like a duke, or who worked in a duke's household.
Occupational name for a cloth dyer, from Old English deah
From the aristocratic title, which derives from Old English eorl
meaning "nobleman, warrior". It was either a nickname for one who acted like an earl, or an occupational name for a person employed by an earl.
South German occupational name for a plowman or farmer, derived from German eggen
"to harrow, to plow".
Derived from Old English ealdra
meaning "older", used to distinguish two people who had the same name.
Denoted a person who was of English heritage. It was used to distinguish people who lived in border areas (for example, near Wales or Scotland). It was also used to distinguish an Anglo-Saxon from a Norman.
From a place name meaning "fern stream", from Old English fearn
"fern" and burna
Occupational name for a tax collector, from Middle English ferme
"rent, revenue, provision", from Medieval Latin firma
, ultimately from Old English feorm
. This word did not acquire its modern meaning until the 17th century.
Derived from Middle English feare
meaning "friend, comrade".
Name for a person who lived on or near a field or pasture, from Old English feld
Occupational name for a fletcher, someone who attached feathers to the shaft of an arrow. It is derived from Old French fleche
Name given to someone who lived by a ford, possibly the official who maintained it. A famous bearer was the American industrialist Henry Ford (1863-1947).
FOREST English, French
Originally belonged to a person who lived near or in a forest. It was probably originally derived, via Old French forest
, from Latin forestam (silva)
meaning "outer (wood)".
Denoted a keeper or one in charge of a forest, or one who has charge of growing timber in a forest (see FOREST
From Middle English, ultimately from Latin fortuna
meaning "fortune, luck, chance". This was possibly a nickname for a gambler.
FOSTER (4) English
Nickname given to a person who was a foster-child or foster-parent.
Occupational name for a fowler or birdcatcher, ultimately derived from Old English fugol
From the name of the animal. It was originally a nickname for a person with red hair or a crafty person.
Referred to a person who was born free, or in other words was not a serf.
From Swedish frisk
"healthy", which was derived from the Middle Low German word vrisch
"fresh, young, frisky".
FROST English, German
From Old English and Old High German meaning "frost", a nickname for a person who had a cold personality or a white beard.
From Old English frig
(a variant of freo
) meaning "free".
Occupational name for a fuller, a person who thickened and cleaned coarse cloth by pounding it. It is derived via Middle English from Latin fullo
Occupational surname for one who was a gardener, from Old French jardin
meaning "garden" (of Frankish origin).
Means "triangle land" from Old English gara
. It originally belonged to a person who owned a triangle-shaped piece of land.
GARNER (1) English
From Old French gernier
meaning "granary", a derivative of Latin granum
meaning "grain". This name could refer to a person who worked at a granary or lived near one.
GLASS English, German
From Old English glæs
or Old High German glas
meaning "glass". This was an occupational name for a glass blower or glazier.
Occupational name for a person who made or sold gloves, from Middle English glovere
From a nickname meaning "good", referring to a kindly person.
From the Old English word gara
meaning "a triangular plot of land".
Occupational name for a steward, derived from Middle English greyve
, related to the German title Graf
From a nickname for a person who had grey hair or grey clothes.
Descriptive name for someone who often wore the colour green or someone who lived near the village green.
Anglicized form of German Grünspan
meaning "verdigris". Verdigris is the green-blue substance that forms on copper.
Occupational name meaning "steward, farm manager" in Middle English, related to the German title Graf
From Old English graf
meaning "grove". This originally indicated a person who lived near a grove (a group of trees).
Nickname for a big person, from Middle English golias
meaning "giant" (ultimately from GOLIATH
, the Philistine warrior who was slain by David in the Old Testament).
From a nickname meaning "wild, untamed, worn", from Old French, ultimately from a Germanic root.
Derived from Old English halh
meaning "nook, recess, hollow".
From a place name meaning "hare valley" in Old English.
Derived from the given name HEARD
. A famous bearer was American president Warren G. Harding (1865-1923).
HARDY English, French
From Old French and Middle English hardi
meaning "bold, daring", of Germanic origin.
Originally belonged to a person who played the harp or who made harps.
Means "male deer". It was originally acquired by a person who lived in a place frequented by harts, or bore some resemblance to a hart.
Originally a nickname for a person who had a hawk-like appearance or who acted in a fierce manner, derived from Old English heafoc
From a diminutive of HAWK
. A famous bearer was the British physicist Stephen Hawking (1942-2018).
From various place names meaning "fenced wood" in Old English.
From Middle English hed
meaning "head", from Old English heafod
. It may have referred to a person who had a peculiar head, who lived near the head of a river or valley, or who served as the village headman.
Originally belonged to a person who was a dweller on the heath or open land.
Derived from Middle High German herze
meaning "heart", a nickname for a big-hearted person.
Anglicized form of Irish Ó hÍcidhe
meaning "descendant of the healer".
Originally given to a person who lived on or near a hill, derived from Old English hyll
From various place names derived from Old English ham
meaning "home" and wudu
Originally applied to one who lived near a river bend or corner of some natural feature, from Old English hoc
Occupational name for someone who put the metal hoops around wooden barrels.
Derived from Middle English hop
meaning "small valley".
Occupational name for an acrobat or a nickname for someone who was nervous or restless. A famous bearer was the American actor Dennis Hopper (1936-2010).
HORN English, German, Norwegian, Danish
From the Germanic word horn
meaning "horn". This was an occupational name for one who carved objects out of horn or who played a horn, or a person who lived near a horn-shaped geographical feature, such as a mountain or a bend in a river.
Referred to a person who lived or worked in a house, as opposed to a smaller hut.
Means "spur of a hill", from Old English hoh
HUNTER English, Scottish
Occupational name that referred to someone who hunted for a living, from Old English hunta
Occupational name for a carpenter (that is, a person who joins wood together to make furniture).
From Old English cene
meaning "bold, brave".
From Old English cyning
"king", originally a nickname for someone who either acted in a kingly manner or who worked for or was otherwise associated with a king.
Occupational name for a person who worked in a kitchen (of a monastery for example), derived from Old English cycene
, ultimately from Latin coquina
From Old English cniht
meaning "knight", a tenant serving as a mounted soldier.
Derived from Lassy
, the name of a town in Normandy. The name of the town was Gaulish in origin, perhaps deriving from a personal name that was Latinized as Lascius
LANE (1) English
Originally designated one who lived by a lane, a narrow way between fences or hedges, later used of any narrow pathway, including one between houses in a town.
Originally indicated a person who was a physician, from the medieval practice of using leeches to bleed people of ills.
LEE (1) English
Originally given to a person who lived on or near a leah
, Old English meaning "woodland, clearing".
Anglicized form of the Gaelic Mac an Fleisdeir
meaning "son of the arrow maker".
Meaning simply "little", it was originally a nickname given to a short person.
Originally a nickname for a person who had long limbs or who was tall.
Occupational name for an official who was equipped with a ceremonial staff, or a nickname for a tall person.
From the Old English given name Lufu
From Irish Ó Loingsigh
meaning "descendant of Loingseach", a given name meaning "mariner".
Derived from Middle English mareschal
"marshal", ultimately from Germanic marah
"horse" and scalc
"servant". It originally referred to someone who took care of horses.
Occupational name for a stoneworker or layer of bricks, from Old French masson
, ultimately of Germanic origin (akin to Old English macian
Referred to one who lived in a meadow, from Old English mædwe
Occupational name for a person who made knives, from Middle High German messer
Occupational surname referring to a person who owned or worked in a grain mill, from Middle English mille
Name for someone whose house was in a mill or who worked in a mill.
Originally given to one who lived near a mill or who worked in a mill, from Middle English mille
Referred to a shepherd or else someone who in some way resembled a sheep, derived from Norman French mouton
Given to one who came from the town of Newport (which means simply "new port"), which was the name of several English towns.
From Dutch offer
meaning "offering, donation", referring to a person who collected money in a church.
Derived from the Italian given name Pace
Originally indicated a person from Padmore in England, derived from Old English padde
"toad" and mor
PAGE English, French
Occupational name meaning "servant, page". It is ultimately derived (via Old French and Italian) from Greek παιδιον (paidion)
meaning "little boy".
Means "pilgrim", ultimately from Latin palma
"palm tree", since pilgrims to the Holy Land often brought back palm fronds as proof of their journey.
PARENT English, French
Derived from Old French parent
meaning either "notable" (from Latin pārēre
meaning "to be apparent") or "parent" (from Latin parere
meaning "to produce, to give birth").
PARK (2) English
From Middle English park
, from Latin parricus
, of Germanic origin. This was a name for someone who worked in or lived in a park.
From Middle English pecok
meaning "peacock". It was originally a nickname for a proud or haughty person.
Originally indicated a dweller by a pointed hill, from Old English peac
"peak". It could also denote a person from the Peak District in Derbyshire, England.
PECK (2) English
Occupational name for a maker of pecks (vessels used as peck measures), derived from Middle English pekke
Nickname for a thin person, derived from Old French pel
, Latin palus
meaning "stake, post" (related to English pole
Nickname meaning "penny, coin" from Old English penning
Derived from Middle English pighel
meaning "small field".
PLANK German, English
Means "plank", from Old French, itself from Late Latin planca
. This could have referred to a person who lived by a plank bridge over a stream, someone who was thin, or a carpenter.
Originally referred to one who lived near a pond.
Occupational name meaning "doorkeeper", ultimately from Old French porte
"door", from Latin porta
Occupational name for a potter, one who makes earthen vessels.
Occupational name for a person who kept animals, from Old English pund
POWER (2) English
From Middle English povre
meaning "poor", via Old French from Latin pauper
. It could have been a nickname for someone who had no money or a miser.
From a given name that was derived from Old English cwen
meaning "queen, woman". In some occurrences it may have been a nickname.
From various place names in England that mean "red cliff" in Old English.
Originally a name for a dweller on a narrow pass or hillside, from Old English hrace
READ (1) English
Means "red" from Middle English read
, probably denoting a person with red hair or complexion.
Denoted a person who lived near a river, from Middle English, from Old French riviere
meaning "river", from Latin riparius
Patronymic derived from Middle English rond
meaning "round, plump", ultimately from Latin rotundus