Browse Submitted Surnames

This is a list of submitted surnames in which an editor of the name is babycrookston.
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Submitted names are contributed by users of this website. The accuracy of these name definitions cannot be guaranteed.
ABERNATHYScottish
A different form of Abernethy, which originally meant "person from Abernethy", Perth and Kinross ("confluence of the (river) Nethy"). This was one of the surnames of the Scots who settled in northern Ireland during the ‘plantation’ in the 17th century, and it was brought to the U.S. as the name of a Southern plantation owner.
ALLOWAYEnglish
Means (i) "person from Alloway, Alloa or Alva", the name of various places in Scotland ("rocky plain"); or (ii) from the medieval male personal name Ailwi (from Old English Æthelwīg, literally "noble battle").
ANSTEYEnglish
Means "person from Anstey or Ansty", the name of numerous places in England (either "single track" or "steep track"). F. Anstey was the pen-name of British barrister and author Thomas Anstey Guthrie (1856-1934).
ARGYLEScottish
Means "person from Argyll", a region of south-western Scotland ("coastland of the Gaels").
ARLOTTEnglish
From a medieval nickname for a ne'er-do-well (from Middle English harlot or arlot "vagabond, base fellow"; "prostitute" is a 15th-century development). This surname was borne by Jack Arlott (1914-1991), a British journalist, poet and cricket commentator.
AYLIFFEnglish
From the medieval female personal name Ayleve (from Old English Æthelgifu, literally "noble gift"), or from the Old Norse nickname Eilífr, literally "ever-life".
BABELFrench
Either (i) from the medieval French personal name Babel, apparently adopted from that of St Babylas, a 3rd-century Christian patriarch of Antioch, the origins of which are uncertain; or (ii) an invented Jewish name based on German or Polish Babel "Babylon".
BACCHUSEnglish
(i) Variant of Backus (meaning "one who lives in or works in a bakery", from Old English bǣchūs "bakehouse, bakery"), the spelling influenced by Bacchus (name of the Greek and Roman god of wine).... [more]
BAEZSpanish (Anglicized)
Anglicized form of Spanish Báez, which might be a different form of Peláez (cf. Páez). A famous bearer is American singer and activist Joan Baez (1941-).... [more]
BAIRNSFATHEREnglish
From a medieval nickname in Scotland and northern England for the (alleged) father of an illegitimate child (from northern Middle English bairnes "child's" + father). This surname was borne by British cartoonist and author Bruce Bairnsfather (1888-1959).
BALDOCKEnglish (Rare)
Means "person from Baldock", Hertfordshire ("Baghdad": in the Middle Ages the lords of the manor were the Knights Templar, whose headquarters were in Jerusalem, and they named the town Baldac, the Old French name for Baghdad).
BALLARDEnglish
English and Scottish: derogatory nickname from a derivative of bald ‘bald-headed’ (see also Bald).
BALLASTEREnglish
Meant "person who makes or is armed with a crossbow" (from a derivative of Middle English baleste "crossbow", from Old French).
BANWELLEnglish
Means "person from Banwell", Somerset ("killer spring (perhaps alluding to a contaminated water source)").
BARDELLEnglish
Originally meant "person from Bardwell", Suffolk ("Bearda's spring"). A fictional bearer of the surname is Mrs Bardell, Mr Pickwick's widowed landlady in Charles Dickens's 'Pickwick Papers' (1837), who misconstrues an innocent remark about having a companion as a marriage proposal, which leads to her suing Pickwick for breach of promise.
BARKISEnglish
Meant "person who works in a tannery" (from Middle English barkhous "tannery" - bark was used in the tanning process). A fictional bearer is Barkis, a carrier in Charles Dickens's 'David Copperfield' (1849) who sends a message via David to Clara Peggotty that "Barkis is willin'" (i.e. to marry her).
BARNABYEnglish
Either (i) means "person from Barnaby", Yorkshire ("Beornwald's settlement"); or (ii) from the medieval male personal name Barnaby, the English form of Barnabas, a biblical name ultimately from Aramaic Barnabia "son of Nabia".
BASKINJewish
Means "son of Baske", a Yiddish female personal name (a pet-form of the Biblical name Bath Seba). Baskin-Robbins is a US chain of ice-cream parlours founded in Glendale, California in 1945 by Burt Baskin (1913-1969) and Irv Robbins (1917-2008).
BEHNGerman
From the German male personal name Behn, a shortened form of Bernhard. A famous bearer was the English novelist and dramatist Aphra Behn (1640-1689).
BLANCHFLOWEREnglish
From a medieval nickname applied probably to an effeminate man (from Old French blanche flour "white flower"). This surname was borne by Northern Irish footballer Danny Blanchflower (1926-1993).
BLESSEDEnglish
From a medieval nickname for a fortunate person. This surname is borne by British actor Brian Blessed (1936-).
BLEWETTEnglish
From a medieval nickname for a blue-eyed person or one who habitually wore blue clothing (from Middle English bleuet "cornflower" or bluet "blue cloth").
BLISSETTEnglish
A different form of Blessed. A bearer of this surname is Luther Blissett (1958-), a Jamaican-born English footballer ("Luther Blissett" has been used since 1994 as a cover name for activists engaging in anti-cultural establishment polemics and spoofs on the internet and elsewhere).
BLIZZARDEnglish
A different form (influenced by blizzard "heavy snowstorm") of Blissett.
BLOWEnglish
From a medieval nickname for someone with a pale complexion (from Middle English blowe "pale"). This surname was borne by English composer John Blow (1649-1708) and British fashion editor Isabella Blow (original name Isabella Delves Broughton; 1958-2007); additionally, "Joe Blow" is a name used colloquially (in US, Canadian and Australian English) as representative of the ordinary uncomplicated unsophisticated man, the average man in the street (of which the equivalent in British English is "Joe Bloggs").
BODKINEnglish
From the medieval male personal name Bowdekyn, a pet-form of Baldwin.
BOGLEScottish, Northern Irish
From a medieval Scottish and Northern Irish nickname for someone of scary appearance (from Middle Scots bogill "hobgoblin").
BONARScottish, Northern Irish
From a medieval nickname for a courteous or good-looking person (from Middle English boner "gentle, courteous, handsome"). A notable bearer of the surname was Canadian-born British Conservative politician Andrew Bonar Law (1858-1923), prime minister 1922-23.
BONARIrish
A "translation" of Irish Gaelic Ó Cnáimhsighe "descendant of Cnáimhseach", a nickname meaning literally "midwife" and ostensibly a derivative of Gaelic cnámh "bone".
BRAININJewish
Means "son of Brayne", Brayne being a short form of the Yiddish feminine name Brayndl, literally "little brown one" (cf. Breindel).
BRAVOSpanish, Portuguese
From a Spanish and Portuguese nickname for a fierce or violent man (from Spanish and Portuguese bravo "fierce, violent"). This surname was borne by Charles Bravo (1845-1876), a British lawyer and possible murder victim.
BREAKSPEAREnglish
From a medieval nickname for someone who had achieved notable success in jousts or in battle. Nicholas Breakspear (?1100-1159) was the original name of Pope Hadrian IV, the only English pope.
BREEDLOVEEnglish
Probably from a medieval nickname for a likable or popular person (from Middle English breden "to produce" + love). This surname is borne by Craig Breedlove (1937-), US land-speed record holder.
BUGGEnglish
From the Old Norse nickname Buggi, literally "fat man", or from a medieval nickname for an eccentric or strangely behaved person (from Middle English bugge "bogeyman, scarecrow").
BULLIVANTEnglish
From a medieval nickname for a "good chap" or amiable companion (from Old French bon enfant, literally "good child").
BUMPUSEnglish
(i) from a medieval nickname for a vigorous walker (from Old French bon "good" + pas "pace"); (ii) perhaps "person who lives by a place through which travel is easy" (from Old French bon "good" + pas "passage")
CADDICKWelsh
From the Welsh male personal name Cadog, a pet-form of Cadfael (a derivative of Welsh cad "battle").
CADOGANWelsh
From the Welsh male personal name Cadwgan, literally probably "battle-scowler". Cadogan Estate is an area of Chelsea and Belgravia, including Cadogan Square, Sloane Street and Sloane Square, owned by the earls of Cadogan, descended from Charles Sloane Cadogan (1728-1807), 1st Earl Cadogan.
CAMOYSEnglish
From a medieval nickname for someone with a snub nose (from Old French camus "snub nose").
CANTEnglish
Means "singer in a chantry chapel", or from a medieval nickname for someone who was continually singing (in either case from Old Northern French cant "song").
CANTELLOWEnglish
Means "person from Canteleu, Canteloup, etc.", the name of various places in northern France ("song of the wolf").
CAPLINEnglish
Means "singer in a chantry chapel" (from Old Northern French capelain, a variant of standard Old French chapelain (cf. Chaplin)).
CARAWAYEnglish
Probably means "spice merchant" (from Middle English carewei "caraway").
CARBONELLEnglish
From a medieval nickname for a dark-haired or swarthy person, from Anglo-Norman carbonel, literally "little charcoal".
CASEMENTManx
From Manx Gaelic Mac Asmuint "son of Ásmundr", an Old Norse male personal name meaning literally "god-protection". The surname was borne by Sir Roger Casement (1864-1916), an Irish-born British consular official and rebel.
CASSELLEnglish
Either (i) "person from Cassel", northern France, or "person from Kassel", Germany ("fort"); or (ii) a different form of Castle ("person who lives by or lives or works in a castle"). Cassell & Company is a British publishing company, established in 1848 by John Cassell (1817-1865).
CATCHPOLEEnglish
Meant "bailiff, especially (originally) one who could seize domestic animals in lieu of tax or debt" (from Anglo-Norman cachepol, from cacher "to chase" + pol "chicken").
CAWTHORNEEnglish
Means "person from Cawthorn or Cawthorne", both in Yorkshire ("cold thorn bush").
CHALLENGEREnglish
Probably from a medieval nickname for a touchy or quarrelsome person (from a derivative of Middle English chalangen "to challenge"). A fictional bearer is Professor George Challenger, irascible scientist and explorer, leader of the expedition to Amazonia in Arthur Conan Doyle's 'The Lost World' (1912).
CHANDRASEKHARIndian
A Hindu name meaning literally "holder of the moon" (an epithet of the god Shiva). A notable bearer of this surname was the Indian-born US physicist Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar (1910-1995); the Chandrasekhar limit, i.e. the upper limit for the mass of a white dwarf star beyond which the star collapses to a neutron star or a black hole, is named after him.
CHANTRYEnglish
Means "singer in a chantry chapel" or "one who lives by a chantry chapel". A chantry was a type of chapel, one endowed for the singing of Masses for the soul of the founder (from Old French chanterie, from chanter "to sing").
CHEEVEREnglish
Means "goatherd", or from a medieval nickname for someone thought to resemble a goat (e.g. in capriciousness) (in either case from Anglo-Norman chivere "goat"). It was borne by American author John Cheever (1912-1982).
CHEGWINCornish
Means "person who lives in or by a white house" (from Cornish chy "house" + gwyn "white").
CHILVERSEnglish
Means "son of Chilver" (probably from the Old English male personal name Cēolfrith, literally "ship-peace").
CITRINEJewish
An invented Jewish name based on Yiddish tsitrin "lemon tree".
CLERIHEWScottish
A Scottish surname of unknown origin and meaning. A clerihew is a humorous or satirical verse consisting of two rhyming couplets in lines of irregular metre about someone who is named in the poem. It was invented by the British author Edmund Clerihew Bentley (1875-1956; Clerihew was his mother's maiden name)... [more]
CLEVERLEYEnglish
Probably means "person from Cleveley", Lancashire ("woodland clearing by a cliff").
COAKLEYIrish
From Irish Gaelic Mac Caochlaoich "son of Caochlaoch", a personal name meaning literally "blind warrior".
COBBOLDEnglish
From the medieval male personal name Cubald (from Old English Cūthbeald, literally "famous-brave").
CONEYEnglish
Means "seller of rabbits", or from a medieval nickname for someone thought to resemble a rabbit (in either case from Middle English cony "rabbit").
CONQUESTEnglish
Probably from a medieval nickname, perhaps applied to a domineering person. This surname is borne by the British poet, historian and critic Robert Conquest (1917-).
CORDRAYEnglish
From a medieval nickname for a proud man (from Old French cuer de roi "heart of a king").
CORLETTManx
From Manx Gaelic Mac Thorliot "son of Thorliot", a male personal name derived from Old Norse Thórrljótr, literally "Thor-bright".
CROAKEREnglish
Meant "person from Crèvecoeur", the name of various places in northern France ("heartbreak", an allusion to the poverty of the local soil).
CROWNEREnglish
Means "coroner" (from Anglo-Norman corouner "coroner", a derivative of Old French coroune "crown").
CROWTHEREnglish
Originally meant "person who plays the crowd (an ancient Celtic stringed instrument)". It was borne by British entertainer Leslie Crowther (1933-1996).
CROYIrish (Anglicized)
A shortened form of the surname McRoy, from Irish Gaelic Mac Rúaidh "son of Rúadh", literally "the red one".
CROYScottish
Means "person from Croy", the name of various places in Scotland.
CRUIKSHANKScottish
From a medieval Scottish nickname for someone with a crooked leg (from Scots cruik "bent" + shank "leg"). This was the surname of British caricaturist George Cruikshank (1792-1872) and British actor Andrew Cruikshank (1907-1988).
CULPEPEREnglish
Variant of Culpepper. Known bearers of this surname include: Nicholas Culpeper (1616-1664), an English herbalist, physician and astrologer; and English colonial administrator Thomas Culpeper, 2nd Baron Culpeper (1635-1689), governor of Virginia 1680-1683... [more]
CULPEPPEREnglish
Means "person who collects, prepares and/or sells herbs and spices" (from Middle English cullen "to pick" + pepper).
CULVEREnglish
Means "person who keeps or looks after doves", or from a medieval nickname for someone thought to resemble a dove (e.g. in mild disposition) (in either case from Middle English culver "dove")... [more]
CUNLIFFEEnglish
Originally meant "person from Cunliffe", Lancashire ("slope with a crevice" (literally "cunt-cliff")).
CUNNIFFIrish
From Irish Gaelic Mac Conduibh "son of Condubh", a personal name meaning literally "black dog".
CUOMOItalian
Probably from a shortened form of Cuosëmo, a Neapolitan variant of the Italian male personal name Cosimo.
CUSTERGerman (Anglicized)
Anglicization of the German surname Köster or Küster, literally "sexton". A famous bearer was George Custer (1839-1876), the American cavalry general. General Custer and his army were defeated and killed by Sioux and Cheyenne forces under Sitting Bull in the Battle of Little Bighorn (1876; also known colloquially as Custer's Last Stand).
DAINTITHEnglish
From a medieval nickname (roughly equivalent to "precious") applied to a dearly loved person (from Middle English deinteth "pleasure, titbit", from Old French deintiet).
DAINTRYEnglish
Means "person from Daventry", Northamptonshire ("Dafa's tree"). The place-name is traditionally pronounced "daintry".
DAINTYEnglish
From a medieval nickname meaning "handsome, pleasant" (from Middle English deinte, from Old French deint(i)é). This was borne by Billy Dainty (1927-1986), a British comedian.
DALGLEISHScottish
Means "person from Dalgleish", near Selkirk ("green field").
DALHOUSIEScottish
Meant "person from Dalhousie", near Edinburgh (perhaps "field of slander").
DALLOWAYEnglish
Meant "person from Dallaway", West Midlands (perhaps from a Norman personal name, "person from (de) Alluyes", northern France). A fictional bearer of the surname is Mrs Dalloway, central figure of the eponymous novel (1925) by Virginia Woolf.
DALZIELScottish
Means "person from Dalyell", in the Clyde valley (probably "white field"). The name is standardly pronounced "dee-el". A fictional bearer is Detective Superintendent Andrew Dalziel, one half of the detective team of 'Dalziel and Pascoe' in the novels (1970-2009) of Reginald Hill.
DARLEYEnglish
Means "person from Darley", Derbyshire ("glade frequented by deer").
D'AVIGDORJewish
Means "son of Avigdor" (a Jewish personal name, from Hebrew avi-Gedor "father of Gedor").
DAYEnglish
(i) from the medieval personal name Day(e) or Dey(e), which may go back ultimately to Old English dæg "day", perhaps as a shortening of such names as Dægberht and Dægmund; (ii) a pet-form of David; (iii) from Irish Gaelic Ó Deághaidh "descendant of Deághadh", perhaps literally "good luck" (cf... [more]
DEARDENEnglish
Meant "person from Dearden", Lancashire ("valley frequented by wild animals"). It was borne by British film director Basil Dearden (original name Basil Dear; 1911-1971).
DEARTHEnglish
From a medieval nickname apparently based on Middle English derth "famine".
DE ATHEnglish
Probably a deliberate respelling of Death (i), intended to distance the name from its original signification.
DEATHEnglish
(i) "death" (perhaps from the figure of Death as personified in medieval pageants); (ii) "person who gathers or sells wood for fuel" (from Middle English dethe "fuel, tinder")
DENBYEnglish
Means "person from Denby", Derbyshire or Yorkshire ("farmstead of the Danes").
DENHAMEnglish
From the name of various places in England, most of which meant "farm in the valley" (from Old English denu "valley" + ham "homestead"). Notable bearers of the surname included John Denham (1615-1669), an English poet; British Labour politician John Denham (1953-); and British actor Maurice Denham (1909-2002).
DEWDNEYEnglish
From the Old French personal name Dieudonné, literally "gift of God".
DOOLITTLEEnglish
From a medieval nickname applied to a lazy man (from Middle English do "do" + little "little"). It was borne by the American poet Hilda Doolittle (1886-1961). A fictional bearer is Eliza Doolittle, the flower seller in Bernard Shaw's 'Pygmalion' (1913); and a variant spelling was borne by Dr Dolittle, the physician who had the ability to talk to animals, in the series of books written by Hugh Lofting from 1920.
DOS SANTOSPortuguese, Spanish
From a Spanish and Portuguese name applied originally to a child born or baptized on All Saints' Day (from Spanish and Portuguese, literally "of the saints"). A famous bearer of this surname is Portuguese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo.
DOWSONEnglish
Either a patronymic surname derived from the given name Dow, a medieval variant of Daw (which was a diminutive of David), or else a metronymic form of the medieval feminine name Dowce, literally "sweet, pleasant", from Old French dolz, dous (cf... [more]
DRINGEnglish
Means "young man" (from Old Norse drengr).
DUGUIDScottish
Probably "do good", from a Scottish nickname for a well-intentioned person or (ironically) a do-gooder.
DURDENEnglish
A different form of Dearden. A fictional bearer is Tyler Durden, a character from Chuck Palahniuk's 'Fight Club' (1996) and its subsequent film adaptation (1999).
DURWARDEnglish, Scottish (?)
Means "guardian of the door, door-keeper" (cf. Durward). A fictional bearer of the surname is Quentin Durward, eponymous hero of the novel (1823) by Sir Walter Scott.
DWORKINJewish
From a pet-form of the Yiddish female personal name Dvoyre, from Hebrew Devorah (source of English Deborah), literally "bee". The surname was borne by US feminist Andrea Dworkin (1946-2005).
EARNSHAWEnglish
Means "person from Earnshaw", Lancashire ("Earn's nook of land" - Earn from an Old English personal name meaning literally "eagle"). In fiction this surname is borne by Catherine Earnshaw, her brother Hindley and her nephew Hareton, characters in Emily Brontë's 'Wuthering Heights' (1847).
EDMEADESEnglish
Meant "son of Edmede", from a medieval nickname for a self-effacing person (literally "humble", from Old English ēadmēde "easy mind").
ELWELLEnglish
Means "person from Elwell", Dorset (probably "spring from which omens can be read").
ENRIGHTIrish (Anglicized)
From Irish Gaelic Indreachtach, literally "attacker". The surname was borne by British poet D.J. Enright (1920-2002).
FAIREnglish, Irish
English: nickname meaning ‘handsome’, ‘beautiful’, ‘fair’, from Middle English fair, fayr, Old English fæger. The word was also occasionally used as a personal name in Middle English, applied to both men and women.... [more]
FAIRBROTHEREnglish
From a medieval nickname probably meaning either "better-looking of two brothers" or "brother of a good-looking person", or perhaps in some cases "father's brother".
FAIREYEnglish
Either (i) meant "person from Fairy Farm or Fairyhall", both in Essex (Fairy perhaps "pigsty"); or (ii) from a medieval nickname meaning "beautiful eye". This was borne by Fairey Aviation, a British aircraft company, producer of the biplane fighter-bomber Fairey Swordfish... [more]
FAIRFAXEnglish
From a medieval nickname for someone with beautiful hair, from Old English fæger "fair" and feax "hair". It was borne by the English general Thomas Fairfax, 3rd Baron Fairfax of Cameron (1612-1671), commander of the Parliamentary army during the Civil War... [more]
FANEEnglish
From a medieval nickname for a well-disposed person (from Old English fægen "glad, willing"), or from a medieval Welsh nickname for a slim person (Welsh fain). This is the family name of the earls of Westmorland.
FANSHAWEEnglish
Meant "person from Featherstonehaugh", Northumberland (now known simply as "Featherstone") ("nook of land by the four-stones", four-stones referring to a prehistoric stone structure known technically as a "tetralith")... [more]
FARADAYIrish
From Irish Gaelic Ó Fearadaigh "descendant of Fearadach", a personal name probably based on fear "man", perhaps meaning literally "man of the wood". A famous bearer was British chemist and physicist Michael Faraday (1791-1867).
FARMANEnglish
(i) from an Old Norse personal name denoting literally a seafarer or travelling trader, brought into English via French; (ii) "itinerant trader, pedlar", from Middle English fareman "traveller"
FARRIMONDEnglish
From Faramund, a Norman personal name of Germanic origin.
FARTHINGEnglish
(i) "someone who lives on a 'farthing' of land" (i.e. a quarter of a larger area); (ii) from a medieval nickname based on farthing "1/4 penny", perhaps applied to someone who paid a farthing in rent; (iii) from the Old Norse male personal name Farthegn, literally "voyaging warrior"
FASTOLFEnglish
From the Old Norse male personal name Fastúlfr, literally "strong wolf". It was borne by Sir John Fastolf (1380-1459), an English soldier whose name was adapted by Shakespeare as "Falstaff".
FAWKESEnglish
From the Norman personal name Faulques or Fauques, which was derived from a Germanic nickname meaning literally "falcon". A famous bearer of the surname was Guy Fawkes (1570-1606), the English Catholic conspirator... [more]
FAZAKERLEYEnglish
Means "person from Fazakerley", Liverpool ("glade by the borderland").
FEINGOLDJewish
A Jewish name, from German, literally "fine gold".
FENIMOREEnglish
From a medieval nickname meaning literally "fine love" (from Old French fin amour).
FENWICKEnglish
Means "person from Fenwick", Northumberland, Strathclyde and Yorkshire ("dairy farm in fenland"). The name is pronounced as "Fennick". It belongs to a chain of department stores, founded in Newcastle in 1882 by John Fenwick (1846-1905).
FEVERELEnglish
From a Middle English form of February, probably used as a nickname either for someone born in that month or for someone with a suitably frosty demeanor. In fiction, this surname was borne by the central character of George Meredith's novel 'The Ordeal of Richard Feverel' (1859).
FIGGISEnglish
From a medieval nickname for a trustworthy person (from the Anglo-Norman form of Old French fichais "loyal").
FILKINSEnglish
Means either (i) "person from Filkins", Oxfordshire ("settlement of Filica's people"); or "son of Filkin", a medieval personal name meaning literally "little Phil", from Philip.
FILLERYEnglish
From a medieval nickname derived from Anglo-Norman fitz le rei "son of the king" (see also Fitzroy), probably applied mainly (and ironically) to an illegitimate person or to someone who put on quasi-royal airs.
FLASHEnglish
Means "person who lives near a pool" (Middle English flasshe "pool, marsh").
FORTUNEScottish
Originally meant "person from Fortune", Lothian ("enclosure where pigs are kept").
FOYFrench
From a medieval nickname based on Old French foi "faith", applied either to a notably pious person or to one who frequently used the word as an oath; also, from the medieval French female personal name Foy, from Old French foi "faith".
FOYIrish (Anglicized)
A different form of Fahy (from Irish Gaelic Ó Fathaigh "descendant of Fathach", a personal name probably based on Gaelic fothadh "foundation").
FREWINEnglish
From the Middle English personal name Frewine, literally "noble or generous friend".
FRISBYEnglish
Means "person from Frisby", Leicestershire ("farmstead of the Frisians"). A frisbee is a plastic disc thrown from person to person as a game; the trademarked name, registered in 1959 by Fred Morrison, was inspired by the Frisbie bakery of Bridgeport, Connecticut, whose pie tins were the original models for the plastic discs.
FRIZZELLEnglish (Rare)
Either (i) from Friseal, the Scottish Gaelic form of Fraser; or (ii) from a medieval nickname applied to someone who dressed in a showy or gaudy style (from Old French frisel "decoration, ribbon").
FROUDEnglish
From the Old English personal name Frōda or Old Norse Fróthi, both meaning literally "wise" or "prudent". A variant spelling was borne by British historian James Anthony Froude (1818-1894).
GAMMONEnglish
From a medieval nickname applied to a merry or sportive person (from Middle English gamen "game"), or to someone who walked in a strange way or had some peculiarity of the legs (from Anglo-Norman gambon "ham").
GARABEDIANArmenian
Means "son of Garabed", an Armenian personal name meaning literally "leader, precursor" and traditionally used as an epithet of John the Baptist in the Armenian church.
GARBOItalian
Either (i) from the via del Garbo, the name of a street in Florence that in former times was the place of work of spinners, weavers, etc. of lana del Garbo "wool from the Algarve" in Portugal; or (ii) probably from a medieval Italian nickname for an urbane or well-mannered person (from Italian garbo "polite, kind")... [more]
GARLICKEnglish
(i) "grower or seller of garlic"; (ii) perhaps from a medieval personal name descended from Old English Gārlāc, literally "spear-play"; (iii) an anglicization of the Belorussian Jewish name Garelick, literally "distiller"
GATSBYEnglish
A different form of Gadsby ("person from Gaddesby", Leicestershire ("Gaddr's farmstead")). A fictional bearer is Jay Gatsby, the central character of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel 'The Great Gatsby' (1925).
GAWKRODGEREnglish
From a medieval nickname meaning "clumsy Roger".
GILBYEnglish
Means either (i) "person from Gilby", Lincolnshire ("Gilli's farm"); or (ii) "little Gilbert".
GILLIBRANDEnglish
From the Norman personal name Gillebrand, of Germanic origin and meaning literally "hostage-sword".
GINGELLEnglish
Either (i) from a shortened form of the Germanic personal name Gangulf, literally "walking wolf"; or (ii) a different form of Gingold.
GINGOLDJewish
An invented Jewish name, from Yiddish, literally "fine gold". Hermione Gingold (1897-1987) was a British actress.
GIRLINGEnglish
From a medieval nickname applied to a brave man (or, with heavy irony, to a cowardly one), from Old French cuer de lion "lion heart".
GISHGerman
From a shortened form of the Germanic personal name Gisulf, literally "hostage wolf". It was borne by American actress Lillian Gish (?1893-1993), original name Lillian de Guiche.
GLEAVEEnglish
Means either "sword-maker" or "sword-seller", or else from a nickname applied to a skilled swordsman (in either case from Middle English gleyve "sword").
GLOCKGerman
Meant "person who lives by a church bell-tower or in a house with the sign of a bell", "bell-ringer" or "town crier" (German Glocke "bell"). It was borne by Sir William Glock (1908-2000), a British music administrator.
GOODENOUGHEnglish
From a medieval nickname probably applied either to someone of average abilities or to an easily satisfied person; also, perhaps from a medieval nickname meaning "good servant".
GORENJewish
Jewish (Ashkenazic) altered form of Horn (5), under Russian influence; since Russian has no h and alters h in borrowed words to g. In Israel the name has been reinterpreted by folk etymology as being from Hebrew goren 'threshing floor', which is in fact etymologically and semantically unrelated.
GRABLEGerman
Means "digger of ditches or graves" (from a derivative of Middle High German graben "ditch"). A famous bearer was US actress, dancer and singer Betty Grable (1916-1973).
GRIGGSEnglish
Means "son of Grigg", Grigg being a short form of Gregory.
GULLICKEnglish
From the Middle English personal name Gullake, a descendant of Old English Gūthlāc, literally "battle-sport".
HARROWEnglish
Means "person from Harrow", the district of northwest Greater London, or various places of the same name in Scotland ("heathen shrine").
HASSALLEnglish
Means "person from Hassall", Cheshire ("witch's corner of land").
HAYLINGEnglish
Either (i) "person from Hayling", Hampshire ("settlement of Hægel's people"); or (ii) from the Old Welsh personal name Heilyn, literally "cup-bearer" (see also Palin).
HAZELDENEnglish
Means "person from Hazelden", the name of various places in England ("valley growing with hazel trees").
HEIFETZJewish
An invented Jewish name based on Hebrew chefets "pleasure". Lithuanian-born US violinist Jascha Heifetz (1901-1987) was a known bearer.
HERLIHYIrish
From Irish Gaelic Ó hIarfhlatha "descendant of Iarfhlaith", a personal name meaning literally "lord of the west".
HILLIARDEnglish
English: from the Norman female personal name Hildiarde, Hildegard, composed of the Germanic elements hild ‘strife’, ‘battle’ + gard ‘fortress’, ‘stronghold’. The surname has been in Ireland since the 17th century.
HILMARSDÓTTIRIcelandic
Means "daughter of Hilmar".
HONEYBALLEnglish
From Honeyball, a medieval personal name of uncertain origin: perhaps an alteration of Annabel, or alternatively from a Germanic compound name meaning literally "bear-cub brave" (i.e. deriving from the elements hun "warrior, bear cub" and bald "bold, brave").
HOSEASONEnglish
Means "son of Hosea", a personal name that was originally probably Osie, a pet-form of Oswald, but came to be associated with the biblical personal name Hosea.
HUCKEnglish, Dutch
From the medieval male personal name Hucke, which was probably descended from the Old English personal name Ucca or Hucca, perhaps a shortened form of Ūhtrǣd, literally "dawn-power".
HUCKABYEnglish
Means "person from Huccaby", Devon (perhaps "crooked river-bend"), or "person from Uckerby", Yorkshire ("Úkyrri's or Útkári's farmstead").
IDDONEnglish
From the Old Norse female personal name Idunn, literally probably "perform love" (cf. Idony).
IMBERTFrench
From the medieval French personal name Imbert, of Germanic origin and meaning literally "vast-bright".
IMPEYEnglish
From Impey, the name of various places in England, derived from Old English *imphaga, *imphæg "sapling enclosure". Alternatively it could have indicated a person who lived near an enclosure of young trees.
INCHBALDEnglish
From the medieval male personal name Ingebald, brought into England by the Normans but ultimately of Germanic origin and meaning literally "brave Ingel" (Ingel was a different form of Engel - a shortened form of various Germanic compound personal names (e.g. Engelbert and Engelhard) that begin with Engel-; the two main sources of that were Angel "Angle" (the name of the Germanic people) and Ingal, an extended form of Ing (the name of a Germanic god)).
INVERARITYScottish
Means "person from Inverarity", Angus ("mouth of the Arity", perhaps a Celtic river-name meaning literally "slow").
IVESEnglish
Means "son of Ive", a medieval male personal name, brought into England by the Normans but ultimately of Germanic origin, a shortened form of any of a range of compound names beginning with īv "yew" (cf... [more]
JESSELEnglish
From a pet-form of Jessop (a medieval male personal name - a different form of Joseph). A literary bearer is Miss Jessel, the governess who has charge of the two troubled and enigmatic children in Henry James's ghost story 'The Turn of the Screw' (1898).
JOWETTEnglish
From the medieval male personal name Jowet or the female personal name Jowette, both literally "little Jowe", a pet-form of Julian. This was borne was British theologian and classical scholar Benjamin Jowett (1817-1893).
KAPOORIndian, Punjabi, Hindi
Punjabi Kshatriya name derived from Sanskrit कर्पूर (karpūra) meaning "camphor" (referring to a white crystalline substance used in medicine), itself possibly of Proto-Austronesian origin.
KENNAWAYEnglish
From the medieval personal name Kenewi, from Old English Cynewīg, literally "royal war", or Cēnwīg, literally "bold war".
KETLEYEnglish
Means "person from Ketley", Shropshire ("glade frequented by cats").
KILBRIDEIrish, Scottish
Anglicized form of Gaelic Mac Giolla Bhrighde "son of the devotee of Saint Brigid" (cf. MACBRIDE). Many of Saint Brigid's attributes became attached to the historical figure of St. Brigit of Kildare, Ireland, thus the spelling.
KILVERTEnglish
Probably from an Old Norse personal name Ketilfrith, literally "cauldron peace". The surname was borne by British clergyman and diarist Francis Kilvert (1840-1879).
LATIMEREnglish
English occupational name for a Latinist, a clerk who wrote documents in Latin, from Anglo-Norman French latinier, latim(m)ier. Latin was more or less the universal language of official documents in the Middle Ages, displaced only gradually by the vernacular—in England, by Anglo-Norman French at first, and eventually by English.
LEAREnglish
Means (i) "person from Leire", Leicestershire ("place on the river Leire", a river-name that may also be the ancestor of Leicestershire); or (ii) "person from Lear", any of several variously spelled places in northern France with a name based on Germanic lār "clearing"... [more]
LILLICRAPEnglish
From a medieval nickname for someone with very fair hair (literally "lily-head").
LILLYWHITEEnglish
From a medieval nickname for someone with very fair hair or complexion. It was borne by English cricketers James Lillywhite (1842-1929), first captain of England, and William Lillywhite (1792-1854), pioneer of overarm bowling, uncle of James... [more]
LORIMEREnglish
Means "maker or seller of metal items of a horse's harness and associated equipment (e.g. bits and spurs)" (from Anglo-Norman loremier, a derivative of Old French lorain "harness").
LOVEDAYEnglish
Means either (i) "person particularly associated with a 'loveday'" (a day when, by custom, old differences were settled and reconciliations were made); or (ii) from the medieval female personal name Loveday, a descendant of Old English Lēofdæg, literally "beloved day"... [more]
LOVELACEEnglish
From a medieval nickname for a woman-chaser or lothario (from Old English lufulēas, literally "without love", hence "fancy-free"). The English poet Richard Lovelace (1618-1657) was a famous bearer.
LOVELOCKEnglish
From a medieval nickname for a dandy or a man conceited about his appearance (from lovelock, a term for an elaborately curled lock of hair). This surname is borne by British scientist James Lovelock (1919-), formulator of the "Gaia" concept.
LUNDYEnglish
Either (i) "person from Lundie", the name of various places in Scotland (meaning "place by a marsh"); or (ii) a different form of McAlinden.
LUSTGARTENJewish
An invented Jewish name based on German Lustgarten "pleasure garden" (perhaps alluding to the Garden of Eden). It was borne by British barrister, writer and broadcaster Edgar Lustgarten (1907-1978), presenter of television crime reconstructions.
MABBETTEnglish
From a pet-form of the medieval female personal name Mabbe, a shortened form of Amabel (ultimately from Latin amābilis "lovable"). See also Mapp
MAITLISJewish
Means "son of Meytl", a Yiddish female personal name, literally "little Meyte", a Yiddish female personal name derived from Middle High German maget "maid".
MAKEPEACEEnglish
From a medieval nickname for a skilled conciliator. It was borne by English cricketer Harry Makepeace (1881-1952).
MALLARDEnglish
Either (i) from the Old French male personal name Malhard, brought into England by the Normans but ultimately of Germanic origin and meaning literally "council-brave"; or (ii) from a medieval nickname for someone thought to resemble a male wild duck.
MANGOLDEnglish
Meaning uncertain, perhaps (i) "operator of a mangonel (a medieval siege catapult)"; or (ii) from the Germanic personal name Managwald, literally "much rule".
MAPPEnglish
From a variant of the medieval female personal name Mabbe, a shortened form of Amabel. A fictional bearer is Elizabeth Mapp, busybodyish spinster in the 'Mapp and Lucia' novels of E.F. Benson.
MARGOLISJewish
From the Jewish female personal name Margolis, literally (in Hebrew) "pearls".
MARJORIBANKSScottish
Reputedly from the name of a Scottish estate (Ratho-Marjoribankis) bestowed on Robert the Bruce's daughter Marjorie on her marriage in 1316. A fictional bearer is Lucilla Marjoribanks, the heroine of Margaret Oliphant's novel 'Miss Marjoribanks' (1866).
MARVELEnglish
Either (i) from a medieval nickname (often ironic) for someone regarded as a prodigy; or (ii) "person from Merville", the name of two places in northern France ("smaller settlement" and "settlement belonging to a man with a Germanic name beginning with Meri-, literally 'famous'")... [more]
MASSETEREnglish
Perhaps means "brewery worker" (from Middle English mash "fermentable mixture of hot water and grain" + rudder "rudder-shaped stirrer").
MASSINGBERDEnglish
Perhaps from a medieval nickname for someone with an auburn or reddish beard (from Middle English massing "brass" + berd "beard").
MATURINFrench
From the French male personal name Maturin, from Latin Mātūrīnus, a derivative of Mātūrus, literally "timely". It was borne by the Irish "Gothic" novelist Charles Maturin (1782-1824).
MAUDLINGEnglish
From the medieval female personal name Maudeleyn, the English form of Greek Magdalēnē, the sobriquet in the New Testament of the woman Mary who was cured of evil spirits by Jesus... [more]
MCALINDENIrish
From Irish Gaelic Mac Giolla Fhiontáin "son of the servant of (St) Fiontán", a personal name derived from fionn "white".
MCCURTAINIrish
From Gaelic Mac Cruitín "son of Cruitín", a nickname for a hunchback.
MCGRAWIrish, Scottish
Anglicized form of the Old Gaelic Mac Craith (the earlier form of Mac Raith) meaning "son of Craith", composed of the Gaelic elements mac "son of" and Rath, an old byname meaning "grace, prosperity".
MCKINSTRYNorthern Irish
From Gaelic Mac an Aistrigh, a reduced form of Mac an Aistrighthigh "son of the traveller".
MCKITTRICKScottish
From Gaelic, "son of Shitrig", a personal name adapted from Old Norse Sigtryggr, literally "victory-true".
MCMORROWIrish, Scottish
From the Gaelic Mac Murchadha, which means "son of MURCHADH".
MEIKLEJOHNScottish
A Scottish distinguishing name for identifying the larger or eldest (Older Scots meikle "large") or elder of two men called John. (See also Mickle).
MERRIDEWEnglish
A different form of Meredith (from the Welsh personal name Meredydd, perhaps literally "lord of splendour"). It occurs in Wilkie Collins' 'The Moonstone' (1868) belonging to Mrs Merridew, widowed sister to Sir John Verinder.
MERRIWEATHEREnglish
From a medieval nickname for someone of a cheerful disposition (cf. Meriwether).
MERVYNEnglish
(i) from the medieval personal name Merewine, literally "fame-friend"; (ii) from the Old English personal names Mǣrwynn, literally "famous joy", and Merefinn, from Old Norse Mora-Finnr; (iii) from the Welsh personal name Merfyn, literally probably "marrow-eminent"
MILDMAYEnglish
From a medieval nickname for an inoffensive person (literally "mild maiden").
MOFFATTScottish
Means "person from Moffatt", Dumfries and Galloway ("long plain").
MONEYPENNYEnglish
Probably from a medieval nickname for a rich person or a miser. A fictional bearer is Miss Moneypenny, secretary to M (the head of MI6) in the James Bond novels of Ian Fleming and in the films based on them.
MONTEFIOREItalian, Jewish
Derived from Montefiore, which is the name of several places in Italy. For example, there is Castle Montefiore in the town of Recanati (province of Macerata), the municipality of Montefiore Conca (province of Rimini) and the municipality of Montefiore dell'Aso (province of Ascoli Piceno)... [more]
MOORCOCKEnglish
From a medieval nickname for someone thought to resemble a moorcock (the male of the red grouse). It is borne by British author Michael Moorcock (1939-).
MORAESPortuguese
From the Portuguese form of Spanish Morales.
MORANTEnglish
From the Old French personal name Morant, perhaps from a nickname meaning "steadfast", or alternatively of Germanic origin and meaning literally "courage-raven". A known bearer was the British-born Australian soldier and poet Breaker Morant, original name Edwin Henry Murrant (?1864-1902).
MORROWIrish, Scottish
From the Gaelic Ó Murchadha, which means "descendent of MURCHADH".
MORTEnglish
Perhaps from a Norman nickname based on Old French mort "dead", possibly referring to someone with a deathly pallor or otherwise sepulchral appearance.
MOTHERWELLScottish
Means "person from Motherwell", North Lanarkshire ("Our Lady's well"). American artist Robert Motherwell (1915-1991) was a known bearer.
MOTIONScottish
A Scottish name of uncertain origin. British poet Andrew Motion (1952-) is a known bearer.
MOXONEnglish
Means "son of Magge", a pet-form of Margaret, a female personal name which came into English via French from Late Latin Margarita, literally "pearl".
MOYESEnglish
From the medieval personal name Moise, a vernacular variant of Moses (the biblical name of the Hebrew prophet who led the Children of Israel out of captivity).
MUDDEnglish
Either (i) "person who lives in a muddy area"; (ii) from the medieval female personal name Mudd, a variant of Maud (variously Mahalt, Mauld, Malt, vernacular versions of Anglo-Norman Matilda); or (iii) from the Old English personal name Mōd or Mōda, a shortened form of various compound names beginning with mōd "courage".
MUFFETTScottish
A different form of Moffatt. 'Little Miss Muffett' is a traditional nursery rhyme: Little Miss Muffett / Sat on a tuffet, / Eating her curds and whey; / There came a big spider, / Who sat down beside her / And frightened Miss Muffet away. It has been speculated that 'Miss Muffett' is Patience Muffet, the daughter of the physician and entomologist Dr Thomas Muffet (1553-1604).
MULDOONIrish
From Irish Gaelic Ó Maoldúin "descendant of Maoldún", a personal name meaning literally "chief fortress".
MULLARKEYIrish
From Irish Gaelic Ó Maoilearca "descendent of the follower of (St) Earc", a personal name meaning literally either "speckled one" or "salmon".
MULLERYIrish (Rare)
From Irish Gaelic Ó Maolmhuire "descendant of Maolmhuire", a personal name meaning literally "servant of (the Virgin) Mary".
MURROWIrish, Scottish
Variant of MORROW. A famous bearer of the surname was Edward R. Murrow (1908-1965), US radio and television journalist.
MYATTEnglish
From the medieval personal name Myat, literally "little Mihel", an Anglo-Norman variant of Michael.
NAIRNScottish
Means "person from Nairn", Highland region ("(place at the mouth of the river) Nairn", a Celtic river-name perhaps meaning "penetrating one").
NAISMITHEnglish
Means either "nail-maker" (from Old English nægelsmith) or "knife-maker" (from Old English cnīfsmith).
NANCARROWCornish
Means "person from Nancarrow", Cornwall (either "valley frequented by deer" or "rough valley"). It was borne by US composer Conlon Nancarrow (1912-1997).
NEMOEnglish
A different form of Nimmo (a Scottish name of unknown origin).
NOONEnglish
Either (i) from a medieval nickname for someone of a sunny disposition (noon being the sunniest part of the day); or (ii) from Irish Gaelic Ó Nuadháin "descendant of Nuadhán", a personal name based on Nuadha, the name of various Celtic gods (cf... [more]
NOYEnglish
Either (i) from the medieval male personal name Noye, the English form of the Hebrew name Noach "Noah"; or (ii) an invented Jewish name based on Hebrew noy "decoration, adornment".
NUTTEREnglish
Means either (i) "scribe, clerk" (from Middle English notere, ultimately from Latin notārius); or (ii) "person who keeps or tends oxen" (from a derivative of Middle English nowt "ox")... [more]
ODHAMEnglish
Variant of ODOM, altered by folk etymology as if derived from a place name formed with -ham.
OLIPHANTEnglish
Means "elephant" (from Middle English, Old French and Middle High German olifant "elephant"), perhaps used as a nickname for a large cumbersome person, or denoting someone who lived in a building distinguished by the sign of an elephant.
OPIEEnglish
From the medieval personal name Oppy or Obby, pet-forms of such names as Osbert and Osbold. John Opie (1761-1807) was a British portrait and history painter; other bearers of this surname include Peter Opie (1918-82), and his wife Iona Opie (née Archibald; 1923-), British authors and folklorists.
ORPINEnglish
Means "herbalist" (from Middle English orpin "yellow stonecrop", a plant prescribed by medieval herbalists for healing wounds). A variant spelling was borne by British painter Sir William Orpen (1878-1931).
OTTOWAYEnglish
From the Norman male personal names Otoïs, of Germanic origin and meaning literally "wealth-wide" or "wealth-wood", and Otewi, of Germanic origin and meaning literally "wealth-war".
PALINEnglish
(i) "person from Palling", Norfolk ("settlement of Pælli's people") or "person from Poling", Sussex ("settlement of Pāl's people"); (ii) from the Welsh name ap Heilyn "son of Heilyn", a personal name perhaps meaning "one who serves at table"
PALLISEREnglish
Means "maker of palings and fences" (from a derivative of Old French palis "palisade"). In fiction, the Palliser novels are a series of six political novels by Anthony Trollope, beginning with 'Can You Forgive Her?' (1864) and ending with 'The Duke's Children' (1880), in which the Palliser family plays a central role.
PARDOEEnglish
From a medieval nickname based on the Old French oath par Dieu "by God" (cf. Purdie).
PASSMOREEnglish
Either (i) from a medieval nickname for someone who crossed marshy moorland (e.g. who lived on the opposite side of a moor, or who knew the safe paths across it); or (ii) perhaps from an alteration of Passemer, literally "cross-sea", an Anglo-Norman nickname for a seafarer... [more]
PAVEYEnglish
Either (i) from the medieval female personal name Pavia, perhaps from Old French pavie "peach"; or (ii) "person from Pavia", Italy.
PENHALIGONCornish
Originally meant "person from Penhaligon", Cornwall ("willow-tree hill"). It is borne by Susan Penhaligon (1950-), a British actress.
PENNYCUIKScottish
Originally meant "person from Penycuik", near Edinburgh (probably "hill frequented by cuckoos").
PENROSECornish, Welsh
Originally meant "person from Penrose", Cornwall, Herefordshire and Wales ("highest part of the heath or moorland"). It is borne by the British mathematician Sir Roger Penrose (1931-).... [more]
PEPYSEnglish
From the medieval personal name Pepis, a form of Old French Pepin, brought into England by the Normans. It may have been based on an earlier nickname meaning "awesome". It is standardly pronounced "peeps"... [more]
PEWWelsh
From Welsh ap Hew or ap Hugh "son of Hugh" (see Pugh). A fictional bearer is Blind Pew, the blind pirate in Robert Louis Stevenson's 'Treasure Island' (1883).
PHENIXFrench (Quebec, Anglicized)
Either (i) an anglicization of French Canadian Phénix, literally "phoenix", probably originally a nickname of now lost import; or (ii) a different form of Fenwick.
PHILBERTEnglish
From the medieval French male personal name Filibert, of Germanic origin and meaning literally "very bright, very famous".
PHOENIXEnglish
From the name of a beautiful immortal bird which appears in Egyptian and Greek mythology. After living for several centuries in the Arabian Desert, it would be consumed by fire and rise from its own ashes, with this cycle repeating every 500 years... [more]
PLAYFAIREnglish
From a medieval nickname for an enthusiastic competitor in sports and games (from Middle English pleyfere "companion in play, playmate"), or else a different form of Playford (from a Suffolk place-name meaning "ford where sports are held")... [more]
PLEASANCEEnglish
Either (i) from the medieval female personal name Plaisance, literally "pleasantness"; or (ii) "person from Piacenza", Italy (from Latin Placentia, literally "pleasing things").
POEEnglish
From a medieval nickname for a vain or flamboyantly dressed person (from Old Norse "peacock"). American author and poet Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) was a famous bearer.
PRIDEAUXCornish
Means "person from Prideaux, earlier Pridias", Cornwall (perhaps based on Cornish prȳ "clay"). The modern Frenchified spelling is based on the idea that the name comes from French près d'eaux "near waters" or pré d'eaux "meadow of waters".
PRIMROSEScottish
From the name of Primrose in Fife, Scotland, a place originally named Prenrhos, literally "tree-moor" in Welsh. This is the family name of the Earls of Rosebery.
PUDDEPHATEnglish
From a medieval nickname for someone with a roly-poly physique (from Middle English puddy fat "round-bellied vat").
PURVISScottish
Probably means "person in charge of buying supplies for a large household" (from Middle English purveys "provisions").
QUANTRELLEnglish
From a medieval nickname for an elegantly or flamboyantly dressed person (from Middle English quointerel "dandy, fop", from quointe "known, knowledgeable, crafty, elegant").
QUARTERMAINEnglish
From a medieval nickname for a very dextrous person, or for someone who habitually wore gloves (from Old French quatremains, literally "four hands"). A fictional bearer of the surname is Allan Quartermain, the hero of 'King Solomon's Mines' (1886) and other adventure novels by H. Rider Haggard... [more]
QUARTERMAINEEnglish
Variant of Quartermain. This surname was borne by British actor Leon Quartermaine (1876-1967).
QUENNELLEnglish
From the medieval female personal name Quenilla, from Old English Cwēnhild, literally "woman-battle". This was borne by Peter Quennell (1905-1993), a British poet, critic and historian.
RACKHAMEnglish
Means "person from Rackham", Sussex ("homestead or enclosure with ricks"). This surname was borne by British watercolourist and book illustrator Arthur Rackham (1867-1939).
RAINBIRDEnglish
From the Old French male personal name Rainbert, of Germanic origin and meaning literally "counsel-bright" (cf. Raginbert). The modern form of the name has been influenced by English rainbird "plover".
RAINBOWEnglish
From the Old French male personal name Rainbaut, of Germanic origin and meaning literally "counsel-brave" (cf. Raginbald). The modern form of the name has been influenced by English rainbow.
RAISONEnglish, Scottish, French
From a medieval nickname for an intelligent person (from Old French raison "reason, intelligence").
RAMAGEFrench, Scottish
From a medieval Scottish nickname for a hot-tempered or unpredictable person (from Old French ramage "wild, uncontrollable" (applied to birds of prey)).
RAMBERTEnglish
From the Old French male personal name Rainbert (see Rainbird). It was borne by Dame Marie Rambert (original name Cyvia Rabbam, later Miriam Rambach; 1888-1982), a Polish-born British ballet dancer and choreographer.
RAMNARINETrinidadian Creole, Indian
Trinidadian and Guyanese form of Ramnarayan, from Sanskrit राम (rāma) meaning "pleasing, pleasant" combined with नारायण (nārāyaṇá), an epithet of the Hindu god Vishnu.
RANAIndian (Parsi)
A Hindu and Parsi name meaning literally "king".
REASONEnglish
A different form of Raison.
REEKIEScottish
Perhaps "person from Reikie", Aberdeenshire, or from a different form of the Scottish male personal name Rikie, literally "little Richard".
RELPHEnglish
From the Old French male personal name Riulf, of Germanic origin and meaning literally "power-wolf" (cf. Riculf).
RESTORICKCornish
Means "person from Restowrack", farm in Cornwall ("watery hill-spur").
REVELLEnglish
From a medieval nickname for someone who is full of noisy enthusiasm and energy (from Middle English revel "festivity, tumult").
REVEREEnglish, French, Judeo-Italian
French: variant of Rivière, Rivoire, or Rivier, topographic name for someone living on the banks of a river, French rivier ‘bank’, or habitational name from any of the many places in France named with this word.... [more]
RIDDICKScottish
A different form of Reddick ("person from Rerwick or Rerrick", Dumfries and Galloway (perhaps "robbers' outlying settlement")). A fictional bearer of the surname is Richard B. Riddick, (anti)hero of the 'Chronicles of Riddick' movies.
RIDEOUTEnglish
Means "outrider (a municipal or monastic official in the Middle Ages whose job was to ride around the country collecting dues and supervising manors)".
RIPPEREnglish
Means "maker, seller or carrier of baskets" (from a derivative of Middle English rip "basket").
ROCHESTEREnglish
Means "person from Rochester", Kent (probably "Roman town or fort called Rovi"). A fictional bearer of the surname is Mr Rochester, the Byronic hero of Charlotte Brontë's 'Jane Eyre' (1847).
ROCKWELLEnglish
Means "person from Rockwell", Buckinghamshire and Somerset (respectively "wood frequented by rooks" and "well frequented by rooks"). Famous bearers include American illustrator Norman Rockwell (1894-1978) and Utah pioneer Porter Rockwell (1813-1878).
ROOKEnglish
From a medieval nickname for someone thought to resemble a rook (e.g. in having black hair or a harsh voice).
ROSEMANEnglish
From the Norman feminine name Rosamund.
RUFFINEnglish
From the medieval French male personal name Ruffin, from Latin Rūfīnus, a derivative of Rūfus (literally "red-haired one"). A known bearer of the surname is US soul singer Jimmy Ruffin (1939-).
RUMBELOWEnglish
Means "person from Rumbelow", the name of various locations in England ("three mounds").
RUMPOLEEnglish
A different form of Rumbold (from the Norman personal name Rumbald, of Germanic origin and probably meaning literally "fame-bold"). A fictional bearer of the surname is Horace Rumpole, the eccentric QC created by John Mortimer (originally for a 1975 television play).
RUTTEREnglish
Either (i) "player of the rote (a medieval stringed instrument played by plucking)"; or (ii) from a medieval nickname for a dishonest or untrustworthy person (from Old French routier "robber, mugger")... [more]
SAMWAYSEnglish
From a medieval nickname for a fool (from Middle English samwis "foolish", literally "half-wise").
SARAZENFrench
From a medieval French nickname for a swarthy person, or for someone who had gone on a Crusade (from Old French sarrazin "Saracen"). It was borne by American golfer Gene Sarazen (1902-99), original name Eugene Saraceni.
SCOBIEScottish
Means "person from Scobie", an unidentified place in Perth and Kinross ("thorny place"). A fictional bearer is Henry Scobie, the conscience-wracked and ultimately suicidal deputy commissioner of police in Graham Greene's West Africa-set novel 'The Heart of the Matter' (1948).
SCOTLANDEnglish
(i) "person from Scotland"; (ii) "person from Scotland or Scotlandwell", Perth and Kinross; (iii) from the Norman personal name Escotland, literally "territory of the Scots"
SHAKOORMuslim
From a Muslim personal name based on Arabic shakūr "grateful".
SHALLCROSSEnglish
Means "person from Shallcross", Derbyshire ("place by the Shacklecross", an ancient stone cross in the High Peak, its name perhaps denoting a cross to which people could be shackled as a penance).
SHEEPSHANKSScottish
From a medieval Scottish and northern English nickname for someone with a strange or awkward way of walking (literally "sheeplegs").
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