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Type Surname (from occupation, from location & from given name)

Meaning & History

There are three possible sources of this surname, the first being that it is a metonymic occupational name for a maker or seller of bows, a vital trade in medieval times before the invention of gunpowder, and a derivative of the Old English boga "bow", from bugan "to bend".

The surname may also be topographic for someone living near a bridge, the word boga having acquired the sense "arch", as in the supposed resemblance of the arch to a drawn bow. For example, Richard atte Bowe (1306 Calendar of Letter Books in the City of London).

Lastly, Bowe, being chiefly the Irish variant, is the anglicized form of the Gaelic O'Buadhaigh, a descendant of Buadhach a personal name meaning victorious.
Added 6/25/2017 by TanorFaux
Edited 12/23/2022 by Mike C