Surnames via Nicknames

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AAKSTER Dutch
Derived from Old Dutch ekster "magpie".
AALTO Finnish
From Finnish aalto meaning "wave". A famous bearer was Finnish architect Alvar Aalto (1898-1976).
ABATE Italian
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.
ABBÀ Italian
Variant of ABATE.
ABBADELLI Italian
Means "little abbot" from Italian abate and the diminutive suffix -elli.
ABBANDONATO Italian
Means "forsaken, abandoned" in Italian.
ABBATE Italian
Variant of ABATE.
ABBATICCHIO Italian
Means "little abbot" from Italian abate and the diminutive suffix -icchio, from Latin -iculus.
ABBOTT English
English cognate of ABATE.
ABE (1) Japanese
From Japanese (a) meaning "peace" and (be) meaning "multiple times".
ABE (2) Japanese
From Japanese (a) meaning "peace" and (be) meaning "part, section".
ABT German
German cognate of ABATE.
ACERBI Italian
From Italian acerbo meaning "bitter, harsh, severe".
ADESSO Italian
Perhaps a nickname for a punctual or fast person, from Italian adesso meaning "now, at this moment".
ADLER German, Jewish
Means "eagle" in German.
ADMIRAAL Dutch
Means "admiral" in Dutch.
AFFINI Italian
From Latin affinis meaning "neighbouring, kindred".
AFOLAYAN Western African, Yoruba
Means "walks like a wealthy person, walks with confidence" in Yoruba.
AGNELLI Italian
From Italian agnello meaning "lamb" (ultimately from Latin agnus), denoting a pious or timid person.
AGNELLINI Italian
From a diminutive of AGNELLI.
AGNUSDEI Italian
From Latin Agnus Dei meaning "lamb of God". This was a nickname for someone who was particularly religious or someone who wore this symbol.
AGRESTA Italian
From Latin agrestis meaning "rural, rustic".
AJAM Arabic
From Arabic عَجَم ('ajam) meaning "foreigner, non-Arab".
AKSOY Turkish
From Turkish ak "white" and soy "lineage, ancestry".
AL-AMIN Arabic
Means "the truthful" from Arabic امين (amin).
ALBESCU Romanian
Derived from Romanian alb meaning "white".
ALBU Romanian
From Romanian alb meaning "white".
ALDERLIESTEN Dutch
From Dutch allerliefste meaning "most dearest". This name could have referred to the nature of the person or perhaps a phrase the person commonly used.
ALLEGRI Italian
From an Italian nickname derived from allegro meaning "quick, lively".
AMSEL (2) German
Means "blackbird" in German.
ANAND Indian, Hindi, Punjabi, Marathi
Means "happiness, bliss" in Sanskrit.
AQUILA Italian
From a nickname meaning "eagle" in Italian.
AQUINO Italian, Spanish
From the name of an Italian town near Rome, derived from Latin aqua meaning "water", the home town of the 13th-century saint Thomas Aquinas. In Italy the surname is derived directly from the town's name. As a Spanish-language surname, it was sometimes bestowed by missionaries in honour of the saint as they evangelized in Spanish colonies.
ARANY Hungarian
Means "golden" in Hungarian. A famous bearer of the name was Hungarian poet János Arany (1817-1882).
ARGYRIS Greek
Means "silver" in Greek.
ARMATI Italian
From Italian armato meaning "armed, armoured, equipped".
ARMSTRONG English
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.
AYERS (1) English
From Middle English eir meaning "heir".
AZAROLA Basque
Possibly from Basque azeri meaning "fox".
BAART Dutch
Means "beard" in Dutch, originally describing a person who wore a beard.
BABIĆ Serbian, Croatian
Matronymic surname derived from Slavic baba "old woman".
BABIČ Slovene
Slovene form of BABIĆ.
BACHCHAN Indian, Hindi
From Hindi बच्चा (bachcha) meaning "child", a word of Persian origin. This surname was adopted by the Indian poet Harivansh Rai Srivastava (1907-2003).
BÄHR German
From Middle High German bër "bear" or ber "boar". This was originally a nickname for a strong or brave person.
BAI Chinese
From Chinese (bái) meaning "white".
BAINES (2) English
From a nickname derived from Old English ban "bones", probably for a thin person.
BAJUSZ Hungarian
Means "moustache", from Hungarian bajusz.
BĂLAN Romanian
Means "blond" in Romanian.
BALIK Turkish
From a Turkish word meaning "fish".
BALL English
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.
BALODIS Latvian
Means "pigeon" in Latvian.
BALOGH Hungarian
Means "left handed" in Hungarian.
BÁRÁNY Hungarian
Means "lamb" in Hungarian.
BARÁTH Hungarian
Derived from Hungarian barát meaning "friend".
BARNA Hungarian
Means "brown" in Hungarian.
BARRETT English
Probably derived from a Middle English word meaning "strife", originally given to a quarrelsome person.
BARSOTTI Italian
Meaning uncertain, possibly derived from the Germanic word baro "man, warrior, servant".
BASS English
English cognate of BASSO.
BASSI Italian
Variant of BASSO, common in northern Italy.
BASSO Italian
Originally a nickname for a short person, from Latin bassus "thick, low".
BATTAGLIA Italian
From a nickname meaning "battle" in Italian.
BATTLE English
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.
BAZZOLI Italian
From Italian bazza meaning "protruding chin".
BECK (3) English
From a nickname for a person with a big nose, from Middle English beke meaning "beak".
BECKETT English
Originally a diminutive of BECK (1) or BECK (3).
BELCHER English
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.
BELLAMY French, English
From Old French bel ami meaning "beautiful friend".
BELLEROSE French
Means "beautiful rose" in French.
BELLINI Italian
From Italian bello meaning "beautiful".
BELLO Spanish, Italian
Means "beautiful" in Spanish and Italian, originally a nickname for an attractive person.
BELLOMO Italian
From a nickname derived from Italian bello "beautiful, fair" and uomo "man".
BELLONI Italian
Augmented form of BELLO.
BELO Portuguese
Portuguese form of BELLO.
BERAN Czech
Derived from Czech beran meaning "ram".
BERÁNEK Czech
Means "little ram, male lamb" in Czech.
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).
BIANCHI Italian
From Italian bianco meaning "white", originally given to a person who was white-haired or extremely pale.
BIEBER German, Jewish
From Middle High German biber meaning "beaver", possibly a nickname for a hard worker.
BIONDI Italian
Means "fair-haired, blond" in Italian. This name was borne by the American swimmer Matt Biondi (1965-).
BIONDO Italian
Variant of BIONDI.
BISSET English
From Old French bis meaning "drab, dingy", a nickname for someone who looked drab.
BLACK English
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.
BLACKMAN English
From a nickname, a variant of BLACK.
BLAKE English
Variant of BLACK. A famous bearer was the poet and artist William Blake (1757-1827).
BLANC French
Means "white" in French. The name referred to a person who was pale, or whose hair was blond.
BLANCHET French
From a diminutive of the name BLANC.
BLANCO Spanish
Means "white" in Spanish. The name most likely referred to a person who was pale or had blond hair.
BLAU German
Means "blue" in German, most likely used to refer to a person who wore blue clothes.
BLOM Swedish
Means "bloom, flower" in Swedish.
BLOMGREN Swedish
From Swedish blomma meaning "flower" and gren meaning "branch".
BLUE English
From a nickname for a person with blue eyes or blue clothing.
BLUM German, Jewish
Means "flower" in German and Yiddish.
BLUMENTHAL German, Jewish
Derived from German Blumen "flowers" and Thal "valley".
BLYTHE English
From Old English meaning "happy, joyous, blithe".
BOELENS Dutch
Means "son of BOELE".
BOELS Dutch
Means "son of BOELE".
BOGOMOLOV Russian
Patronymic derived from Russian богомол (bogomol) meaning "pious one, devotionalist".
BOIVIN French
Nickname for a wine drinker, from Old French boi "to drink" and vin "wine".
BOLKVADZE Georgian
From Georgian ბოლქვი (bolkvi) meaning "tuber, bulb".
BONE (1) English
Derived from Old French bon meaning "good".
BONFILS French
Derived from Old French bon fils meaning "good son".
BONHAM English
English form of BONHOMME.
BONHEUR French
From Old French bonne heure meaning "good time", or "lucky".
BONHOMME French
Derived from Old French bon homme meaning "good man".
BONNAIRE French
French form of BONNER.
BONNER English
From Middle English boneire "kind, courteous", derived from Norman French bon aire "good bloodline".
BONNEY English
From northern Middle English boni meaning "pretty, attractive".
BORGNINO Italian
From nickname derived from the Piedmontese dialect word borgno meaning "one-eyed". This was the real surname of American actor Ernest Borgnine (1917-2012).
BORST Dutch
From a nickname derived from Dutch borst "chest".
BOSKO Polish, Slovak
Derived from Slavic bosu meaning "barefoot".
BOVE Italian
Derived from an Italian nickname meaning "bull, ox".
BOVER Catalan
Catalan cognate of BOVE.
BOVERI Italian
Variant of BOVE.
BRAUN German
Variant of BRUN.
BRAUNE German
Variant of BRUN.
BREITBARTH German
From Old High German breit "broad" and bart "beard", originally a nickname for someone with a full beard.
BRET French
French form of BRETT.
BRETT English
Originally a name given to someone who was a Breton or a person from Brittany.
BRITTON English
Originally given to a person who was a Briton (a Celt of England) or a Breton (an inhabitant of Brittany).
BROCK English
Derived from Old English brocc meaning "badger", ultimately of Celtic origin.
BRONSON English
Patronymic form of BROWN.
BROTZ German
Variant of PROTZ.
BROWN English
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.
BROWNE English
Variant of BROWN.
BRUHN German
Variant of BRUN.
BRUN German
From Middle High German brun meaning "brown". It was originally a nickname for a person who had brown hair or skin.
BRUNE German
Variant of BRUN.
BRUNETTI Italian
Diminutive of BRUNO.
BRUNO Italian
Means "brown" in Italian, a nickname for a person with brown hair or brown clothes.
BUCKLEY (2) Irish
From Irish Ó Buachalla meaning "descendant of Buachaill", a nickname meaning "cowherd, servant".
BUFFONE Italian
Means "jester, joker" in Italian.
BULL English
From a nickname for a person who acted like a bull.
BULLARD English
Possibly a nickname derived from Middle English bole "fraud, deceit".
BULLE Dutch
From the given name BOELE.
BULLENS Dutch
Means "son of BOELE".
BULLOCK English
From a nickname meaning "young bull".
BUNKER English
Derived from Old French bon cuer meaning "good heart".
BURAKGAZI Turkish
Possibly from the given name BURAK and Arabic غازي (ghazi) meaning "warrior".
BUREAU French
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.
BURRELL English
English form of BUREAU.
BUTTS English
From a nickname meaning "thick, stumpy", from Middle English butt.
CABELLO Spanish
Means "hair" in Spanish, used as a nickname for a person with a large amount of hair.
CAMERON Scottish
Means "crooked nose" from Gaelic cam "crooked" and sròn "nose".
CAMPBELL Scottish
From a Gaelic nickname cam béul meaning "wry or crooked mouth". The surname was later represented in Latin documents as de bello campo meaning "of the fair field".
CAPELLO (2) Italian
Nickname for a thin person, from Italian capello meaning "a hair", ultimately derived from Latin capillus.
CARBONE Italian
From a nickname for a person with dark features, from Italian carbone meaning "coal".
CARLEVARO Italian
Northern Italian variant of CARNEVALE.
CARNEVALE Italian
From an Italian nickname meaning "carnival", perhaps given to a festive person.
CARO Spanish, Italian
From Spanish and Italian caro meaning "beloved".
CARUSO Italian
Means "close-cropped hair" in Italian, also having the secondary sense "boy, young man".
ČERMÁK Czech
Means "redstart (bird)" in Czech.
CERMAK Czech
Anglicized form of ČERMÁK.
ČERNÝ Czech
Means "black" in Czech.
ČERVENY Czech
Means "red" in Czech.
CHANCE English
From a nickname for a lucky person or a gambler.
CHARBONNEAU French
Derived from a diminutive form of French charbon "charcoal", a nickname for a person with black hair or a dark complexion.
CHASTAIN French
From Old French castan "chestnut tree" (Latin castanea), a name for someone who lived near a particular chestnut tree, or possibly a nickname for someone with chestnut-coloured hair.
CHAYKA Ukrainian
Means "seagull" in Ukrainian.
CHAYKOVSKY Russian
Russian form of CHAYKA. A famous bearer was the Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Chaykovsky (1840-1893), with the surname commonly Romanized as Tchaikovsky.
CHEVALIER French
From a nickname derived from French chevalier meaning "knight", itself from cheval meaning "horse", ultimately from Latin caballus.
CHEY Khmer
Means "victory" in Khmer, from Sanskrit जय (jaya).
CHOE Korean
Variant romanization of CHOI.
CHOI Korean
From Sino-Korean (choe) meaning "high, lofty, towering".
CHVÁTAL Czech
Derived from chvátat meaning "to hurry".
ČIERNIK Slovak
Slovak cognate of ČERNÝ.
CINEGE Hungarian
Means "titmouse bird" in Hungarian.
ČÍŽEK Czech
Means "siskin" in Czech, referring to a type of bird in the finch family.
ČÍŽIK Slovak
Slovak cognate of ČÍŽEK.
CLINE German, Jewish
Anglicized spelling of KLEIN.
CLOET Dutch
Variant of KLOET.
COCK English
Derived from the medieval nickname cok meaning "rooster, cock". The nickname was commonly added to given names to create diminutives such as Hancock or Alcock.
COCKS English
Patronymic form of COCK.
COELHO Portuguese
From the Portuguese word for "rabbit", either a nickname or an occupational name referring to a hunter or seller of rabbits.
COELLO Galician
Galician cognate of COELHO.
CORVI Italian
Nickname derived from Italian corvo meaning "crow".
COUCH Cornish
From Cornish cough "red", indicating the original bearer had red hair.
COURTEMANCHE French
Means "short sleeve" in French.
COURTENAY (2) English
From the Old French nickname court nes meaning "short nose".
COUSINEAU French
Derived from Old French cosin meaning "cousin".
COX English
Patronymic form of COCK.
COY English
Means "quiet, shy, coy" from Middle English coi.
CRACCHIOLO Italian
Derived from Italian cracchiola, referring to a chicory-like vegetable.
CRESPI Italian
Variant of CRESPO.
CRESPO Spanish, Portuguese, Italian
Referred to a person with curly hair, from Latin crispus meaning "curly".
CRISP English
English cognate of CRESPO.
CRNČEVIĆ Serbian, Croatian
Derived from Serbian and Croatian црн (crn) meaning "black".
CRUICKSHANK Scottish
From a nickname meaning "bent leg" in Scots.
CSÁSZÁR Hungarian
Hungarian form of KAISER.
CSINTALAN Hungarian
Means "mischievous, naughty" in Hungarian.
CSONKA Hungarian
Means "maimed, mutilated" in Hungarian.
CSORBA Hungarian
From a nickname meaning "chipped, jagged" in Hungarian.
CURTIS English
Nickname for a courteous person from Old French curteis meaning "refined".
CZAJKA Polish
Means "lapwing (bird)" in Polish.
DAUBE German
Variant of TAUBE.
DE GROOT Dutch
From Dutch groot meaning "big, great".
DELACROIX French
Means "of the cross" in French. It denoted one who lived near a cross symbol or near a crossroads.
DE LANG Dutch
Dutch cognate of LONG.
DE LANGE Dutch
Dutch cognate of LONG.
DELGADO Spanish, Portuguese
Means "thin" in Spanish and Portuguese, ultimately from Latin delicatus meaning "delicate, tender, charming".
DENZEL German
Variant of TANZER.
DE REGE Italian (Rare)
Italian variant of REY (1).
DEVIN (2) English
Nickname for a person who acted divinely, from Old French devin "divine", ultimately from Latin.
DE VROOME Dutch
Variant of VROOM.
DE WIT Dutch
Variant of DE WITTE.
DE WITTE Dutch
Means "the white" in Dutch, a nickname for a person with white hair.
DI PASQUA Italian
Means "of Easter" in Italian.
DOLEŽAL Czech
Nickname for a lazy person, derived from the past participle of the Czech verb doležat "to lie down".
DONNE Scottish, Irish
From Gaelic donn meaning "brown", a nickname for a person with brown hair.
DRAGO Italian
From a nickname meaning "dragon" in Italian.
DROIT French
Means "right, straight" in French, a nickname for an upright person.
DU Chinese
From Chinese () meaning "stop, prevent".
DUERR German
Variant of DÜRR.
DUFF Scottish
Derived from Gaelic dubh meaning "dark".
DUKE English
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.
DUKES English
Patronymic form of DUKE.
DUNKEL German
Means "dark" in German.
DUNN English, Scottish, Irish
Derived from Old English dunn "dark" or Gaelic donn "brown", referring to hair colour or complexion.
DUNST German
Derived from Middle High German dunst "haze".
DURAND French, English
From Old French durant meaning "enduring", ultimately from Latin durans. This was a nickname for a stubborn person.
DURANT English, French
Variation of DURAND.
DÜRR German
Means "thin" in German.
EARL English
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.
EARLS English
Patronymic form of EARL.
EL-AMIN Arabic
Alternate transcription of Arabic الأمين (see AL-AMIN).
ELD Swedish
From Old Norse eldr, modern Swedish eld, meaning "fire".
ELDER English
Derived from Old English ealdra meaning "older", used to distinguish two people who had the same name.
ENGLISH English
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.
ERŐS Hungarian
Means "strong" in Hungarian.
ESCARRÀ Spanish
Possibly from Catalan esquerrá meaning "left-handed".
ESPOSITO Italian
Means "exposed" in Italian and denoted a child who was rescued after being abandoned by its parents.
ESZES Hungarian
Means "clever, bright" in Hungarian.
FAIRBAIRN Scottish, English
Means "beautiful child" in Middle English and Scots.
FAIRCHILD English
Means "beautiful child" in Middle English.
FALCO Italian
Derived from Italian falco "falcon". The name was used to denote a falconer or a person who resembled a falcon in some way.
FALK Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, German
From Old Norse falkr or Middle High German valke "falcon".
FALKENRATH German
Derived from Germanic falke "falcon" and rad "counsel".
FAN Chinese
From Chinese (fàn) meaning "bee".
FARKAS Hungarian
Means "wolf" in Hungarian.
FEAR English
Derived from Middle English feare meaning "friend, comrade".
FEHÉR Hungarian
Means "white" in Hungarian, originally referring to a person with white hair or complexion.
FEJES Hungarian
Derived from Hungarian fej meaning "head", originally a nickname applied to a stubborn person.
FEKETE Hungarian
Means "black" in Hungarian, originally a nickname for a person with dark hair or a dark complexion.
FERTIG German
Means "ready, prepared" in German.
FITZROY English
Means "son of the king" in Anglo-Norman French, from French roi meaning "king". This name has been bestowed upon illegitimate children of kings.
FLEMING English
Given to a person who was a Fleming, that is a person who was from FLANDERS in the Netherlands.
FLOROS Greek
From Greek φλωρος (phloros) meaning "greenfinch", derived from classical Greek χλωρος (chloros) meaning "green".
FLOYD Welsh
Variant of LLOYD.
FODOR Hungarian
From Hungarian fodor meaning "curly, wavy", referring to a person with curly or wavy hair.
FORSBERG Swedish
Derived from Swedish fors "waterfall" and berg "mountain".
FORTUIN Dutch
Dutch cognate of FORTUNE.
FORTUNE English
From Middle English, ultimately from Latin fortuna meaning "fortune, luck, chance". This was possibly a nickname for a gambler.
FORTUYN Dutch
Dutch cognate of FORTUNE.
FOSTER (4) English
Nickname given to a person who was a foster-child or foster-parent.
FOTH Low German
From a nickname meaning "foot" in Low German.
FOX English
From the name of the animal. It was originally a nickname for a person with red hair or a crafty person.
FRANK (2) English
From Old English franc meaning "free".
FREEMAN English
Referred to a person who was born free, or in other words was not a serf.
FREI German
Means "free" in German, probably referring to someone outside the feudal system.
FREUD German, Jewish
Means "joy" in German, a nickname for a cheerful person. A famous bearer was the psychologist Sigmund Freud (1856-1939).
FREUND German
From Middle High German vriunt, modern German Freund meaning "friend".
FRISK Swedish
From Swedish frisk "healthy", which was derived from the Middle Low German word vrisch "fresh, young, frisky".
FROMM German
From a nickname derived from Middle High German vrom meaning "noble, honourable".
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.
FRY English
From Old English frig (a variant of freo) meaning "free".
FRYE English
Variant of FRY.
FUCHS German
From Old High German fuhs meaning "fox". It was originally a nickname for a person with red hair.
FÜRST German
From a nickname meaning "(sovereign) prince" in German. The word fürst itself is derived from Old High German furisto "first".
FUX German
Variant of FUCHS.
GAGLIARDI Italian
From Italian gagliardo meaning "strong, vigorous".
GAGNON French
Derived from old French gagnon "guard dog". The name most likely originated as a nickname for an aggressive or cruel person.
GAJOS Polish
Derived from Polish gaj meaning "grove, thicket".
GALLO Italian, Spanish
Means "rooster", ultimately from Latin gallus. This was a nickname for a proud person.
GANG Korean
Variant romanization of KANG.
GAROFALO Italian
From a nickname, from a southern variant of the Italian word garofano meaning "carnation".
GARZA Spanish
Derived from Spanish garza meaning "heron".