Surnames from Nicknames

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).
Aaltonen Finnish
From Finnish aalto meaning "wave".
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".
Akabane Japanese
From Japanese (aka) meaning "red" and (hane) meaning "feather".
Aksoy Turkish
From Turkish ak "white" and soy "lineage, ancestry".
Al-Amin Arabic
Means "the truthful" from Arabic امين (amin).
Alba Spanish
From a Spanish nickname meaning "white".
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.
Arima Japanese
From Japanese (ari) meaning "have, possess" and (ma) meaning "horse".
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.
Astor Occitan
Derived from Occitan astur meaning "hawk". The wealthy and influential Astor family, prominent in British and American society, originated in the Italian Alps.
Averill English
From Middle English aueril, Old French avrill meaning "April", perhaps indicating a person who was baptized in that month.
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".
Bain English
Variant of Baines 2.
Baines 2 English
From a nickname derived from Old English ban "bones", probably for a thin person.
Bajusz Hungarian
Means "moustache" in Hungarian.
Bălan Romanian
Means "blond" in Romanian.
Balık 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.
Ballerini Italian
From Italian ballerino meaning "dancer", an occupational name or nickname for someone who liked to dance.
Balodis Latvian
Means "pigeon" in Latvian.
Balogh Hungarian
Means "left handed" in Hungarian.
Baran Polish, Slovak, Ukrainian
Means "ram, male sheep" in Polish, Slovak and Ukrainian.
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 the Middle English word barat meaning "trouble, deception", originally given to a quarrelsome person.
Barsotti Italian
Probably from the medieval Latin word baro meaning "man, freeman" (of Frankish origin).
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".
Beake English
Variant of Beck 3.
Beck 3 English
From a nickname for a person with a big nose, from Middle English bec meaning "beak".
Beckett English
Originally a diminutive of Beck 1 or Beck 3.
Begam Indian (Muslim), Bengali (Muslim), Urdu, Punjabi
Alternate transcription of Urdu بیگم, Bengali বেগম or Gurmukhi ਬੇਗਮ (see Begum).
Begum Indian (Muslim), Bengali (Muslim), Urdu, Punjabi
From a title traditionally used as an honorific for Muslim women in India and other parts of southern Asia. It is derived from a feminine form of the Turkic title beg meaning "chieftain" (modern Turkish bey).
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, male sheep".
Beránek Czech
Means "little ram, male lamb" in Czech.
Berlusconi Italian
Probably from the Milanese word berlusch meaning "cross-eyed, crooked".
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.
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".
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".
Boon 1 English
Variant of Bone 1.
Boone English
Variant of Boon 1 or Boon 2.
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.
Bowie Scottish
Anglicized form of Scottish Gaelic Buidheach, derived from buidhe meaning "yellow". A famous bearer was the American pioneer James Bowie (1796-1836), for whom the bowie knife is named. The British musician David Bowie (1947-2016), born David Robert Jones, took his stage name from the American pioneer (and the knife).
Božić Croatian
Means "Christmas" in Croatian, a diminutive of bog meaning "god".
Braun German
Means "brown" in German.
Braune German
Variant of Braun.
Bravo Spanish, Portuguese
From a nickname meaning "angry, bold, brave" in Spanish and Portuguese.
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).
Brkić Croatian, Serbian
Derived from Serbo-Croatian brk meaning "moustache, whisker".
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 Braun.
Bruin Dutch
Dutch cognate of Brown.
Brun French, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish
Means "brown" in French, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish. It was originally a nickname for a person who had brown hair or skin.
Brune German
Variant of Braun.
Brunet French
From a diminutive of French brun meaning "brown".
Brunetti Italian
Diminutive of Bruno.
Bruno Italian, Portuguese
Means "brown" in Italian and Portuguese, 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".
Bueno Spanish
From a nickname meaning "good" in Spanish.
Buffone Italian
Means "jester, joker" in Italian.
Bul Dutch
Dutch cognate of Bull.
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".
Bullock English
From a nickname meaning "young bull".
Bunker English
Derived from Old French bon cuer meaning "good heart".
Buono Italian
From a nickname meaning "good" in Italian.
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.
Burnett English
Means "brown" in Middle English, from Old French brunet, a diminutive of brun.
Burrell English
English form of Bureau.
Butts English
From a nickname meaning "thick, stumpy", from Middle English butt.
Caballero Spanish
From a nickname derived from Spanish caballero meaning "knight", a cognate of Chevalier.
Cabello Spanish
Means "hair" in Spanish, used as a nickname for a person with a large amount of hair.
Calvin French (Latinized)
Latinized form of Chauvin, used to refer to the French theologian Jean Cauvin (1509-1564).
Calvo Spanish, Italian, Portuguese
Means "bald" in Spanish, Italian and Portuguese, from Latin calvus.
Camacho Spanish, Portuguese
Meaning unknown, possibly related to the Celtic root *kambos meaning "crooked, twisted".
Cameron Scottish
Means "crooked nose" from Gaelic cam "crooked" and sròn "nose".
Campbell Scottish
From a Gaelic nickname cam beul meaning "wry or crooked mouth". The surname was later represented in Latin documents as de bello campo meaning "of the fair field".
Cano Spanish
Means "white-haired, old" in Spanish, from Latin canus.
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".
Carrillo Spanish
Means "cheek, jaw" in Spanish, originally a nickname for a person with a distinctive cheek or jaw.
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.
Cervantes Spanish
Possibly from Old Spanish servanto meaning "servant" or ciervo meaning "stag". A famous bearer was the Spanish novelist Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616).
Červeny Czech
Means "red" in Czech.
Chai Chinese
From Chinese (chái) meaning "firewood".
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.
Chauvin French
From a diminutive of French chauve "bald".
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", from Late Latin caballarius "horseman", Latin caballus "horse".
Chey Khmer
Means "victory" in Khmer, from Sanskrit जय (jaya).
Choe Korean
Alternate transcription of Korean Hangul (see 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.
Coppola Italian
From the name of a type of hat characteristic of Sicily and southern Italy. This surname indicated a person who wore or made these hats.
Cortés Spanish
Means "polite, courteous" in Spanish.
Corvi Italian
Nickname derived from Italian corvo meaning "crow".
Ćosić Croatian, Serbian
From Croatian and Serbian ćosav "beardless", ultimately from Persian کوسه (koseh) meaning "shark".
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".
Courtois French
French form of Curtis.
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, derived from Old French curteis meaning "refined, courtly".
Czajka Polish
Means "lapwing (bird)" in Polish.
Daube German
Variant of Taube.
De Bruijn Dutch
Dutch cognate of Brown.
De Bruin Dutch
Dutch cognate of Brown.
De Groot Dutch
From Dutch groot meaning "big, great".
De Haan Dutch
Means "rooster" in Dutch.
De Haas Dutch
Dutch cognate of Hase.
De Jong Dutch
Means "young" in Dutch, from Middle Dutch jonc. This is the most common surname in the Netherlands.
De Kloet Dutch
Variant of Kloet.
De Koning Dutch
Dutch cognate of King.
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.
Devi Indian, Hindi, Punjabi, Bengali, Assamese, Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Odia
From Sanskrit देवी (devi) meaning "goddess". It is used as a surname by Indian women who did not originally have a family name. This is the most common surname in several Indian states.
Devin 2 French, English
Nickname for a person who acted divinely or prophetically, from Old French devin meaning "divine" or "seer, fortune teller", ultimately from Latin divinus.
De Vos Dutch
Variant of Vos.
Devos Flemish
Flemish variant of Vos.
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.
Ding Chinese
From Chinese (dīng) meaning "man, person".
Di Pasqua Italian
Means "of Easter" in Italian.
Đỗ Vietnamese
Vietnamese form of Du, from Sino-Vietnamese (đỗ).
Doležal Czech
Nickname for a lazy person, derived from the past participle of the Czech verb doležat "to lie down".
Dong Chinese
From Chinese (dǒng) meaning "direct, supervise".
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.
Drake English
Derived from the Old Norse byname Draki or the Old English byname Draca both meaning "dragon", both via Latin from Greek δράκων (drakon) meaning "dragon, serpent".
Droit French
Means "right, straight" in French, a nickname for an upright person.
Du Chinese
From Chinese () meaning "stop, prevent" or "birchleaf pear tree".
Duerr German
Variant of Dürr.
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.
Dumbledore Literature
From the dialectal English word dumbledore meaning "bumblebee". It was used by J. K. Rowling for the headmaster of Hogwarts in her Harry Potter series of books, first released in 1997.
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".
Durán Spanish
Spanish cognate of Durand.
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.
Durante Italian
Italian cognate 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.