BégonFrench Probably from French béguin "(male) Beguin", referring to a member of a particular religious order active in the 13th century, and derived from the surname of Lambert le Bègue, the mid-12th-century priest responsible for starting it... [more]
BevilacquaItalian From Italian bevi l'acqua "drinks water", a nickname likely applied ironically to an alcoholic.
BeynonWelsh From Welsh ab Einon meaning "son of Einon". Einon is a variant of Einion.
BruinDutch From a medieval Dutch nickname meaning "brown", from Middle Dutch bruun "brown", making this a cognate of German Braun, English Brown and Italian Bruno... [more]
BylillyNavajo Derived from Navajo bá "for him" and álílee "magic power".
CattleyEnglish Means "person from Catley", Herefordshire and Lincolnshire ("glade frequented by cats"). It was borne by the British botanical patron William Cattley (1788-1835).
ChinchillaSpanish Originally denoted a person from the Spanish town of Chinchilla de Monte-Aragón in the province of Albacete. The place name is possibly of Arabic origin.
CokayneEnglish Medieval English nickname which meant "idle dreamer" from Cockaigne, the name of an imaginary land of luxury and idleness in medieval myth. The place may derive its name from Old French (pays de) cocaigne "(land of) plenty", ultimately from the Low German word kokenje, a diminutive of koke "cake" (since the houses in Cockaigne are made of cake).
DanzGerman Derived from a given name, a short form of the name Tandulf, the origins of which are uncertain. (In some cases, however, this surname may have originated as a nickname denoting a person who liked to dance, from the Middle High German word tanz, danz "dance".)
DebsFrench From the given name Debus, a variant of Thebs or Thebus, which was an altered short form of Mattheus. This was borne by American union leader Eugene V. Debs (1855-1926).
DesangesFrench (Rare) Means "from the angels", possibly connected to the French title of the Virgin Mary Notre Dame des Anges, meaning "Our Lady of the Angels". Bearers of this surname include Louis William Desanges (1822-1905), an English artist of French descent, and French historian Jehan Desanges (1929-).
DruryEnglish, French, Irish Originally a Norman French nickname, derived from druerie "love, friendship" (itself a derivative of dru "lover, favourite, friend" - originally an adjective, apparently from a Gaulish word meaning "strong, vigourous, lively", but influenced by the sense of the Old High German element trut, drut "dear, beloved").... [more]
EspírituSpanish From a short form of Spanish del Espíritu Santo meaning "of the Holy Spirit, of the Holy Ghost" (Latin Spiritus Sanctus), which was the second part of religious compound names formed from the bearer's given name and del Espíritu Santo... [more]
EsplinScottish Scottish variant of Asplin. This was borne by the English stained glass artist and muralist Mabel Esplin (1874-1921).
FaheyIrish Anglicized form of Gaelic Ó Fathaidh or Ó Fathaigh meaning "descendant of Fathadh", a given name derived from the Gaelic word fothadh "base, foundation".... [more]
GulliverEnglish From a medieval nickname for a greedy person (from Old French goulafre "glutton"). Jonathan Swift used it in his satire 'Gulliver's Travels' (1726), about the shipwrecked ship's surgeon Lemuel Gulliver, whose adventures "offer opportunities for a wide-ranging and often savage lampooning of human stupidity and vice."
HarjoCreek From Creek Ha'chō meaning "crazy brave; recklessly brave".
HatathliNavajo From Navajo hataałii meaning "medicine man, shaman", literally "singer" (from the verb hataał "he sings, he is chanting").
HavelockEnglish From the Middle English male personal name Havelok, from Old Norse Hafleikr, literally "sea sport". It was borne by the British general Sir Henry Havelock (1795-1857).
HeardEnglish Occupational name for a tender of animals, normally a cowherd or shepherd, from Middle English herde (Old English hi(e)rde).
HinckleyEnglish From the name of a place in Leicestershire meaning "Hynca's wood", from the Old English byname Hynca, derivative of hún "bear cub", and leah "woodland, clearing".
HollierEnglish, French Occupational name for a male brothel keeper, from a dissimilated variant of Old French horier "pimp", which was the agent noun of hore "whore, prostitute". Hollier was probably also used as an abusive nickname in Middle English and Old French.... [more]
JolicoeurFrench (Quebec), Haitian Creole From Old French joli "joyful, cheerful" and cuer "heart". It was originally a nickname for a cheerful person. This was a frequent French Canadian secondary surname (or dit name).
JourdemayneMedieval English Likely from Old French jor de main meaning "day labourer". This was borne by Margery Jourdemayne, an English woman known as the "Witch of Eye" who was burned at the stake in 1441 for conspiring to kill the king with witchcraft... [more]
KalashnikovRussian Means "son of the kalach-maker", derived from Russian калашник (kalashnik), a variant of калачник (kalachnik) "maker of kalaches" - kalach being a type of bread - combined with the patronymic suffix -ов (-ov)... [more]
KellenGerman From the name of a place in Rhineland, which is derived from Middle Low German kel (a field name denoting swampy land) or from the dialect word kelle meaning "steep path, ravine".
KeltyScottish From the name of a village in Fife, Scotland, which was derived from Scottish Gaelic coillte "wooded area, grove".
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]
PikettyFrench Perhaps related to the English surname Pickett. A notable bearer is French economist Thomas Piketty (1971-).
PlumierFrench, Belgian Possibly an occupational name for a dealer in feathers and quills, from an agent derivative of Old French plume "feather, plume" (compare English and Dutch Plumer)... [more]
PobjoyEnglish From a medieval nickname for someone thought to resemble a parrot, from Middle English papejai, popinjay "parrot". This probably denoted someone who was talkative or who dressed in bright colours, although it may have described a person who excelled at the medieval sport of pole archery, i.e. shooting at a wooden parrot on a pole.
PolidoriItalian Means "son of Polidoro". Famous bearers include John William Polidori (1795-1821), a physician to Lord Byron and author of 'The Vampyre' (1819), and his sister Frances Polidori (1800-1886), the mother of painter and poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti, poet Christina Rossetti, critic William Michael Rossetti, and author Maria Francesca Rossetti.
PosthumusDutch, Low German From a personal name which was given to a posthumous child, i.e., one born after the death of his father, derived from Latin postumus "last, last-born" (superlative of posterus "coming after, subsequent") via Late Latin posthumus, which was altered by association with Latin humare "to bury", suggesting death (i.e., thought to consist of post "after" and humus "grave", hence "after death"); the one born after the father's death obviously being the last.
RéalFrench This can derive from several different sources: southern French réal "royal", a word which was applied to someone either as a nickname (presumably given to people perceived as being regal) or as an occupational name (given to a person in the service of the king); or the French place name Réal, in which case this is a habitational name taken from any of various places which were named for having been part of a royal domain (also compare Reau, Reaux).
SheldrakeEnglish From a medieval nickname for a dandyish (showy) or vain man, from Middle English scheldrake, the male of a type of duck with brightly-coloured plumage (itself from the East Anglian dialect term scheld "variegated" combined with drake "male duck").
SomovRussian Derived from Russian сом (som) meaning "catfish".
SomovaRussian Feminine form of Somov. This is borne by Russian ballerina Alina Somova (1985-).
SorrellEnglish From a medieval nickname meaning literally "little red-haired one", from a derivative of Anglo-Norman sorel "chestnut".
SpendloveEnglish From a medieval nickname for someone who spread their amorous affections around freely. A different form of the surname was borne by Dora Spenlow, the eponymous hero's "child-wife" in Charles Dickens's 'David Copperfield' (1849-50).... [more]
StradivariItalian Italian surname of uncertain origin, either from the plural of Lombard stradivare meaning "toll-man" or from strada averta meaning "open road" in the Cremonese dialect. A famous bearer was Antonio Stradivari (1644-1737), a violin-maker of Cremona.
SwanEnglish, Scottish Originally given as a nickname to a person who was noted for purity or excellence, which were taken to be attributes of the swan, or who resembled a swan in some other way. In some cases it may have been given to a person who lived at a house with the sign of a swan... [more]
ThistlethwaiteEnglish A surname found in Lancashire in north west England, taken from the name of a minor place in the parish of Lancaster which meant "meadow overgrown with thistles" from Middle English thistle and thwaite "meadow" (cf... [more]