Humanities › History & Culture Meaning and Origin of the Last Name Cohen Share Flipboard Email Print Getty / Paul Souders History & Culture Genealogy Surnames Basics Genealogy Fun Vital Records Around the World American History African American History African History Ancient History and Culture Asian History European History Inventions Latin American History Medieval & Renaissance History Military History The 20th Century Women's History View More By Kimberly Powell Genealogy Expert Certificate in Genealogical Research, Boston University B.A., Carnegie Mellon University Kimberly Powell is a professional genealogist and the author of The Everything Guide to Online Genealogy. She teaches at the Genealogical Institute of Pittsburgh and the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy. our editorial process Kimberly Powell Updated May 31, 2019 The Cohen surname, common among Eastern European Jews, often indicates a family claiming descent from Aaron, brother of Moses and the first high priest, from the Hebrew kohen or kohein, meaning "priest." The German surname KAPLAN is related, deriving from "chaplain" in German. Surname Origin: Hebrew Alternate Surname Spellings: KOHEN, COHN, KAHN, KOHN, CAHN, COHAN Fun Facts About the COHEN Surname Some Jews, when faced with being drafted into the Russian Army, changed their surname to Cohen because members of the clergy were exempt from service. Famous People with the COHEN Surname Ben Cohen - co-founder of Ben & Jerry's Ice CreamSamuel Cohen - known for inventing the W70 warhead, or neutron bombLeonard Cohen - Canadian poet, novelist and contemporary folk singer/songwriterSasha Cohen - Olympic figure skaterSteve Cohen - critically acclaimed magician Genealogy Resources for the Surname COHEN Get started researching your Jewish roots with this guide to basic genealogy research, unique Jewish resources and records, and suggestions for the best Jewish genealogy resources and databases to search first for your Jewish ancestors. The Cohanim/DNALearn how DNA can help identify whether you are a member of the Cohanim (plural of Cohen), direct descendants of Aaron, brother of Moses. COHEN Family Genealogy ForumFree message board is focused on descendants of Cohen ancestors around the world. DistantCousin.com - COHEN Genealogy & Family HistoryFree databases and genealogy links for the last name Cohen. Looking for the meaning of a given name? Check out First Name MeaningsCan't find your last name listed? Suggest a surname to be added to the Glossary of Surname Meanings & Origins. Sources Cottle, Basil. Penguin Dictionary of Surnames. Baltimore, MD: Penguin Books, 1967. Dorward, David. Scottish Surnames. Collins Celtic (Pocket edition), 1998. Fucilla, Joseph. Our Italian Surnames. Genealogical Publishing Company, 2003. Hanks, Patrick and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford University Press, 1989. Hanks, Patrick. Dictionary of American Family Names. Oxford University Press, 2003. Reaney, P.H. A Dictionary of English Surnames. Oxford University Press, 1997. Smith, Elsdon C. American Surnames. Genealogical Publishing Company, 1997.