The Top 100 German Surnames

Meanings and Origins of Common Last Names

Blacksmith
The common last name Schmidt means Blacksmith. Chicago History Museum/Getty Images

German last names originate from places and professions in Germany and far beyond, as a list of 100 of the most common German surnames shows. The list was initially created by searching for the most common last names in German telephone books. Where variations of a spelling of a surname occurred, those monikers are listed as separate names. For instance, Schmidt, which is ranked No. 2, also appears as Schmitt (No.

24), and Schmid (No. 26). This list is different than one showing popular German surnames with their English translations.

The Origin of German Last Names

The meanings of German last names are those as defined initially when these names became surnames. For example, the surname Meyer means dairy farmer today, whereas, during the Middle Ages, Meyer designated people who were stewards of landholders. Most German surnames derive either from archaic professions (such as Schmidt, Müller, Weber, or Schäfer) or places. Few of the latter are on the following list, but examples include Brinkmann, Berger, and Frank.

German Last Names and Their Meanings

In the table, the German name is listed on the left, with its origin (and explanation if needed) on the right. The acronyms OHG and MHG stand for Old High German and Middle High German, respectively. The acronyms are noted because you won't find the translations for these names in standard online translators or even most German dictionaries.

German SurnameMeaning/Origin
Müller miller
Schmidtsmith
Schneidertaylor
Fischerfisher
Weberweaver
Schäfershepherd
Meyer(MHG) steward of landholder; leaseholder
Wagnerwagoner
Beckerfrom Bäcker >baker
Bauerfarmer
Hoffmannlanded farmer
Schulzmayor
Kochcook
Richterjudge
Kleinsmall
Wolfwolf
Schrödercarter
Neumannnew man
Braunbrown
Werner(OHG) defense army
Schwarz black
Hofmannlanded farmer
Zimmermanncarpenter
SchmittSmith
Hartmannstrong man
SchmidSmith
Weißwhite
Schmitz Smith 
Krügerpotter 
Langelong
Meier(MHG) steward of land; leaseholder
Walterleader, ruler
Köhlercharcoal-maker
Maier(MHG) steward of landholder; leaseholder
Beckfrom Bach–stream; Bäcker–baker
Königking
Krause curly-haired
Schulzemayor
Huberlandowner
Mayersteward of landholder; leaseholder
Frankfrom Franconia
Lehmannserf
Kaiseremperor
Fuchsfox
Herrmannwarrior
Langlong
Thomas(Aramaic) twin
Peters(Greek) rock
Steinrock, stone
Jungyoung
Möllermiller
Berger from French–shepherd
Martin (Latin) war-like
Friedrich (OHG) fridu–peace, rihhi–powerful
Scholzmayor
Kellercellar
Großbig
Hahnrooster
Roth from rot–red
Günther  (Scandinavian) warrior
Vogelbird
Schubert (MHG) Schuochwürchte–shoemaker
Winkler from Winkel–angle
Schustershoemaker; Jäger–hunter
Lorenz(Latin) Laurentius
Ludwig (OHG) luth–famous, wig–war
Baumann - farmer
Heinrich (OHG) heim–home and rihhi–powerful
Otto OHG  ot–property, inheritance
Simon (Hebrew) God has listened
Grafcount, earl
Krauscurly-haired
Krämer small trader, dealer
Böhmof Bohemia
Schulte from Schultheiß–debt-broker
Albrecht (OHG) adal–noble, bereht–famous
Franke(Old French) Franconia
Winterwinter
Schumacher cobbler, shoemaker
Vogtsteward
Haas (MHG) nickname for rabbit hunter; coward
Sommersummer
Schreiberwriter, scribe
Engel angel
Zieglerbrickmaker
Dietrich (OHG) people’s ruler
Brandtfire, burn
Seidelmug
Kuhncouncilman
Buschbush
Hornhorn
Arnold (OHG) strength of an eagle
Kühncouncilman
Bergmannminer
PohlPolish
Pfeifferpiper
Wolffwolf
Voigtsteward
Sauersour