German Last Names and Their English Meanings

For example, Marlene Dietrich translates to "Marlene skeleton key"

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If you wonder what your German last name means in English, here's a comprehensive guide. 

For each Germanic surname in this glossary, we have provided the English meaning, which may or may not be a surname in English. This is not a list of equivalent names, but rather a sampling of English translations or meanings of German names. In many cases, there may be several possible origins or translations for a surname.

The translation shown for a surname may not be the only possibility. Some names are derived from Old German and may have a different meaning from that in modern German. 

Abbreviations: OHG (Old High German, Althochdeutsch)

Germanic Last Names (A-K)

Nachname Last NameEnglish Meaning
Aachen/AchenAachen/Aix-la-Chapelle (German city)
Abend/Abendrothevening/dusk
Abtabbott
Ackerman(n)farmer
Adlereagle
Amselblackbird
Austerlitzfrom the town and battle (1805)
Bachbrook
Bachmeierfarmer by the brook
Bader/Baaderbath, spa keeper
Baecker/Beckerbaker
Baer/Barbear
Barthbeard
Bauerfarmer, peasant
Baumtree
Baumgaertner/Baumgartner
Bumgarner
tree nursery man
Bayer/Baier/BeyerBavarian
Beckenbauerbasin/bowl maker
Beich/Beikeslope (OHG)
Bergmountain
Bergmannminer
Bieberbeaver (industrious)
Biermannbeer man (brewer)
Blaublue
Boehm/Bohmof Bohemia
Brandtfire, land cleared by fire
Brauerbrewer
Braunbrown
Bürger/Burgertownsman, citizen
Busch/Boschbush
Daecher/Deckerroofer, tyler
Diederich/Dietrichskeleton key; ruler (OHG)
Drechsler/Dreherturner
Dresdner/Dresnerof Dresden
Drescherthresher
Duerr/Durrdry, thin, drought
Ebersbach/Ebersbacherboar brook
Eberhardt/Eberhartstrong as a boar
Eichelacorn, oak
Eichelbergerof the oak hill
Eichmannoak man
Ehrlichmannhonest man
EiffelGerman mountain range
Eisenbergiron mountain
Eisenhauer (Eisenhower)iron hewer, miner
Egger / Eggersharrow, plow man
Engelangel
Fabersmith (Latin)
Faerber/Farberdyer
Fassbindercooper
Faustfist
Feierabendtime off, non-work hours
Fenstermacherwindow maker
Fiedlerfiddler
Fink/Finkelfinch
Fischer/Fisherfisher, fisherman
Fleischerbutcher
Foersterforester
Frankfurterof Frankfurt
Frei/Freyfree (man)
Freitag/FreytagFriday
Freudjoy
Friedpeace
Friedmann/Friedmanpeace man, peacemaker
Frueh/Freehearly (riser)
Fruehaufup early
Fuchsfox
Fuerst/Furstprince
Fuhrmanncarter, driver
Gaertner/Gärtnergardener
Gerbertanner
Gerste/Gerstenbarley
Gloeckner/Glocknerbell man
Goldschmidtgold smith
GottliebGod's love
GottschalkGod's servant
Gruenewald/Grunewald/Grunwaldgreen forest
Hahnrooster
Herrmann/Hermanwarrior, soldier
Hertz/Herzheart
Hertzog/Herzogduke
Himmel (-reich)heaven
Hirschbuck, deer
Hochhigh, tall
Hoffmann/Hofmannlanded farmer
Holtzmann/Holzmanwoodsman
Hueber/Huber/Hooverland owner
Jaeger/Jagerhunter, huntsman
Jungyoung
Junkernobleman, squire
Kaiseremperor
Kalbcalf
Kaestner/Kastnercabinet maker
Kappelchapel
Kaufmannmerchant
Kellercellar
Kirschcherry
Kleinshort, small
Klug/Klugesmart, clever
Kochcook
Kohl/Colecabbage (seller, grower of cabbage)
Kohler/Koehlercharcoal-maker
Koenig/Konigking
Krausecurly haired
Krueger/Krugerpotter, maker of jugs
Kuefercooper
Kuester/Kustersexton
Kuhn/Kunzecouncilman; brave, smart
Koertig/Kortigfrom Konrad (brave adviser)

Germanic Last Names (L-Z)

Langlong
Lehmann/Lemannserf, fief man
Lehrerteacher
Loewe/Lowelion
Luftair
Mahler/Mehlergrinder, miller
Maier/Meier/Meyerdairy farmer; landowner
Mauer/Maurwall
Maurermason
Meistermaster
Metzgerbutcher
Meier/Meyer/Maierdairy farmer; landowner
Mueller/Mullermiller
Moench/Muenchmonk
Nachtnight
Nadelneedle
Nagelnail
Naumann/Neumannnew man
Neudorf/Neustadtnew town (Newton)
Nussbaumnut tree
Ostereast, Easter
Osterhageneast grove, hedge
Ostermanneastern man
Pabst/Papstpope
Pfaffcleric, parson
Pfefferpepper
Pfeifer/Pfeifferpiper
Probst/Propstprovost
Reinhard(t)determined
Reinigercleaner, cleanser, purifier
Richterjudge
Ritterknight
Rothred
Rothschildred shield
Rothsteinred stone
Saenger/Sangersinger
Sanktsaint
Schäfer/Schaefershepherd
Scherershearer, barber
Schifferboatman
Schmidt/Schmittsmith
Schneidertailor
Scholz/Schulzemayor
Schreiberscribe, scribner, writer
Schreinerjoiner, cabinet maker
Schroeder/Schroderdrayman, cart pusher (Carter)
Schuhmachershoemaker
Schultheiss/Schultzdebt broker; mayor
Schulz/Schulze/Scholzmayor
Schuster/Shustercobbler, shoemaker
SchwabSwabian, from Swabia
Schwartz/Schwarzblack
Schweitzer/SchweizerSwiss; dairy man
Seilerroper
Sommersummer
Straussbouquet
Thalbergvalley (and) mountain
Theiss/Theissenform of Matthias
Traugotttrust in God
Trommlerdrummer
UngerHungarian
Urnerof Uri (Swiss canton)
Vogelbird
Voglerfowler, bird man
Vogtsteward
vonof (indicates nobility)
Waechterwarden, watchman
Wagnerwagoner, wainwright
Wannemakerbasket maker
Weberweaver
Wechsler/Wexlermoney changer
Weiss/Weiszwhite/wheat
Weissmullerwheat miller
Werfel/Wurfeldie (dice), cube
Winkelcorner, angle
Wirth/Wirtzinnkeeper, landlord
Wolf/Wulfwolf
Wurfel/Werfeldie (dice), cube
Zieglerbrick or tilemaker
Zimmerroom; short for "carpenter" (below)
Zimmermann/Zimmermancarpenter
Zweigtwig, branch