KAISER - Surname Meaning and Family History

What Does the Last Name Kaiser Mean?

young boy wearin ga crown

Adriana Varela Photography / Getty Images

The Kaiser surname means "king or ruler," from the Middle High German keiser, meaning "emperor." Originating from the Latin name Caesar, this name was often given to individuals who played the part of "King" in local plays and pageants year after year - a popular pastime during the middle ages. The name may also have been given to one with a kingly appearance or manner.

The phrase "The Kaiser" is considered synonymous with the Kaiser emperors of the Austrian Empire (1804–1835)—Franz I, Ferdinand I, Franz Joseph I, and Karl I—and emperors of the German empire (1871–1918)—Wilhelm I, Friedrich III and Wilhelm II.

Surname Origin: German

Alternate Surname Spellings: KEISER, KEYSER, KISER, KYSER, KIZER, KYZER

Famous People With the Kaiser Surname

  • Henry J. Kaiser: American industrialist
  • Frederik Kaiser: Dutch astronomer
  • Reinhard Keiser:  German composer

Where Is the Kaiser Surname Most Common?

According to surname distribution from Forebears, the Kaiser surname is most common in Liechtenstein ranking as the country's 25th most common surname. It is also popular in Germany (ranked 30th), Austria (50th) and Switzerland (89th). WorldNames PublicProfiler indicates the surname is especially common in the Ostschweiz region of Switzerland, particularly in Sankt Gallen. It is also prevalent throughout southern Germany, especially in the regions of Baden-Württemberg, Hessen, and Rheinland-Pfalz.

Surname maps from MyHeritage.de indicate the Kaiser last name is most common in southwestern Germany and western Germany, especially in the counties or cities of Waldshut, Esslingen, Cologne, Offenbach, Stuttgart, and Hochsauerlandkreis.

Genealogy Resources for the Surname Kaiser

Meanings of Common German Surnames

Uncover the meaning of your German last name with this free guide to the meanings and origins of common German surnames.

Kaiser Family Crest - It's Not What You Think

Contrary to what you may hear, there is no such thing as a Kaiser family crest or coat of arms for the Kaiser surname. Coats of arms are granted to individuals, not families, and may rightfully be used only by the uninterrupted male line descendants of the person to whom the coat of arms was originally granted.

The Kaiser DNA Project

Individuals with the Kaiser surname, or variants such as Kizer, Kiser, Kyser, Kyzer, Keyser, or Keiser, are invited to join this DNA Project to work together to find their common heritage through DNA testing and sharing of information. The website includes information on the project, research done to date, and instructions on how to participate.

KAISER Family Genealogy Forum

This free message board is focused on descendants of Kaiser ancestors around the world.

FamilySearch - KAISER Genealogy

Explore over 1.3 million results from digitized historical records and lineage-linked family trees related to the Kaiser surname on this free website hosted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

GeneaNet - Kaiser Records

GeneaNet includes archival records, family trees, and other resources for individuals with the Kaiser surname, with a concentration on records and families from France and other European countries.

The Kaiser Genealogy and Family Tree Page

Browse genealogy records and links to genealogical and historical records for individuals with the Kaiser surname from the website of Genealogy Today.


  • 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.
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Powell, Kimberly. "KAISER - Surname Meaning and Family History." ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, thoughtco.com/kaiser-surname-meaning-and-origin-4108796. Powell, Kimberly. (2021, February 16). KAISER - Surname Meaning and Family History. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/kaiser-surname-meaning-and-origin-4108796 Powell, Kimberly. "KAISER - Surname Meaning and Family History." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/kaiser-surname-meaning-and-origin-4108796 (accessed March 27, 2023).