KLEIN Surname Meaning and Family History

Klein Surname Meaning and Origin

The Klein surname derived from a German term meaning "little" or "small."
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Similar to the English surname Little, Klein is a descriptive surname often bestowed on someone of short or petite stature. The name derives from the German klein or Yiddish kleyn, meaning "little." The klein root is also often found used as a surname to distinguish a younger man of the same name, usually a son, in names such as Kleinhans and Kleinpeter.

Alternate Surname Spellings: CLEIN, CLINE, KLINE, KLEINE

Surname Origin: German, Dutch

Where is the KLEIN Surname Most Common?

According to surname distribution data from Forebears, Klein is a very common surname in Germany where it ranks as the country's 11th most popular surname. It is also common in Israel, where it ranks 23rd and the Netherlands, where it ranks 36th. 

WorldNames PublicProfiler indicates that within Germany, Klein is most common in Saarland, followed by Rheinland-Pfalz. It's also very common in the Germany-bordering regions of France, including Alsace and Lorraine. Surname maps from Verwandt.de indicate that the Klein surname is present in the largest numbers in western Germany, in places such as Köln, Rhein-Sieg-Kreis, Saarlouis, Stadtverband Saarbrücken, Siegen-Wittgenstein, Rhein-Erft-Kreis, and Oberbergischer Kreis, as well as in the cities of Berlin, Hamburg and Munich.

Famous People with the KLEIN Last Name

  • Yves Klein - French painter and sculptor
  • Lawrence Klein - American economist
  • Calvin Klein - American fashion designer
  • Jacob Theodor Klein - German botanist, zoologist and politician
  • Emanuel Edward Klein - Croatian-born bacteriologist

Genealogy Resources for the Surname KLEIN

Little/Klein/Cline/Kline Y-Chromosome Project
This DNA project includes over 85 members with the surnames Little, Klein, Kline, or Cline interested in working collaboratively to combine genealogy research with DNA testing to sort out Little family lines.

German Surname Meanings and Origins
Uncover the meaning of your German last name with this guide to surname meanings and origins from Germany.

How to Research German Ancestry
Learn how to research your German family tree with this guide to genealogical records in Germany, including birth, marriage, death, census, military and church records.

Klein Family Crest - It's Not What You Think
Contrary to what you may hear, there is no such thing as a Klein family crest or coat of arms for the Klein 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. 

KLEIN Family Genealogy Forum
Search this popular genealogy forum for the Klein surname to find others who might be researching your ancestors, or post your own Klein genealogy query.

FamilySearch - KLEIN Genealogy
Explore over 3.9 million historical records which mention individuals with the Klein surname, as well as online Klein family trees on this free website hosted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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

DistantCousin.com - KLEIN Genealogy & Family History
Explore free databases and genealogy links for the last name Klein.

The Klein Genealogy and Family Tree Page
Browse family trees and links to genealogical and historical records for individuals with the last name Klein from the website of Genealogy Today.


References: Surname Meanings & Origins

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.

>> Back to Glossary of Surname Meanings & Origins

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Powell, Kimberly. "KLEIN Surname Meaning and Family History." ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, thoughtco.com/klein-surname-meaning-and-origin-4076703. Powell, Kimberly. (2021, February 16). KLEIN Surname Meaning and Family History. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/klein-surname-meaning-and-origin-4076703 Powell, Kimberly. "KLEIN Surname Meaning and Family History." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/klein-surname-meaning-and-origin-4076703 (accessed May 31, 2023).