Where Did the Name Sanders Originate?

A Surname With Greek and German Meanings

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Whether your last name is Sanders, Sanderson, or some other variant, the meaning of the name is quite interesting. Depending on your ancestry, it may come from Greek—surprisingly related to Alexander—or German.

Let's explore the Sanders surname, its history, and famous people named Sanders, and guide you to some helpful genealogy resources.

Where Does 'Sanders' Come From?

Sanders is a patronymic surname derived from the given name "Sander." Patronymic means that at some point in history, men by the name of Sander gave their name to their son, creating the name Sanders and indicating possession.

It's easier to see this in the patronymic variation Sanderson, which means "son of Sander."

Sander is a medieval form of "Alexander." Alexander comes from the Greek name "Alexandros," meaning "defender of men." This, in turn, comes from the Greek alexein, meaning "to defend, help" and aner, or "man."

Sander or Sanders in Germany may also be a topographic name for someone who lived on sandy soil, from sand and -er, a suffix denoting an inhabitant.

Sanders is the 87th most popular surname in the United States. Its full origins are English, Scottish, and German. Alternative spellings are Sanderson, Sandersen, and Sander.

Famous People Named Sanders

If we take a look at the Sanders name alone, we can find many famous people. Here are a few of the more notable names and you're sure to recognize a number of them.

  • Barry Sanders - U.S. football player
  • Bernie Sanders - U.S. politician
  • Colonel Harland Sanders - Founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken
  • Deion Sanders - U.S. football player
  • George Sanders - British actor
  • Larry Sanders - U.S. comedian
  • Marlene Sanders - TV news anchor

Genealogy Resources for the Surname Sanders

The Sanders name is spread throughout the world, with many families passing it from one generation to the next. If you're interested in researching Sanders' ancestry, you can start with these resources.

Is There a Sanders Family Crest? The question of family crests and coats of arms is common, but there is no true Sanders family emblem. Crests are granted to individuals, not the overall family, then passed down the lineage of male descendants. For this reason, one Sanders family could have a different crest than another Sanders family.

Sanders/Saunders/Sanderson/Saunderson Y-DNA ProjectThis project aims to connect individuals with the Sanders or Saunders surname interested in exploring their family history. It promotes the use of genetic testing to assist traditional genealogical research.

FamilySearch: Sanders GenealogyExplore over 7.2 million results from digitized historical records and lineage-linked family trees related to the Sanders surname and variations. This free website is hosted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Sanders Surname Mailing ListThis free mailing list is for researchers of the Sanders surname and its variations. The list offers subscription details and searchable archives of past messages.

GeneaNet: Sanders RecordsGeneaNet includes archival records, family trees, and other resources for individuals with the Sanders surname. Most of its records concentrate on families from France and other European countries.

The Sanders Genealogy and Family Tree PageBrowse genealogy and historical records for individuals with the Sanders surname from the website of Genealogy Today.

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Powell, Kimberly. "Where Did the Name Sanders Originate?" ThoughtCo, Oct. 8, 2017, thoughtco.com/sanders-last-name-meaning-and-origin-1422615. Powell, Kimberly. (2017, October 8). Where Did the Name Sanders Originate? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/sanders-last-name-meaning-and-origin-1422615 Powell, Kimberly. "Where Did the Name Sanders Originate?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/sanders-last-name-meaning-and-origin-1422615 (accessed January 16, 2018).