WOLF - Surname Meaning and Origin

The Wolf surnames most commonly derive from a word meaning wolf.
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The Wolf surname is most commonly a nickname or descriptive surname from the Old English wulf, meaning "wolf." It can also be a locational name for someone who lived in a house distinguished with the sign of a wolf. As an Irish surname, Wolf may be a variant spelling of the last name Woulfe, an Anglicized form of the Gaelic Ó Faoláin, meaning "descendant of Faolán," a personal name dervied from faol, meaning "wolf."

Related surnames such as LOPEZ are derived from the Latinized form lupus

WOLF is the 17th most common surname in Germany.

Surname Origin: German, English, Danish


Where in the World Do People With the WOLF Surname Live?

According to WorldNames by PublicProfiler, the Wolf surname is by far the most commonly found in Germany, followed by Austria, and then the United States. Within Germany, the name is most prevalent throughout southern Germany, especially in the regions of Sachsen, Rheinland-Pfalz, Hessen, Thuringen, Bayern and Saarland. The surname distribution data at Forebears shows the Wolf surname having the highest density in Austria, followed by Switzerland, Israel, the Netherlands and the United States. The Wolff spelling of the surname is found most commonly in Germany.

Famous People With the Surname WOLF

  • Ernst Wilhelm Wolf - 18th century German composer
  • Peter Wolf - American musician; longtime lead vocalist of the J. Geils Band
  • Johann Rudolf Wolf - Swiss astronomer and mathematician
  • David Wolf - American astronaut

Genealogy Resources for the WOLF Surname

Genealogy of the family Wolf of Brensbach, Germany
View a digital copy of a 1999 family history by C. W. Lundberg of a Wolf family from Brensbach, Germany, that immigrated to the United States in 1832.

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

FamilySearch - WOLF Genealogy
Explore over 3.3 million historical records and lineage-linked family trees available for the Wolf surname and its variations on the free FamilySearch website.

DistantCousin.com - WOLF Genealogy & Family History
Free databases and genealogy links for the last name Wolf.

The Wolf Genealogy and Family Tree Page
Browse genealogy records and links to genealogical and historical records for individuals with the Wolf surname from the website of Genealogy Today.


References: Surname Meanings & Origins

  • Cottle, Basil. Penguin Dictionary of Surnames. Baltimore, MD: Penguin Books, 1967.
  • Menk, Lars. A Dictionary of German Jewish Surnames. Avotaynu, 2005.
  • Beider, Alexander. A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from Galicia. Avotaynu, 2004.
  • Hanks, Patrick and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford University Press, 1989.
  • Hanks, Patrick. Dictionary of American Family Names. Oxford University Press, 2003.
  • Smith, Elsdon C. American Surnames. Genealogical Publishing Company, 1997.


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Powell, Kimberly. "WOLF - Surname Meaning and Origin." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, thoughtco.com/wolf-surname-meaning-and-origin-3984465. Powell, Kimberly. (2020, August 27). WOLF - Surname Meaning and Origin. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/wolf-surname-meaning-and-origin-3984465 Powell, Kimberly. "WOLF - Surname Meaning and Origin." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/wolf-surname-meaning-and-origin-3984465 (accessed June 6, 2023).