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Our German ancestors began to use surnames in the 1400s. Occupational names are the most common among our German ancestors, but nicknames and location names are also used.
Every village had similar trades from which people took their surnames, so people of different German villages who had the same trade and therefore the same surname are not necessarily related to each other.
Today German surnames have undergone many spelling changes, especially as Germans have immigrated to the United States. For example; Meyer, Mayer, Maier, Meier all have the same meaning - a tenant farmer.
Suffixes which can indicate a German occupational name are:
-er (meaning "one who")
-hauer (meaning ""cutter")
-macher. (meaning "maker")
These prefixes do not necessarily indicate a noble origin
von (meaning "of")
an (meaning "on")
While the nobility surnames did have a prefix of von to indicate their main castle or estate, it is just as true than a person not of the nobility could also have the surname with a prefix signifying that he was originally from a different town.
Some German surnames are derived from locations, a place near the person who adopted the surname.
-berg (meaning "mountain")
-bruck (meaning "bridge")
-burg (meaning "castle")
-furt (meaning "ford")
-holz (meaning "woods")
-rode (clearing in woods)
-wald (meaning "forest" or "woods")
Some German towns and villages have names ending in
-heim (meaning "home")
-dorf (meaning "village")
Some of your family surnames with these suffixes may include a clue to an ancestral village of long ago.
Some Common German Surnames in the U. S.:
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Q. What's the difference between a Coat of Arms & Family Crest?
A. A coat of arms technically refers to the cloth covering worn by knights over their armor to display their arms. Arms are the correct term used to describe what we call today a Coat of Arms or Family Crest, with a Crest being the charge (symbol) over the helmet, so both terms coat of arms and family crest are the same thing.
Q. Why is the Surname History Origin and Coat of Arms Origin different?
A. The history reflects certain information about the surname, but as people move around and names change Coats of Arms may be granted in different countries, but we may have other origins available (see question below).
Q. I want a different Coat of Arms origin than that displayed do you have any more origins for this surname?
A. Yes it is possible we would advise you order via our main website Family-crests.com
Q. I can't find my surname on your database, what should I do?
A. This database is not a complete listing for every surname we have a coat of arms for, if you contact us, we will do a search on your surname to see what we have available.
Q. I need to see the Coat of Arms before I order?
A. As we draw each coat of arms on a per customer basis, we are unable to send samples or display all our coats of arms on our database.
When searching for a coat of arms from countries other than England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, they are reffered to by different names, in
Germany: Wappen, Familienwappen, Blasonierung, Heraldik, Wappenschablonen
Netherlands: Wapen, Wapenschid, Heraldiek, Familiewapen
Sweden: Slaktvapen, Heraldik
Poland: Herby, Herb, Herbu, Herbarz
Spain: Heraldica de Apellidos, Escudo, Heraldaria
click here to view all our Coat of Arms / Family Crest Products.