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Saturday, September 17, 2011

Surname Saturday ~ The Name Game

In the preface to the New Dictionary of American Family Names, Elsdon C. Smith writes, "...Each family carries a distinctive label...allied with its own identity... the family name...  Since it has the possession of the family for is taken for granted. Now and then one pauses to wonder how that particular family name came to identify one's ancestors."

A former president of the American Name Society, the author has been criticized for his failure to list references, roots, etymological origins, and the early forms from which surnames were derived in the 570 page book.

Despite the lack of depth, I found Smith's Dictionary quite interesting. My purpose for using the book in this venue is to have a little fun exploring the  origins of some family names.

Before you scroll down any further, can you guess the country of origin and the meaning of these surnames?


Give yourself one point for each country guessed correctly and another point for each correct meaning.



scroll down...

Affleck (Scottish) One who came from the barony of Auchinleck, (field of the flat stone), in Ayrshire; or from Affleck, in Angus.

Cole, Coles (English) Descendant of Cole, a pet form of Nicolas (people's victory).

Estrada (Spanish) One who came from Estrada (paved road), in Spain; dweller near a paved road.

Gruber, Grube, Grubman, Grubner (German) Dweller near a mine, ditch or quarry.

I (Chinese) The first Chinese syllable of a Manchu's name, which serves as the family name.

Khoury, Khouri (Arabian) One who performed sacerdotal functions, a priest.

Maison (French) Dweller in the house, usually designating a house of some importance; one who came from Maison, the name of many places in France.

Onesti (Italian) The honorable, honest man.

Quackenbush (German, Dutch) Dweller near the bridge across the bog; or at the swamp where the bushes grew; or in, or near, the swampy wood frequented by frogs.

Selsky (Ukranian) Dweller in the village.

Underland (Norwegian) Dweller on the lower land, a farm name.

Wegrzyn (Polish) One who came from Wegry, i.e., a Hungarian

Yergey (Russian) Descendant of Sergey, Russian form of Sergius (to serve).'d you do?

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