Plep links to a useful Wikipedia page on family names around the world. It’s a little sketchy, and some of the sections could use a lot of filling in (Russian springs to mind), but that’s the great thing about Wikipedia: you can fix it yourself!


  1. Etymologies of family names are interesting but sometimes the meanings of surnames are simply not known or are at best educated guesses. German is a pretty logical language so German last names are usually easy to figure out like Jaeger, “Hunter”, Meyer “Steward /Tenant Farmer”, Kingenschmidt “Sword smith”, Bierdemphl “Beaver Pond” Gutpaster “Good Pastor (Cleric)” Heilmann (Hillman) “Healthy man” etc.
    This is not always true for say Scottish and Irish names since Gaelic is a very erratic type language as are all the Celtic languages to a greater or lesser degree. For example, my last name ‘Costello’ is Irish but no credible etymologies of its meaning are to be found. It does bear some resemblance to the Scottish names Castellow, Castlea and Castlelaw which might derive from castel “castel’ and ‘lough’ hillside but none of this is certain. Attempts to link it to the Spanish Armada (Castellano), A Norman knight named Jocelyn or Hostilo De Angulo and even a Gaelic MacOisdealbhog (“Son of the little man who looks like Os (a Celtic hunting god)are all dubious at best. There are other Irish and Scottish names like this too. Kerry has been linked by some to a Proto-Indo European word *Keres- meaning “dark” or ‘black” cf. Russ chorny “black” but this is still not certain.

  2. I was very disappointed when someone informed me that “Krauthammer” probably really was “Krautheimer”. (On the other hand, even without Charles, “Krauthammer” is much more common.) I’d been for years trying to figure outwho it was that hammered kraut (which basically means leaves, leafy vegetables, etc.)

  3. I just added a section on the Philippines to that page:

  4. Very interesting — I’m glad you added it.

  5. In the following link Brazilian first names are explained. It is mainly focused on their football players:
    I got here when I tried to find out where the first name from Real’s coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo comes from. It sounds really like a Dutch surname, but according to this site it has an English background.

  6. Klyashtorny says

    Klyashtorny is polish name

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