What Does Your German Surname Say About You?

Last Name Meanings
16 August 2016
by Ancestry® Team

Germans have been drawn to Canada for generations. If you are one of the over 3 million Canadians with German heritage, your surname could yield some interesting clues to your family history.*


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The most common form of German family name is occupational. It can often be identified by its ending: -er, -hauer, -macher, or man/-mann.

Occupational German Surnames

Often a person was distinguished by a reference to his or her father. This is referred to as “patronymic.”

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Many German surnames are descriptive names based on a physical characteristic, such as size or hair colour.

Descriptive German surnames


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Lastly, geographical names derive from where a person lived or came from. They may stem from the name of a city or village or the location of someone’s home.
Geographical German surnames

What does your last name mean? Find out.


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*According to the 2016 Canadian census, there are over 3.3 million Canadians of German ethnicity.