The Origin of Names


The origin of names is a funny thing.  For the greater part of humanity, no one had a surname (aka Family name or last name).  First names will do.   Which probably got confusing when there were an entire family of Johns.  Sometimes descriptors were added to better identify them.  The oldest was referred to as John the Elder.  The youngest as John the younger.  If there were a middle child he was probably referred to as John the Ignored Middle Child.

As you can imagine as governments and countries grew, this could become an administrative nightmare.  So the baker became Baker, Michael’s children became Michaelson, etc.  Sometimes a description of the person was all that was needed to come up with their surname.  A short man became “Short” while a tall man might become “Long”.

All of this got me wondering and quickly NOT wanting to think about the origin of “Dickinson”

Do you know the origins of your last name or how common it is?  You can find out many places including here.  Share it in the comments.


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19 Responses to “The Origin of Names”

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  1. Binky says:

    Smiths are so common because there were many “smiths” in addition to blacksmiths: gold, gun, lock …. That people guy’s name is derived from marina or marine.

  2. My friends last name is Glasscock. I’ll stop right there.

  3. Red says:

    My last name (not the one listed on my profile here) derived from royalty in France. It crossed the English Channel, morphed in the hands of the Scots and Welsh, crossed the pond and was Americanized (by one letter). Even back then, Americans could not spell.

  4. lisleman says:

    I certainly know the origin of my blog name since I made it up myself. I wonder how many names were just made up because they sounded good? A family of Johns – sounds like a joke. Now what would a woman who works with a family of Johns be called?

  5. jynksie says:

    I’ve never introduced you to Ben Dover and Phil McCrakin, have I? [smirk] They’re friends with Mike Hunt. [cough]

    My last name is flemmish. Jenkins derives from Jankin, or John’s son. According to family history though, my last name is supposed to be Melford, so I guess it comes from Mels Ford? Someone in my family line was a car?! Probably a shitty Pinto! [grin]

  6. Tony McGurk says:

    My surname obviously comes from a family of Gherkin farmers.
    I think Dickinson originated with a guy who always had his pants zip undone. People would pass him & say “Put your dick in son”.

  7. Nate Fakes says:

    I’ve heard many different takes on where ‘Fakes’ came from. A lot of them are fake.

  8. Comedy Plus says:

    I’d not looked at it this way, but it makes perfect sense. I don’t want to think about Dickinson either.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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