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44 old-money surnames and their meaning

Having trouble naming your characters – especially when it comes to the surname? Are you looking to name that old-money protagonist or the stinking rich professor, keen on taking over the world? Here are 44 surnames that will help you name that character!

1. Abbot

Meaning : Also Abott or Abbott – From Italian abate meaning “abbot, priest”, derived via Latin and Greek from an Aramaic word meaning “father”. This was used either as a nickname or an occupational name for a worker in a priest’s house.

2. Alderidge

Meaning : Also Eldrige and Elderige – Derived from the Middle English given name Eldric.

3. Astor

Meaning : From a surname derived from Occitan astur meaning “hawk”.

4. Bechtel

Meaning : Southwestern German: from a pet form of Becht or a short form of Bechtold.

5. Berkshire

Meaning : regional name denoting someone from the county of Berkshire in central southern England. The place name is derived from a Celtic name meaning ‘hilly place’ + Old English scīr ‘shire’.

6. Black

Meaning : 1 Scottish and English: from Middle English blak(e) ‘black’ (Old English blæc, blaca), a nickname given from the earliest times to a swarthy or darkhaired man.2 Scottish and English: from Old English blāc ‘pale’, ‘fair’, i.e. precisely the opposite meaning to 1, and a variant of Blake 2. Blake and Black are found more or less interchangeably in several surnames and place names.3 English: variant of Blanc as a Norman name. The pronunciation of the nasalized vowel gave considerable difficulty to English speakers, and its quality was often ignored.4 Scottish and Irish: translation of various names from Gaelic dubh ‘black’ (see Duff).5 Danish and Swedish: generally, probably the English and Scottish name, but in some cases perhaps a variant spelling of Blak, a nickname from blak ‘black’.6 In some cases, a translation of various names meaning ‘black’, for example German and Jewish Schwarz.

7. Bonavich

Meaning : Not found but a lot of people bearing this name are from Ukraine. Other spellings are Bonovich en Bonavitz.

8. Borghese

Meaning : a noble Italian family whose members were influential in Italian art and politics from the 16th to the 19th century  

9. Bradford

Meaning : someone from Bradford, an industrial city in N England, in Bradford unitary authority, West Yorkshire: a centre of the woollen industry from the 14th century and of the worsted trade from the 18th century. Pop.: 289376 (1991)

10. Cabot

Meaning : The name Cabot comes from the ancient Norman culture that was established in Britain after the Conquest of 1066. It was a name for a person with a large head. The surname Cabot was originally derived from the Old French word cabot and was rendered in medieval documents in the Latin form Capoceus.

11. Carmichael 

Meaning : Carmichael is a Scottish surname. It is derived from Carmichael, in Lanarkshire. This place name is composed of two word elements: the British caer (“fort”) and the personal name Michael.

12. Chadwick

Meaning : Chadwick is an English surname of Anglo-Saxon origin; it is a combination of the modernised Old English given name Ceadda, and the anglicised Old Norse word vík which was introduced into England by Norsemen settlers. Notable people with the surname include: Andrés Chadwick, Chilean politician.

13. Clemonte

Meaning : The distinguished surname Clemente can be traced back to the ancient and beautiful region of Venice. … The Clemente surname is a patronymic or plural form of the personal name Clemente, from the Latin “clemens,” which means “mild” or “merciful.”

14. Coldwell

Meaning : This interesting name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational surname deriving from any one of the places called Caldwell in North Yorkshire and Warwickshire; Cauldwell in Bedfordshire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire; and other places named with the same elements, such as Chadwell, Chardwell and Caudle Green.

15. De Loutherbergh

Meaning : Of a place called Loutherbergh

16. Donahue

Meaning : Donahue is the Americanized version of Irish surname Donohoe, which, in turn, is an Anglicized version of the ancient Irish name “Donnchadh” (sometimes “Donncha”).

17. English

Meaning : This interesting surname derives from the Olde English pre 7th Century “Englisc” meaningEnglish” and was originally given as a distinguishing name to an Angle as distinct from a Saxon.

18. Grimaldi

Meaning : The surname Grimaldi came from the personal name Grimaldi, which is of Germanic origin and is derived from the Old Germanic words grima, which means mask or helmet, and walda, which meansbold. The family descends from Grimaldo, a Genoese statesman born in the early 1100s.

19. Harding

Meaning :  English (mainly southern England and South Wales) and Irish: from the Old English personal name Hearding, originally a patronymic from Hard 1. … North German and Dutch: patronymic from a short form of any of the various Germanic compound personal names beginning with hard ‘hardy’, ‘brave’, ‘strong’.

20. Harrington

Meaning : English: habitational namefrom places in Cumbria, Lincolnshire, and Northamptonshire. The first gets its namefrom Old English Haferingtun ‘settlement (Old English tun) associated with someone called Hæfer’, a byname meaning ‘he-goat’.

21. Hawthorne

Meaning : English and Scottish: topographic name for someone who lived by a bush or hedge of hawthorn (Old English haguþorn, hægþorn, i.e. thorn used for making hedges and enclosures, Old English haga, (ge)hæg), or a habitational name from a place named with this word, such as Hawthorn in County Durham.

22. Hearst

Meaning : The root of the English surnames Hurst, Hirst, and Hearst is the Old English hyrst,meaning a wooded hill. It could be locational, to describe someone who lived by a wooded hill, or (more likely) it could derive from a place-name with that spelling. The Hirst spelling is native to Yorkshire.

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44 old money surnames and their meaning (1)

23. Humphries

Meaning : The Humphries surname comes from the Old French personal name Humfrey, a cognate of the Old German names Hunfrid and Humfrid. This name was originally derived from the Germanic elements “hun,” which means “bear cub,” and “frid” or “fred,” which mean “peace.”

24. Huntington

Meaning : This long-established and distinguished name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational surname deriving from any one of the places called Huntington in Cheshire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire and Yorkshire, or from the county town of Huntingdon.

25. Irvine

Meaning: Scottish, also common in northern Ireland: habitational name from Irvine in Ayrshire, which is named from a Celtic river, Welsh ir, yr ‘green’, ‘fresh’ + afon ‘water’. There has been much confusion with Irving and Irwin.

26. Kline

Meaning : This name, with variant spellings Kline, Kleine, Kleyn, Klehn etc., derives from the German or the Dutch “Klein”, meaning “small” and was originally given as a nickname to one of slight stature.

27. Lauder

Meaning : Recorded in the spellings of Lauder and Lauderdale, this is a famous Scottish locational surname. … The translation of the place name and hence the later surname is believed to be from the French-Breton pre 7th century word “laour”, meaning a trench or ditch.

28. Lexington

Meaning : This name was taken from the lordship of Lexington, now Laxton in Nottinghamshire, which was possessed by Richard de Lexinton temp.

29. Lowell

Meaning : The name Lowell is a French baby name. In French the meaning of the name Lowell is: Wolf cub. Encountered more often as a surname rather than as a firstname.

30. McCoy

Meaning : McCoy is a common surname of Scottish origin in the lands of Kintyre and then Irish (Gallowglass) origin. It is an Anglicisation of its Irish Gaelic form Mac Aodha,meaning “son of Aodh” (an old word for “Fire”, a Celtic deity).

31. Montgomery

Meaning :  English, Scottish, and northern Irish (of Norman origin): habitational name from a place in Calvados, France, so named from Old French mont ‘hill’ + a Germanic personal name composed of the elements guma ‘man’ + ric ‘power’.

32. Morgan

Meaning : The surname Morgan has several different origins. The Welsh surname is derived from the Old Welsh personal name Morcant, which is of an uncertain origin. The Irish surname is an amalgamation of this Welsh surname, which was brought to Ireland in the Middle Ages, and several Gaelic surnames, most notably Ó Muireagáin.

33. Pruitt

Meaning : The surname Pruitt is derived from the Middle English word “prou,”meaning “brave,” or “valiant,” with the addition of either of two common diminutive suffixes: “-et” or “-ot.” As such, this name is thought to have originally been a nickname for someone small, but brave.

34. Radcliffe

Meaning : Recorded in the spellings of Radcliff, Radcliffe, Ratcliffe, Radclyffe, and Radecliffe, this surname is of pre 7th century English origins. … The place name and hence the later surname, derives from the Old English word ‘read’ meaning red plus ‘clif’meaning a cliff or sometimes a riverbank.

35. Reyes

Meaning : Reyes is a Spanish word, usually used as a given name or Spanish surname. The literal translation into English is Kings, but could also be translated as royals or royalty. The Portuguese version of this surname is Reis.

36. Rhodes

Meaning : Rhodes is a locational surname, with other spellings Rhoades, Rhoads, Roads, Roades, and Rodes, all deriving from the Old English “rod”,meaning “a clearing in the woods”, or from one of a number of locations from this word.

37. Rockefeller

Meaning :  German: habitational name for someone from the village of Rockenfeld near Neuwied, Rhineland, named in Middle High German with rocke ‘rye’ (Old High German rocko) + feld ‘open country’.

38. Rotchild

Meaning :  German, Jewish. Means “red shield, sign” from German rot “red” and German or Yiddish s(c)hild “sign, shield”. The surnameoriginally came from a family who took their name from a house with a red shield or sign on it.

39. Schulz

Meaning : Schulz is a common German and Jewish-Ashkenazi family name in Northern Germany. The German word Schulz originates from the local official known as Schultheiß or (Dorf-)Schulz(e), a local law enforcement officer like a police officer, magistrate, bailiff or mayor.

40. Stryker

Meaning : Dutch (Strijker): occupational name for someone whose job was to fill level measures of grain by passing a flat stick over the brim of the measure, thus removing any heaped excess. Possibly an altered spelling of English Striker, or even an Americanized spelling of German Streicher.

41. Sullyvan

Meaning : The old Gaelic name used by the Sullivan family in Ireland was O Suileabhain, which is partially derived from the word “suil,” which means “eye.” The surname probably means either one-eyed or hawk-eyed.

42. Van Doren

Meaning : most probably a variant of Van Doorn. according to Debrabandere, it may be a habitational name for someone from places in Belgium and the Netherlands called Deurne, or from Durne in North Brabant.

43. Vos

Meaning :  nickname for someone with red hair, from vos ‘fox’. North German: variant of Voss.

44. Windsor

Meaning : From an English surname which was from a place name meaning “riverbank with a windlass” in Old English (a windlass is a lifting apparatus). This has been the surname of the royal family of the United Kingdom since 1917.

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