Collins Dictionary Of Surnames: From Abbey to Mutton, Nabbs to Zouch
Leslie Dunkling

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Collins Dictionary Of Surnames: From Abbey to Mutton, Nabbs to Zouch
Leslie Dunkling

Dictionary of Surnames is the definitive guide to the origin and meaning of British surnames by one of Britain’s leading authority on names.The essential A–Z companion to the study of names of the British IslesIncludes the oldest varieties of British names as well as recent arrivals such as PatelAs well as individual entries, includes collective entries on topics such as names which derive from the same first name, or names ending in -ton, etc.Compiled by Leslie Dunkling, founder of the Names Society and author of many classic reference works, such as Our Secret Names and the Guinness Book of Names


Cover (#u1db86a65-3a80-5ea7-8720-b0277cd4b5b4)

Title Page (#u9a8d7e8b-3f76-56f0-9a43-91f227d591ba)

Preface (#ulink_3d43ed77-37a3-588a-9940-42e3b156e6fe)

Introduction (#ulink_aaafed0e-d887-54cc-a2c2-a15f64fe400a)

Dictionary of Surnames

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Appendix 1: Curious and Obsolete Surnames (#litres_trial_promo)

Appendix 2: Surname Distribution (#litres_trial_promo)

Appendix 3: The Fifty Most Common Surnames (#litres_trial_promo)

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About the Author (#litres_trial_promo)

Copyright (#litres_trial_promo)

About the Publisher (#litres_trial_promo)

PREFACE (#ulink_6629571c-f629-56b2-b6fc-8ac9beaf88c8)

Dictionaries are usually consulted very briefly for what they have to say about a single name or word. Many would apply to them the old joke about telephone directories – they have lots of characters but not much of a story. I think they fail to do their job if that is the case. A dictionary should be a collection of stories, each one briefly told and interesting in its own right. Those stories should be written in plain English, not dressed in academic jargon. The dictionary should, as a result, be a book in which you can happily browse, never being quite sure what you will discover on the next page.

As it happens, Collins have established a tradition of reader-friendliness in their dictionaries which has proved to be very successful. In this work I have gone very deliberately down that ‘friendly’ path, to the extent of providing from time to time an anecdote, verse or quotation to accompany the linguistic facts. Those facts, of course, are often entertaining in themselves; the anecdotal material is meant to be an icing on the cake.

Surnames are not just words; they are intimately connected with people and with human behaviour in all its variety. Taken as a whole, our surnames show not only where our ancestors lived and how they earned their living; they also record the out-spoken comments our fore-fathers made on their neighbours’ physical or mental peculiarities. In our surnames we find a record of life in the Middle Ages and are allowed a glimpse into the medieval mind. Our surnames really do bring the past to life.

Since it is impossible in a book of this size to deal with the huge number of individual surnames that now exist, I have tried to provide as much practical help as possible for those who are trying to trace the origin of an uncommon name. Inevitably that will mean delving into family history, but that is always a rewarding occupation. Researching your own surname leads you back to your ancestors. They are waiting there for you to find them.

INTRODUCTION (#ulink_dc519fe5-cd7c-50d1-9a98-9da6f06c394a)

We take it for granted today that everyone has a surname, but that was not always the case. Three questions we can usefully ask, therefore, are when, why and how surnames came into being. The answers to the first two questions are closely connected, so we can treat them together.


Our remote ancestors had a single name, referred to throughout this dictionary as a personal name. The Anglo-Saxons and their Germanic cousins usually formed such names by using words that had become conventional name components. Those who make a particular study of names (onomatologists) refer to these name components as elements, and they are described as such in the entries which follow. Germanic name elements often referred to abstract qualities such as ‘fame’ or ‘strength.’ Some other favourite themes were words meaning ‘riches,’ ‘battle,’ ‘brave,’ ‘elf’, ‘beloved,’ ‘rule,’ ‘raven,’ ‘victory,’ ‘power,’ ‘friend,’ ‘wolf,’ ‘protection,’ ‘bright,’ ‘old,’ ‘peace,’ ‘gift.’ In forming a name for a child, one of the elements from the father’s name might be combined with one from the mother’s name to create a new name. It was not necessary for the two parts of the name to complement each other in meaning. Wulfram, for instance, was not meant to have an overall sense, linking ‘wolf’ and ‘raven.’ That is why it has been necessary in this dictionary to use a rather long-winded formula and say something like ‘Wolfram (one of the modern forms of the surname), descendant of someone who bore the Germanic personal name Wulfram, composed of elements meaning “wolf” and “raven.”’

As it happens, this method of creating a name from parts of other names continues in modern Britain to some extent, though it is normally restricted to minor naming systems. A typical example would be a William and Mary using parts of their names to create Wilry, say, or Wilmar as a house-name or a name for their boat. Modern formations of this type are usually known as blends.
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