What is in a name?
were among the last Europeans to take family names. Some German-speaking Jews took last names as early as the
17thcentury, but the overwhelming majority of Jews lived in Eastern Europe and did not take last names until
compelled to do so. The process began in the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1787 and ended in Czarist Russia
Jewish communal leaders were responsible for collecting taxes from the Jewish population on behalf of the
government, and in some cases were responsible for filling draft quotas. When these tasks became centralised,
last names became essential.
The easiest way
for Jews to assume an official last name was to adapt the name they already had, making it permanent. This
explains the use of “patronymics” and “matronymics.”
PATRONYMICS (son of…. or just
In most Slavic
languages like Polish or Russian, it could be “..wich”; “..owitz”; “..off”; “..of” or “..witz.” In Yiddish or
German, it would be “..sohn”, or “..son” or “..er.” In Persian
it could be "..zada." An example could be Zusman who became Zusmanovitch. Nokhum’s children could have assumed the name
Some of the most
common patronyms of the fathers name “Abraham” could include :- Abramovich, Abramson, Avraham, Aknin, Vaknin,
Abrahams, Abrams, Abramoff, Abramsky, Ben Avraham, Avrahami or Abramzada
made last names out of women’s first names. Glickman could be derived from the girl’s name
Glickl. It could also be the derivative of glick meaning
‘lucky’. Golman could be husband of Golda. Bluma could
become Blum or Blumstein and Esther becomes Esterman.
ANIMALS:- Many names may have an origin in the animal kingdom or mythological
Leibovich could be “the lions son”. Leib meaning lion in yiddish and the vich being the patronymic for
son. Volf or Volfovich could be from Wolf, the symbol of the Tribe of
Occupations:- In our list of names we have Faber who could have been a painter od
Dyer. Miller who could be descended from a miller. Vald means wood
so could not Valdman have been a woodsman or forrester.
Mr.- Mrs. or
Lithuanian naming convention adds specific endings to a surname, which indicate whether an individual
is single, married, male, female, etc. For married women the surnames have the ending “..iene” so Mrs
Kagan would be listed by the data collector as Kaganiene.
single women would have “..aite”, “..iute” or “..yte” added on to the fathers name, depending on the ending of
the fathers name.
For a male, the
suffix can appear as “..as”, “..(i)us”, or “..is”.
Thus we could
have, living in the same home, and all related, Kaganas being the father, Kaganiene being the mother and baby
Kaganaite the daughter
For a listing of family names that can be found in the GewishGen
databases, click on the links below. Only family names, given names and in most cases, fathers name are listed
on this web site. Your own research will show up more information about the person or
Link to JewishGen.org http://www.jewishgen.org/databases/#Lithuania
Sh Si to
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