Sep 282016

Did you know that many surnames were originally nicknames?  A ‘nickname’ comes from ‘an eke name’, or an alternative.

Think of the surnames Short, Long, Wise, or Savage (as nicknames, they might even have denoted that the owner was anything but!).  How about Pope, King, Knight, or Squire (when they actually weren’t!)  Dear, Darling, Little, or Mann? Some surnames are actually after places (although they sound like nicknames), such as Broadhead.  Some are occupational: got any Jesters in your tree?

Is the surname you study actually a nickname?  Mine – Murch – probably is.  It means ‘little man’.


© Ros Haywood
School of  Surnames

Next week’s letter is ‘O’. Has anybody got any interesting snippets that marry up O with surname studies?  If so, please send them to Ros Haywood at sos [at]

letter N courtesy of