Vocabulary for Finding
Your Germanic Roots - Part 1
Anyone researching names soon becomes aware that, because of spelling variations and other reasons, it is often difficult to determine the true origin of a name, particularly family names. Many names were changed (Americanized, anglized) for various reasons. Just one example I know of: the German last name Schön (beautiful) became Shane, a change that deceptively hides its German origin.
Not all German first or last names have an English equivalent, but many do. We won't bother with obvious ones like Adolf, Christoph, Dorothea (dor-o-taya), Georg (gay-org), Michael (meech-ah-el), Monika (mow-ni-kah), Thomas (tow-mas), or Wilhelm (vil-helm). They may be pronounced differently but the resemblance is hard to miss.
First Names (Vornamen)
Adalbert/Albrecht (Albert), Alois (Aloysius), Anja/Antje/Anke (Anna), Bärbel (Barbara), Beke (north German form of Bertha), Bernd/Bernt (Bernard), Birgit (Swedish form of Brigitte, which is actually a Celtic name), Dolf (short form from names ending in -dolf), Dorle (Dora, Dot, Dorothy), Eugen (oy-gen, Eugene), Franz (Frank), Gabi (form of Gabriele), Gerhard (Gerald), Gottfried (Geoffrey, Jeffrey, Godfrey), Greta (Margaret), Hans/Jens/Johann(es) (Jack, John, Jonathan), Heinrich/Heino/Heinz (Henry), Ilse (Elizabeth), Jakob (James), Jörg/Jürgen (George), Jutta (Judy/Judith), Karl/Karla (Charles/Carol), Karsten/Carsten/Kersten (variation of Christian), Katrin (C/Katherine), Kirsten/Kirstin (Christine), Lars (Larry), Leni (Helen/e), Ludwig (Lewis/Louis), Margit (Martha), Matthias (Mathew) Nastasja (Anastasia), Nils (Nick), Ninja (neen-ya, Nina), Peer (Peter), Reinhold (Reginald), Renate (Renee), Rolf (Rudolph), Rüdiger/Rudi (Roger, Rudolph), Sepp (form of Joseph), Silke (Frisian form of Cecily/Cecilia), Steffi (Stephanie), Thea (short form of Dorothea), Theo (Theodore), Wim (form of Wilhelm). - For many more names see Vornamenlexikon.
Female First Names (without any English equivalent)
Ada/Adda, Adelheid (Heidi is the familiar form), Astrid, Beate, Brunhild(e), Dagmar (from Danish), Dietrun, Effi/Elfriede/Elfi, Eike (also male), Elke, Frauke, Friedel (related to Elfriede), Gerda, Gerlinde, Gertrud(e), Gisela, Gunthild(e), Harmke, Hedwig, Heidrun, Heike, Helga, Hilde/Hildegard, Hildrun, Hilke, Imke, Irma, Irmgard, Irmtraud, Ingeborg, Kai, Kriemhild, Ludmilla, Marlene, Mathilde, Meinhild, Ottilie, Roswitha, Senta, Sieglinde, Sigrid, Sigrun, Sonja, Tanja (from Russian), Theda, Tilla/Tilli, Traude, Trudi, Ulrike, Una, Ursula/Uschi, Ute/Uta, Waltraud, Wilhelmine, Winifred. - For many more names see Vornamenlexikon.
Male First Names (without any English equivalent)
Achim, Bodo/Bot(h)o, Dagobert (no, not Dogbert!), Detlef/Detlev, Dieter, Dietmar, Dirk, Eberhard, Eckehard/Eckart, Egon, Emil (masc. form of Emily; Emilio in Span.), Engelbert, Erhard/Erhart, Falko, Gandolf, Gerd/Gert, Golo, Gunt(h)er, Gustav (from Swedish), Hartmut, Hartwig, Helge, Helmut, Holger (from Danish), Horst, Ingomar, Joachim (Achim), Kai, Knut, Manfred, Norbert, Odo/Udo, Otmar, Otto, Rainer (rye-ner), Reinhold, Siegfried, Siegmund/Sigmund, Sönke, Torsten/Thorsten, Till, Ulf, Ulrich/Uli, Uwe, Veit, Vilmar, Volker, Waldemar, Wern(h)er, Wieland, Wigand, Wolfgang, Wolfram. - For many more names see Vornamenlexikon.
Last Names - Surnames (Namen/Nachnamen/Familiennamen)
Adler (Eagle), Barth (Beard), Bayer (Bavarian), Berg (mountain)... Zimmermann (Carpenter), Zweig (twig, branch). - For many more German-English surnames, see our Germanic Surname Lexikon
More Germanic Genealogy
Genealogy Vocabulary - Part Two
General vocabulary for Germanic genealogy, from addresses to death certificates.
German Roots: A Personal Search
The true account of one family's search for genealogy records in a small German town - with sample documents, photographs and more.
Germanic Surname Lexikon
Germanic surnames with their English meanings.
German Name Links
A collection of Web links for German names.
All of the vocabulary lists from your Guide by category.
From Hamburg to Amerika
The Hamburg State Archive is putting emigrant passenger lists online.
Germanic Genealogy - Part One
Information related to genealogy and Germanic family tree research.
Germanic Genealogy - Part Two
More German terms related to genealogy and family tree research.
German Names, Part One
An article all about German names: first, last, and geographic.
What's in a Name? - Ludwig
Despite its frequency in history, the name Ludwig is no longer a popular German name. But it has an interesting past.
Online genealogical resources and sites that can help you find your Germanic roots.
German Translation Page
Our special page lets you select English-to-German or German-to-English. Get a draft translation of your own words/sentences or a Web page.
Links for various online dictionaries that can help you translate German genealogical terms.
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