German Surnames
Beginning with F

Here we will look at the meanings of German surnames beginning with F.

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Faber - Of Latin origin meaning ‘Schmidt’ – or in English ‘Blacksmith.’

Fabian - Of Latin origin stemming from the word ‘Faba’ which means ‘bean’ and is likely to refer to ‘bean-growers’. Furthermore, the name is also likely to originate from the Roman clan called ‘Fabius’. Alternatively, it could refer back to Saint Fabian who was Pope from 236 to 250. Fabian’s feast day is on 20th January.

Fahr / Vahr / Fahrer / Fehrmann /Fahrmann - Stemming from the Middle High German word `var` and refers to ‘ferry.’ It was most likely originally named after a ferryman, somebody who operated the ferries, or, also possible, somebody who lived by a ferry.

Falke / Falkner / Falckner/ Felkner - Stems from the Middle High German word ‘valke’ meaning ‘falcon’ in English. Originally either the occupational name for somebody who hunted falcons and/or followed falcons as a hobby, or somebody who trained falcons for the aristocracy and in particular supplied them for knightly hunting pursuits. The falcon is a symbol of victory, liberty and freedom.

Falkenstein – A favourite among noble families, the name ‘Falkenstein’ literally means ‘falcon’s stone/rock` in English. There are numerous places and castles in Germany (and other European countries) called ‘Falkenstein’ and the name is thus likely to have originally referred to inhabitants in one (or more) of these dwellings. There are many records of ‘Falkenstein’ nobility, such as the ‘counts of Falkenstein’ of Bavaria.

Fassbinder / Faßbender – Literally means `barrel binder` in English and would have originally referred to someone who worked as a ‘cooper.’ A ‘cooper’ is someone who makes wooden vessels such as barrels, casks and buckets.

Fassman / Faßman - Literally means ‘barrel-man’ in English. Please see ‘Fassbinder’ listed above.

Faust / Feistel / Feustel – Means `fist` in English. There are two possible origins. One is that it stems from the Latin word ‘Faustus’ which means fortunate and happy. Alternatively, it could have originally referred to someone who had an angry and strong-willed temperament and who was keen to fight with his ‘fist.’

Fehrle / Ferlen / Ferlin - Believed to stem from the Middle High German word `verlin‘ meaning ‘piglet` and thus referring to a pig dealer.

Feierabend – It stems from the Middle High German word ‘virabent’, where ‘Vire’ meant ‘festival’ and ‘Abent’ meant ‘eve’ and once referred to the evening before a major festival. In German nowadays ‘Feiertag’ means the ‘end of the working day’ or ‘free time after work’. It is believed to originally be a nickname for an idle person and in later years it was used to describe farmers and craftsmen.

Feige - Means `cowardly‘ and ‘fig’ in English. Originally was used either in reference to somebody who was fearful and cowardly or to a fig (tree). If the latter version is assumed - and it normally is - it would thus originally have been an occupational name for a fig tree dealer or for someone who owned or lived near a plantation of fig trees. It may also simply have been a nickname for somebody who liked eating figs!

Feldmann / Feldmaier / Feldmüller – Literally mean ‘field man/farmer/miller’ in English. ‘Feld-‘ stems from the Middle High German word ‘velt’ meaning ‘field.’ Originally either an occupational name for somebody who carried out work on a field (thus a farmer) or for somebody living on or near to a field. There are dozens of variations of this name.

Felix – Of Latin origins meaning ‘fortunate and happy’.

Fenstermacher – Originally the occupational name for a ‘window maker’. From Middle High German ‘venster’ (which was originally from the Latin ‘fenestra’) meaning ‘window’ and from Middle High German ‘macher’ (‘maker’ in English). Fenstermann and Fenster can also be interpreted in this way.

Ferber / Farber – Originating from the Old German word ‘farawa’ meaning ‘colour’ and was an occupational name for a ‘dyer‘ and, in some cases, `painter.’

Ficht / Fichte / Fichtel / Fichtmann – Means ‘spruce tree’ in English. From the Middle High German word ‘viehte’ meaning ‘spruce tree’. It may have originally referred to someone living by spruce trees. A spruce is an evergreen tree and can range between 20 and 30 metres tall when full-grown. Furthermore, there are places in Germany bearing the same name, such as ‘Fichten’ in Cham, Bavaria. The name, therefore, may have also originated from one (or more) of these places.

Fichtmann – Literally means ‘spruce tree man’. Originally used to refer to a man who lived near spruce trees. Please see ‘Ficht’ listed above.

Fink / Finkel / Finck - Means ‘finch‘ in English. There are two possible origins/meanings for this surname. Firstly, it may have referred to a lovely, happy go-lucky person who may have liked singing – the ‘finch’ bird is often described as a song bird hence the namesake. Alternatively, it may have been the occupational name for a bird (finch) catcher or breeder.

Fischbach / Fischbeck - Translated literally the name means ‘fish stream’ in English. Most likely to have been originally used to denote somebody born or living in a place called ‘Fischbach‘. There are more than 30 places called ‘Fischbach’ in Germany alone and more located in Austria, Switzerland, Luxemburg and Poland. There are also several stretches of water called ‘Fischbach’ and thus the name may have originally referred to somebody living by a stream filled with fish.

Fischer / Fischers / Fisher - From the Middle High German word ‘vischære’ meaning `fisherman‘. The name is, not surprisingly, most likely to have originated from coastal areas as well as rivers and lakes. ‘Fischer’ is currently the fourth most popular surname in Germany.

Flach / Flache – Stems from the Middle High German word `vlach‘ meaning ‘flat / straight / smooth’ and would have originally referred to someone who lived near or on a level field.

Fleischer /Fleischmann – Stems from the Middle High German occupational name `vleischer` meaning `butcher’. The German words ‘Metzger’ and ‘Schlachter’ also mean ‘butcher’. In the east of Germany however, butchers are known only as ‘Fleischers’ indicating that the surname may have originated from here and, in particular, from Saxony. ‘Metzger’ is the occupational name for a butcher in the south and south west of Germany while in the north ‘Schlachter’ is most commonly used.

Frank / Franke / Francke – Originally stemming from the alliance of Germanic tribes called the ‘Franks’. ‘Franconia’ in Germany (‘Franken’ in German) is named after the Franks.

Frei / Frey – From the Middle High German name ‘vri‘ meaning ´free‘. This means the original bearer of the name was not a ‘bondsman’ and, therefore, was not bound in anyway. In medieval times a bondsman would have usually meant a `slave’ but in later years it meant somebody who was a servant, bound by contract.

Freiberg / Freyberg – Literally translated means ‘free mountain’. Most likely to have originally denoted inhabitants of ‘Freiberg’ located in Saxony, Germany. Freiberg, which is located in the middle of Saxony between Dresden and Chemnitz, was founded in 1186. It has been the heart of a mining region in the Ore Mountains for hundreds of years. Furthermore, there was a family of nobles called the ‘von Freibergs’ who are believed to have lived in Biberach in Baden-Württemberg in southwest Germany. This name in particular dates back to the 13th century.

Freitag / Freytag - From the Middle High German word ‘vrïtac’ which means ‘Friday’ in English. There are a couple of possible origins. Firstly, it may simply have been the name given to somebody who was born on a Friday. Secondly, it might have referred to the day on which a rental payment or other bill/service had to be paid. Lastly, it may have originally referred to an ‘unlucky’ or ‘morose’ person as Friday is regarded as the unlucky day of the week - Christ was crucified on a Friday.

Freud / Freudel / Freudemann – Meaning a ‘cheerful person’ stemming from the Middle High German word ‘vroude’ meaning ‘happiness, enjoyment.’

Freund – Means `friend‘ in English. Stems from the Middle High German word `vriunt’ which meant ‘friend’, ‘loved one’ and even ‘relation.’

Fried / Friede / Friedel – Nicknames for ‘Friedrich’- please see below.

Friedmann/Friedman - Nickname for ‘Friedrich‘ - please see below.

Friedrich / Friedrichs - From the Old High German ‘frid-rîhhi’ meaning ‘peaceful - ruler’. The name has been given to a multitude of influential German people over the years. In the 18th and 19th centuries it was the most popular first name in German, most likely after and in support of the Prussian king, Friedrich I (1657-1713). This German surname is most commonly found in Saxony-Anhalt.

Fritz – A nickname for Friedrich – please refer to post above.

Früh / Fruh / Frueh / Fruehauf - Originates from the Middle High German words ‘vrüe’ (early) and ûf (up) and would have originally referred to somebody who got up early in the morning.

Fuchs – Means ‘fox’ in English. It may have been a nickname given to somebody who was sly, but not necessarily in a negative way. For example, someone may have been admired for being as fast and as clever/cunning as a fox. It may also have referred to someone who was red-haired or even to somebody who had an association with foxes – a fox hunter for example. ‘Fuchs’ is a very popular German surname.

Fuhrmann - From the Middle High German word ‘vuorman’ which was an occupational name for a `wagoner’ – a driver of a horse-drawn wagon. In order to become a wagoner though, one had to be a ‘free’ man (see Frei / Frey). Furthermore, he would have had to be able to use weapons as he would have crossed borders and travelled through undeveloped and dangerous areas while protecting the travelers or products onboard. A bondsman would not have been able to or allowed to do such a thing alone unless he was accompanied by his master.

Fuerstenberg – Originally believed to have denoted people from one (or more) of the several places in Germany called Fürstenberg. For example, Fürstenberg county of the Holy Roman Empire in Swabia - nowadays southern Baden-Württemberg. 

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