Here we will look at the meanings of German surnames beginning with O.
Alternatively, click on the following letters to go to German surnames beginning with:
Obermeier / Obermayer – Literally translated ‘Ober’ means ‘upper / higher’ and ‘Meier / Mayer’ means ‘superior’. If you refer to the German surname ‘Meier’ (listed under German surnames beginning with ‘M’) you will observe that this surname was originally used to describe stewards of landlords who owned large faming estates. In order to distinguish between the rapidly increasing number of ‘Maiers / Mayers’, it was necessary over time for the name bearers to assume a more specific surname. In this particular case an ‘Obermaier’ would have referred to somebody living on higher land as opposed to a ‘Niedermayer’ who would have lived in lower areas.
Obst – From the Middle High German word ‘obez’ meaning ‘fruit’ in English. It was originally the occupational name for a fruit seller / dealer / grower. It may have even been a nickname for somebody who simply enjoyed eating lots of fruit. Of East German (Silesian) and Jewish origins.
Ochs – From Middle High German meaning ‘ox’ in English. There are a couple of possible origins. Firstly, and most likely, it was originally an occupational name for a cattle dealer. Secondly, it may have referred to a farmer who kept oxen. Lastly, it may have even been a house name.
Opitz – A short form of ‘Albrecht’. Please see ‘Albrecht’ listed under ‘German surnames beginning with A’ for further information.
Oppermann – This German surname would have originally referred to a ‘sexton’ at a church. A ‘sexton’ was a church attendant who maintained the church and graveyard, rung the bells and dug the graves.
Orth / Ortmann – Originally referred to somebody who lived at the end of a village or street.
Oster - Two possible meanings. Nowadays, ‘Oster’ means ‘Easter’ in English and was thus originally most likely a name given to somebody born around the Easter period. Secondly, ‘Oster’ also referred to something lying towards the ‘east’ and, thus, it may well have originally denoted a dwelling (and therefore its inhabitants) which was situated to the east of a village or town.
Ott / Otto / Otte / Otten – Made popular by the famous Holy Roman Emperor, Otto I or Great (912 – 973) who is deemed by many historians to be the founder of the Holy Roman Empire.
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