German Surnames
Beginning with P

In this section we will study the meanings of German surnames beginning with P.



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P


Pabst – From the Middle High German word ‘babes’ (from Greek / Latin ‘Papas’) meaning ‘the pope’ which in turn stemmed from ‘Papa’ meaning’ father’. This German surname would have normally been a nickname for somebody with ‘Popish’ character or somebody who acted out the Pope in a theatrical play. It may, in some cases, have originally referred to somebody who was of and related to the Christian church and clergy.

Pagel – A variation of the name ‘Paul’. Please refer to ‘Paul’ listed below for further information.

Pahl – Two possible origins. Firstly, it may derive from the German word ‘Pfahl’ meaning ‘pile’ (in terms of construction) thus referring to the occupational name ‘Palstöter‘. A ‘Palstöter’ was responsible for driving piles into soil in order provide foundation support for hydraulic structures. Secondly, it may be a variation of the name ‘Paul’. Please see ‘Paul’ listed below for further information.

Panzer – From the Middle High German word ‘panzier’ which was the occupational name of an armorer.

Pape – Please see ‘Pfaff’ and ‘Pabst’ for further information.

Paul / Pausen / Paulus / Pauly – From the Latin ‘Paulus’ meaning ‘little’ (i.e. a small person). It has long been a very popular surname owing to the significance of St. Paul also known as Paul the Apostle - one of the earliest and most influential Christian endorsers.

Pelzer – This German surname has two possible origins. Firstly, it may derive from the Middle High German word ‘bellez’ meaning ‘fur’ and thus was possibly the occupational name for a ‘furrier’ – somebody who trades in and / or prepares fur. Secondly, in some cases it may be a variation of the German surname ‘Piltzer’. Please see ‘Piltzer’ listed below for further information.

Peters / Peter /Petersen / Petermann – This German surname derives from the Greek word ‘petra’ meaning ‘rock’. It was one of the most common first names of the Middle Ages and its popularity is thanks to Saint Paul who was one of Jesus’ Twelve Disciples and also regarded as the first Pope by the Catholic Church.

Pfaff – Two possible origins. Firstly, this German surname may derive from the old German word ‘Pfaffe’ which meant ‘priest’ or ‘cleric’ or even somebody who just had close connections to a priest or the Church. Secondly, it may be related to the German surname ‘Pabst’ meaning ‘Pope’. Please see ‘Pabst’ listed above for further information.

Pfeffer – Means ‘pepper’ in English. It was originally the occupational name for a pepper or spice dealer. The spice trade has been a particularly important trade ever since the Middle Ages.

Pfeiffer / Pfeifer – This German surname was originally the occupational name for a pipe player.

Pfister – Derives from the Latin ‘pistor’ meaning ‘baker’ and thus this German surname was originally an occupational surname. Although the majority of German-speakers nowadays tend to use the word ‘Bäker’ for ‘baker’, in some areas in Germany you will still hear ‘Pfister’ being used.

Plüger / Pflueger – Stemming from the Middle High German word ‘pfluoc’ meaning ‘plow’. Thus, this German surname was originally the occupational name for either a manufacturer of plows or for a plowman himself.

Philipp – This name is of Greek origins stemming from the Greek word ‘Philoppos’ meaning ‘lover of horses’. Its popularity across Europe is owed to both Philip the Apostle and to Alexander the Great’s father, King Philip II of Macedon.

Pichler – Deriving from the German word ‘buehel’ mean ‘hill’, this German surname most likely originally referred to somebody living on a hill.

Pieper – A variation of the German surname ‘Pfeiffer’ which was originally the occupational name for a pipe player.

Pietsch / Paetzold / Petri / Petry / Petzold / Peschel – These German surnames are all believed to be of East German / Slavic origins and are variations of the name ‘Peter’. Please see ‘Peter’ listed above for further information.

Pilz – Means ‘mushroom’ in English. This German surname would have thus originally referred to somebody who traded in mushrooms. Mushroom cultivation began in the early 17th century in Europe.

Plank – Derives from the Middle High German word ‘blanc‘ meaning ‘white / light / shining’ thus revealing the skin colour or hair colour of the original bearer. Furthermore, it was made popular by Max Planck (1858-1947), a famous German physicist, who is regarded as the creator of quantum theory.

Pohl – Three possible origins. In the historical region of Silesia (nowadays mostly located in Poland) this surname meant ‘pole’ (i.e. a Polish person). Thus, originally this German surname may have either denoted somebody from the area or somebody who had connections to it. Secondly, the Lower German word ‘Pohl’ means ‘swamp / bog / pool’ thus initially possibly referring to someone who lived in or near such an area. Thirdly, it may even be another variant of the German surname ‘Paul’. Please see ‘Paul’ listed above for further information.

Pohlmann – Deriving from the Lower German German ‘Pohl’ meaning ‘swamp / bog / pool’ thus originally referring to someone who lived in or near such an area.

Popp – Three possible origins. Firstly, it may derive from ‘bopp’ referring to ‘baby talk’. Secondly, it may stem from the Middle High German word ‘popp’ meaning ‘braggard’. Lastly, it may have originally denoted somebody from a place in Germany bearing the same or similar name, such as ‘Poppendorf’ located in Rostock in the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

Preis / Preiss – Two possible origins. It may stem from the Middle High German word ‘briser‘, originally an occupational name for a maker of braids and laces. Secondly, it may be variation of the German surname ‘Preuss’. Please see ‘Preuss’ listed below for further information.

Preuss – This German surname stems from the old German word ‘Preussen’ meaning ‘Prussia’, which was a German kingdom from 1701 to 1918. ‘Preuss’, therefore, originally denoted inhabitants of Prussia or in some cases it may have referred to someone who simply had connections to the kingdom.

Prinz – Means 'prince' in English. Like so many other German surnames, 'Prinz' was often used as a nickname to describe peasants, for example, who acted like a prince or even actors in medieval plays who acted the role of a prince. It may have even once referred to a servant of a prince.

Probst / Propst / Prahst– Deriving from the Middle High German word ‘provest’ this German surname, which is particularly common in Bavaria, originally referred to somebody who was ‘in charge’.

Puetz / Pütz – This German surname it most likely to have originally referred to inhabitants of a place in Germany bearing the same or similar name, such as ‘Pützchen’ located near Bonn or ‘Pütz’ located in the state of Nordrhein-Westfalen. The word itself stems from the Middle High German word ‘putze / pfutze’ which in turn is derived from the Latin word ‘puteus’ meaning ‘fountain / well / pool’. The name was first recorded in 1388 as ‘Puhtz’.

Pusch / Puschmann – Most likely to stem from the word ‘Busch’ meaning ‘bush’, ‘wood’ or ‘forest’ and, therefore, may have originally referred to somebody living in or near a wood / forest.

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