German Surnames
Beginning with R

Here we will study the meanings of German surnames beginning with R.



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R

Raab / Rabe / Rapp – Means ‘raven’ in English and was originally a nickname for somebody who had particularly dark hair.

Rademacher – Originally an occupational name for either a wheelwright who was a builder and repairer of wheels or a cartwright (also known as a ‘wainwright’) who was a maker and repairer of horse-drawn carts.

Radtke / Radeke – This German surname has two possible origins. Firstly, it may be a short form of ‘Rudolf’ which derives from the words ‘rad’ meaning ‘fame’ and ‘wolf’ meaning ‘wolf’. Secondly, however, it may have originally denoted inhabitants of one of several places in the historical region of Bohemia (now the Czech Republic) bearing a similar name, such as ‘Hradec’. ‘Bohemia’ was once heavily populated by German natives.

Rath – This German surname has a couple of possible meanings. Most usually it stems from the Middle High German word ‘rât’ meaning ‘stocks’, ‘fortune’ and ‘advisor’. However, if the Rheinland is involved this surname could stem from the Middle High German word ‘rath’ meaning ‘clearing’.

Rau / Rauch – This name has a few possible origins. Firstly, it may have originally been a nickname for somebody who deemed ‘scruffy’, ‘rough’, ‘hairy’ or ‘crude’. Secondly, it may have been the occupational name for a ‘blacksmith’ referring in particular to the smoke (‘Rauch’) coming from a blacksmith’s forge.

Rausch – Stemming from the verb ‘rauschen’ meaning ‘noise / rustle’, this German surname is most likely to have originally referred to somebody who was deemed particularly ‘noisy’. As with so many German surnames the name, therefore, reflects some of the characteristics of the original bearer.

Reck – This German surname is most likely to have referred to somebody who lived in one of several places in Germany bearing the same or similar name, such as ‘Recke’ near Osnabrück in Lower Saxony or ‘Reckensdorf’ in Bamberg, Upper Franconia. The word ‘Recke’ means ‘swamp’.

Rehm – This German surname was originally an occupational name stemming from the Middle Lower German word ‘reme’ meaning ‘strap’ or ‘belt’. Thus, this original bearer of the name was a ‘maker and repairer of straps and belts’ and, in some cases, a ‘saddler’.

Reich – Means ‘rich’ in English and would have, thus, most likely originally referred to somebody who was particularly well off.

Reichardt / Reichert – These two surnames German surnames are variants of ‘Richard’ listed below.

Reicheln/ Reichelt – These German surnames have two possible origins. Firstly, they may be a variant of the surname ‘Reich’ meaning ‘well off’, or secondly, a pet name for ‘Richard’ meaning ‘bold ruler’. Please see ‘Reich’ and ‘Richard’ listed below for further information.

Reimann / Reinmann - Originally indicated somebody from the ‘Rhinelands’ which historically was classified generally as the area either side of the River Rhine in central Europe.

Reimer / Reimers– Deriving from the old German first name ‘Ragimar’ which was composed of the words ‘ragin’ meaning ‘advice / counsel’and ‘mari’ meaning ‘famous / well known’. Thus, originally this German surname meant ‘famous in advice / counsel’.

Reiner / Rainer – Originating from the Old High German words ‘ragin’ meaning ‘advice / counsel’and ‘hari’ meaning ‘army’. Thus, originally this German surname was most likely to have been the surname of an ‘army advisor’.

Reinhardt / Reinhard – A compound name most likely deriving from the German words ‘ragin’ meaning ‘advice/ counsel’ and ‘harti’ meaning ‘strong / hard / brave’. It, therefore, can be interpreted as ‘the one brave in advice’. However, other research suggests it may even stem from the old German words ‘rain’ meaning ‘pure / true’ and ‘hardi’ meaning ‘heart’ and thus mean ‘the true hearted’ or ‘the faithful one’. This surname is of early 13th century origins and the first name (from which it was derived) is of pre 7th century origins.

Reinhold – A variation of the German surname ‘Reinhardt’ listed above.

Reinke / Reinecke – A variation of the German surname ‘Reinhardt’ listed above.

Reiss / Reis – Although in German today this surname means ‘rice’ it has two possible origins. Firstly, as the name infers, it may have been the occupational name of a rice dealer. Secondly, however, it may stem from the Middle High German word ‘rîs’ meaning ‘branch’ or ‘bush’.

Reiter – This German surname is most likely to have been a variant of ‘Reuter’ listed below. In a few cases it stems from the Middle High German word ‘rîter’ meaning ‘horse rider’.

Reitz – A few possible origins. Firstly, it may have originated from ‘Reitz’ in Pomerania – a historical German region – and thus denoted inhabitants of this area. Secondly, it may have been a variation of the German surnames ‘Reiss’ or ‘Reinrich’. Please see ‘Reis’ listed above and ‘Heinrich’ listed under ‘German surnames beginning with H’ for further information.

Renner – Stemming from the Middle High German word ‘rennaere’, this German surname would have originally been the occupational name for either a courier, messenger or delivery boy. Secondly, it may stem from the noble name ‘Renninger’ after which the town ‘Renningen’ near Leonberg was named.

Renz – This German surname is a short form of either ‘Reinhard’ or ‘Lorenz‘. Please see ‘Reinhard’ listed above and ‘Lorenz’ listed under ‘German surnames beginning with L’ for further information.

Reuter – Most likely to have originally denoted inhabitants of a place bearing the same or similar name, such as ‘Reute’ in Baden-Württemberg in Germany or ‘Reuthe’ in Austria. It may also be a variant of the German surnames ‘Röder’ and ‘Reiter’.

Richard – Of Germanic origins meaning ‘brave, powerful ruler/leader’, this surname was particularly popular in the Middle Ages. ‘Richard’ is comprised of two elements: ‘ric’ meaning ‘power’ and ‘hard’ meaning ‘brave’.

Richter – This German surname has a couple of possible origins. It may stem from the old German word ‘rihtoere’ and was thus most likely the occupational name for a ‘judge’. Secondly, evidence suggests it was the surname of the village administrator or mayor.

Rieck – Most likely a variation of the German surname ‘Richard’ (listed above) and is particularly common in Heidelberg. However, it may also be variant of the surname ‘Reich’ (listed above) meaning ‘well-off’.

Riedel / Riedl – These German surnames are believed to be short forms of ‘Rüdiger’ listed below.

Rieder – Most likely to have originally denoted inhabitants of a place bearing the same or similar name, such as ‘Rieder’ in Quedlinburg, Lower Saxony and ‘Rieder’ located in Dillingen an der Donau, Bavaria.

Rieger – This German surname is believed to be a short form of ‘Rüdiger’ listed below.

Riemann – A variation of the German surname ‘Reimann’ listed above.

Ries / Riess – There are numerous places in Germany bearing the same or a similar name, such as ‘Donau-Ries’ (or even ‘Nordlinger Ries’ located mostly within the district of Donau-Ries) in Bavaria. Thus, this surname would have originally denoted inhabitants of one (or more) of these places.

Ring – Deriving from the Old High German word ‘hring’ meaning ‘ring’, this German surname was originally the occupational surname for a manufacturer of rings.

Ritter / Ridder – This German surname means ‘knight’ in English and was thus possibly originally borne by a knight. In other cases, however, it may only indicate a business connection to a knight, such as a ‘servant’ of a knight.

Rode – This German surname has two possible origins. Firstly (and most likely) it was a nickname for a red-head or a man with a red beard. Secondly, it may be a variation of ‘Roder’ listed below.

Roder / Röder / Roeder – There are numerous places in Germany bearing the same or a similar name, such as ‘Rödern’ located in Rhineland-Palatinate as well as in Thüringen, Saxony and Bavaria. Thus, this surname would have originally denoted inhabitants of one (or more) of these places.

Rogge - In most cases, this German surname was an occupational name for a ‘farmer or baker of rye bread’. In a few cases it may have referred to inhabitants of a place bearing a similar name, such as ‘Roga’ located in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany.

Rohde – A variant of the German surname ‘Rode’, listed above.

Rohr – This German surname originally denoted inhabitants of one of several places bearing exactly the same name, such as in Thüringen, Bavaria, and Upper and Lower Austria.

Römer / Roemer – A couple of possible origins. Firstly, it may have originally described pilgrims who travelled to Rome. Secondly, it may have referred to somebody who travelled to Rome for business reasons. In only a few cases did it actually refer to somebody who came from Rome.

Roos / Rose – Most likely to have originally been the nickname for a ‘rose gardener’ or ‘florist’. It may have even simply referred to somebody who lived near a rose garden.

Rösch / Roesch – A couple of possible meanings. Deriving from the Old High German word ‘rosci’, this German surname was most likely to have originally been a nickname for somebody who was either ‘quick’ and ‘lively’ or ‘hot-tempered’.

Rosenberg – Literally translated, this German surname means ‘rose mountain’. Originally, this surname would have denoted inhabitants of a place in Germany bearing the same name, such as ‘Rosenberg’ located in Baden-Württemberg.

Rösner / Roesner - Two possible origins. Firstly, and most likely, it originally denoted inhabitants of a place called ‘Rosenau’ of which there are several in Germany, such as those located in Brandenburg, Bavaria, Nordrhein-Westfalen and Baden-Württemberg. Secondly, it may be a variant of the German surname ‘Roos / Rose’, listed below.

Roß / Ross / Rossi / Rossmann – Deriving from the Middle High German word ‘(h)ros’, this German surname was the occupational name for a ‘horse owner’ or ‘horse dealer’.

Rössler / Roesler - These German surnames have a few possible origins. Firstly, they may be a variation of the German surname ‘Rossman’ which was originally the occupational name for a ‘horse owner or dealer’. Secondly, they may even be a variant of the German surname ‘Rose’, listed below. Lastly, they may have originally denoted inhabitants of a place bearing a similar name, such Röslau in Upper Franconia, Germany.

Roth / Rothe / Rother – This German surname was originally the nickname for a red-head or a man with a red beard.

Rudolf / Rudolph / Rudloff – This particularly old German name derives from the words ‘rad’ meaning ‘fame’ and ‘wolf’ meaning ‘wolf’.

Ruediger / Rüger / Rudiger – Deriving from the German first name ‘Hrogari’ in which ‘hrod’ meant ‘famous/glorious’ and ‘gari’ meant spear, this surname means ‘famous/glorious spear fighter’. The name was made popular by the hero of the epic medieval German poem ‘Nibelungenlied’, ‘Rudeger von Bechelaren’. In English, this poem translates as ‘The Song of the Nibelungs’.

Ruf – This German surname is a short form of ‘Rudolf’ listed above.

Runge – Deriving from the Middle High German term ‘runge’, which referred to the bar on a wagon, this was the occupational name for a ‘wainwright’.

Rupprecht / Rupp / Ruppert - This German surname, which derives from the German male first name ‘Hrodbeorht’ (Hrod = famous / beorht = shining), means ‘shining with fame’.

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