German Surnames
Beginning with S

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



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S


Sachs – This German surname originally denoted inhabitants of Old Saxony which was the original homeland of the Saxons and nowadays comprises Lower Saxony, Westphalia and western Saxony-Anhalt. In some cases it may have merely referred to somebody who had connections to the area.

Sander / Sanders – A short form of the name ‘Alexander‘, which is Greek for ‘fighting for mankind’, made popular by Alexander the Great.

Sattler / Sadler – Means ‘saddle’ in English and was thus most likely originally the occupational name for a saddle maker and/or seller.

Sauer – Stemming from the Middle High German word ‘sûwer’, this German last name was originally a nickname for a spiteful and bad-tempered person.

Sauter – This German surname has two possible origins. Firstly, it may have been the occupational name for a ‘shoemaker’ or, secondly, a ‘tailor’. Please see ‘Schubert’ and ‘Schneider’ listed below for further information.

Schaaf / Schaefer / Schaf - ‘Schaf’ means ‘sheep’ in English and thus this German last name was originally the occupational name for a ‘shepherd’.

Schade - Stemming from the Middle High German word ‘schade’, this German last name was originally a nickname for somebody who ‘caused damage’.

Schaller - Deriving from the Middle High German word ‘schallaere‘, this German surname referred to somebody who was deemed either a ‘ranter’, ‘babbler’ or a ‘braggart‘.

Scharf - This German surname stems from the Middle High German word ‘scharpf’ (sharp) and would have originally referred to somebody who was known for being either ‘sharp-witted’, ‘eager’ or for making ‘cutting remarks’.

Schatz - Means ‘treasure’ and would have referred to somebody who was either ‘well off’ or, alternatively, it may have been the occupational name for a ‘town treasurer’. Nowadays, ‘Schatz’ also means ‘darling / sweetheart’.

Scheffler – This German surname, believed to have originated from the Rhineland, means ‘cooper’. A ‘cooper’ is a maker and repairer of wooden barrels and casks.

Schenk - From the Middle High German word ‘schenke’ meaning to ‘pour/serve’, this German surname would have originally been the occupational name for a ‘pourer of drinks’. Over the years it has also referred to ‘inn keepers’ as well as ‘court officials’.

Scherer – This German surname has a few possible origins. It may have been the occupational name for either a ‘sheep shearer’ or a ‘clothes cutter’. In a few cases it may have referred to a ‘barber’.

Schiffer – This German last name was originally the occupational name for a ‘skipper’ or ‘ship owner’.

Schiller – Most likely deriving from the Middle High German word ‘schilchen’ meaning ‘to squint’. Thus, this German surname was most likely originally a nickname for somebody with a ‘squint’. However, it may also have derived from the Middle Lower German ‘schilderer’ and thus have been an occupational name for a ‘sign maker’.

Schilling – Stemming from the Middle High German word ‘schillinc’, meaning ‘shilling’ – the name of a coin. Most likely to have originally referred to a contractual obligation in terms of a fee or tax to be paid. It may even stem from a place name, such as Schiling in Bavaria.

Schindler – Of Medieval origins, this German surname was originally an occupational name deriving from the Middle High German word ‘schindeler’ meaning ‘shingle maker’ and ‘schinteler’ meaning a ‘maker of roof shingles’.

Schirmer – This German surname, which stems from the Middle High German word ‘schirmære’, would have originally been the name of a ‘fencer’ or ‘fencing master‘.

Schlegel – Deriving from the Middle High German word ‘slegel’ meaning ‘hammer’, ‘mallet’, ‘club’ or any striking tool, this German surname has a few possible meanings. Firstly, it may have been an occupational for somebody who used such tools in his daily work or, secondly, a nickname for somebody who was deemed ‘cloddish’. Lastly, it may have originally denoted inhabitants who came from a place bearing the same or similar name such as ‘Schlegel’ (Zittau).

Schlosser – This German surname was originally the occupational name of a ‘locksmith’.

Schlueter – This German last name, which essentially means ‘closer / shutter’, originally referred to somebody who was responsible for ensuring buildings and households were locked up and the valuables within them properly secured. In some cases it would have referred to a ‘city gate keeper’, ‘prison guard’ or ‘housekeeper’.

Schmidt / Schmitt / Schmid / Schmitz / Schmidtke / Schmieder – These are all occupational surnames for a ‘blacksmith’ and / or ‘metal worker’. The English equivalent is ‘Smith’.

Schneider – This German last name was an occupational name for a ‘tailor’ stemming from the Middle High German verb ‘snïdære’ (nowadays ‘schneiden’) which means ‘to cut’.

Schnell – Means ‘quick’ in English and was originally a nickname stemming from the Middle High German word ‘snell’, thus referring to somebody who was either ‘fast’, ‘efficient’, ‘brave’, ‘strong’, ‘powerful’ or ‘eager’.

Schober / Schöberl - Means ‘stack’ (i.e. ‘hay stack’) and would have thus originally been the occupational name of a ‘farmer’.

Scholz – Deriving from the Middle High German word ‘schulteize’, this German surname is a short form of the German surname ‘Schultheiß’. A ‘Schultheiß’ was originally the head of a village (a type of magistrate / civil servant) who collected rents and other debts on behalf of the landlords and other such members of the community. The English equivalent would be either ‘Mayor’ or ‘Bailiff’.

Schön / Schoen / Schoene– A nickname which originally described somebody who was deemed to be ‘beautiful‘, ‘handsome’, ‘lovely’ or ‘fine’.

Schrader – A variant of the German surname ‘Schroeder’ listed below.

Schramm – This German surname was originally the nickname for somebody who had a large ‘mark’, ‘scar’ or ‘laceration’ on his (or her) face or body.

Schreiber – Stemming from the Middle High German word ‘schrîber’, this German surname was originally the occupational name for a ‘scribe’ (a ‘writer’) or a ‘bookkeeper’.

Schreiner – This German surname was originally the occupational name of a ‘cabinet maker’, ‘joiner‘ or ‘carpenter’.

Schroeder / Schroeter / Schröder – Stemming from the Middle High German word ‘schrader’ this German surname is an occupational name similar to ‘Schneider’ (tailor) listed above. The surname has numerous variants and is one of the oldest German surnames on record.

Schubert / Schuermann / Schumann / Schuhmann / Schumacher / Schuhmacher – Deriving from the Middle High German word ‘schuochwürhte‘, this German surname was originally the occupational name for a ‘shoemaker’ (or ‘cordwainer’).

Schuler / Schüler / Schueller – This German surname was originally the name given to a ‘pupil’, ‘school boy’ or ‘scholar’.

Schulte / Schulz / Schulze / Schultz / Schultze – These are all variants of the German surname ‘Scholz’ listed above.

Schüssler / Schussler / Schuessler – This German surname was originally the occupational name for a ‘bowl maker’.

Schuster – Stemming from the Middle High German word ‘schuochster’, this German surname was originally the occupational name for a ‘shoe sewer’ (i.e. ‘cobbler’).

Schütte / Schuette/ Schütz(e) / Schutz – Originally, this German surname would have referred to a ‘guarder of a field, farmland or forest’.

Schwab – This German last name originally denoted inhabitants of the medieval duchy of ‘Schwabia’ in South West Germany.

Schwarz / Schwartz – This German surname, which derives from the Middle High German word ‘swarz’ (black), originally described somebody who had ‘dark skin’ or ‘dark hair’.

Schweiger – There are a few possible origins. Firstly, it may stem from the Middle High German word ‘sweiger’, which originally referred to a ‘dairy/cattle farm manager’. Secondly, it may have referred to the German verb ‘schweigen’ which means ‘to be silent’ and thus have originally described somebody who was deemed ‘silent’ or ‘calm’. Lastly, it may stem from a location bearing the same (or similar) name such as ‘Schwaig’ near Nürnberg or ‘Schwaigern’ in Stuttgart and thus have originally denoted inhabitants of one or more of these places.

Seidel / Seidl – These are variants of the German surname ‘Seifert’, listed below.

Seifert – This German surname derives from the very old and popular Germanic personal name ‘Siegfried’ which stemmed from two words ‘sigu-fridu’. ‘Sigu’ meaning ‘victory’ and ‘fridu’ meaning ‘peace / protection’.

Seiler – Means ‘cord’ or ‘rope’ in English and would have thus originally been the occupational name for a ‘manufacturer of rope, string or cord.’

Sieber / Siebert – This German surname, stemming from the German word ‘Siebmacher’, was originally the occupational name for a ‘sieve maker’.

Simon – Deriving from Hebrew meaning ‘he who hears the word of God’, ‘Simon’ was one of Jesus’s twelve apostles and was also known as ‘Saint Simon the Zealot’.

Singer – This German surname would have most likely originally referred to a ‘singer’, ‘musician’, or even ‘poet’.

Sommer – Literally translated this German surname means ‘summer’ in English. There are a few possible origins. Firstly, it may have originally referred to somebody who worked primarily in the summer months. Secondly, the original bearer of the name may have particularly enjoyed the summer months or have even been born in the summer. Lastly, the name may have originally denoted inhabitants of one of several places in Germany called ‘Sommerau’.

Sonnenschein – This German surname, which literally means ‘sunshine’ in English, would have most likely originally been a nickname for somebody who had a ‘cheerful’, ‘happy-go-lucky’ temperament. However, it may have also originally been either a house or field name.

Sonntag – Literally translated it means ‘Sunday’. This German surname thus most likely originally referred to somebody who was either born on a Sunday or who worked on a Sunday.

Sorglos – This German surname literally means ‘without worry’ and would have thus originally referred to a ‘carefree’ person.

Specht – Stemming from the Middle High German word, ‘speht’ meaning ‘woodpecker’. This common German surname would have thus originally been a nickname for somebody who shared some characteristics of a woodpecker. Alternatively, it may have originally been a house name. The word ‘speht’ derives from the verb ‘spehten’ which means ‘to chatter’.

Sperling – This German surname means ‘sparrow’ in English and would have thus originally been a nickname for somebody who was ‘chirpy’, ‘alert’ or ‘small’. It may have even originally been a house name.

Springer – Most likely to have derived from the Middle High German word ‘sprangen’ which means to ‘jump’ and thus it may have originally been the nickname for a ‘juggler’, ‘dancer’ or ‘jumper’. It may have even stemmed from a place in Germany bearing the same or similar name.

Stadler – Deriving from the Middle High German word ‘stadel’ meaning ‘barn’, this German surname was originally the occupational name for the supervisor (or possibly owner) of a storage barn.

Stahl – This German surname means both ‘steel’ and ‘armor’ in English and would have, therefore, originally been the occupational name for either a ‘steel merchant’, ‘steelsmith’ or ‘armorer’.

Stange – Means ‘pole’ in English and is hence most likely to have originally described a particularly ‘tall’ or ‘gaunt’ person. Alternatively, it may have been the occupational name for a ‘pole maker’.

Stark / Starke – This German surname would have originally been a nickname for someone who was deemed ‘strong’, ‘powerful’ or ‘determined’.

Steiger – A few possible origins. Firstly, it may stem from the Middle High German word ‘stiger’ and thus have originally been the occupational name for a ‘climber / mountain climber’. Secondly, it may stem from the Middle High German word ‘steige’ meaning ‘steep / upward slope’ thus originally referring to somebody who lived in such an area.

Stein – This German surname means ‘stone’ in English. There are many places in Germany called ‘Stein’ or similar and thus it is most likely to have originally denoted inhabitants of one of these areas. It may have even been the occupational name for somebody who worked with stone, such as a ‘mason’.

Steiner / Steinert – Most likely to have originally denoted inhabitants of one of several places in Germany with the same or similar name. Please see ‘Stein’ listed above for further information.

Stenzel - Of Silesian origins, this surname is a short form of the name ‘Stanislaw’ made popular by the patron saint of Poland and Kraków, ‘Saint Stanislaw’.

Stephan / Steffen / Steffens / Stefan- Deriving from the Greek name ‘Stephanos’ meaning ‘wreath’ or ‘crown’. This surname was made popular by Saint Stephan who is considered the first Christian martyr.

Stern – This German surname means ‘star’ in English and has a couple of possible origins. Firstly, it may have originally referred to an ‘astrologer’ or ‘star gazer’. Secondly, it may have originally been a house name and, in particular, the name of a pub, restaurant or inn.

Stolz – This German surname means ‘proud / lordly’ in English and is thus most likely to have originally referred to somebody who was particularly ‘proud’, ‘grand’ or even ‘foolhardy’.

Straub – Two possible origins. Firstly, it may derive from the Middle High German words ‘strûben’ (bristled up) and thus have originally described a ‘disheveled / scruffy haired person’. Secondly, it may have originally denoted inhabitants of Straubing in Bavaria, Germany.

Strauss / Strauß – This German surname has a few possible origins. Firstly, it may mean ‘ostrich’ and thus have initially referred to the feather on a helmet. Secondly, however, it may stem from the Middle High German word ‘strûß’ meaning ‘strife / struggle / fight’ and thus have originally referred to an ‘argumentative person’. In other cases it may have originally been a house name.

Strobel – This German surname derives from the Middle High German word ‘strobel’ meaning ‘shaggy’ and would have thus originally referred to somebody who was ‘unkempt’ or ‘scruffy’.

Stumpf – Literally translated this German surname means ‘tree stump’ and thus it would have originally referred to a ‘short, chubby, stocky person’. Sometimes it may have also referred to a field.

Sturm – Stems from the Middle High German word ‘stürmen’ meaning ‘storm / noisy / raging’. Thus, this German surname was most likely originally a nickname for somebody who had a temper and liked to argue.

Suess / Süß / Suss – In English this German surname translates as ‘sweet’ (i.e. lovely) and would have thus originally denoted somebody who was deemed particularly ‘lovable’ or who had a ‘lovely character’. 

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