Smiths, Millers, Priests: European Occupational Surnames

I have known for some time that ‘Ferreira’ (a rather common surname in Portugal) means more or less the same thing as ‘Smith’ (Ferreira derives from the Latin word for Iron). But I’ve often wondered whether other countries have similarly common surnames relating to occupations. Yesterday, through the power of the interwebs, I came across this blog post which answers this very question, though it seems variations on ‘Miller’ may be as common as those relating to ‘Smith’.

Marcin Ciura

Here is the map of the most frequent occupational surnames in European countries and the corresponding trades.



I made it with Cartopy, Shapely, and Natural Earth data. The surnames are taken mainly from the appropriate Wikipedia page. Redditors provided data for Sweden, Norway, Lithuania, Latvia, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Turkey, and Catalonia (Ferrer = Smith), as well as corrected my mistakes in Ukraine and Austria. I sincerely appreciate their help. Click on the links to see relevant comments.

This is a quick hack, not serious research. The map takes into account countries rather than ethnic or cultural areas (update of October 1, 2015: now the maps of Spain…

View original post 199 more words

2 Responses to “Smiths, Millers, Priests: European Occupational Surnames”

  1. In some countries, occupational SIR names are quite common. So, Müller, Schmidt, Fischer etc are quite common in Germany. In others, patronymic names are more common, e.g. in Sweden Svensson, Hansson, Larsson, Nilsson, Eriksson, etc (and similar variants in other Scandinavian languages). Of course, these exist in other languages (e.g. Johnson), just as occupational names exist in Scandinavia, but they are comparatively rare, with names based on nature being rather common, e.g. Lindgren, Lindkvist, etc. Also first names based on nature, e.g. Björn (bear, cf. Urs, Ursula, etc), Sten (stone, cf. Pierre), and so on.

  2. …living 10km from Vatican City I really wonder how surnames like Priest (or similar italian surnames) have been originated! 😀

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