Tag Archives: Surnames

Unique family names: Are you a Black Plowman or just have Hard Meat?

(Above photo: Son and papa Schwarzeneggers, Christopher and Arnold.)

Here I am, rapidly approaching 60 years of age, and I still hear the same old elementary school barbs regarding my last name (it’s actually Anglicized from the archaic Old German, Weithmann, “Man of the Fields”).

Speaking of the etymology of Germanic surnames, there’s the old story of an interview done years ago of an up-and-comer by the odd name of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

As it turns out, the bodybuilder from Austria had recently wed then-CBS News anchor Maria Shriver. Yes, that Maria Shriver, niece to President Jack Kennedy, Senator Bobby Kennedy, and fat-ass murderer Ted Kennedy.

Anyhow, the interviewer asked Arnold what his last name meant in German.

Literally translated, Arnold told him, it means “Black Plowman”. Thrown aback, the interviewer asked him, “Well… how do the Kennedys like having a black plowman in the family?”

Obviously, Christopher takes after Uncle Teddy.

Interestingly enough, the Kennedy name is a joining of the ancient Gaelic Ceann and Éidigh meaning “Ugly Head.”

The Germans and Irish aren’t the only ones with rather unique family monikers. Go far enough back in any race or ethnicity, every surname has a deeper meaning.

Case in point would be the character from the Godfather Part II, Frankie Five Angels.

More correctly known through the film as Frank Pentangeli.

People have last names of someone long, long ago who took as the title of their family to be forever known by his occupation, or geographic, or even his or her own lineage;

  • Miller
  • Taylor
  • Farmer
  • York
  • Roma
  • Dane
  • Larsen
  • Peterson
  • Eriksdotter

Not just Europe, either.

As most Westerners would think, the prime minister of Japan is Shinzō Abe. But translated from the modern Japanese for his first name and the now-dead ancient Japanese language Ainu of his family name, the PM’s full name is loosely translated as Gift from God (Shinzō) Sun Festival (Abe).

Now that’s a happenin’ name.

Mick Fleetwood. Freakin’ creepy.

Another example would be Fleetwood.

Made famous by the creeps-inducing drummer of a 70s super-group, a line of Cadillacs that Black folks just couldn’t get enough of, and the namesake of about a billion cheaply produced trailers that have housed generations of “Idiocracy” White Trash, they all fall into the Fleetwood category, a portmanteau of the Old English fleot “stream”, and wudu “wood”.

As previously illustrated, not all English last names are as they seem.

A rather rare British surname would be that of “Hardmeat”. However unfortunate the same is, the roots have nothing to do with sexual prowess or beef jerky.

Hardmeat happens to be teeny-tiny village in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, England.

Originally known as Hardmete, some dude long ago and far away took the village’s name as his own, but with centuries worth of hand-written records the only way to keep histories straight, the surname eventually morphed in Hardmeat.

Possibly due to either centuries of being made fun of, or because of busted teeth due to notoriously poor English dental hygiene, the village name was eventually renamed Hardmead.

I won’t even touch Suckbitch.