25+ German Last Names That'll Have You Wishing For Oktoberfest

by Laura Grainger
Originally Published: 
German last names

German last names have a strong presence in both Christian and Jewish communities across the globe. Germanic languages have had a huge influence in the development of certain English words, and surnames with German origins are therefore common in English-speaking countries.

Where many a French or Italian surname refer to a geographical location, most German last names derive from an occupation or characteristic trait. Common German surnames regularly feature in Hollywood and fiction, so you’re more than likely familiar with a few. Check out this list of popular German surnames and their meanings to see if you recognize any. Guten tag!


  1. Müller

Meaning: A miller.

  1. Weber

Meaning: Occupational name for a weaver.

  1. Brandt

Meaning: Burn or burnt.

  1. König

Meaning: King.

  1. Schäfer/Schaefer

Meaning: Shepherd.

  1. Lang/Lange/Long

Meaning: A very tall person.

  1. Kraus

Meaning: Curly-haired.

  1. Amsel/Amsler

Meaning: Blackbird.

  1. Schulz

Meaning: Sheriff, magistrate or village overseer.

  1. Richter

Meaning: Lord.

  1. Fischer

Meaning: Fisherman.

  1. Pfeiffer

Meaning: Piper.

  1. Schreiber

Meaning: Scribe or writer.

  1. Braun

Meaning: The color brown, likely in reference to someone dark-haired.

  1. Koch

Meaning: Occupational name for a cook.

  1. Schmidt

Meaning: Blacksmith/metalworker.

  1. Mayer/Meyer

Meaning: Higher or superior, occupational name for a mayor.

  1. Meier

Meaning: Farmer or harvester.

  1. Krüger/Kruger/Krueger

Meaning: Tavern keeper.

  1. Ludwig

Meaning: Famous or renowned warrior.

  1. Arnold/Arnoldt/Arnhold

Meaning: Eagle power or eagle rule. From Old German elements ‘arn’ (eagle) and ‘walt’ (power/rule).

  1. Zimmermann

Meaning: Carpenter.

  1. Roth

Meaning: Red-haired.

  1. Schwarz

Meaning: Black.

  1. Köhler/Koehler

Meaning: Charcoal burner.

  1. Wagner

Meaning: Wagon maker or driver.


Read more: 30 Popular Japanese Last Names That Will Have You On The Next Flight To Tokyo

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