25+ German Last Names/Surnames And Their Meanings

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

December 20, 2019 Updated March 15, 2021

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!

german last names
  1. Müller
    Meaning: A miller.
  2. Weber
    Meaning: Occupational name for a weaver.
  3. Brandt
    Meaning: Burn or burnt.
  4. König
    Meaning: King.
  5. Schäfer/Schaefer
    Meaning: Shepherd.
  6. Lang/Lange/Long
    Meaning: A very tall person.
  7. Kraus
    Meaning: Curly-haired.
  8. Amsel/Amsler
    Meaning: Blackbird.
  9. Schulz
    Meaning: Sheriff, magistrate or village overseer.
  10. Richter
    Meaning: Lord.
  11. Fischer
    Meaning: Fisherman.
  12. Pfeiffer
    Meaning: Piper.
  13. Schreiber
    Meaning: Scribe or writer.
  14. Braun
    Meaning: The color brown, likely in reference to someone dark-haired.
  15. Koch
    Meaning: Occupational name for a cook.
  16. Schmidt
    Meaning: Blacksmith/metalworker.
  17. Mayer/Meyer
    Meaning: Higher or superior, occupational name for a mayor.
  18. Meier
    Meaning: Farmer or harvester.
  19. Krüger/Kruger/Krueger
    Meaning: Tavern keeper.
  20. Ludwig
    Meaning: Famous or renowned warrior.
  21. Arnold/Arnoldt/Arnhold
    Meaning: Eagle power or eagle rule. From Old German elements ‘arn’ (eagle) and ‘walt’ (power/rule).
  22. Zimmermann
    Meaning: Carpenter.
  23. Roth
    Meaning: Red-haired.
  24. Schwarz
    Meaning: Black.
  25. Köhler/Koehler
    Meaning: Charcoal burner.
  26. Wagner
    Meaning: Wagon maker or driver.
german last names

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