Nick asked in Arts & HumanitiesGenealogy · 7 years ago

What do double letters in a surname mean?

I have heard multiple meanings for double letters in a surname. For example, I have heard that 'man means nothing, it is common. On the contrary, 'mann means that you are of Jewish decent. I have not been able to find any topics that discuss this or give you a straight answer. Please include resources.

11 Answers

  • Maxi
    Lv 7
    7 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    Names are words and words come from languages, not countries and not religions........... if you go back 100 years you will see in records that still many people didn't read or write, so when names were taken in Europe 800 or so years ago, clerks, clerics ad those who ould read/write wrong their names, they write it how it sounded to them, which is where you get all the spelling varients from, they were not precious about spellings then like we are now.........soit means nothing really which is very possibly why you can find nothing about it to fit your beleif

  • 7 years ago

    Double letters mean nothing specific, any more that a surname ending with "man" or "Mann"has has anything to do with Jewish Ancestry,. Surnames come from languages. An example is that many English Surnames have their origin in Latin, but then at one time Latin was the primary language of communication through out many parts of the known world.

    Source(s): Genealogical researcher 40 years, Anthropologist
  • Anonymous
    7 years ago

    You will hear all sorts of things; "Matthews" means they are left-handed, "Mathews" means they are right handed, "O'Brian" is Irish but "O'Brien" is Scots, "Brown" is northern, "Browne" is southern . . . Most of those are false.

    There are 3 Jewish surnames, Levi, Cohen and Cantor, all with a dozen spelling variations. There are a couple of Christian Surnames, "Christian" being one (Fletcher Christian, from Mutiny on the Bounty, for instance) and "Saint ---", where "---" is a saint's name being another hundred or two.

    The rest of the surnames in the world can be Christian, Jewish, or Druid, for that matter.

    Sometimes there is a nugget of truth in the story about spelling; ---sen is usually Danish and ---son is usually Norwegian or Swedish, where "---" is Lars, Paul, John, Johan, Ole .... Wilken is German, Wilkin is English, usually. I have never seen anything that makes a correlation between spelling and religion; just spelling and original language.

    Almost always, though, spelling variations emerge because people didn't spell consistently. One of my lines is Wyssman. Anna Wysmann had 12 children, and I have marriage licenses for 8 of them. They spell her maiden name 7 ways, about evenly split between man and mann there at the end, and Wys, Wyss, Weis at the start. Same lady, staunch Lutheran all her life, ---man and ---mann both.

    I usually tell beginners that if they haven't found the surname they are working on spelled at least 6 ways, they haven't been looking hard enough. "Pack", for example, is only 4 letters, and is a common noun as well as a verb. I have found Pack spelled Back, Pack, Peck, Pak, Pock, Puck, Park, and Pork.

    My favorite is a man who came to the USA as Henrich Kesselburg and died Henry Castleberry, having used (or been recorded with) Kessel, Kassel, Cassel, and Castle for the first part, burg, berg, bury and berry for the last part.

    My most recent was a family of Cullins, who were down as Cullin, Cullen, Cullins and Cullens, then repeat with "Coll" instead of "Cull".

    > I have not been able to find any topics that discuss this or give you a straight answer.

    That's because the story you heard was a myth. If you pick a country, ethnicity or language, you will probably be able to find something about surname patterns. "ez", for instance, means "son of" in Spanish, so "Martinez" means "son of Martin". There are prefixes or suffixes that mean "son of" in most European languages.

    Source(s): 30 years of genealogy
  • 7 years ago

    People get funny notions about names. Probably the person who said "mann" was Jewish knew some Jews with the double "n" and some people with the same surname who weren't Jewish with only one "n." It was common for people of German ancestry to drop the extra "n" when they came to the United States. Jews did the same.

    I have Jewish ancestry through my maternal grandfather. The name got changed to Ault but it was originally Altmann, but looking a records I found immigrants who were Catholic or Lutheran named Altmann. Some of my maternal grandfather's cousins changed their spelling to Altman. It is just a German word meaning "old man" whether it is spelled with one 'n" or two "ns." When surnames were assigned or taken in Europe during the last millennium it wasn't impossible for legitimate sons of the same man to wind up with a different surname and still each could have shared his with others with no known relationship. The purpose originally was not to identify a man as a member of a family but just to better identify him, frequently for taxation purposes. Too many men with the same given name in the same town or village and they had to have a way of sorting them out.

    There are just 2 or 3 exclusively Jewish names. Cantor, Cohen and Levy and that doesn't mean everyone with those names are Jewish.. Even Goldberg is not an exclusively Jewish name. Understand how Jews define a Jew. Many liberal or reform Jews define a Jew by the religion. They will consider you a Jew with only one Jewish parent whether father or mother.

    Conservative and Orthodox use the old rabbinical definition taught in the Talmud that a Jew is someone with a Jewish mother. If a person only has a Jewish father, the only way they will consider that person a Jew is to convert to Judaism. I know all the genealogies in the bible are through the male line. Nevertheless a Jew is not defined by the father at all

    Since in western countries traditionally the surname comes from the father a person could be born an O'Brien and be Jewish by birth.

    Here is a great link:

    Here is a quotation from the link:

    "First, traditional Judaism maintains that a person is a Jew if his mother is a Jew, regardless of who his father is. The liberal movements, on the other hand, allow Jewish status to pass through the mother or the father if the child identifies as Jewish. For example, according to the Reform movement, former Phillies catcher Mike Lieberthal, who had a Jewish father but chooses not to be identified as Jewish, would not be Jewish according to the Reform movement, but former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who had a Jewish father and adopted a Jewish identity as an adult, would be considered Jewish. See their position here). On the other hand, the child of a a Christian father and a Jewish mother who does not publicly identify himself as Jewish would be considered Jewish according to the Orthodox movement, but not according to the Reform movement. The matter becomes even more complicated, because the status of that interfaith child's children also comes into question.

    "Second, the more traditional movements do not always acknowledge the validity of conversions by the more liberal movements. A more liberal movement might not follow the procedures required by the more traditional movement, thereby invalidating the conversion. For example, Orthodoxy requires acceptance of the yoke of Torah (observance of Jewish law as Orthodoxy understands it), while other movements would not teach the same laws that Orthodoxy does and might not require observance. The Conservative movement requires circumcision and immersion in a mikvah, which is not always required in Reform conversions."

    So trying to identify a person as Jewish by their name isn't an accurate way to do so

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  • Ashley
    Lv 7
    7 years ago

    The spelling of surnames doesn't mean anything. That's because back when surnames first developed, there were no rules for spelling. People spelled words and names however they sounded... and they often spelled the same word differently on different occasions. Take my Hawks ancestors, for instance. Back in the 1600-1700's, I've found their name spelled Hawks, Hawkes, Hauks, etc. It wasn't until the late 1800's that people began to settle on a specific, consistent spelling for their surnames. My branch of the Hawks family went with the Hawks spelling, but I have cousins who spell their name Hawkes. Same family, different spelling.

    Also keep in mind that the spelling of names often changed when people moved from one country to another. Mueller families changed to Miller; O'Connor changed to Connor; Warcholowskis became Warchols; Hermann became Herman. You just really can't tell anything about a surname by looking only at the spelling.

  • 7 years ago

    It should not be surprising to not find discussion or answer...

    because double letters are completely without ANY MEANING. My own 30 yrs of experience is a resource. Persons used whatever spelling they found convenient, what happened to be entered in a record, or what they may have been told was "right" (when many persons were illiterate).

    In OFTEN FIND persons who are documented to be related, but desc. use various spellings. Am working hard on one of those, as we speak. Names change from what the immigrant used, very common.

    To be brief, your premise is completely without foundation. Spelling is not relevant to genealogy, or other attempts to identify anyone.

  • Anonymous
    7 years ago

    Many Welsh Surnames have double letters involved. Ex; Llewellyn, Reece,

  • 7 years ago

    Jews write in the Hebrew alphabet.

    Any Latin spelling of a last name comes from the non-Jewish government that gave the name out.

    Jewish names that have Germanic character come from the Austro Hungarian Empire.

    After the dissolution of that Empire --

    the spellings changed with the host countries that these people lived in.


    Jews from Germany will have last names that use German spelling conventions,

    Jews from England will have last names that use British conventions,

    Jews from Slavic countries that use the Latin alphabet will have last names that use the spelling conventions of that country,

    Jews from the Soviet countries will have all sorts of spelling based on who wrote the name phoneticaly when that Jew landed in his current Latin alphabet using country


    Source(s): my name is spelled differently from my grandmother's because we were registerred in America at different times and by different registrars.
  • Anonymous
    4 years ago

    Bandages are wound around the wound. Farms are used to produce produce. Landfills were so full they had to refuse refuse. Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present. When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes. I did not object to the object. The insurance was invalid for the invalid. There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row. They were to close to the door to close it. The buck does funny things when the does are present. The wind was too strong to wind in the sail. How can I intimate this to my intimate friend. Will they do for starters ??

  • 4 years ago

    People With Double Letters

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