Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Image not available

To view this video download Flash Player

Sell Us Your Item
For a $3.76 Gift Card
Trade in
Have one to sell? Sell yours here
Tell the Publisher!
I'd like to read this book on Kindle

Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here, or download a FREE Kindle Reading App.

A Dictionary of Surnames [Hardcover]

by Patrick Hanks, Flavia Hodges
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

Available from these sellers.

Free Two-Day Shipping for College Students with Amazon Student


Amazon Price New from Used from
Hardcover --  
Sell Us Your Books
Get up to 80% back when you sell us your books, even if you didn't buy them at Amazon. Learn more

Book Description

February 23, 1989 0192115928 978-0192115928
A unique reference work, this international dictionary is a systematic, comparative survey of the origins and meanings of some 100,000 currently used surnames of European origin, as they are presently found throughout the world. With the help of consultant editors in specific areas--particularly for Jewish, Spanish, and Gaelic names--the authors present information about the language or region in which the surname originated, major events in the history of noted names, the original meaning, peculiarites of regional distribution, and in some cases the form, date, and location of early instances of the name. Uniquely organized to allow comparison between names that share the same etymology, the dictionary groups together within a single entry many different cognate and variant forms, including diminutives and patronymics. A comprehensive alphabetical index allows easy cross-referencing. Summarizing a wealth of historical and etymological information in a clear and concise manner, the dictionary will be interesting and accessible to the general reader, and an essential reference tool for historians, genealogists, philologists, and local family history societies.

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Unlike most other surname dictionaries that focus on specific nationalities, this work's 100,000 entries come from throughout Europe, Australia, North America, and the British Isles. Names are treated as a cultural and linguistic phenomenon and chosen on the principal of frequency and on the basis of available information. The methodology of selection, classification of names, and background for each nationality as well as Jewish family names are thoroughly covered in the introduction. The most common spelling of a name is listed in an alphabetical arrangement, with variant spellings in "nested groups" under main entries. An index leads the user to variant spellings within entries. A surname's derivation, name type, meaning, noncognate equivalents, and earliest use are typically provided. This scholarly work, the most comprehensive surname dictionary to date, will be welcome in most public and academic libraries. Stanley P. Hodge, Ball State Univ. Lib., Muncie, Ind.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.


"One of the best single-volume reference works on British and European surnames and is highly recommended for all types of libraries."--American Reference Books Annual

A Dictionary of Surnames is one of the best of the single-volume reference works on British and European surnames and is highly recomended for all types of libraries."ARBA

"As...Hanks and Hodges remark in their prefatory material, 'surnames studies are sadly neglected in most of the countries of Europe; the number of reliable reference works is remarkably small.' Based on well-structured methodology and sound research, The Dictionary of Surnames makes an excellent contribution toward filling this reference vacuum....Immediately becomes the standard reference source for the information it contains."--Booklist/RRB

"An entertaining book and, for genealogists, onomasticians, and historians especially, a useful reference work."--Language

"This scholarly work, the most comprehensive surname dictionary to date, will be welcome in most public and academic libraries."--Library Journal

"Probably the most inclusive surname dictionary available not limited to the names of a particular country, this would be a welcome addition to academic collections at any level and to public and special libraries serving genealogists, social historians, historical linguists, family historians, demographers, etc."--Choice

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 880 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA (February 23, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192115928
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192115928
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 7.8 x 2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #171,274 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Share your thoughts with other customers
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not only a useful tool, but enjoyable reading as well. September 11, 1997
By A Customer
Although the price of this book can be a little intimidating, it is well worth the money spent for anyone interested in how and why our surnames developed. The introductory pages give information on names in many different language groups, and tells what all the different endings on names mean in each of these languages. The style is not dry and academic as one would expect, but is comfortable reading for both the layman and the professional.

The dictionary itself lists over 70,000 names along with many variations in spelling, and also gives translations of the original name into English. (Ellis Island strikes again!) Following the dictionary is an alpabetical listing of varients, so that if you can't find the name you are looking for as a main listing, you will be able to find out where it has been hidden.

I have spent many, many hours just reading listings in this book for entertainment, as well as using it as a reference tool for finding peoples names in the onomastic business. This one is definately a "must own" for anyone interested in names.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars excellent reference February 1, 2001
By A Customer
An alphabetic compendium of the derivation of european names (with a separate section for arabic names). Without being a scholarly work it covers a wide field. Those seeking ancestral background for names not usually covered: basques, ashkenazi, eastern european in general, will find it invaluable. Perhaps too much space is given to english surnames for which a wide variety of sources already exist As an english language source for european names it is invaluable
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everyone's Reference Book May 3, 2006
"A Dictionary of Surnames" is that rare reference book that you can read like a novel. Such a remarkable work can only be called a labor of love. The editors, Patrick Hanks and Flavia Hodges, have packed into this book a degree of erudition that is as breathtaking as it is unobtrusive. All the most common surnames (last names) of Europe and America are given, insofar as is possible, a full etymology and a list of cognate names in the other European languages. Thus we find, for example, that the surname "Jacob," or its more common patronymic form "Jacobs," derives from the biblical Jacob, thought to mean "heel," from the tradition that Jacob was born grasping his twin brother Esau's heel. There are , as you might expect, cognates in nearly all the European languages: Italian "Giacobo," Polish "Kobierski," Dutch "Kobus,"Czech "Kubec," Hungarian "Kabos," as well as scores of diminutive, patronymic, and pejorative forms. Many of these are, naturally, quite transparent, but who would guess that the name "Botticelli" is an Italian diminutive of Jacob? A very thorough index makes locating these obscure variants an easy task. If you are at all curious as to how you or the people that you know got your names, you must have this book. I have had my copy for several years and was just checking to see if a second edition has come out. Alas, no--but this one's plenty to keep you busy for a while.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Book of Surnames July 11, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
My husband used to always wonder aloud where a name might have come from. Now that he has this book, I just tell him to look it up. He loves it. It was one of the best birthday presents I've given him.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent resource December 10, 1999
By A Customer
I found this book to be extremely helpful for researching the origins of surnames. Highly recommended!
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Sell a Digital Version of This Book in the Kindle Store

If you are a publisher or author and hold the digital rights to a book, you can sell a digital version of it in our Kindle Store. Learn more


There are no discussions about this product yet.
Be the first to discuss this product with the community.
Start a new discussion
First post:
Prompts for sign-in

Look for Similar Items by Category