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American Surnames

4 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0806311500
ISBN-10: 0806311509
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 394 pages
  • Publisher: Genealogical Publishing Company (December 8, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0806311509
  • ISBN-13: 978-0806311500
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,509,358 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I'm sorry to see that the only reviewer so far allowed himself to become so offended at the usage of the term "American" in the title that he was unable to appreciate or assess the quality and usefulness of the book's CONTENTS! On that score, it is a nice solid entry. The topical organization of the book, beginning with the main sources of surnames -- parentage/relationships, occupation, actions and attributes (nicknames), and places --and ending with an indexed list of surnames, serves to make it useful for general reference, yet much more interesting than it might have been in a dictionary format. This structure also encourages the reader to understand a particular name in relation to others of the same culture and/or invented in a similar manner, rather than in isolation. Along the way we are treated to many a fascinating historical and cultural nugget, rich vignettes of the societies and situations from which the names developed.

Mr Nazario's point is off the mark in another respect. He implies that the range of names is 'limited' to those of the U.S. But this is hardly the case. From the beginning Smith discusses the wide variety of names brought to the U.S. from all over the world, ALL of which he considers to now be "American". As a result the book DOES cover a great many names found in other parts of the Americas.
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Format: Hardcover
I have been teaching English for over thirty years, mostly creative writing, and we have worn out two hard cover books of this title. We have had fun and assignments involving students' names and what they mean as well as used the book to name characters in fiction. Wonderful book!!
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Format: Paperback
I have had this book for any number of years and find it a continuing useful resource. What is especially remarkable besides the author's vast knowledge, is that he had taken his material and turned it into an entertaining book
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Most materials I have read on surnames give you a rather superficial sketch of a few famous persons by the name and some guesses on where the name came from. This book is quite a bit better. It lists thousands of surnames (mostly from the UK and Europe), deriving the name etymologically from the meaning of the word at the time when surnames were being adopted in that area (Europe and England in 1200s, some other areas later), categorizing the names by how they were derived (patronymics, locations, occupations, etc.). It ends with the 2000 most common names in the US at the time of publication (1960s), probably based on census information. It is not arranged alphabetically, but has an index.
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