Funny German last names: The longest, weirdest and strangest surnames

Funny German last names: The longest, weirdest and strangest surnames

Ever wondered how your German friends got their unusual surnames? Sometimes German surnames are logical, but other times they’re long, hard to pronounce and have very odd meanings! Here’s the rundown on German surnames!

German surnames 

German surnames can be found all around the world, not just in German-speaking territories such as Germany, Austria and Switzerland, but also in places with historic patterns of German emigration such as the United States, United Kingdom, Brazil and Argentina. 

Common German last names

You’ve probably heard lots of these German surnames before, and might even know a few people who have these names, but here’s a little recap on the most common surnames in Germany. 

  • Müller
  • Schmidt 
  • Schneider
  • Fischer
  • Weber
  • Meyer
  • Wagner
  • Becker
  • Schulz
  • Hoffmann 

Germanic surnames

Slavic and Polish names have been incorporated into German surnames over the years, as Poland in particular has seen many migrate to Germany. Some of these names have become “more German” in terms of their spelling and pronunciation in the time since, for example the Slavic surname Orlovsky, more commonly seen as Orlowski in Germany and Poland.

German last names and meanings

Many German surnames originate from occupations, traits and animals. Many of the most common surnames are occupations - for example Müller, which would have referred to a miller - or Schmidt, a smith. 

Other surnames refer to traits in appearance or demeanour. Examples of this kind of surname include Klein (meaning short), Fuchs (meaning fox-like) and Krause (meaning curly-haired).

Uncommon German last names 

Aside from names with foreign origins, there are a few rare German surnames, too! Some of the most unusual German surnames include: Handschuh (glove), Durchdenwald (through-the-forest) or even Leichenberg (literally: pile of corpses)! Goodness knows how they got that name!

Funny German names 

From dark surnames to funny surnames - Germany has plenty of great examples of these. Bierhals (meaning beer-neck), Trinkenschuh (drink-shoe), Eierkuchen (egg cake) and Kitzler (tickler) are some of the funniest German names that have appeared on birth certificates.

Weird German names 

While Germany has quite a few funny surnames, there are some last names that are just downright weird. Vormelker (pre-milker) is a good example of one of these. Since many German surnames come from occupations, and Melker - milker - is a common surname, one can only assume that the Vormelker assisted with the milking process, maybe setting up the cows for milking or simply helping the main milker. 

Nachtnebel (night-fog) is also an unusual German surname. Though the surname has quite a nice meaning, it is not clear where this name stems from. Perhaps its bearer simply enjoyed a cosy foggy evening. 

Rare German surnames 

A lot of occupation-based names are dying out in Germany, simply because professions that were key to the German economy hundreds of years ago are simply less significant now - think Baumann (farmer), Günther (warrior) and Dietrich (people’s ruler). 

Barfuss (barefoot) is also an uncommon (and unusual) German surname, as well as Hühnerbein (chicken leg). Goodness knows how people ended up with those surnames!

Long German last names 

Thought Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz was too long? Well imagine having to sign Wolfeschlegelsteinhausenbergerdorff or Ottovordemgentschenfelde at the bottom of your paperwork all the time!

Thankfully these extraordinarily long surnames are uncommon in Germany and many people who have them simply use shortened versions such as “Gentschenfelde” when not filling in official documents. Still, it must make your wrist ache when you’re applying for a new passport

German last names generator

Want to know your German name and surname? Try a German name generator online to see what your German alter-ego could be called! Let us know your results in the comments below!



Emily Proctor

Former Editor at IamExpat Media.

Read more



Leave a comment