House name

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
In the Maifeld village of Gering , signs with the former house names were put up
In the Bad Endbacher (section 11.4 house names) district of Bottenhorn in Central Hesse , the tradition has been revived with signs of the current house names

A house name is a name for a house, an estate / yard with several buildings or the entire inhabited property. In rural regions, all family members living there are assigned the house name, sometimes even today. When naming it, it is always placed before the nickname. A house name is an epithet, quasi a second family name in the local dialect, which is only used orally and passed on.

Many original house names have become today's place names / settlement names in the course of settlement development.

A house name is not the same, it just means a building. In contrast to the house name, the residents are not given the house name.


House names emerged particularly in rural and village areas. Prior to the introduction of streets and house numbers, they were the only unique identification of a property. In Germany, the traditional house names are still in use in almost all rural regions, especially in the older districts. The residents of a property are colloquially not referred to by their family name, but by their house name, which is placed in front of the first name. Which is used as in official form in Austria Vulgoname (abbreviated vlg. ), Respectively. For example, if Rita Bender lives on the property or farm with the name Growener and is called Growener Rita , Growener is the house name and Rita remains the first name. The house name is automatically transferred to residents who have moved in (e.g. married spouses) or new owners of houses that have been sold.

The identity of property and owner is part of the typical settlement image of land grabbing and can be found in many cultures. In German-speaking countries, this is evidenced by the numerous place names with the endings first name + -ing (en) from the Germanic settlement of the migration period and the later -heim , -hausen , -rod and -weiler after the Franconian conquest of central Germany (e.g. Rhineland , Saarland, Palatinate, Westphalia, Hesse and Thuringia). In the area of ​​the medieval aristocracy, later also in rural settlements, the name referred not only specifically to the place of residence, but as a house name or farm name to the entire property ("Hof und Scholle") and thus became an additional or exclusive name used for the farming family. Noble families have been named after their ancestral seat since the earliest times, and its name is the name of the whole "house", for example the Hohenzollern house after the Hohenzollern castle near Hechingen on the Swabian Alb, the Austrian house Habsburg after the Habsburgs in the canton of Aargau in Switzerland .

The house name is one of the most important roots from which the ambiguity that encompassed the end of the Middle Ages was made use of, both in cities and in the country. They can be found from the middle of the 11th century in the major cities of Central Germany ( Cologne , Mainz , Frankfurt am Main ), in Vienna from 1300. Around 1332, around half of all family names in Mainz were house names. In 1565 Freiburg decreed that a name must be put on every house. From this the later house sign developed . In holiday areas it is again common practice to give pensions names (house names).

House names are still in use in rural areas, and the tradition is often deliberately maintained by attaching appropriate name tags.

New house names are mostly based on the family name. In addition, the farm names in Austria often survive as a postal address, in Germany, especially in deserted areas or hamlets without their own street names, often as districts .

In large parts of western North America ( Wild West ) or as a result of colonization , house names based on the European model are typical in Africa, Australia and elsewhere.

Origin of the house names

House names emerged from the need to clearly define a property (yard or house with property) (to name the place) at a time when land registers and house numbers did not yet exist. This was important in order to be able to clearly assign rights, property, fiefdoms, servants and servants, as well as for the collection of taxes and for the request to provide services for the landlord or sovereign.

The names of the owners / feudal people or their short form often gave the name. The following came into question for the naming:

  • First names of previous owners. Example: Peter-Josef is called Pitter-Jupp in the Rhenish dialect, from which the house name Pittejupps becomes in the Odenwald dialect (see picture above). The house name Ballse-Anna goes back to an Anna with a male ancestor named Balthasar .
  • Short forms of first names such as B. in Central Hesse : Johannes → Gehann → House name Gehanns, Johann - Georg → Hannjer → Gehannjersch, Adam → Orm → Orms , Valentin → Velten → Veltes , Juliane → Jule → Jules . The house name Hannesgens is composed of short forms of Johannes and Gerhard (originated before 1850 in the Westerwäller Platt ).
  • Last names of long-standing or prominent former owner families
  • Previous owner nicknames
  • Job names . Examples: Müller → house name Mellersch , Wagner → Waar → house name Waarches . In the Hunsrück: a blacksmith named Nickel (Nikolaus) → Schmiednickels house name . In Saarland: Pastor → House name Parrsch .
  • Field names or the location of the property. Examples: “im Baumgarten”, in dialect: Baumgerten → house name Bangarte ; a forge at the gate → Torschmieds house name
  • Motifs of house signs or court signs , such as plants, animals, devices

Names of residents are transferred to houses - and their names are transferred back to the residents. If goods were shared or children of the parent company built their own houses or properties in the same village, they had to be given their own name. To do this, you chose the root name (e.g. "Ennersch") and added an attribute like above- ("Oben-Ennersch"). Or you created a double name by adding the first name of the new owner (e.g. "Ennersch-Karls") or his profession ("Ennersch-Schreiners"). The parent company then usually received the addition “old” (e.g. “Ahle → Alte-Ennersch”).

In house names there are often attributes that indicate a division of property or a new building.

  • Old New-
  • Upper / lower
  • Large / small
  • Front / rear
  • Inner / outer (typical in all of South Tyrol, refers to the valley entrance)

The house names were almost exclusively passed on orally and therefore corrupted and blunted over the generations .

House names as names for people

In rural areas in particular, the name of the farm is the one by which a person and their family were known.

Example: Franz Huber is known as the “Gruber (farmer) Franz”, the farmer at the “Gruberhof”, or simply as “the Gruber (farmer)” because there was only one. In old records there are also mentions of the kind "Franz Huber zu Grub". The derivation of family affiliation follows the pattern “the Gruberbauer sein Sepp” for the son Josef Huber. In these forms one can still find the old origin of family names according to household affiliation.

In all of Central Germany and in the areas around the Bavarian / Austrian border , all of Austria and in German-speaking South Tyrol , such names were and are in use. In the Sudetenland they were in use until the displacement of the German population in 1946. The difference between family and farm names can also be seen in the way they express themselves: The aforementioned “Franz Huber zu Grub” is called Gruber, but he “spells himself” Huber.

At the Lower Bavarian / Upper Austrian border, the following habits can be observed when using house names as personal names: Franz Huber , the current owner of the Gruberbauer farm mentioned above as an example, is referred to in the village as “the Gruberbauer”, his wife Maria Huber as "Die Gruberbäuerin" (e.g. in the sentence "I met the Gruberbäuerin while shopping"). Karl Huber , the father of Franz Huber and former farm owner, is called "the old Gruberbauer" (e.g. "The Gruberbäuerin said that the old Gruberbauer is sick"). For Josef , Andreas and Michaela Huber , the children of the current farm owner, the following generally applies: As children and young people, they are addressed as "Gruber Sepp", "Gruber Andreas" and "Gruber Michaela" (e.g. "Gruber Sepp is now studying." Mechanical engineering"). After her marriage to Josef Müller, Michaela Huber is often referred to as "the Gruber Michaela who is now writing to Müller"; when Josef Huber moves away from his parents' farm, he can gradually change himself to "Huber Sepp" (family name replaces farm name, family name in everyday language usually placed before the first name), while Andreas Huber as future farm heir as "the young Gruberbauer" or else is still dubbed “Gruberbauer Andreas” until he takes over the property himself.

Nice examples of Sudeten German house names can be found in Neuhaus : Eltner became Hansenhannes, Pöhlmann Gosmas, Lauber Nachber, Ullmann Peterschuster or Gerchadl, Wohner Paulhansen, Fickert Friedl or Hirtenhaus, Hannawald Romasn, Fuchs became Datesen or Gerschadl or Watschn, from Siegert Dickenseffen. In the neighboring Vogldorf : Ott became Tonlhanesn, Pilz became Zesn, Rödig became Seffnfranzn or Seffnazn, Lorenz became Hüttmann or Antl, Möschl became Dickn. In the localities there were often the same surnames over and over again, so that the respective residents and descendants were not named by their real name, but by the house name. For example, a Josef Lorenz was ultimately only called Antl Pepp.

The use of the house and farm names as the primary name ranges in Bavarian / Austrian area until after 1945. In Austria is Vulgoname - on request - in telephone directories and (also official) directories such as land registers out so. The abbreviation used is vlg.

House names in cities (house names)

"Heidenkopf" (1557) in Constance
Example of house name "Goliathhaus" in Regensburg

In the Middle Ages it was customary to provide houses with house names (house names) even in cities. The houses often had eye-catching house signs ( house brand , hand-painted), which were often related to the name of the house. House names and brands made orientation easier at a time when most people were illiterate .

In cities, distinctive houses still have individual names, which are often derived from the name of prominent owners (analogous to house names in villages) or distinctive details on the house. Examples:

These house names have generally been preserved in the names and signs of inns and pharmacies, for example the “Weißes Roß” inn or “The White Angel Pharmacy” .

Often female first names are also found, mostly the first names of the wives or daughters of the builders or house owners, for example Villa Marie .

There are also examples of urban house names in recent architecture, and they are sometimes nicknames :

On Pharaoh's Island in the Thames , most of the 25 house names have Egyptian references , including Sphinx , Luxor , Memphis and Nile Cottage .


  • Adolf Bach: German naming. Heidelberg 1952–1956.
  • Jürgen Beyer: Addresses of printers, publishers and booksellers in the 18th century. At the same time a contribution to the discussion about a VD18. In: Wolfenbüttel notes on book history. 31 (2006), pp. 159-190.
  • Werner König: dtv atlas on the German language. Boards and texts. (dtv-Atlas No. 3025). 10th edition. Munich 1994, ISBN 3-423-03025-9 .
  • Konrad Kunze : dtv-Atlas onomastics. (dtv-Atlas No. 2490). 2nd Edition. Munich June 1999, ISBN 3-423-03234-0 .
  • Ernst Schmidt: Rodheim an der Bieber. P. 377–394, The old village names (house names) in Rodheim an der Bieber, 35452 Heuchelheim 2006.

Web links

Commons : House names  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: House name  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. See house name at Duden online.
  2. ^ Konrad Kunze: dtv-Atlas onenology. P. 177.
  3. ^ Konrad Kunze: dtv-Atlas onenology. P. 105.
  4. ^ King: dtv-Atlas. P. 105.
  5. The Gladenbach house names (all 17 districts), magazine of the Heimat- und Museumverein “Amt Blankenstein”, No. 14, Gladenbach 2001.
  6. ^ Horst W. Müller: Wommelshausen, A village book. Marburg 1995, pp. 247-253.
  7. Martin Nassauer: Dautphe as it was back then - A look back in Dautphes past days. Ed .: Festival Committee “1200 Years Dautphe”, 1990. Section “The House Names” pp. 174–180.
  8. Möckel, Ulrich; Neuhaus - Once a lively Erzgebirge village in the Rohlautal; Schönheide 2005, self-published.
  9. ^ Rölz, Karl / Ott, Robert / Kiler, Jos .; Plan sketch and list of houses by Vogldorf.
  10. ^ Karl Bauer : Regensburg: Art, culture and everyday history. 2014, ISBN 978-3-86646-300-4 , pp. 88f.
  11. Dietrich Lohse: What house names can tell us (part 1). In: Preview & Review; Monthly magazine for Radebeul and the surrounding area. Radebeuler monthly books e. V., March 2010, accessed December 11, 2016 .
  12. Dietrich Lohse: What house names can tell us (part 3). In: Preview & Review; Monthly magazine for Radebeul and the surrounding area. Radebeuler monthly books e. V., June 2010, accessed December 11, 2016 .