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A patronymic or father (s) name ( Greek πατρωνυμία or πατρωνυμικόν [ sc. Ὄνομα ]) is a name that indicates the name of the father of the name bearer by first name. If the name refers to the mother , it is called a metronym (to μήτηρ mētēr ) or Latinized matronym (to mater ).

In grammar , patronymic denotes the derivation of personal names that designate the descendant (son or daughter).



Real patronyms are not family names in today's sense (which are fundamentally unchangeable), but only refer to the children of a particular father. They change with every generation. A patronymic changed to a family name when it no longer matched the father's first name. It is then a patronymic surname. Patronyms were very often associated with an inheritance custom .


Naming after the mother is rare in Germany. In France, on the other hand, they are more common. These are names with the suffix -euse; Examples are Dheureuse and Monneuse , which also come from France and are represented in Germany.

Name formation by language

West Germanic languages


Family names have been common since the late Middle Ages , and patronymics are fixed as secondary. The patronymic could be used alone or in conjunction with a family name. Example: Peter Aretz Hauser "Peter Hauser, Arnold's son". In old documents he can be found as Peter Aretz , Peter Hauser or Peter Aretz Hauser . In the Duchy of Schleswig , family names were only introduced by royal Danish decree in 1771. Nevertheless, the patronymic naming remained in use in many places until the 19th century. In the German civil status documents, patronyms are used as special name components ( intermediate names ) according to the BGH decision of May 26, 1971 (StAZ 1971, p. 250) and June 9, 1993 (StAZ 1993, p. 352 ), in practice often in in the first name column with the addition "patronymic:". The entry in the German identity cards or passports lacks a legal basis, since only first names and surnames (possibly with maiden name) are to be entered in the German identity cards.

A number of prefixes and endings are known in the German-speaking world :

  • The patronymic was formed in the northern German-speaking area, following the Danish model, often by adding the ending -sen (" son ") to the first name. Examples: Peter Jans-sen "Peter, son of Jan "
  • In the north-east German language area, patronyms with the ending -ke / -cke (lower German diminutive) can be found. Example: Geri-cke "the little one from Gerhardt (or Gerd)" / "Son of Gerhardt (or Gerd)". Since the Napoleonic legislation in 1808 and 1811 to fix surnames, it gradually became established that the paternal first name was not adopted as the surname.
  • Patronyms with genitive endings were also common.
    • throughout the northwest on -s (strong genitive), e.g. B. Hendricks , Hermanns , Mertens . Whether a family name made up of a first name is a patronymic derivation on -sen with a sloping ending or a genitive -s can only be determined if the name is traced back to its origin.
    • Names in -en (weak genitive) in north-western and western Germany in a border from East Frisia via Emsland, Westmünsterland, Lower Rhine, Eifel, Hunsrück to Saarland. Partly also on the west coast of Schleswig-Holstein, especially in North Friesland. The suffix -en was used for nicknames that end either in a vowel or predominantly in the consonants -t , -s, -z , e.g. B. Otten (from Otto ), Kuhnen (Kuno) , Kürten (Kurt) , Hansen (Hans) , Heinzen (Heinz) . Other consonants are also known.
    • weak and strong genitive can be combined, especially in Low German, e.g. B. Kun-en-s (to Kuno ).
    • Latinized forms are -i , -is , -ae (e.g. Pauli , Wilhelmi , Caspari , Jakobi ).
  • In Old High German times, patronyms were formed with the ending -ing ( Alberding zu Albert , Humperding zu Humbert ); this education soon disappeared, but lasted longer , especially in Westphalia .
  • Throughout the south of the German language area, and thus also in Switzerland and Austria, the formation on is -er far the most common, in part also in the variant -ler .
  • Less is -man , an old diminutive .
  • Derivations that refer to the mother are less common in the German-speaking world. For example, the name Tilgner traces back to Ottilie , Trienes to Trina or Triene.


The patronymic system expired in East Frisia in the middle of the 19th century. It was banned in 1811 by order of Napoleon (decree of August 18, 1811, introduction of the Code Napoléon ). King George IV of Hanover issued a similar decree in 1826 (decree of 1826 regarding naming, May 12, 1826), confirmed in 1857 (decree of December 23, 1857).

Before that, the sons received the first names of their grandparents, the first son that of the paternal grandfather, the second son of the maternal grandfather ( custom of inheritance ). The names of the daughters were given similarly. The other children were followed by uncles, aunts and godparents. The surname of the children was their father's first name with a genitive s. The women usually kept their names when they married. The East and West Frisian patronymic formation was carried out by appending genitive endings: Frisian in -a : Fockena to Focko, Albertsma to Albert , Ludinga to Ludo.

The patronymic naming was also common in North Friesland until the 19th century . In 1771 this practice was banned in the Duchy of Schleswig , but remained in the western part of the island of Föhr and on Amrum until 1828, since these parts of the country belonged directly to the Danish kingdom. On Föhr and Amrum, the genitive form of the father's nickname was also used for this, while the ending -sen stands for "son of" in mainland Frisian family names, as in Danish and Jutian. When permanent family names emerged in the course of the 19th century, many island Frisian families changed their names from the genitive form to the -sen form, e.g. B. Ketels to Ketelsen , Knuten to Knudsen .


In the Netherlands , the education took place as in German and also with the ending -zoon . This form was often contracted z. B. to Jansz, Di (e) rksz, Cornelisz etc.

However, the endings -ma and -sma (Reemtsma) were also used in the north of the country . They are still officially in use in the province of Friesland . They are formed with the ending -s . The feminine ending can be found -daughter .

North Germanic languages

Patronymically derived family names are particularly common in Scandinavian countries.


In Denmark , the formation takes place through the ending -sen , previously also -son , the female suffix is -datter " daughter "

With the entry into force of the new Danish naming law on April 1, 2006, parents can again give their children a patronymic or mother's name as a family name.


  • Father: Morten Jakobsen
  • Mother: Gunhild Jakobsen
  • Son: Nikolaj Morten søn / Morten ssøn or Nikolaj Gunhild søn / Gunhild ssøn
  • Daughter: Vibeke Morten sdatter or Vibeke Gunhild sdatter

In Denmark, as in Germany, for example, the principle that children must have the same family name as at least one parent no longer applies.


In Sweden , education was provided for sons with the ending -son and for daughters with the ending -dotter . From around the time the Swedish Empire was founded in 1523, nobles, craftsmen and soldiers increasingly gave themselves family names. Patronyms, however, were very common until the 1860s. Until the 20th century there was no fixed naming legislation. With the introduction of such in 1901, patronyms were banned. However, there were exceptions until the 1960s. From 1982 patronymic or metronymic names could be used again upon request. Since July 1, 2017, parents are free to give their children a real patronymic or metronym instead of the usual family name.

Most Swedish surnames that end with -son are not real patronyms today, but family names (secondary patronymics). Names that end in -son are still very common. About 3 million Swedes, or a third of the total population, have such a name. The most common surname in Sweden to date is Johansson with around 280,000 carriers. Names ending in -dotter , however, are rare. In 2004 only just under 4,000 Swedes had such a name.


In Norway , education occurs on -sen . Patronyms were never as common here as in the other Scandinavian countries. The names of origin are much more common here, that is, the current family name is the name of the farm where the family originally came from.


Iceland only knows family names in exceptional cases, the patronyms are the official surname here to this day. Matronyms are also used, but less often. The formation takes place with the hind link -son or female by -dóttir , for example Freydís Eríksdóttir ('daughter of Erík') or Eilífr Goðrúnarson ('son of Goðrún').

Faroe Islands

The Icelandic principle is optional in the Faroe Islands .

United States

The very frequent occurrence of the surname Johnson in the United States , predominantly on the east coast, including the southern states to Texas, also on parts of the west coast, initially indicates the large number of Dutch and Scandinavian immigrants in the 17th century, with which explicitly many Johanzoons , resp. Johanssons and their families had come to the coasts of the New World . Since these First Wave settlers found plenty of land there, they settled down as farmers and didn't have to move further inland. Over time, the family name was formed into Johnson - via the spelling of the English first name John . Since - until the Civil War - all slaves had to take the surname of their ruling families , Johnson is the most common surname in the USA, mainly because of its predominant occurrence in the Afro-American population .

Slavic languages

In Russia, the patronymic (о́тчество otschestwo , usually translated as " patronymic ") is a regular part of the name that follows the first name and precedes the family name. Similar regulations exist in Belarus, Ukraine and Bulgaria.

The patronymic is formed by adding a suffix :

  • Russian : -owitsch, -evitsch and sometimes -itsch (male) or -owna or -ewna and rarely -itschna, -initschna (female)
  • Bulgarian : -ow or -ew (male), -owa or -ewa (female)
  • Ukrainian : -owytsch or -ewytsch (male), -iwna (female)
  • Belarusian : -avich (male), -auna (female)
  • Polish : -owicz, -ewicz and sometimes -icz (male), -owna or -ewna (female)


In Russian, the patronymic is always immediately after the first name ("Alexander Sergejewitsch Puschkin"). In documents, the first name and patronymic can also be mentioned together after the family name ("Pushkin Alexander Sergejewitsch"). This occasionally causes confusion among foreigners about the name components, since in Russian there is no comma after the family name in these cases. If only the initial of the patronymic is mentioned, the first name is always abbreviated ("AS Puschkin"). In German texts, the patronymic of Russian persons is only mentioned if a person can be clearly identified and completeness is particularly desirable, for example in lexicons . In simple texts - e.g. in media reports - the patronymic is not used.

The polite form of address in Russian among people who meet each other consists of the first name and the patronymic ("Здравствуйте, Александр Сергеевич"! - "Greetings, Alexander Sergejewitsch!"). An address with the family name according to the western pattern ("Mr. Puschkin") is linguistically possible, but sounds dry in Russian and emphasizes the distance. However, it is used by foreigners without a patronymic. Among good acquaintances who - as is common in other countries - only address each other by their first name, a friendly form of address can in exceptional cases only consist of the patronymic.

Foreigners no longer have patronymic names in Russia; However, this was still common in the 19th century. B. Heinrich Johann Friedrich Ostermann as Andrei Iwanowitsch Osterman (with Andrei (eigtl. Andreas) for Heinrich , and Iwanowitsch for his father Johann Conrad), Burkhard Christoph von Münnich as Christofor Antonowitsch Minich (with Antonowitsch for his father Anton Günther) and Karl Robert von Nesselrode as Karl Wassiljewitsch Nesselrode (with Wassiljewitsch for his father Wilhelm Karl, probably because this sounds more Russian than the actually more correct Wilgelmowitsch ).

In the Soviet Union everyone had a patronymic. For example, the Armenian world chess champion Tigran Petrosjan was officially called Tigran Wartani Petrosjan in Armenian ( Wartani is the genitive of Wartan ) and in Russian Tigran Wartanowitsch Petrosjan ( Тигран Вартанович Петросян ). The patronymic names have since been abolished in countries such as Estonia and Armenia .

Names of patronymic origin exist as family names in all Slavic languages, e.g. B. Polish Janowicz "descendant of Jan (Johannes)", Wojciechowski "descendant of Wojciech (Adalbert)", Andrzejczak "descendant of Andrzej (Andreas)", Serbo-Croatian Petrović "descendant of Petar (Peter)", Ivanišević "descendant of Ivaniš ( Johannes) ".

Until the partitions of Poland , the Jews in Eastern Europe had no family names, only the patronymic in the Hebrew form with Ben or the Polish form with -icz . In the Balkans, family names did not gain acceptance among non-nobles until the 19th century, so that Vuk Karadžić published his first books with the patronymic Vuk Stefanović (without family name; in Jacob Grimm's German translation Wuk Stephanowitsch ).

Romance languages

The Roman name was similar to today, from a first name and a family name , sometimes supplemented by one or more nickname ( cognomen and agnomen ). In official inscriptions and documents one also added the tribe and the father's name, e.g. B. Marci filius (= son of Marcus), added to identify the bearer as a Roman citizen . This distinguished him from a freedman , who carried the first name of his former master with the addition of libertus , and the other imperial residents, who had their own naming system and, when they received Roman citizenship, assumed a name based on the model of the freedman, with the name of the incumbent ruler instead of the former master.

The Roman father's name was placed after the family name and in front of the surname (e.g. Marcus Tullius Marci libertus Tiro ). The formation took place by replacing the gender-specific nominative ending -us in the first name of the father or former gentleman with the genitive ending -i and adding the addition filius (son) or libertus (freedman).

The Roman father's name system, which was only used incidentally, disappeared in AD 212 when Emperor Caracalla with the Constitutio Antoniniana granted Roman citizenship to almost all imperial residents. Its function of distinguishing Roman citizens from freedmen and other imperial residents had now become superfluous.

After the fall of the Roman Empire , however, it came into use again in some Romance languages.

Some examples of patronymic surnames:

Celtic languages

  • Gaelic : Mac , Mc- (son of), NIC (daughter of); also: Ó- , Ua- (grandson of), Ní- (granddaughter of)
  • Welsh : Mab- , Map- , ap- (son of)

Indo-Iranian languages

Semitic languages

Ural-Altaic languages

  • Finnish : -poika (male); -tytary (female)
  • Estonian : -poeg (male); -tütar (female)
  • Hungarian : -fi , -ffi (-sohn)
  • Turkish : -oğlu (-sohn)
  • Mongolian : -yn / -iin (genitive ending corresponds to vowel harmony), e.g. B. Süchbaataryn Batbold = literally Süchbaatars Batbold, so Batbold, son of Süchbaatar

Austronesian languages

Other languages

  • Greek : Remnants in family names, for example -poulos, -idis, -iadis, -oglou (from Turkish -oğlu (-sohn)); the genitive of the first name is used (as in the Slavic languages) as the father's name, e.g. B. Giorgos Andrea Papandreou and entered on official identity papers.


  • Rosa Kohlheim, Volker Kohlheim: Duden, Lexicon of Family Names . Origin and meaning of 20,000 surnames. Dudenverlag , Mannheim / Leipzig / Vienna / Zurich 2008, ISBN 978-3-411-73111-4 .
  • Dietmar Urmes: Etymological name dictionary . The dictionary of origin. Marix, Wiesbaden 2006, ISBN 978-3-86539-091-2 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Patronymic  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: patronymic  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Geneanet - French Onomastik
  2. a b Patronymic name formation in the Duchy of Schleswig ( Memento of the original from February 17, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  3. ^ Konrad Kunze : dtv-Atlas onenology. dtv volume 2490. dtv, 1998 (1st edition), ISBN 3-423-03266-9 , p. 78ff
  4. Kunze 1998, p. 69
  5. ^ Manno P. Tammena: naming in East Friesland. ISBN 978-3-939870-59-3
  6. Michael Heinze: Four surnames in one family. In: Ostfriesen-Zeitung, April 12, 2000 ( online )
  7. Volkert F. Faltings (ed.): Small naming for Föhr and Amrum . Helmut Buske, Hamburg 1985, ISBN 3-87118-680-5 , formation of the surname.
  8. a b Danish Naming Act , accessed May 5, 2009, 12:40 p.m. Translation of the passages essential for the proof: Section 1, Paragraph 1: Those who have custody of a child must choose a surname to which the child is entitled under Section 2 no later than 6 months after the child's birth Has -4 or 6-8. Section 1, Paragraph 2: If the name is not chosen within the period specified in Paragraph 1, the child receives the mother's surname. However, this does not apply if the mother's surname has already been chosen according to Section 7, Paragraph 1, No. 1 or 2. In this case, the child receives the mother's first name with the suffix -søn or -datter, depending on its gender, in accordance with Section 7, Paragraph 1, No. 1. Section 7, Paragraph 1: The following can also be used as a surname: one of the parents 'first names with the suffix -søn or -datter, Section 7, Paragraph 2: one of the parents' first names with another suffix indicating the relationship if the name has tradition in a culture that allows this [...]

  9. Civilutskottets betänkande 2016/17: CU4 - En ny lag om personnamn (in Swedish)
  10. Var tredje svensk har ett son-namn, publication by the Swedish statistics agency SCB (PDF file; 186 kB)
  12. Archived copy ( memento of the original dated July 6, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  13. see Wikipedia: Naming conventions / Cyrillic # personal names