Meaning and origin of Jewish surnames - Matronymics


Some Jewish surnames have their origin in the mother's name of the person who received it for the first time.

We can think that the mother of this person had a relevant role in the his life or she was an important person in the community.

The typical ending that allows us to identify this type of surnames is «IN», like the suffix used in German (and Germanic Yiddish) for female nouns.

These are examples of female nouns in German:

Lehrer => Lehrerin (female teacher)
Arzt => Ärztin (female doctor)


Now, we can detect typical Jewish surnames ending with IN like:

GOLDIN: son of Golde (typical Yiddish female given name)
SCHIFRIN: son of Schifre (typical Yiddish female given name)
CYRLIN: son of Cyrl (typical Yiddish female given name)
HENDIN: son of Hinde
AGUNIN: son of Agunah (abandoned wife)

Other matronymics could be detected when a female given name is followed by the ending MAN:

GOLDMAN: son of Golde
PERELMAN: son of Perl
SORIN: son of Sore (Sarah)
CIPORIN or ZIPORIN: son of Tziporah (Cype or Tzype)


Polish variants

Remember that those surnames that were transliterated into Polish were written in a different way according to Polish pronunciation:

German form / Polish form
Schifrin / Szifrin
Ziporin / Ciporin
Zirlin / Cyrlin


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