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Surnames Quizzes, Trivia and Puzzles
Surnames Quizzes, Trivia

Surnames Trivia

Surnames Trivia Quizzes

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Whether your surname is Smith or Shivasubramanian or Su, these quizzes will teach you something new!
10 Surnames quizzes and 120 Surnames trivia questions.
  Fun with Surnames   top quiz  
Multiple Choice
 20 Qns
We all have one, but how much do we know about the surnames that we hear in our everyday life?
Difficult, 20 Qns, azazella, Jul 22 23
Jul 22 23
7710 plays
  Occupations and Surnames    
Multiple Choice
 10 Qns
Many surnames in the British Isles have derived from the occupations of our ancestors. Tell me which surname links with which occupation.
Average, 10 Qns, bracklaman, Dec 01 12
4295 plays
  Meanings of Family Names 1    
Multiple Choice
 10 Qns
We hear about the meanings of given names, but not much about our family names. This quiz is to make us aware of our family heritage.
Tough, 10 Qns, finlady, Feb 26 09
5137 plays
  Take this Origin of Surnames Quiz    
Multiple Choice
 10 Qns
Surnames refer to where an ancestor lived, what he was like, what job he did or who his dad or mum were. Many of those everyday surnames haven surprising origins.See if you can decipher any.
Tough, 10 Qns, flem-ish, Aug 05 22
Aug 05 22
5030 plays
  German Jewish Surnames - Their Meanings   great trivia quiz  
Multiple Choice
 10 Qns
Some of these names may sound familiar, some may be unusual, but they all have a story to tell.
Tough, 10 Qns, severnriver, Jun 09 12
1394 plays
  The Derivation of English Occupational Surnames    
Multiple Choice
 10 Qns
Many surnames are derived from occupations. The following ten common English surnames may all stem from an ancestor's job. How many do you know?
Difficult, 10 Qns, Belleiscute, Dec 22 12
748 plays
  Meanings of Family Names 2    
Multiple Choice
 20 Qns
On request, I am doing another quiz. Have fun.
Difficult, 20 Qns, finlady, Apr 19 21
Apr 19 21
1251 plays
  Occupational Surnames    
Multiple Choice
 10 Qns
There are many surnames that derive from the names of old professions. Smith and Baker are obvious examples. I will give you the surname and you decide what occupation that surname indicates.
Difficult, 10 Qns, ArtieChoke, Feb 13 10
3105 plays
  British Surnames - 1    
Multiple Choice
 10 Qns
Some questions which focus on some common British surnames and their likely origins. How many can you identify?
Difficult, 10 Qns, bracklaman, Sep 10 05
1196 plays
  Origin of Surnames Quiz for Experts    
Multiple Choice
 10 Qns
There are four categories here: names derived from other names, like Jackson; from locality, like Hill; 'nicknames', like Cruickshank which means bowlegged and occupational names such as Smith, Baker, etc. See if you find your way in it.
Difficult, 10 Qns, flem-ish, Nov 01 13
1721 plays
trivia question Quick Question
The French surname "Dubois" is which type of name and what is its meaning?

From Quiz "Fun with Surnames"

Related Topics
  Same Surname [People] (92 quizzes)

  People by Surname [People] (90 quizzes)

Surnames Trivia Questions

1. Which job was assigned to a medieval "barker"?

From Quiz
The Derivation of English Occupational Surnames

Answer: A tanner of leather

The Middle English word "bark" meant to tan hides. This is believed to have originated in the stripping of bark from trees to use in the tanning process. The name is of ancient origin, stemming from the times before the Norman Conquest. Another potential occupational derivation is from the Old French "bercher" or shepherd, with barkers tending flocks as a result.

2. Many surnames have their origins in occupations or professions: what kind of work was done by a tucker?

From Quiz Occupations and Surnames

Answer: A cleaner of cloth

A tucker was one whose job was the fulling and dressing of cloth, in particular the unpicking of threads and knots and the finishing of the product. There are references to the occupation from as early as the 13th century in England e.g. in the 1273 Hundred Rolls of Dorset there is mention of 'Roger le Tukere'.

3. What are the four basic categories of surnames?

From Quiz Fun with Surnames

Answer: Patronymic, Occupational, Locational, Descriptive

Patronymic surnames are those derived from the parent's given name, such as 'Johnson' for a son of John. Occupational surnames are derived from a person's occupation, such as 'Smith' or 'Weaver'. Locational surnames describe a feature of where the person lives; it could be the name of a village of the name of their farm or house, or a part of town such at 'Atwell' or 'Townsend'. Descriptive surnames cover names taken from one's physical features such at 'Little' or 'Brown' or nicknames based on personality traits (and their associated nouns) like 'Jolly', 'King' or 'Fox'.

4. Described in some reference sources as "one of the strong Welsh names". As a surname it means "eminent" and became popular during the early Middle Ages in honour of a great tenth century law giving Welsh king.

From Quiz British Surnames - 1

Answer: Howells

Hywel Dda (Howell the Good) prince of the equivalent of modern south west Wales then known as Deheubarth. He made first consistent attempts to codify law in Wales.

5. What did a "chapman" do?

From Quiz The Derivation of English Occupational Surnames

Answer: Merchant

There are several occupational-related meanings for chapman; however, all have something to do with buying and selling, and can encompass merchants, traders, businessmen, or peddlers. It is a surname of Anglo-Saxon origin and is closely related to the German Kaufmann.

6. What trade or profession would have given rise to the surname Falkner?

From Quiz Occupations and Surnames

Answer: Falcon keeper

A falkner, falconer or faulkner can be said to be a man who maintains or trains birds of prey such as hawks. It may also refer to a person who hunted with falcons or a follower of hawking as a sport. Geoffrey Chaucer referred to a faulkner in his 'Franklin's Tale' (c1386) when he wrote; "Thise ffauconers..with hir haukes han the heron slayn" It was a very popular sport for the nobility throughout the middle ages, not only in Europe but in Asia as well. The Emperor of China had an official whose title was 'The Grand Falconer' as part of his household.

7. One type of German Jewish surname is a personal descriptive name. What is the meaning of the descriptive name Klein?

From Quiz German Jewish Surnames - Their Meanings

Answer: Small

Klein means small in German. Another variation of this name is Kleiner, which is a type of nickname for a small person. In contrast, a name for a large person is Grossman, from gross, or large, in German.

8. Probably derived from the name for an early inhabitant of Worcester this surname later featured prominently in English Literature novels throughout the 1930s and 1940s.

From Quiz British Surnames - 1

Answer: Wooster

The reference is to Bertie Wooster the elegant buffoon created by P. G. Wodehouse as the foil to the inimitable Jeeves.

9. Surnames that derive from women's names are relatively rare. Yet there are a few of them. The name of hero of one of Sinclair Lewis's books derives from Barbara via Babbs - a shortened form for Barbara. What is the name of that hero?

From Quiz Origin of Surnames

Answer: Babbitt

10. What on Earth was the job of a 12th century "crowther"?

From Quiz The Derivation of English Occupational Surnames

Answer: Making music

Crowther comes from the Middle English word "croude", a stringed instrument similar to a violin. The first recorded use of the surname stems from the 13th century.

11. The surname Pitman derived from what occupation?

From Quiz Occupations and Surnames

Answer: A miner

A pitman was never just a miner. More specifically he would be a man who worked in a coal pit or mine, especially as a collier and later as a man who operated the pumping machinery in a shaft. It was in common parlance for several years, but the first written record appears to be in the 'Philosophical Transactions 1708-09' of the Royal Society.

12. Some names are not descriptive but ornamental, describing something pleasant or fanciful. What is the meaning of the name Rothstein?

From Quiz German Jewish Surnames - Their Meanings

Answer: Red stone

This name is from the German words roth or red, and stein or stone. Other ornamental names are Rosenberg, or mountain of roses, and Rosenfeld, or a field of roses.

13. A surname that has origins in the early medieval crafts. It would have been the occupational name for someone who laid wooden tiles on a roof.

From Quiz British Surnames - 1

Answer: Shingler

Derived from the Middle English "Shingle" and is linked to the German "Schindler" as in the Spielberg film "Schindler's List"

14. What trade or occupation would a medieval English "foster" have engaged in?

From Quiz The Derivation of English Occupational Surnames

Answer: A saddle tree maker

The name "foster" first appeared in England following the Norman Conquest in 1066, and is derived from the Old French "fustier/fustre", meaning a block of wood. Other possible occupational origins include a forester, or a crafter of metal implements called "forcetier", similar to modern-day shears.

15. What occupation was associated with the surname Ackerman?

From Quiz Occupations and Surnames

Answer: A ploughman

This is an old English or Saxon word meaning a cultivator of the ground, probably a ploughman. The earliest record of the term dates back to about 1000 AD.

16. Biblical first names may occur in German Jewish names. For example, what biblical first name is the origin of the surname Rubin?

From Quiz German Jewish Surnames - Their Meanings

Answer: Reuben

Reuben, one of the twelve tribes of Israel, was Jacob's first-born son. Other biblical first names might occur as patronymic names or "son of" names, such as Davidson, son of David, and Abramson, son of Abram. These names would refer to the person's immediate ancestors, who were in turn named for the famous biblical personality.

17. This surname also became a first or forename but originated from an early nickname for someone with fair hair or more properly "a lock of fair hair".

From Quiz British Surnames - 1

Answer: Sherlock

Thought to have been derived from Old English "Scir" and "loc" which mean fair and hair. It has also been linked to Middle English "scirloc" meaning bright. It looks as though Sir Arthur Conan Doyle may have endowed his famous detective with physical and mental attributes when he named him.

18. Though at first sight the name Summerbee seems to refer to a bee-in-summer the actual origin is SummerBY in which -by is a Viking word that also occurs in names such as Whitby, Rigby, Willoughby etc. What does 'BY' mean in English place names?

From Quiz Origin of Surnames

Answer: farm

-BY had as its basic meaning :'fenced-in domain, farm '. Whitby was a white farm, Rigby a farm built on a ridge, and Willoughby a farm surrounded by willow-trees. A summer-by was the opposite of a winter-by. Winter-bys were farms in places where farming could go on in winter. Usually in a lower part of the countryside. The name Winter-bottom refers to such a place where people and cattle withdrew to hibernate. Bottom has the meaning of dale,valley.

19. Which occupation would a post-Norman Conquest "palmer" be involved in?

From Quiz The Derivation of English Occupational Surnames

Answer: A pilgrim to the holy land

The original derivation of the name came from the Old French word "palmer". Palmers were so named because they returned form the holy land bearing palm leaves. Later the word palmer came to mean missionary.

20. What was the trade or profession that gave rise to the surname Keeler?

From Quiz Occupations and Surnames

Answer: boat builder

The surname Keeler apparently dates from an old English occupational name for a boatman or boat builder. Going back even further in the history of language it appears to be derived from a Middle English word kele which meant 'ship' or 'barge' and probably came from from the Middle Dutch kiel. The 1881 census shows a total number of 893 Keelers on the electoral roll which accounted for a frequency of 33 people in every million people.

21. Sometimes, a German surname would become changed when a person came to another country, like the United States. What would have been the original German form of the name Needleman?

From Quiz German Jewish Surnames - Their Meanings

Answer: Nadelman

The name Needleman is derived from the German word for needle - nadel. The meaning of the name is someone who made needles, or a user of needles, like a tailor. Shortened English and German forms of this name include Needle and Nadel.

22. The common Cornish surname Angove is the equivalent of which English occupational name?

From Quiz Fun with Surnames

Answer: Smith

Although most true Cornish surnames are locationally derived, there are a few that are taken from occupations, such as Tyack (farmer), Baragwanath (Whitbread - a seller or baker of high quality bread) and the popular Angove, derived from 'an gof' - 'the smith'.

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