Notes on Surnames in German Names from Kosice, 1300 - 1500

by Talan Gwynek (Brian M. Scott)

© 2003 Brian M. Scott; all rights reserved

Comes: Arnold Comes is early (1332, 1335); Comes may be the Latin word comes 'count' used as a title rather than a true byname.

Cromer: German Krämer 'shopkeeper, tradesman, grocer', also Latinized as institor (q.v.).

Czothmar: This should correspond to modern Zothmar, which is apparently the German form of Szatmár, the name of a region in Hungary. (See; at is an English version that writes it Zotmar.)

Czypsser: Locative; the modern spelling is Zipser 'one from the Zips'; the Zips was a large German settlement area in Slovakia.

Dorrholtz: This appears to be from Middle High German dürre 'lean, gaunt' (Low and Middle German dörr) and Holz 'wood; a wood'. It could be a byname for a skinny, dried-up person, or it could be locative.

Dytel: Patronymic, a pet form of Dietrich; the normalized modern spelling is Dietel.

Fferber: German Färber 'dyer; painter'.

Gabrielis: Latinized patronymic; Gabrielis is the genitive of Gabriel.

Greniczer: Several genealogical websites say that Grenicz is locative, the German name of a village that is now Slovakian Hranovnica.

Hebenstreit: German phrase-name, Hebe den Streit 'start the fight'.

Institor: Latin institor 'salesman, huckster'; this is a Latinization of Cromer (q.v.).

Irmesch: Metronymic, a pet form of Irmentrud, Irmetraut, etc. The suffix -esch is Slavic; a fully German form would be Irmel.

Kilianus: Latinized patronymic from Kilian, the usual German form of Irish Cilléne. (St. Kilian was widely venerated in Germany, where he was active as a missionary in the late 7th c.)

Knoblauch: German Knoblauch 'garlic'.

Kukelbrecht: This one is obscure, though the second element might perhaps be Middle High German breht 'noise, quarrel'.

Mussikgang: German Müßiggang, from Middle High German muoßganc 'one who can live on the income from his property'.

Opitzer: Patronymic from Opitz (older form Apecz), a pet form of Albrecht.

Rus(s)dorffer: Apparently 'one from Rus(s)dorf'; there are several places in Germany named Russdorf.

Schwarcz: German schwarz 'black'.

Schynnagel: German Schiennagel 'a strong nail used to fasten an iron rim to a wheel'; here probably a term for a low-level worker of some sort.

Stoyan: Patronymic, from Slavic Stojan

Sybenberger: German, 'one from Siebenberg'. However, -berg and -burg were often interchanged, so it may be 'one from Siebenburg'.

Tockler: Probably from Middle High German tockeler 'pillar, column', for someone who is stiff and upright, either literally or figuratively; possibly from Swabian dockelen 'to work halfheartedly, to dawdle'.

Villicus: Arnoldus Villicus is early (1327); this is definitely Latin villicus, which can be 'villager' or 'townsman' and may possibly have had other meanings as well, at least in medieval Latin. I don't think that we can guess whether it's a genuine byname translated into Latin or simply a description.

Zenthffeer: The first element appears to be German Zent 'a judicial district comprising 100 villages', later 'governing body of a village'. The second element, -feer, may be from Middle High German ver(e) 'boatman, ferryman', though the sense of such a compound isn't entirely clear.