The Name Smith


The Linguaphile's Almanac

I always knew Smith was the most common name in English, but I didn’t know that it was connected to a number of other variants of the name.

Smith is the most common name in America and Britain, but it is also one of the most common in nearly every other European language. The German Schmidt, the French Ferrier, Italian Ferraro, Spanish Herrero, Hungarian Kovacs, and Russian Kus-netzov are all Smiths.

It just goes to show what a big deal smithing was years ago:

Most surnames come ultimately, if not always obviously, from one of four sources: place-names (e.g., Lincoln, Worthington), nicknames (Whitehead, Armstrong), trade names (Smith, Carpenter), and patronymics, that is names indicating a familial relationship (Johnson, Robertson).

Just think, if we did that these days, most people would be called Dave Admin.

Extracts from Bill Bryson, Mother Tongue: The Story of the English Language

View original post

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s