A lot of Jewish people tend to have German surnames. But why don't regular Germans have these same surnames too.?

All the -steins and -bergs seem to only be names of people of Jewish ancestry. Yet these names are clearly linguistically German.

Why aren't there any regular(non-Jewish) German people with surnames like -stein or -berg, Weiss or Schwarz?

Or is this just a tendency in America and I'm just ignorant and back in Germany there are regular Germans named -stein, etc.

2 Answers

  • 2 months ago
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    Jews have historically used Hebrew patronymic names. Starting in the 18th century Ashkenazic Jews of Germany and Austria were forced to adopt German-style surnames. Many of those names adopted were "ornamental names", chosen because they sounded good.

    • So as "ornamental names" these were names that the Germans didn't have?

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  • 2 months ago

    Because they bought their surnames. Ashkenazic Jews were originally mainly in German-speaking parts of Europe and spread across the rest of Northern Europe later. They replaced their original names with German ones but the ones with Silver and Gold in them were more expensive than the ones without. In England there used to be a famous rabbi whose surname was Blue, the idea being that people are called Green and Brown, but the family didn't realise nobody was ever called Blue.

    • But my question is why don't other Germans of non-Jewish descent have these same German last names too?

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