People did not have last names in the old times

The Old English word “eke” – “e, k, e” – (pronounced “eek”) – meant “in addition to.” In the old days people did not have last names (family name or surnames) so to avoid confusion a person would add an eke name, an addition to his or her name. For instance, John the Blacksmith, John the Baker, John from Jerusalem, John the son of Peter, and so on. [In Hebrew, it would have been something like Joseph ben (son of) Jacob.]

Through time, an eke became pronounced as “neke” – “n e k e” which in turn became “nick” name. These nicknames often became last names.

Napoleon is the reason for some awkward last names. When he invaded neighboring countries he passed a law that everyone there should have a registered last name. In an attempt to make a mockery of Napoleon’s new law some people registered funny last names. Translated to English, there are family names such are “Cat’s elbow,” “Not today,” and “In my navel.” The families still have those names.

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12/02/2009. Category: trivia. Tags: , .

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