Suffixes in surnames

Different regions in the Netherlands have different customs. This applies to Dutch surnames as well as to many other traditions. Some areas use suffixes that are typical of that region.

Knowing about the suffixes in Dutch family names can help you in trying to find out in which province to look for your ancestors. More information about regional customs can also be found in the articles about the different provinces in the Geography section.


Map of the Netherlands

Distribution of the Jansen name in 2007

Patronymics are surnames that are derived from the name of the father. This is more elaborately explained in a separate article about patronymics. Often, patronymics are easy to spot. The different forms can sometimes help determine where someone comes from.

Suffix Regions Examples
-s not specific to any region Jans, Berends, Roelofs
-se Jobse, Abrahamse, Pieterse
-sen not specific to any region Jansen, Pietersen, Willemsen

“Clan” names

Originally, these types of names had the function of patronymics. Beernink = belonging to the family of Berend. In this respect they can be compared to the prefix “Mac” of Scotland or “Fitz” in England.

In the provinces of Overijssel and Gelderland, these “clan” names got transferred to the farms. A man called Beernink would not necessarily belong to the clan of Berend, but lived on a farm that originally was established by someone from the clan of Berend. See the article on farm names to learn more about people naming themselves after their farms.

Suffix Regions Examples
-ena Bultena, Matena, Wartena
-enga Biewenga, Kruizenga, Sikkenga
-ing Abbing, Mekking, Schuiling
-inga Huizinga, Abbinga, Fokkinga
-ink Hoitink, Meerdink, Hesselink
-ma Reitsma, Hoeksema, Miedema

Farm names

As written in the previous paragraph, many farm names are derived from clan names. But these are not the only types of farm names. Many farm names can be spotted from their prefixes like ‘te’ or ‘ter’, see the article about prefixes in surnames for more information. Some farm names can be recognized from their suffix.

Suffix Regions Examples
-borg Weversborg, Beverborg, Lunenborg
-hof Borninkhof, Grevinkhof, Achterhof
-huis Holthuis, Maathuis, Kamphuis
-kamp Hietkamp, Veldkamp, Telgenkamp

Names based on geographical locations

Some other people called themselves after the place they lived. In many regions people used prefixes like “van” and “te”, which is explained in the article about prefixes in surnames. In some regions, they used suffixes instead. In Friesland, the suffix “stra” was used. For example, people from Ureterp called themselves Terpstra.

Suffix Regions Examples
-stra Hoekstra, Terpstra, Veenstra

Names derived from personal characteristics

Sometimes people were named after some personal characteristics. Someone with white hair could be called “De Witte” (the white), someone who was a younger son could be called “De Jong”. Most of these types of names do not have specific suffixes but some do.¬†For example, the suffix -aert meant something like “someone who …”, similar to the use of -er in English (to perform – performer).

Suffix Regions Examples
-aert Grootaert, Mullaert, Mutsaert
About Yvette Hoitink

Yvette Hoitink is a professional genealogist in the Netherlands. She has been doing genealogy for almost 25 years. Her expertise is helping people from across the world find their ancestors in the Netherlands. Read about Yvette's professional genealogy services.


  1. My family’s surname is SCHOUTEN. I am told that “schout” was a sort of peace-keeper, or sheriff, and that the suffix “en” is the plural of the occupation. Is that correct?

    • Yes, a schout was an official with a function similar to a sherriff, mayor or district attorney. The -en suffix is more likely the possessive form (“from the Schout”) than the plural -en. To find out where your family got its name from, you need to go back to the first person who used that name and then see what circumstances explain it.

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