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.

Patronymics

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.

Comments

  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.

  2. James Huffman says

    I have information of an ancestor. Found his listing on a ship that sailed to New Netherlands in July 1661 on the “De Bever”.
    His name was Pieter Marselis, a French Hugenot.
    He was listed as
    “Peter Marcelis van Beest, and Wife and four children and 2 servants”
    Can you tell me what the suffix “van Beest” means. Many name on the listing had that suffix.
    Thank You.

    • “Van Beest” can be either the last name our the place of origin. There is a town called Beesd in Gelderland. Why do you think this is a Huguenot family? Marselis is also a Dutch first name so it could simply be a patronymic.

  3. I have been looking at a 1830 newspaper from South Africa: De Zuid Afrikaan It is in Dutch not Afrikaans.

    After the surnames in many notices are suffixes such as Jz. Cz. Ps. As.
    What are these and what do they mean.

    Hope you can help

    • Have you tried searching WorldCat.org?
      -s or -z is an abbreviation for ‘soon’ or ‘zoon’, meaning ‘son’. These suffixes are used to identify different people who have the same name, e.g. Abraham de Vries Jz would be Abraham, son of J [Jan, for example] while Abraham de Vries Kz would be Abraham, son of K [Klaas, for example].

  4. Barbara Lenderink Salmo says

    Would you know anything about the suffix “derink”?
    My maiden name was Lenderink and I have seen the
    ending “derink” in other last names from the Netherlands.
    Thank you very much.

  5. Tim Forston says

    I’m descended from a Quartermaster of the Dutch West India Company who is mostly recorded as being active in the contentiousness between the Dutch and the Swedes along what is now the border area between New Jersey and Delaware. His name was Alexander (Sander) Boyer. He made
    enough of an impact to get bad reports about him to the King of Sweden yet he isn’t very well recorded in many other ways. Much of his biography is extremely incomplete. My financial resources are very limited and I can’t afford to hire a professional.More info about him would benefit many people in
    America and help fill in holes in Colonial American History. He is reputed to have been very fluent in the Lenape Language and to have been on the good side of many of the Native Americans of that region. He is recorded as born in the Netherlands and that’s all I’ve ever found about his roots.

  6. Pamela Carpenter says

    My mother’s family name was originally “Djoungkin” but over the years it became Youngkin. In our history they were born in Holland and worked in the Cabinet Building trade, along with carpentry and farming. Have you any info on this last name?

  7. Dawn Sywassink Luthe says

    Can you tell me anything about the name Wassink or Sywassink (which is my maiden name). I know that my family came from the Winterswijk area.
    Thanks

  8. Collin Schuiling says

    Hi there!,
    your information has been really helpful to me, do you know anything further about the Schuiling line?

  9. Jeffrey Elders says

    Great info.
    I love my Dutch heritage and learning where I come from.
    My Surname is ELDERS
    I know there are several Elders still in the Nederlands, but Elders is a very English word. Elderly person, an old person.
    We always thought it meant Elder as Eldest son or Respected Elder in a community.
    But a little more research of the Dutch language I found Elders being a Dutch word meaning “elsewhere”
    The word Nederland comes from German for Lower-land. Could my name meaning come from a location or elsewhere rather than an elder person?

    Thank you for you great work.

    • Fritz Juengling says

      HI Jeffrey,
      I can’t add anything to your general questions, but would like to clarify something about the ‘Nederland’ origin that you propose. “neder” is related to English “nether” and German “nieder,” but it is good ol’ Dutch, not German.

  10. Kyla Miedema says

    Hi there! This is some really interesting information.
    My surname is Miedema, and I was curious to see if you had any further information regarding that name in particular.
    Thank you again for compiling all of this.

  11. Deborah says

    My husband’s last name is Levitus, he is of Dutch origin. Is “tus” a common dutch suffix?
    Thank u!

    • “-us” is a common suffix in Latin, a language that was also used in the Netherlands, especially in Roman Catholic records. It’s not a specifically Dutch suffix.

  12. Cleve Van Orden says

    Very interesting; very helpful!
    (Family history says “Van Orden” originally “van Naarden”.
    Ancestor –a French Huguenot, left Naarden & settled in New Amsterdam in 1623).

  13. Sara McAllister says

    Hello, my grandmother’s last name is Kastra. Her father stated on the 1920 New York census that his parents were from Holland. That is where my research has come to a stop unfortunately I am unable to trace beyond that. I’ve been told that the last name could have been Kaastra. My research tells me this could be a “place” name from Friesland. Do you know where this may have originated?

  14. Otis Vanweerdenpoelman says

    Hello, I’m of Dutch-Indonesian decent and am interested in the origin and meaning of the name Vanweerdenpoelman. The only information I could find only was with respect to my immediate family. I know more distant relations limited the name to poelman. What information is lost by doing this, and what is the meaning of the full name?

  15. Robert Nix says

    What about ”Quackenbosch” ?

  16. Robert Nix says

    Poelman was a German family that moved to Netherlands. Denmark and Netherlands is or was, Holland. .It is specifically the family names ending of Van or van Werden Poelman .

  17. Robert Nix says

    Poelman was a German family that moved to Netherlands. Denmark and Netherlands is or was, Holland. .It is specifically the family names ending of Van or van Weerden Poelman .

  18. Mary Saunders says

    Hi Yvette, I have enjoyed reading your articles about Dutch names. They’re fascinating. The Dutch given names in my family seem to follow the pattern you have suggested. I’m having difficulty, however, applying your suggestions to my maiden name (Rus) and my great grandmother’s maiden name (Stroek). Any suggestions as to their derivations? Thank you for any help.

  19. Christy Van Heukelem says

    In researching our surname, Van Heukelem, I find various spellings: Van Heukelem, Van Heukelom and Van Heukelum.
    Can you provide insight regarding the differences? Are these names distinct or just a different spelling of the same name? We have been told that Van means from and have located a town of Heukelom but are unsure if that is the original land of our ancestors?

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