• It is a moot point to what extent surnames derived from the word for a product or object (with no agentive affix) were always metonyms for the occupation. It must often have been so, perhaps arising from clipped forms of fully formed agent nouns: thus Mes ('knife') for Mesmaker or Messer ('cutler'), and Wiel ('wheel') for Wielemaker or Wieldraaijer ('wheelwright'), as well as the synonymous Frisian name Wielenga (when it is not a habitational name comparable to Van der Wiel(en), a topographical name from wiel 'pool'). On the other hand, it is seldom that one finds evidence to confirm these occupational senses, and it is likely that the metonymy could have developed from a range of possible associations between the product and the name-bearer (that he habitually wore or brandished a knife, or used to turn around like a wheel, for example), not only (or even) that he made and sold these items. A good example of this ambiguity is the name Tulp ('tulip'). The tulip is symbolic of the refined culture that developed in the Dutch Golden Age. To proclaim his devotion to the flower, the famous doctor Nicolas Tulp marked his canal house in Amsterdam with a tulip and chose Tulp for his family name. To others, however, the surname may have been given metonymically because they were growers of tulips or were fine gardeners. More will be said on this matter in the following section
Nicknames - Most nicknames characterize a physical, mental, or moral attribute or an association with an event or habit that was peculiar to a particular person in his or her community. This in itself makes them semantically highly diverse in comparison with other categories of surname. They are also formally exceptionally varied. Straightforwardly literal descriptions rub shoulders with a host of more colorful and sometimes perplexing names derived from metaphors, metonyms, and words and expressions plucked from conversational speech. Literal descriptions are typified in a name such as De Groot ('the great'), for a man of large stature. It is a widespread family name in both Flanders and the Netherlands (where there were over 36,000 bearers of the name in 2007). The reduced forms Groot and Grote (without the article) are the usual spellings in the US but in the Netherlands they are more characteristic of the province of North Holland. Its antonym (De) Kort(e), for someone of short stature, is surprisingly far less common in its homeland but is well attested as Kort and Korte in the US, where a branch of the family Korthals ('short neck') can also be traced. De Roo ('the red') and Rood denoted someone with red hair. Berrevoets and Bervoets ('bare-foot') may lie behind some American examples of Barefoot. Quick-footed persons were
named in Dutch as Ligtvoet, which in America would have been translated into English Lightfoot. Doeve (see Dove) denoted a deaf person, Blind a blind man. Dutcher is sometimes an Americanized form of Dutch Duyster or Duijster, a nickname from Middle Dutch duuster, duister 'gloomy', also 'stupid', while Klock is from Middle Dutch cloec, clo(o)c 'deft, skillful, clever', and Quant is sometimes from Middle Dutch quant
'companion, joker'. A name such as Regtop ('upright') could refer to a manner of deportment or to moral rectitude. Nevertheless, since we do not know the circumstances in which these names were originally given, we cannot always be sure that no irony was intended when the name was apparently complimentary or (even) uncomplimentary. Metaphoric names alluding to the real or supposed characteristics of animals, birds,
and other creatures are plentiful, for example Vos or Devos ('fox'), for a red-haired or cunning man, Crane or Krane ('crane, heron'), for a long-legged man, and De Kever ('the beetle'), perhaps for a short, stubby person. Metonymic names (based on contiguity rather than similarity) are even more common, but it is often difficult to be sure what the original bearers' associations were with the objects or incidents from which their name derived. Poot ('paw, leg') no doubt referred to something physically remarkable but there is no way of knowing exactly what this was. Did the bearer have long legs or a crippled leg?
Nicknames invite questions that we are rarely able to answer. Were names such as Pannekoek (Americanized in the US as Pancake), Brood ('bread'), Schoonbrood ('fine bread'), Wittebrood ('white bread'), and Koek ('cake' or 'biscuit') given to lovers of these foods or to makers and sellers of them? Was Den Hoed ('the hat', compare Hood) a nickname for someone who wore a hat in a distinctive way or who made and sold hats? For Klomp, however, we may be pretty sure that it is an occupational nickname synonymous with, or a shortening of, Klompenmaker 'clog maker'. All country folk once wore these 'typical Dutch' wooden shoes, so klomp would not be distinctive for nicknaming someone who wore them.
Lack of motivational context is a pervasive problem in interpreting the original meaning of surnames, and this is exacerbated by formal ambiguities that blur the distinctions between types of name. (De) Koning looks like a metaphorical nickname for someone who gave himself royal airs, but it could also have been a status name for the head of a craftmen's guild or for the 'king' elected to preside at a folk festival. Alternatively, it might have been a habitational surname, referring to a house or inn named "The King". Likewise, den Hoed, Krane, and Pannekoek could all derive from house or inn names, perhaps with a hat, crane, or pancake depicted on a signboard. Not only were some inns called "In de Pannekoek" but some farms were nicknamed "Pancake" from fields or meadows that were round and "flat as a pancake", so this is another possible origin of the family name [Leendert Brouwer & Peter McClure, 'Dutch family names', in: DAFN (preface of the revised second edition of the Dictionary of American Family Names, edited by Patrick Hanks, to be published by Oxford University Press in 2022 --- https://www.cbgfamilienamen.nl/nfb/documenten/DAFN%202,%20ESSAY,%20Dutch%20names.pdf)].
afkortingen en bibliografische notaties: