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I've come across a number of surnames of the form Levi-[Something]:

Does Levi- as the first half of a surname generally derive from (or is it) an indication of a Levite family? (I'm asking in general, not about those three families specifically.)

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My first thought is that their ancestors were a man named Levi and a woman named Civita/Strauss/Montalcini (or vice-versa). –  b a Jul 19 '12 at 23:27
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@ba In most cases I know of, the woman's name usually comes first. I wonder if that's the case here, though; I'm not sure hyphenization was so common back when these people's parents were married. –  Double AA Jul 19 '12 at 23:45
    
off-topic, Epstein is, according to a friend with that name, a Levite surname. –  Charles Koppelman Aug 1 '12 at 16:46
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1 Answer

The name levi is a big indicator, true, but don't take for granted that a name is what it says it is. For example, in my community, I know two families whose full names are Cohen and are not Kohanim. Maybe it is different by Leviim, but probably not, because it will go on the same line of logic that people adopt names (if they were fleeing a country for example) or they get mixed up at a border (like Ellis Island) or in a country's records. So although it is likely that they are what their name says, it's still wise to check a few records to make sure.

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Indication =! Proof. I think the name Cohen is still an indication of being a Kohein. –  Double AA Aug 1 '12 at 2:14
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@DoubleAA what do you mean still an indication - they are NOT kohanim –  MosheY Aug 1 '12 at 2:37
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Meaning if you gave me someone named Cohen that I didn't know, I would bet decent money that they are a Kohein. Your examples don't disprove that. I'm guessing msh210 is asking if there is a statistically significant increase in the likelihood of someone being a Levi if half of their name is "Levi-", and I don't see how your answer addresses that. –  Double AA Aug 1 '12 at 2:50
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Yeah, I agree with @DoubleAA on this one. Like most people named Cohen are Kohanim, there is no doubt that most people named Levi are Leviim. As for the answer to the question about the combined name, I don't know. –  Daniel Aug 1 '12 at 3:32
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I don't see how you could think the question is asking for an absolute test, when he clearly says "Does Levi- as the first half of a surname generally derive from (or is it) an indication of a Levite family? (I'm asking in general, not about those three families specifically.)" –  Double AA Aug 1 '12 at 15:17
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