I deal a lot with names, whether given names or family names, especially as I collect genealogical information. So recently I'm puzzled about some Germanic-Jewish names that are related to numbers. "EINZIG" is someone who is one or unique. I have friends whose family name is ZWANZIGER. They told me that it derived from where the family lived, that they had a town council in their community/kehila consisting of 20 people. So if you were a member of the council you were one of the 20, or a Zwanziger. Checking in Alexander Beider's book of "A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from Galicia," here are a few more names, and I haven't exhausted the list:

  • ZWEI or ZWEIER a two;
  • DREISIGER is a thirty-year old;
  • SIEBZIGER is a septuagenarian;
  • HUNDERT is 100;
  • TAUSEND is 1000.

Some names could have more than one meaning, such as DREIER, which mean a three; a turner, or drayer.

So here's another one that I don't get: SIEBZEHNER -- someone who was a 17-er. Can anyone come up with a reasonable explanation for being one of the 17? (One of a family of 17 kids?, a council of 17? Something to do with the kehila's standards of conduct? something kabbalistic?) I'm at a loss.

How about any other numerical names?

Gmar vechatimah tovah to all!

  • 4
    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about the etymology of German surnames! – Danny Schoemann Sep 29 '14 at 7:31
  • This deals with Jewish people and their Germanic-based names. It took me a while to realize Sibziner was a version of Siebzehner. All the number-names I showed were of Jewish people. So why is this not related to Judaism? Especially if I want to find out if 17 had any special Judaic connection. This person was living in Galicia, not Germany. Ashkenazi Jews for the most part did not have family names until edicted by the Hapsburg emperor in 1780s and/or by Napoleon ca. 1814, in other areas, so this relates to the history of the Jewish people and the names that they now bear. – Madeleine Oct 1 '14 at 17:01
  • Madeleine, if you're asking whether the name Siebzehner has a connection to Judaism, IMO that's on-topic. If you're asking (as you are) what the significance of the name Siebzehner is (whether Judaism-related or not), that's off-topic. (And by including the very open-ended request for the significance of "any other numerical names", the question's too broad to be answered here, too.) I suggest you edit. – msh210 Oct 1 '14 at 18:48
  • I'm tired of having to defend this topic. I thought it might have been of interest to understand why some Jews had names related to numbers. I don't care what they represent in the secular world, where a 17=17. These names are somewhat unusual and thought they might have been chosen because of a connection to something in the Torah, Talmud, Kehila, Halachot, Mesorah, and so forth. I provided some specific names to which people could respond and that's all I could think of at the time. If you folks feel this it totally of topic, then just pull it. Too bad you don't have sufficient interest. – Madeleine Oct 3 '14 at 20:26

Based on a translation of the WP page on Siebzehner bei Welzheim, it would seem it's an area in SE Germany:

The Siebzehner in Welzheimer forest were seventeen farms...

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