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Dictionary of American Family Names: 3-Volume Set Hardcover – Apr 17 2003

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 2128 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (April 17 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195081374
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195081374
  • Product Dimensions: 17.5 x 23.8 x 28.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 7 Kg
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,524,172 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Mandatory book for everybody interested in origin of surnames April 6 2008
By Radoslaw Zielezinski - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Dictionary of American Family Names (DAFN) is a major work by Patrick Hanks. It contains circa 70,000 surnames from the United States, showing their origin and meaning.
As US is a melting-pot of nations so there are (in US) surnames of the whole world: Europe (whole), Jewish, Middle East, Indian Subcontinent, East Asia. The introductory portion of the book describes surnames of particular nations, languages and cultures.
I think that the idea of writing DAFN was very interesting, namely mentioning surnames of US, it (DAFN) mentions surnames of the whole world. That is why I've bought DAFN.
As a matter of fact I've got "A Dictionary of Surnames" by Patrick Hanks - 1988 edition, but DAFN is more up-to-date. Besides both dictionaries may be complementary to one another.
Very important is a contribution to a DAFN by many contributors and consultants of the whole world.
Patrick Hanks wrote to me 25.02.2008 among other things: "The consultant for Polish names was Professor Aleksandra Cieslikowa of the Institute for the Polish language in Krakow, who did a magnificent job."
Of course I made sure of credibility of DAFN in the field of Polish surnames. I compared DAFN to Polish Dictionary of surnames in respect of etymology and went well!
Finally, I think Patrick Hanks is a leading authority on world names.
Radoslaw Zielezinski (Poland)
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Flunks on Irish names Aug. 19 2013
By Gallivant - Published on
Format: Hardcover
You would think that a researcher of names in would check one (or more) dictionaries in the source language of each name. In the case of Irish, it's important to know a little about the language: names are spelled differently in the vocative or when masculine or feminine.

The entry for my name for example, rehashes what the old Irish name dictionaries (Woulfe and MacLysaght) say: "...Ó Gealbháin `descendant of Gealbhán', a personal name from geal `bright' + bán `white'."

That's a flattering and possibly accurate meaning. However, if you look in an Irish dictionary, the word means "sparrow". The word is still used today. That meaning seems at least as likely. has a list of Celtic cognates for sparrow: gealbhonn in Scottish Gaelic, golfan in Cornish, golvan in Breton. While spelled differently, the words sound much the same. I mention this because of the other part of the definition, which seems pure (and rather offensive) conjecture to me:

"French: nickname for a cheerful drunkard, from Old French galer `to enjoy oneself', also used in a transitive sense with the meaning `waste', `consume' + vin `wine' (Latin vinum). French: from a variant of the personal name Gauvain (see Gavin)."

The French were very chauvinistic about their native languages until just recently and if this came from a French source, it seems they also didn't bother to learn any Breton. I doubt if the Breton St. Goulven was a cheerful drunkard.

Why would you want to promulgate such misinformation? Shouldn't you at least mention that the source material is doubtful?
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Very good resource. April 21 2008
By Michael D. Pelletier - Published on
Format: Hardcover
So far in the names that I have been looking up in my family tree I have found that these three books have most of it. Sometimes I have to look around to find a surname similar to mine to see if mine is off some. Only a few names have I not been able to find in here.
Excelliant Jan. 5 2014
By William Leonard Lambert - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It met all my needs and expectations. I was able to find and understand the origins and meanings of my surnames.
Just what I needed Sept. 23 2013
By Colleen Chupp - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I do allot of genealogy and I knew what a few names meant in mine or my husbands families. Theses books help so much with how we all got our names and root of it.
When I ordered it I received 1 book, not knowing that it was a 3 volume set. I did contact the dealer and got the 3 books, and the whole deal/sell went smoothly. I recommend this seller to anyone. They fulfill their promises on a timely basis. They are easy to work with and are all around great.
Thanks you Amazon and Book World.