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Showing 1-6 of 6 reviews(5 star). Show all reviews
on September 30, 2001
Obviously someone who wishes to give a first name to a child is not the most likely person to consult this very learned tome: for those people P. Hanks and F. Hodges's *Dictionary of First Names* (also published by Oxford) is the appropriate book (though David Pickering's *Penguin Dictionary of First Names* is also very good). Obviously, if the first name you have in mind is also a surname, then this reference tool, too, is likely to be useful.
The amount of work that has gone into this volume is daunting, particularly when it comes to the mention of early sources in which names have been found. Some of that material is perhaps more of interest to the specialist than the general user, but in any case it is valuable. The Introduction, on names generally, is extremely informative and interesting.
For myself, I most often need to know what a surname might mean (most of them do have meaning), and I suspect that this is what others, too, frequently want to know. For example, are those many Australians who have the surname *Smyth* in effect carrying the surname *Smith*? Yes, indeed: the *y* is merely a spelling variant, which many welcome because it suggests a name other than *Smith* (though quite a few people called *Smyth* don't themselves know that *Smyth*= *Smith*!).
Does this dictionary reveal what one wants to know? It does, but not always in the handiest way possible. It has an entry *Smye, Smythe*, but not one for *Smyth*: one needs to know something about the early stages of the language to realise that if *Smythe* is an early form of *Smith*, then so is *Smyth* likely to be, and if one then turns to *Smith* one will find *Smyth* there. So not everyone will necessarily immediately discover the material searched for - but most people are likely to do so eventually. All in all , I recommend the book heartily, and use it often. - Joost Daalder, Professor of English, Flinders University (South Australia)
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on June 8, 2000
The introduction alone is worth the price of the book through its clear explanations of the four main groups of surnames: local surnames; surnames of relationships; occupational surnames; and nicknames. Brief pages about regional surname patterns are also enlightening.
The meat of the book is the alphabetical listing of some 16,000 English surnames, their variations, probable origins, and notes on early occurrences in the written records.
The cross-referencing between variant spellings is excellent and makes for easy navigation between variants.
A first rate resource for English genealogy and local history.
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on January 5, 2001
Dictionary of English Surnames is a very complete book that lists many many English Surnames, and it tells of certain ancestors of the name and where they came from, and what the surname means. It is a very helpful resource for amateur geneologists, or just someone fascinated by the Last Name. THe beginning of the books tells about Surnames and how they came to be etc etc. It is very fascinating and the authors do a very good job at explaining things. Great source...get it!
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on June 22, 2001
The Dictionary of English Surnames is wonderful -- tons of information about surnames both common and rare, with many dated examples of early spellings. Sources are always given. This is an excellent resource for anyone interested in the origin of English surnames, especially re-enactors and others interested in names that would have existed in the late medieval/Renaissance period. Since the examples are dated, it is easy to find names from a particular time.
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on September 2, 1999
This book is so detailed in the origion of English Surnames, I never feel lost when I'm trying to place a character in a certain time period. Also, to call it only English Surnames is a bit misleading since England is made of of those who conquered and invaded it or that they conquered themselves. There are Surnames that decend from Norway (Vikings), Germany, France, not to mention Ireland, Wales, Scotland and the Isle of Man.
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on January 26, 2016
Very thorough and will result in many disagreements as we all have our favoured interpretation of our family name.
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