German Genealogy Tip #7: Anglicized German Names

Something you will inevitably find when you research German ancestors who immigrated to America are names that changed to something more “English sounding”. Can you blame somebody named “Balthasar” for desiring a name that fits in a little better in America?

Some Germans would change their names only slightly: Wilhelms would become Bills, and Adelheids would become Adas… Some Germans would change their names greatly: A Wenzeslaus might become a Vince, or a Friederike might become a Rachel. These new, “Anglicized” names usually make sense when you consider the pronunciation of the names in German, or the etymological meaning of the names.

A German woman named Anna Klein might become Jane Little when she arrives in America. Why is this? Let’s think about it. In the German language, “J”s have a soft pronunciation and “e”s have a hard pronunciation. Therefore, “Jane,” in German, sounds almost identical to how an American pronounces “Anna” or “Hannah”. Furthermore, “Klein,” in German, means “little” in English.

If you know of a German individual in your family tree who migrated to America, but can’t seem to find them in any records after the migration, try thinking of phonetically-similar, but different-spelled, versions of their name. Also, try translating their surname into English as though it were a regular noun.

Below is a list of German given names, and the English versions of the names that many German immigrants adopted after arriving in America:

Adalbert/Adelbart Albert, Al, Bart, Bert, Del, Delbert
Alberta Ally, Bertha, Berta
Albrecht Albert, Al
Adelheid Ada, Addie, Adelle
Adolph(us) Dolf
Adrian Ryan
Agathe Aggie
Agnes Aggie
Alanzo Al, Lance
Alessandra Sandra, Sandy, Alexa, Alexis, Allie
Alexander Alex, Al, Andy, Xander
Alexanderina Alexa, Allie, Dena, Dina
Alfred Al, Fred, Fritz
Alois Al, Louis, Louie, Lou
Alwin Alvin, Al
Amalia Ama, Amelia, Emily, Emilie, Emma
Angela Anna, Annie, Angel
Anna/Ana Hannah, Jane
Anton Andy, Anthony, Tony
Ariana/Ariane Anna, Annie, Dena, Dina
Artur Arthur, Art
Augusta Aggie, Gussie, Gusta
Aurelius Oral
Balthasar/Balthazar Balt, Bill
Barnabas Barney, Arnie
Barnhard(t)/Bernhard(t) Barney, Bernard, Arnie
Barbara Barb
Bartholomäus Bartholomew, Bart, Bert, Burt
Brünhild(e) Hilda
Burkhard(t) Burke, Bert, Burt
Cäcilia Cecelia, Celia, Sissy
Carolina/Caroline Carol, Carrie, Lena, Lina
Carina/Carine Carrie, Karen, Dena, Dina
Caspar/Kaspar Jasper
Cathalina/Catlina Cathy, Lina, Lena, Kat, Kate, Katie, Kathy
Charlotta/Charlotte Char, Lottie
Catharina/Katharina Catherine, Cathy, Dena, Dina, Kat, Kate, Katherine, Katie, Kathy
Christian/Christoph Chris, Christ, Christie
Christina/Christine Krista, Kris, Krissy
Conrad/Konrad Conny
Cunigunde/Kunigunde Connie, June, Onie
Dietrich/Diederich Dick, Dirk, Drake, Rich, Rick, Theodore (Theodoric), Theo
Dorothea Dora, Dorothy, Dorrie, Dot, Dottie, Orthia, Ortia, Thea
Eberhard(t) Art, Bert, Bart
Eckbert Art, Bert, Bart
Edith Ada, Edie, Ida
Eduard Ed, Eddie, Edward
Elena Helen, Ellen, Ellie, Lena, Lina
Elias Eli, Al
Elisabeth(a) Alice, Beth, Betty, Elizabeth, Lisa, Lizzie, Liz, Elisa, Eliza, Elsa, Elsie, Lilly
Emilie Amelia, Emily, Emma
Emmanuel/Immanuel Manny, Man, Niel
Emmerich Eric, Rich, Rick
Erich Eric, Rich, Rick
Eva Ava, Eve
Ewald Walt
Felicie Lisa, Lizzie, Liz
Ferdinand Art, Fred, Fritz
Francis Frank
Franz Frank
Franziska Fanny, Fran, Franny
Frieda Fran, Franny, Rita, Ida
Friederike Frieda, Fran, Franny, Rita, Ida, Rachel, Rachael, Ricka, Ricky
Friedrich Frederick, Fred, Fritz
Gabriela Gabby
Gerhard(t) Gary, Gerald, Gert, Harry, Jerry
Georg George, Geo.
Gertraut/Gertrud Gertie, Gertrude, Trudy
Gesina Jennie, Jenny, Sena, Sina
Gilbert Gill, Bart, Bert, Burt
Gottfried Fred
Gotthard Art, Goddard
Gottlieb/Gottlob Lee, Otto
Greta Maggie, Margaret, Marge
Gustaf/Gustav Gust
Hans John, Johnny, Jack, Joe, Joey
Hartmann Art, Harry
Hedwig Heidi
Heinrich Henry, Heiney
Helga/Hilga Hill, Hilly
Helena/Helene Ellen, Helen, Lena, Lina
Herbert Bart, Bert, Herb, Herbie
Hugo Hugh
Ilsa/Ilse Elizabeth, Lizzie, Liz
Ignaz Enos
Ingrid Greta, Gretel, Gretchen
Isaak Isaac, Zach, Zack
Jakob Jacob, Jake, Jack
Jeremias Jeremiah, Jerry
Joachim Joaquin, Joe, Joey, John, Johnny, Jack
Johann(es) John, Johnny, Jack, Joe, Joey
Johanna Anna, Annie, Hannah, Jane, Jo, JoAnn, Joan
Jörg/Jürgen George, Geo., Joe, Joey
Josef/Joseph Joe, Joey, Seph, Seth
Josphina/Josephine Josie
Justina/Justine Josie, Tina, Dena, Dina
Julia(na) Leah, Leia, Lena, Lina, LeeAnn
Jutta Judith, Judy
Karl/Carl Charles, Charlie
Karla Carol
Kersten/Carsten Christian, Christ, Chris
Kirstin/Kirsten Christine, Christina, Krista, Kris, Krissy
Klemens Clem
Konstantin Conny
Lanzo Al, Lance
Lars Larry, Lawrence
Laurenz/Lorenz Larry, Lawrence, Lars
Leonhard(t) Leo, Leon, Lonnie
Leopold Leo
Leonora/Leonore Eleanor, Lena, Lina, Nora, Ora
Liselotta/Liselotte Lisa, Lottie, Elsa, Elsie, Lizzie, Liz, Lilly
Luis Lou, Louie, Louis, Lewis
Ludwig Lewis, Louis, Louie, Lou
Lukas Luke, Lou, Louie
Magdalena/Magdalene Magda, Maggie, Marge, Lena, Lina
Manfred Mannie, Fred, Fritz
Marcellus Mark, Mike
Margaretha Maggie, Margaret, Marge, Meta, Greta, Gretel, Gretchen
Maria/Marie Mary, Mae, May, Minnie
Martha Mae, May
Martinus Martin, Marty, Art
Marwin Marvin
Matthias Matthew, Matt
Michael Mike
Miriam/Mariam Mary
Nicholaus Nick, Claus
Nikolai Nick, Cloy
Nils Neil, Nick
Ortia/Orthia Dorothy
Ottilie Tillie
Petrus Peter, Pete
Raphael Ralph
Regina Gina
Rupert/Ruppert/Ruprecht Bob, Rob, Robert
Sabina/Sabine Sabrina, Sarah
Salome Sally, Oma
Siegfried Fred, Fritz
Sonje Sonia, Sonya, Sunny
Steffan/Stephan Stephen, Steven, Steve
Susanna Susan, Sue
Sven Steven, Steve
Sybilla/Sybille Sybil, Bella, Belle
Tanja Tania, Tanya, Annie
Theodor Theo
Timotheus Timothy, Tim
Toennies/Tönnies Anthony, Anton, Tony
Udo Otto
Ulrich Rich, Rick
Valentin Al, Alan, Allen
Vinzenz Vincent, Vince
Waldo Walter, Walt
Wenzel/Wenzeslaus Vincent, Vince, Hansel
Wilhelm Bill, Will, William, Wm.
Wilhelmina/Wilhelmine Mena, Mina, Minnie
Xavier Avery
Zacharias Zach, Zack
Zilla Cecelia, Sally

4 thoughts on “German Genealogy Tip #7: Anglicized German Names

  1. Frank Ware

    My last name is Ware. All I know is that we were Pennsylvania Dutch and that an ancestor married a Ware, and that his name sounded like Ware, so he took her name.
    The rest of the family found it convenient and appropriated the name of ‘Ware’. Any ideas.

  2. Linda

    I am just starting on my German roots and was wondering where the best place to start is.
    Ernest Seitz (t) and his wife Caroline (Klien/einsorgin (an) came to America 1864 starting with Ernest and 1 son. Carrie and the other children followed within 3 years. All settling in Brooklyn.
    It was surprising how many other Seitz(t) families there were in that neighborhood.

  3. Marian

    I was wondering if you might have feedback on why my dad’s uncle (who he is named after) was named Henry and not a German name. He was born in Hamburg in the 1880’s. I just think it’s odd they gave him an English name! Thanks and I just found your site today and I can’t stop reading. Your tips are awesome!


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