Family name origins & meanings
- English : metonymic occupational name for a grower or seller of beans, from Old English bēan ‘beans’ (a collective singular). Occasionally it may have been applied as a nickname for a someone considered of little importance.
- English : nickname for a pleasant person, from Middle English bēne ‘friendly’, ‘amiable’ (of unknown origin; there is apparently no connection with Bain or Bon).
- Scottish : Anglicized form of the Gaelic personal name Beathán, a diminutive of beatha ‘life’.
- Translation of German Bohne, or an altered spelling of Biehn. See also Bihn.
- Mistranslation of French Lefevre. As the vocabulary word fèvre ‘smith’ was replaced by forgeron, the meaning of the old word became opaque, and the surname was reinterpreted as if it were La fève, from fève ‘(fava) bean’. Lefevre is the most common name in French Canada; great numbers of them migrated to the US, where many adopted the name Bean, in the belief that it was a translation of Lefèvre. See also Lafave.