Family name origins & meanings
- English : unexplained.
- South German : topographic name for someone who lived at the upper end of a village on a hill, from Middle High German ober, obar ‘above’. In other cases, it may have denoted someone who lived on an upper floor of a building with two or more floors.
- North German : topographic for someone who lived on the bank of a river or stream name, standardized from Middle Low German over ‘river bank’.
- Possibly a shortened form of any of various German compound names formed with Ober- (see entries below).
- Jewish (Ashkenazic) : from German Ober‘senior’, ‘chief’. In some cases it can denote a rabbi; in others it is ornamental.
- A 17th-century American bearer of this name, Richard Ober (1641–1715/16), emigrated from Abbotsbury, Dorset, England, to the Salem colony and settled in Mackerel Cove, MA, later Beverly. His descendant Frederick Albion Ober, who was born in Beverly, MA, in 1849, was an ornithologist who discovered 22 new species of birds in the Lesser Antilles, the flycatcher Myiarchus oberi, and orioleIcterus oberi.