Skip to main content

Updated February 28, 2024

Table of contents

If you aren't familiar with how the Dutch people chose their last names or surnames before Emperor Napoleon annexed the Netherlands, then you have come to the right place. You will also find below several categories of Dutch names along with their meanings. If you have a popular Dutch last name, you might find it on this list.

Origin of Dutch Last Names

Before 1811, the Dutch weren't required to have last names or family names. Instead, they relied on patronymics. This is where they use the personal name of an important male ancestor such as their father or even grandfather. When Napoleon acquired the Netherlands, this changed. He required the Dutch to use a common family name instead of the original system they were using.

So how did patronymics work? Typically a father's son or daughter would take on his given name as their last name. It would translate to "son of" or "daughter of". An example is if a child's father is named "Dirk" then the baby's last name would be "Dirksen" if they are a boy or "Dirkdochter" if they are a girl. These suffixes make the name translate to "son of Dirk" or "daughter of Dirk" in Dutch. This allowed for several variations of one name. After Napoleon entered the picture, last names were mainly based on occupation or location.

Most Common Dutch Surnames in the Netherlands (And Name Meanings)

Discover the fascinating world of Dutch surnames, exploring the origins and meanings behind some of the Netherlands' most common family names.

  1. Bakker - This is a Dutch occupational name for a baker.
  2. Beek - This is a Dutch topographic name for someone who lives near a stream or creek.
  3. Beekhof - The Dutch word for "garden brook."
  4. De Jong - This name is used at the end of a name to distinguish between two family members who have the same given name (such as father and son). It means "the young" in Dutch.
  5. Janssen/Jansen - These last names have Dutch, German, and Danish roots. They are a patronymic (derived from an ancestor) from "Jan."
  6. Meijer/Meyer - These are German and Dutch names that were used for bailiffs or stewards.
  7. Smit - This is a Middle Dutch occupational name for a smith.
  8. Van Der Berg/Van De Berg/Van Den Berg - A topographic name for someone who lived by a hill or mountain. 
  9. Van Dijk - This is a topographic name for someone who lived near a dike in the Netherlands.
  10. Visser - This is a Dutch and German occupational name for a fisherman.

Last Names Dutch

Image Source: Amsterdam, Capital of the Netherlands

Popular Dutch Surnames in Belgium (And Name Meanings)

Exploring popular Dutch surnames in Belgium reveals not just a list of names but a tapestry of cultural and linguistic history. Each name carries with it meanings and stories, reflecting the heritage and identity of the Dutch-speaking community in this vibrant country.

  1. Aadrens - A Dutch name that means "clay."
  2. Baas - A North German and Dutch occupational name for an "overseer" or "boss."
  3. Claasen - A Danish and Dutch name that is patronymic from the name "Klaas." 
  4. Daalmans - A Dutch topographic name for someone who lived in a valley.
  5. De Groot - A Middle Dutch name used to describe a large man.
  6. De Van - Implying nobility or aristocracy. It roughly translates to "of the" or "from the," potentially denoting someone's geographic or familial origins in a grand or notable manner.
  7. Kikkert - This Dutch last name is derived from "kikker" which is the word for "frog."
  8. Langenberg - German and Dutch habitational name for someone who lives in the province of Antwerp.
  9. Rademaker - A German and Dutch occupational name for a wheel maker.
  10. Van Den Berg - Dutch for "from the mountain." This name likely indicates ancestral roots connected to mountainous regions, suggesting a family that originally lived near or on a mountain.
  11. Vogel - A Dutch metonymic occupational name for a bird catcher.
  12. Zuiderduin - This Dutch name means "southern dune."

Frisian Surnames (And Name Meanings)

Frisian surnames are a fascinating tapestry of history and meaning, deeply rooted in the culture and linguistic traditions of the Frisian people. These names often reflect the rich maritime history, occupational practices, and familial lineage of this unique ethnic group residing along the coastal parts of the Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark.

  1. Bouma - A Frisian status name for a land worker.
  2. De Vries - A Dutch name for someone who lives in Friesland, which is another name for Frisia. Frisia is a region in the Netherlands.
  3. Gerbrandy - A West Frisian patronymic name for the Gerbrandy Tower.
  4. Heer - Frisian for the German personal name "Hero."
  5. Hoekstra - A Frisian topographic name for someone who lives on a corner.
  6. Jansma - A Frisian patronymic name derived from "Jan."
  7. Stegenga - A Frisian last name that is unexplained.
  8. Terpstra - A Frisian topographic name for someone who lived on a terp.
  9. Vossen - The North German version of "Fosse" which in French is a habitational name for someone who resides near the ditch of the river Foss in Yorkshire.
  10. Wiersma - A Frisian patronymic name derived from "Wier."

What Are the Unusual Dutch Last Names?

In the Netherlands, a country known for its rich history and culture, certain last names stand out due to their unique origins or meanings.

Among these, Van Draak (translating to "from dragon") conjures up mythical imagery, while Zonderkop (meaning "headless") might leave one bemused about its origins. Another intriguing surname is Naaktgeboren ("born naked"), a name that certainly prompts curiosity about the naming conventions of the past. These names, apart from being unusual, reflect the diverse and sometimes whimsical nature of Dutch heritage.

Stefanie Miller

About Stefanie

Stefanie is an experienced parenting writer and has published works in other publications… Read more

Join the Family

Your partner in parenting from baby name inspiration to college planning.