Etymology of the name "Schwarzenegger"

Discussion in 'Etymology, History of languages, and Linguistics (EHL)' started by Todd The Bod, May 19, 2011.

  1. Todd The Bod Senior Member

    Ngo hai ni doh
    This could be a touchy question, but does anyone know the etymology of the cognomen "Schwarzeneggar"?
  2. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    Schwarzenegger, not Schwarzeneggar.

    Morphological analysis is Schwarz-en-egg-er. Egg is an Upper-German (i.e. Southern) variant of Ecke = corner, cognate to English edge. Here it carries an older meaning: a mountain-peak, -edge or -slope. An Egger is someone who lives there. Schwarz means black, schwarzen is an accusative or dative form, though the inflected form might be just schwarze in which case -n- is a kind of "glue" letter without meaning; both analyses are possible, you can't tell and it doesn't matter.

    Hence, a Schwarzenegger is someone who lives on a black mountain-peak, -edge or -slope.
    Last edited: May 20, 2011
  3. paradoxa4

    paradoxa4 Senior Member

    Venezuelan Spanish
    Moderator note: This was a separate question asked in the German forum. The two threads have been merged.

    With all respect this forum deserves.

    Doesn't "Schwarzenegger" mean NIGGER-NIGGER? In other words, the most niggah among the niggahs?

    It's like if someone would call his son "Negropreto" (Negro = Spanish / Preto = Portuguese, but it's the same word BLACK)

    Am I right with what I said?
    Last edited by a moderator: May 21, 2011
  4. Todd The Bod Senior Member

    Ngo hai ni doh
    Thank you kindly for your thorough response, Berndf. I feel pretty silly to even have, but I'd sometimes wonder about how the surname came about when I'd hear his name mentioned on TV or in film. I wonder if I'm the only one. Oh well. Thank you again, Berndf.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 21, 2011
  5. Brioche

    Brioche Senior Member

    Australia English
    No, it does not.

    Schwarz does mean black, but the name has nothing to do with Neger.

    According to Wikipedia:
    Schwarzenegger is a German surname that means person from Schwarzenegg, which is both a town in Switzerland and a place in Land Salzburg in Austria. The name also translates literally to "black ploughman" in German.

    Last edited by a moderator: May 21, 2011
  6. Frank78

    Frank78 Senior Member

    "-egger" might derive from "Acker" (field). So he's the "black ploughman" :)
  7. Gernot Back

    Gernot Back Senior Member

    Cologne, Germany
    German - Germany
    No, it simply means that one of the ancestors of that family might have lived in or around Schwarzenegg in Styria/Austria. (-egg is most likely simply a different spelling for Eck[e] - corner)
  8. paradoxa4

    paradoxa4 Senior Member

    Venezuelan Spanish
    Oh, thank you so much, it really helped me.
  9. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    No need to apologize. Answering etymological questions is what we do over here.:)
    Last edited: May 21, 2011
  10. Hutschi

    Hutschi Senior Member

    Note that it is spoken in German:
    Schwarzen - egger, there is a glotal stop between the words.
  11. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    This etymology is true for names of Northern German descent containing -egger. Here this is not the case.

    PS: And, Frank, it wouldn't have been derived from Acker but from the agricultural tool Egge=harrow.
    Last edited: May 21, 2011
  12. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    I agree that the castle or the estate belonging to it is a very likely candidate for origin of this particular Styrian family name but since names of dwelling places ending in -egg and corresponding family names are very frequent in the region, this cannot be taken for granted.
  13. Hutschi

    Hutschi Senior Member

    what can we do in such cases where several possibilities are given?

    We can look how family names were created.

    In our case we have three possible variants as stated in different messages.

    1. Schwarzenegg -> the person from Schwarzenegg
    2. profession - someone using an egg would declare "egger", "Schwarzen" remains unclear. The Egge is a kind of plough. We would have ... ploughsman
    "Schwarzen" is unclear, it can be the color, but it can also be a name of a special ground (Schwarzerde?) But this is speculation. "Egger" from "Acker" would not make sense.
    3. "nigger" is not possible because of German word building rules. It would not explain the glotal stop in German.

    How can we decide whether 1) or 2) are correct?

    There is much evidence for 1:

    1. The name corresponds to "Schwarzenegg". It follows common name building rules. 2. Schwarzenegg is not big. So we can suppose the name is seldom.
    3. The name has some places where it is concentrated.

    Why doesn't it seem a profession?
    Names were often derived from professions. But the profession must exist.
    "Egger" would be a profession if there were a high degree of division of labour. But it is a part time job in the year to use the egge, and every farmer did it.
    Common profession names were Bauer, Müller, Meier, Lehmann and some others of this kind. And they are not seldom. This is a strong evidence against the "profession" hypothesis.

    The name "Egger"is not seldom and it has connection to similar names.
    You can see the distribution:
    Enter the name there and you can get the properties.

    If you enter "Egger" and goto "Namensfamilie" you can see similar names. So it can be a profession name or a place name related to "Acker" or "Egge".

    But we cannot explain the "Schwarzen"-part here.

    I vote for "the one from Schwarzenegg".

    This cheats a little bit about etymology, because it does not explain the "Schwarzen" part, but I suppose it is
    "The edge of Schwarz" and Schwarz is the name of the founder or of the place owner in earlier times, or it is the name of a river or of the place.

    Here they say there was a "Schwarzhof" as source for the place.

    If you look here:
    you can see "Schwarzenegger" distribution in Austria. It does not give a hint for "profession etymology".
    Last edited: May 21, 2011
  14. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    There is little room for doubt about that. Dwelling place names XXX-egg and the corresponding family name Egger or XXX-egger is very common in Austria and Switzerland and its meaning is quite clear.
    Last edited: May 22, 2011
  15. powertrain900 New Member

    On an interveiw on the David Letterman show around '84, Arnold Schwarzenegger said that his name means "black farmer". If Schwarz or schwarzen means black and egger means farmer, land, or some place of agriculture, then that makes sense.
  16. Gernot Back

    Gernot Back Senior Member

    Cologne, Germany
    German - Germany
    Egger does definitely not mean farmer in general, maybe it means a very specific kind of profession in the realm of agriculture: someone who uses a harrow.

    I doubt Schwarzenegger denotes a dark-skinned person; rather, I would assume, it denotes someone who used to work with a harrow which happened to be black.
    I suppose Arnold Schwarzenegger is not the only one who has folk-etymologically wrong ideas about his family name.
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2013
  17. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    No, not for an Upper German name. There are simply too many place names and obviously corresponding family names (Honegger, Heidegger, Scheidegger, Bernegger, Schwarzenegger, ...) to leave much space for doubt. See #2.
  18. killerbee256 Senior Member

    American English
    Could the "Schwarz" part refer to black soil? The darker the soil color the more fertile it is.
  19. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    Possible. I wouldn't know how to tell, if you don't know the Schwarzenegg (this place name appears several times in the Alpine region) that gave his family their name. It could also be dark because because it is North-facing slope that is always in the shade or because it once had a dense, dark forest.
  20. Hutschi

    Hutschi Senior Member

  21. killerbee256 Senior Member

    American English
    Makes sense to me, Germanic languages historically have referred to forests in central Europe as “dark” Myrkviðr, mirkiwidu etc.
  22. The question put forward is not normal etymology but a special field, the sources of family names.
    There are a lot of scientific studies in this field and there also are dictionaries for family names.
    The same is true for place names.

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