Last name origins & meanings:
- Jewish (Ashkenazic): ornamental name from German
Bernstein ‘amber’ (from Middle Low German bernen ‘to
burn’ + stēn ‘stone’; it was thought to be created by
burning, although it is in fact fossilized pine resin).
- German: habitational name from a place named Bernstein, of which
there is one example in Bavaria and another in what used to be East
Prussia (now Pełczyce in northwestern Poland). Both of these
probably get their German names from the notion of a ‘burnt stone’,
for example in brick making, rather than from the usual modern
meaning, ‘amber’. The name may also be derived from Bärenstein, a
common field and place name, especially in Bavaria and
- German and Jewish (Ashkenazic): in some cases perhaps a
metonymic occupational name for a craftsman or dealer in amber.
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