bernstein

Last name origins & meanings:

  1. 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).
  2. 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 Austria.
  3. German and Jewish (Ashkenazic): in some cases perhaps a metonymic occupational name for a craftsman or dealer in amber.
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