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Last name origins & meanings:

  1. German: nickname from Middle High German herb(e)st ‘harvest’. The modern German word Herbst has come to mean ‘Fall’, the time of year when the harvest takes place. The exact application of the nickname is not clear; perhaps it referred to a peasant who had certain obligations to his master at the time of the harvest, or it may have been acquired for some other anecdotal reason which is now lost.
  2. Jewish (Ashkenazic): ornamental name from modern German Herbst ‘Fall’, perhaps reflecting the season when the name was first taken or given. In some cases, it seems to have been one of the group of names referring to the seasons that were distributed at random by government officials when surnames became compulsory. Compare Fruhling, Winter, and Summer.
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