Last name origins & meanings:

  1. English, Scottish, Dutch, and North German: status name for a champion, Middle English and Middle Low German kempe. In the Middle Ages a champion was a professional fighter on behalf of others; for example the King’s Champion, at the coronation, had the duty of issuing a general challenge to battle to anyone who denied the king’s right to the throne. The Middle English word corresponds to Old English cempa and Old Norse kempa ‘warrior’; both these go back to Germanic campo ‘warrior’, which is the source of the Dutch and North German name, corresponding to High German Kampf.
  2. Dutch: metonymic occupational name for someone who grew or processed hemp, from Middle Dutch canep ‘hemp’.
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