Last name origins & meanings:
- English and Scottish: occupational name for the gatekeeper of a
walled town or city, or the doorkeeper of a great house, castle, or
monastery, from Middle English porter ‘doorkeeper’,
‘gatekeeper’ (Old French portier). The office often came with
accommodation, lands, and other privileges for the bearer, and in some
cases was hereditary, especially in the case of a royal castle. As an
American surname, this has absorbed cognates and equivalents in other
European languages, for example German Pförtner (see
Fortner) and North German Poertner.
- English: occupational name for a man who carried loads for a living, especially
one who used his own muscle power rather than a beast of burden or a
wheeled vehicle. This sense is from Old French porteo(u)r (Late
Latin portator, from portare ‘to carry or convey’).
- Dutch: occupational name from Middle Dutch portere
‘doorkeeper’. Compare 1.
- Dutch: status name for a freeman
(burgher) of a seaport, Middle Dutch portere, modern Dutch
- Jewish (Ashkenazic): adoption of the
English or Dutch name in place of some Ashkenazic name of similar
sound or meaning.
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