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porter

Last name origins & meanings:

  1. 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.
  2. 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’).
  3. Dutch: occupational name from Middle Dutch portere ‘doorkeeper’. Compare 1.
  4. Dutch: status name for a freeman (burgher) of a seaport, Middle Dutch portere, modern Dutch poorter.
  5. Jewish (Ashkenazic): adoption of the English or Dutch name in place of some Ashkenazic name of similar sound or meaning.
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