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19 Most Common Abbreviations in German Genealogy

Author’s Note: If you want help with abbreviations and more tricky handwriting obstacles, join our Premium group – weekly access to live “office hours” where you can ask Katherine your transcription and translation questions – and get immediate answers. 

It happens to the best of us. There we are, happily transcribing our German genealogical document, when we’re suddenly confronted with two obscure letters. What in the world do they mean? In Ten Tips for Deciphering Old German Handwriting and Ten *More* Tips for Deciphering Old German Handwriting, I discuss how frequent abbreviations are in German genealogy. But it doesn’t have to be so difficult! Below, I’ve compiled a list for you of some of the most common genealogical abbreviations and their meanings:

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  1. u. –  “und” (and).

2. v. –  “von” (from).

3. b.v. –  “beide von” (both from). This is often used when describing the residence of two people on a certificate , stating that they are “both from here.”

4. d. –  “den” (the). Seen before a date, as in “d. 25.12.1924” (December 25, 1924).

5. geb. –  “geboren” (literally “born”, but often translates as “née”). Usually seen after a woman’s married name and before her maiden name.

6. led. –  “ledig” (single/unmarried). Usually before a name.

7. verh.“verheiratet” (married)

8. Wwe/Wwer“Witwe” (widow) or “Witwer” (widower). Seen in the place where an occupation would normally be, before a name.

9. männl. – “männlich” (masculine, male). Usually seen before the word “child” (Kind).

10. weibl. –  “weiblich” (feminine, female). See above.

11. ev. – “evangelisch” (Protestant). This can also be abbreviated “evan.” Along the same lines, “kath.” stands for “katholisch” (Catholic).

12. Pfr. –  “Pfarrer” (priest/pastor). Common in many church records and baptismal certificates.

13. weil. –  “weiland” (deceased or the late). This would always be before a person’s name.

14. ehel. – “ehelich” (legitimate, as in a child is legitimate). “unehel.” is therefore “unehelich” (illegitimate). These words are common in baptismal records.

15. Bez.“Bezirk” (district). Seen when describing where someone lives or where a document was issued.

16. d.d. –  “de dato” (on this date). This is one of the Latin abbreviations frequently used in German documents.

17. p.t. – “pro tempore” (temporary or acting in the place of).  Another Latin abbreviation, sometimes seen before a pastor’s name.

18. eod. – “eodem” (the same). Another Latin abbreviation found in genealogy documents.

19. ejusd. – “ejusdem” (in the same month or year). One last Latin abbreviation, usually denoting when someone was born, baptized, married, or had passed away.

So, German genealogists, don’t let those pesky abbreviations get the better of you. Use these helpful hints and share them with your fellow researchers using the button below. Together, we can conquer German genealogy!

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*If you would like professional transcription or translation help, contact me here. I’d love to hear from you.

Helpful Abbreviation Websites:

Use these websites to find the entire German word and then use a German dictionary to find the meaning.

Image Credit:

gazette.teachers.net

www.skipprichard.com

14 Responses

  1. Your post is very interesting! Do you have any idea what the abbreviation Hss. means in a male name? I have found a Swiss Family where ALL the males have Hss. before their given & surname. I.e. Hss. Conrad Zingg.

  2. My experience has been that HSS stands for Hanss. It wasn’t uncommon for German’s to name all their children the same first name (Hanss, Johann, Georg etc) and go by their middle name. MA stands for Mary, Mariah, Marie, Maria………… Hanss also stands for Johann and John depending on your culture.

  3. I have encountered ‘get.’ quite often in Family books like “Geschichte des alten brabantischen Geschlechtes van der Velde”, 1898
    Initially, I thought it mean ‘gestorben’ or something like that. However, I started noticing that if ‘get.’ meant ‘died’ then the date of death was in conflict with the date of marriage whenever this one was provided.
    So, I am utterly confused. I hope my description wasn’t as confusing as I feel right now. Thank you for thinking of posting this very much appreciated help for ‘newbies’ like me.
    My family tree comprises 7 different countries in Europe and South America. English & Portuguese (Portugal & Brazil) is a piece of cake. French & Spanish… not bad. Italian…oh boy, and German has been a real challenge.

    1. Hi Alda,
      It could mean “getauft” – baptized, or “getraut” – married, depending on the context. Hope that helps!

  4. Hello !

    In genealogy research, I discovered a Great Grandfather whose name was listed in a marriage bann as Xph. His surname was Kwiatkowski. He had one sone named Friedrich.

    Can you offer a suggestion as to what the X stands for or is it short for Christophe, Joseph or a Z sounding name ? Thank you.

  5. I’ve been reviewing congregation records of St. Michael’s and Zion Church in Philadelphia ca 1750’s. My ancestor appears in a record from 1756 for the very first time and after his name is the abbreviation “Nkh” then aus bachenau or Wachenau. I see that Bachenau is in Neckarsulm, Neckarkreis, Wurtemberg so at first I thought that Nkh might be an abbreviation of Neckarkreis, but it appears on another record on the same page and that gentleman appears to be from Prussia. Any thoughts on what Nkh might mean?

  6. Great reference! Thank you.
    I have just run across two abbreviations that I don’t know: It is listed as follows and in reference to the ownership of a house: “Johann Peter; Bg. 1705; Metzgermstr.;
    Is the Bg. mean beginning? And what is Metzgermstr.?

    1. Hi Jean, I don’t know if this is still relevant, but I have an idea about those abbreviations, for the second one I am pretty sure. “Metzgermstr.” would be the location, more precisely, the street where the house is situated. In German, it is common to use compound words and in abbreviations sometime just one part is abbreviated. In this case we have “Metzgerm” + “str”, so the second part “str” is the actual abbreviation it is short for “straße”/”strasse” the German words for “street”. The full word would be Metzgermstraße, even tough I could only assume, that it might just be “Metzgerstraße” without the “m” in the middle, because “Metzger” is the German word for “butcher” and to have a street called something like “butcher street” seems quite likely to me. For the “Bg.” I am not sure, I have some ideas, but it could be too many things, mainly I think 1705 is a year number, if so “Bg.” will refer to the year 1705 afterward in some way, but it could relate to the owner or start of ownership or the time when the house was build etc.

      1. Hi Jessica! Thanks for your thoughts and ideas – you’re right, “str” is Strasse, but in this case, the “mstr” stands for “meister” – master. So it is a Master Metzger – master butcher!

  7. Dear Katherine

    Thanks for some great blogs, very helpful!

    I am transcribing Swiss baptism entries from the 1580s and keep finding entries which start with the abbreviation Vf, for example “Vf dem 16 Junÿ Hans Felber ein kind touftt…”. What does Vf stand for?

    Many thanks
    Ben

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