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Surname Duff - Meaning and Origin

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The iGENEA DNA Test: Embarking on a Personal Voyage Through Ancestry and the Scottish Roots of 'Duff'

The iGENEA DNA test unveiled to me the rich ancestry linked to my surname, 'Duff.' Tracing back its roots to ancient Scotland, it expounded on its significant role in the history of Scottish clans. An integral part of my genetic journey, it also identified ties to the robust Norse-Viking era.

T. Duff

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Duff: What does the surname Duff mean?

The last name Duff is of Gaelic origin, derived from the Gaelic word "dubh," which means "black" or "dark." It is a descriptive surname originally used to identify someone who had black hair or dark complexion. Duff can be traced back to ancient times in Scotland and Ireland, and it's associated with several clans, noticeably Clan MacDuff from Scotland, who were high kings in the early medieval period. The surname also spread to America, Canada, and Australia with immigrants. So, the last name Duff is not only a reflection of physical characteristics but also rich in historic and cultural significance.

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Duff: Where does the name Duff come from?

The surname Duff has Scottish origins, particularly linked to the Gaelic term "dubh," which translates to "black" or "dark." The name was originally used as a nickname for individuals with dark hair or complexion. The name is intimately associated with Scotland's history, as the Duff family played a significant role in the country's power dynamics during the medieval period. Clan Donnachaidh of Scotland, which includes families such as Robertson, Duncan, and Reid, also claims Duff as one of its associated names.

Niall Og, a chief of this clan, was the first recorded bearer of the Duff surname in the 14th century. Later, the name was prominent in Aberdeenshire, home to Duff House, the premier Georgian mansion of Scotland.

The name Duff is quite widespread, with a significant presence in countries that have been touched by Celtic migration, mainly the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, the United States, and Australia. Today, it is most commonly found in Scotland and Northern Ireland within the UK, but it is also frequent in English-speaking countries, owing to the Scottish and Irish diaspora.

Variations of the surname Duff

The surname Duff has Scottish and Irish origins, believed to be derived from the Gaelic "Dubh" meaning "dark" or "black." Other theories suggest it may have originated from the Gaelic "dubh-shithe" referring to a "dark fairy."

The surname Duff has several spelling variations, likely due to modifications over the centuries and differences in regional dialects. These include Duffe, Duffie, Duffy, O’Duff, O’Duffy, Duffey, Dowie, and Duffoo. In some cases, the variations may be enough to be considered separate surnames. For example, Duffy, although often associated with Duff, is usually considered a separate surname in its own right.

Noting the ancestral link, there are also surname variants based on the root name "Dubh," such as Dhu, Duthie, Dooh, Dow, and McDuff. Additionally, older Scottish records sometimes show Duff as MacDuff or Macduff, denoting "son of Duff." Interestingly, the names Doherty and Dougherty, prevalent in Northern Ireland, are considered by some sources to be derived from Duff as well, particularly in families of Scottish descent who migrated across the Irish Sea.

Remember that surname research is complex, and these may not encompass all the possible variations or origins of this surname.

Famous people with the name Duff

  • Hilary Duff: An American actress, singer, and songwriter. She is best known for her role as Lizzie McGuire on the Disney Channel.
  • Haylie Duff: An American actress, singer, songwriter, and fashion designer. She is also Hilary Duff's older sister and has starred in various films and television shows.
  • Anne-Marie Duff: A British actress recognized for her roles in both British and American films and television series.
  • David Duff: An Ireland-born British historian, novelist, and biographer.
  • Iain Duff: A renowned Scottish mathematician and computer scientist.
  • Julia Duff: An English novelist and biographer.
  • Sir Patrick (Beauchamp) Duff: He was a British diplomat who served in several prominent positions throughout his career.
  • Lyman Poore Duff: A Canadian jurist who served as the eighth Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada.
  • Shirley Duff: A prominent New Zealand social worker and broadcaster.
  • Norval Duff: A former Canadian professional hockey player.
  • Thomas Duff: An Irish architect, who worked mostly in Armagh city and its vicinity.

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