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Surname Harlow - Meaning and Origin

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Harlow: What does the surname Harlow mean?

The surname Harlow is of Anglo-Saxon origin, derived from a place name. It originated from Old English words 'hoer' which means 'rock' or 'stone' and 'hlaw' which means 'hill'. Thus, it is often interpreted as 'army hill' or 'rock hill'. It was initially used to identify a person who lived in or near an area with such geographical features. The surname was first recorded in Essex, England where Harlow is also the name of a town. Over centuries, the name has also evolved into several variants including Harloe, Harlowe, and Arlow. The use of surnames became a common practice in England from the 14th century onwards for more specific identification in the wake of poll taxes. Despite its English origin, the Harlow surname has become prevalent in many English-speaking countries following patterns of immigration and globalization.

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Harlow: Where does the name Harlow come from?

The surname Harlow is of English origin. It is derived from the name of a place in Essex, which in Old English was called 'here hlaw', meaning ‘army hill’. The name referred to a hill that would have been used strategically for military operations. Variations of Harlow include Harloe, Harlowe, and Harle.

Today, the surname Harlow is common in the United States, England, and Canada. In the United States, it is most prevalent in California, followed by New York and Florida. In England, the surname is mainly found in the region of Essex, where the name originated, but is spread throughout the country. Despite its spread, Harlow is not a very widespread surname, as it doesn't rank in the top 1000 in either the United States or the United Kingdom. However, it is indelibly connected to screen legend Jean Harlow, which keeps it in the public consciousness.

Variations of the surname Harlow

The surname Harlow is of English origin and it is primarily derived from the Old English elements, 'hoare', which means 'grey-haired', and 'hlaw', meaning 'hill'. Variants of this surname include Harlowe, Harloe, Harleau, Harlaw, and Harlaue. Harlaw is a Scottish variant of the surname.

Spelling variations are fairly common in surnames, due to the fact that literacy was rare in the Middle Ages and people often spelled names phonetically, which resulted in numerous different versions. Variations of the surname Harlow might also be due to cultural differences, regional dialects, and modifications over the centuries.

It’s also worth noting that surnames were sometimes based on location. Therefore, Harlow might also be linked to the name of the town of Harlow in Essex, England. In this context, other families bearing this surname may not be related but may have taken the town's name as their own when surnames were starting to be used. With the mixed use of surnames based on both personal and geographical lineage, it is important to note that a variety of surnames, spelling variations and variants could have the same origin.

Famous people with the name Harlow

  • Jean Harlow: An iconic American actress and sex symbol in the 1930s, she starred in films like "Hell's Angels" and "Red Dust".
  • Shalom Harlow: A Canadian supermodel and actress, known for her work in "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days" and "The Jury".
  • Win Harlow: A British scientist, known for his contributions in immunology.
  • Jack Harlow: A popular American rapper, singer, and songwriter. His single "Whats Poppin" reached number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100.
  • Bruce Harlow: An American football player, played in the National Football League (NFL).
  • Larry Harlow: An American salsa music performer, composer, and producer.
  • Carolyn Harlow: An American politician, a member of the North Carolina House of Representatives.
  • Monte Harlow: A retired U.S. Air Force Major General.
  • Sarah Harlow: An American psychologist, known for her work in post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • Robert Harlow: An American author and reporter. He was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
  • Vera Harlow: A British actress, appeared in numerous plays and films in the 1930s and 40s.
  • Paul Harlow: An American professional golfer.

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