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Surname Rabe - Meaning and Origin

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The Surprising Journey of the Rabe Surname - An Unexpected Dive into my Ancestry with iGENEA

I recently took an iGENEA DNA test and discovered surprising twists in my ancestry. While I had always believed my family's surname Rabe to be purely German in origin, the test revealed a surprising 25% Scandinavian ancestry, a link with the Halogroup I-M170 breed, and further connections to Eastern Europe and a trace of Jewish heritage!

D. Rabe

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Rabe: What does the surname Rabe mean?

The last name Rabe is of German origin and is the German form of the name Rabin, which itself is derived from the Hebrew name Rabban, literally meaning “rabbi”. The name is a founding family name, established in the Middle Ages, when families assumed a hereditary surname – hence the origin of the surname as a name indicating a rabbi or one who was of scholarly rank.

As surnames became more commonplace, members of the Rabe family took on different variations of their name, leading to many versions of the surname being seen across Europe.

The Rabe name may have been a symbolic surname, as it was often associated with wisdom, knowledge and culture during the Middle Ages. It was also often used to identify those with a certain educational background and was indicative of the family’s status and position.

More commonly, however, the Rabe surname would have been used to simply denote someone from a particular place or region as one’s given name changed from place to place. For example, someone who was known as a Rabe in Germany may have been known as a Rabon in France and a Rabinesco in Italy.

The Rabe surname remained mostly unchanged until the 17th century, and as such, is a very old and established surname, first seen in European from as early as the 12th century.

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Rabe: Where does the name Rabe come from?

The last name Rabe is most common today in Germany, Northern Europe, and some parts of the United States. This is not surprising since the name is of German-origin, meaning "raven," and was likely first used as a surname by immigrants who began to settle in these countries.

In Germany, the name is still widely used. According to the World Names Public Profiler, the surname is most populous in the state of Schleswig-Holstein on the coast of the North Sea. It is also relatively common in Hamburg, Berlin, and other regions of the country.

In Northern Europe, the name is also quite common. Denmark, Finland, and Sweden are home to many Rabe families. The World Names Public Profiler also found that the name is fairly common in Iceland, Lithuania, and the United Kingdom.

In the United States, the name is less common than in much of Northern Europe. However, according to the US Census, there are more than 8,700 families with the last name Rabe currently living in the country. The states with the highest concentrations of the name are New York, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota, but it also exists in many other states.

Overall, the last name Rabe is still fairly common in many European countries and among German-American immigrants in the United States. Although not as widespread as many other European surnames, the name continues to be used by people across the world today.

Variations of the surname Rabe

The surname Rabe is a German and Northern European surname with various spellings and variants. Some common variants of the name include Raab, Raabe, Raeb, Raebbe, Rabb, Rabbe, Rabe, Raphael, Rave, Rapp, Ravell, Rapps, Rappe, and Rauf.

In some German-speaking areas, Rabe can be found spelled as Raben or Rabenbaum. In the Netherlands and Belgium, the name is spelled as Raben.

Some other variant spellings stemming from Sweden, Denmark, and Norway are Raben, Rønne, Raav, Rønn, Raa, and Roenn.

In Estonia, the variant spelling of the name is Ravo.

In Polish-speaking areas, the name is often spelled as Rabinski.

Other surnames derived from the root Rabe include Rabenhorst, Rabenstark, Rabenstein, Rabenau, Rabin, Ravn, and Ravin. Derivatives of the name can also be found in Swedish patronymic forms, such as Rabenberg, Rabenesson, and Rabenius.

Variants and spellings of the original name Rabe have spread to America and other countries abroad with immigrants. Today, Rabes can be found living in England, Germany, Hungary, the United States, Canada, New Zealand, and numerous other countries.

Famous people with the name Rabe

  • Daniel Rabe: German actor known for roles in movies like Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol, Kingsman: The Secret Service and 6 Days.
  • Stephen Rabe: American historian specializing in twentieth-century U.S. history of the American military.
  • Susan Rabe: American actress, best known for her role as Candy Cane in the The X-Files, as well as roles in the series Cagney & Lacey and Law & Order.
  • Bob Rabe: American speaker, corporate executive, and author.
  • Dorothy Rabe: Australian tennis player who won the Australia Open Women’s Singles fourth round title in 1954.
  • Heinrich Rabe: German diplomat and journalist who served as a senior advisor to Chancellor Konrad Adenauer in post-war Germany.
  • Hans Rabe: German sculptor and medallist.
  • Craig Rabe: American painter and sculptor.
  • Bruce Rabe: Canadian golfer who won the Ontario Open Championship in 1960.
  • Chuck Rabe: American guitarist, record producer, and nightlife promoter.

Other surnames

RabRabagoRabalRabanalRabaniRabelRabenaldRabenaldtRabenaltRabenholdRabenhorstRabensteinRabensteinerRaberRäberRabholdRabi'ah Adnanite tribeRabinRabinakRabincakRabinczakRabindwitzRabinecRabinekRabinerRabinfeldRabinonitzRabinoski

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