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Surname Schäferlein - Meaning and Origin

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Schäferlein: What does the surname Schäferlein mean?

The last name Schäferlein is a German surname derived from the occupational name Schäfer, meaning “shepherd” or “sheep herder”. The word is a combination of the Old High German noun schaf, “sheep”, and the suffix -er, denoting an agent. This surname has been traced back to the Middle Ages when it was borne by shepherds or farmers who kept sheep for their livelihoods.

The suffix -lein is a diminutive form used to indicate an endearing version of a word or phrase. From this, it can be understood that the name Schäferlein conveys a sense of affection for the shepherd profession. It is also believed to be related to several other German surnames such as Schaefer, Saffer, and Schmodule.

During the mid-to-late 19th century, many German immigrants to the United States changed their name to Schäferlein upon their arrival. Therefore, it is now a common name across the country.

Schäferlein is an occupation-based surname that conveys a sense of affection and admiration for those who uphold the traditions of shepherding. As it has been passed down through generations, it has come to represent the spirit of hard work, dedication, and resilience of the German people.

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Schäferlein: Where does the name Schäferlein come from?

The last name Schäferlein is most common today in Germany and Austria, as well as in other German-speaking countries. This is due to the fact that the name is of German origin and it is likely that original family branches of this name are found in these countries. In other parts of the world, the name is still quite common though not so much as in the Germanic countries.

In the United States, for example, Schäferlein is listed as the 2,516th most common last name, being found in small but statistically significant numbers, especially in states that historically had migration and immigration from German-speaking regions of Europe.

Specifically in Germany, this name is particularly prominent in the southern parts of the country. Figures for 2019 show that, of 2,359 people with this name, the majority of them (1,709) live in Bavaria, followed by Baden-Württemberg (293), Hessen (257) and Berlin (105).

The name Schäferlein is linked to shepherding and, in the past, was likely a name given to people who dedicated their lives to this profession. Its etymological origins are linked to the middle high German words schäfer (herdsman) and lein (small), likely referring to a small herdsman or a shepherd boy.

Today, this name is still fairly common in the Germanic countries, suggesting that its reputation as a more traditional family name is still strong to this day.

Variations of the surname Schäferlein

The surname Schäferlein is a German-origin name derived from the Middle High German word “scafar” meaning “shepherd.”

Variants, spellings, and surnames with the same origin for Schäferlein are Schaeferle, Schaeferl, Schaefferlein, Schafferlin, Schäferlin, Schäferling, Schaefferle, Schaeferlein, Schaefferling, Schaferlein, Schaeffler, Schaffler, Schaeffler, Schaefler, Shaferlin, Shesderlin, Shafferlin, Scheiperlein, and Scheeperslien.

The anglicized version of Schäferlein is Schaeffer, frequently found in the United States. Other variants include Sheffer, Sheaff, Schaph, and Sheppard. Other surnames considered to have similar etymological origins are Schaaff, Schaad, Schabott, Schabsky, Schade, Schadt, Schaeffer, Schafer, Schaff, Schaffeld, Schaffhauser, Schaffner, Schaffrans, and Schaffter.

In some instances, an '-erle' was added to the original Schäfer to combine words in a more aesthetically pleasing way, resulting in surnames such as Hertzschäferlein, Hinkelplatz Schäferlein, Kampfhenkel Schäferlein, and another well-known name, Bretzschäferlein.

So while the name Schäferlein is unique, it has a long and varied heritage which includes a vast number of variant spellings, variations, and other surnames of the same origin.

Famous people with the name Schäferlein

  • Anna Schäferlein (1597–1665), German poet and hymn writer
  • Bernhard Schäferlein (1893–1980), German theologian, bishop, and political prisoner
  • Christoph Schäferlein (1575–1624), German organist and composer
  • Claus Schäferlein (1930–2020), German-born American basketball player and coach
  • Daniel Schäferlein (born 1958), German jazz pianist
  • Friedrich Schäferlein (1857–1948), German sculptor
  • Georg Schäferlein (1912–1995), German painter
  • Hans Schäferlein (1518–1580), German poet
  • Heinrich Schäferlein (1887–1962), German violinist and conductor
  • Helmuth Schäferlein (born 1901), German Orientalist
  • Jan Schäferlein (1896–1963), German organist, conductor and composer
  • Johan Schäferlein (unknown–1504), German composer and instrument maker
  • Julius Schäferlein (1890–1945), German sculptor
  • Karl Schäferlein (1898–1977), German-born American pottery artist
  • Ludwig Schäferlein (1839–1890), German landscape painter
  • Sebastian Schäferlein (born 1979), German violinist and composer
  • Wilhelm Schäferlein (1894–1944), German army officer succumbed to wounds from the Eastern Front

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