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Surname Snape - Meaning and Origin

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Snape: What does the surname Snape mean?

The surname Snape is of Anglo-Saxon origin and is believed to have geographical roots. It is derived from the Old English word "snaep," which means "dry or barren" and was commonly used to describe a patch of poor or unproductive land. This suggests that the earliest bearers of the surname may have lived or worked on a piece of land known as the "Snape" or may be from a location named Snape. There are several towns and villages called Snape in England including in Yorkshire, Suffolk, and North Yorkshire. Consequently, the surname might have been a topographic name for someone residing in such areas. As a surname, Snape dates back to the Middle Ages and it remains in use today. Notably, it was popularized by the fictional character Severus Snape in J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter" series.

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Snape: Where does the name Snape come from?

The last name of Snape is commonly found in England and Wales. It has a long-standing association with the North of England, particularly in the region stretching from Lancashire to Yorkshire.

The origin of the name can be vague but one scholar, Paul Snape, proposed an origin from the Old Norse sveinn meaning ‘young man, boy, serving-lad’.

The name was recorded as early as 1379 when a Robert Snape is recorded in Lancashire, and it is thought to be of Norman origin. The name was often found in East Lancashire and especially in areas around Manchester, Bolton, and is still common in Leeds.

Over recent decades as individuals have moved from the north of England to towns and cities across the country, you will now find Snape surnames in other parts of the UK, as well as in Europe, Asia, Canada and other parts of the world.

The village of Snape is found in North Yorkshire, England. It has been inhabited as far back as recorded history goes, as evidenced by stone axe-heads that have been found have been inscribed with the names Snapp and Snap.

Today the Snape surname is a common one in England and Wales, as well as other parts of the English-speaking world. It is estimated that there are around 34,000 individuals bearing the name of Snape in Britain today.

Variations of the surname Snape

The surname Snape has a lot of variants, spellings and surnames of the same origin. Some of them include Snapp, Snopes, Snipe, Snaip, Snaipes, Snayp, Snaypes, Snepp, Snipp, Snip, Snipes, Sneppes, Sneep, Sneeps, Snepp, Snawp, Snawps, Snaypp, and Snaypps. All of these are derived from the Old English snāp, which meant ‘a thorny plant’, or ‘a cutting remark’.

Throughout the centuries the spelling of the surname changed depending on the language and region. In Scotland, it was often spelt Snepp, while in England it was more often spelt Snape, Snapp, Snipp, Snip, or Snipes. In America, especially in states like North Carolina, Virginia, and South Carolina, the surname took root, and became increasingly more commonly spelt Snipe, Snaip, and Snaipes.

The surname Snape has become more common in recent decades, due to the popularity of the ‘Harry Potter’ series. However, there are still pockets of people who carry the surname across the world, which has been passed down through centuries, and taken on many different forms. So it is still possible to come across any of the variations mentioned above.

Famous people with the name Snape

  • Alan Rickman: Actor, who portrayed Severus Snape in the Harry Potter film series.
  • Jason Isaacs: Actor, who voiced Severus Snape in the Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets video game.
  • David Snape: British Cinematographer.
  • Antonio Snape: Spanish Actor.
  • James Snape: Played for Bristol City Football Club.
  • Thomas Snape: English Footballer.
  • Chelsea Snape: British Actress.
  • Ralph Snape: Former Member of Parliament in the British House of Commons.
  • Andrew Snape: Theatre Actor and Film Producer.
  • William Snape: British Botanist.
  • Sir John Snape: Former Anglican Bishop of Whitby.
  • John Snape: English Politician.
  • Malik Snape: Jamaican American Actor.
  • William Snape: British Politician.
  • Humphrey Snape: British Actor and Film Director.
  • Daniel Snape: English Politician.
  • Sandon Snape: British Historian.
  • Richard Snape: English Politician.
  • Edward Snape: English Member of Parliament.
  • Mark Snape: British Actor.

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