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Surname Tafel - Meaning and Origin

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Tafel: What does the surname Tafel mean?

The last name Tafel is an occupational surname derived from the Old German word ‘tafel’ meaning ‘table’. Tafel is a nickname for a person who worked in a profession associated with the manufacturing or production of tables. This could be a carpenter or woodworker that made tables or furniture, or a manufacturer of simple household tables, such as a kitchen or dining table. The surname Tafel was particularly common in areas where carpentry and furniture-making was an important source of economic activity.

The earliest records of the Tafel name can be found in the area known as Thuringia in Central Germany, dating back to as early as the 12th century. Over the centuries, people with this surname have spread across the German-speaking world and adopted the spelling of the surname in line with local dialects. In English-speaking countries, the Tafels can appear as ‘Tafel’, ‘Tafe’, ’Taffle’, or ‘Toffel’.

Today, people with the last name Tafel can be found throughout Europe, and spread somewhat further via the emigration of German speakers in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Despite the common etymological origin, very little is known about any particular family of Tafels. However, many of the families who carry this name are known to take pride in their heritage and their contributions in the woodworking industry.

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Tafel: Where does the name Tafel come from?

The last name Tafel is a surname of German origin first found in the German states of Hesse and Bavaria, where it remains most common today. This surname is thought to have migrated to other parts of the world including France, and it is possible to find Tafels living in these two countries.

In the United States, the Tafel name primarily appears among German immigrants of the nineteenth century. Tafels can be found living in the Midwest states of Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Illinois, which many German families immigrated to. Furthermore, the majority of Tafels also live in eastern and coastal cities such as New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore.

Outside of Germany and the United States, the Tafel name is found increasingly in the United Kingdom, where many German emigrees re-settled during the nineteenth century. Canadian Tafels may be descendants of some of these groups. Additionally, Tafels may have gone to South America, again in part due to nineteenth century immigration.

The Tafel surname is still popular today, and there are many descendants of the original Tafels who are carrying on the name in different parts of the world. As more research is done, and more records become available to the public, it is likely that the Tafel name will become more widely known.

Variations of the surname Tafel

Tafel is a German and Dutch surname, deriving from the Middle High German word "Tafel", meaning "table". Variations of the name include Table, Taft, Taph, Tapp, Taff, Taffe, and Tafte.

In Germany, the surname is most commonly spelled as Tafel. This spelling is found mainly in the areas of Baden-Wurttemberg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, and Saxony. It is also found, occasionally, in the German states of Bavaria, Lower Saxony, Berlin, and Rheinland-Pfalz.

In Dutch-speaking areas, the name is most often spelled as Taffel. This spelling is common in the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and northern parts of France (e.g. the French department of Nord-Pas-de-Calais).

Other forms of the surname include Taft, Tapp, Taph, and Taff. This spelling is found primarily in the United States, where it is the most common variant of the Tafel surname.

The surname is also found in the form of Taffe. This variation is particularly common in parts of Italy, though it is also found in the United States.

Finally, the surname is occasionally spelled as Tafte. This spelling is found mainly in Scandinavia (in particular Norway). It is also found, to a lesser degree, in parts of England and Wales.

Famous people with the name Tafel

  • Robert Tafel, retired politician, media investor and philanthropist.
  • John Tafel, former mayor of Del Mar, California.
  • Henry Tafel, WASP pilot, executive at the Lockheed Corporation, and founding board member of the Santa Monica Public Library.
  • Karl Theodor Tafel, German politician and member of the German Imperial Parliament.
  • Henry Tafel, Assistant Secretary at the Department of the Navy under President Harry S. Truman.
  • Julius Tafel, aeronautical engineer and designer of the Elliott AutoGyro.
  • Ludwig Christian Tafel, German-American business executive.
  • Tom Tafel, American contemporary painter.
  • André Tafel, composer of classical music.
  • Marcos Tafel, Brazilian composer, guitarist and attor.
  • Hanna Tafel-Koch, Polish-born German fashion designer.
  • Johannes Tafel, German classical philologist and professor emeritus.
  • Justus Tafel, theologian of German origin active in the USA.
  • Olaf Tafel, German professional footballer.
  • Anton Tafel, Austrian football striker.
  • Gertrude Tafel, Austrian-born American concert pianist.
  • Einhorn Tafel, German lawyer and World War II veteran.
  • Mona Tafel, German-American architect and mountaineer.
  • Adolf Tafel, German film director.
  • Joseph H Tafel, American movie producer and executive.

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