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Surname Taffe - Meaning and Origin

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Taffe: What does the surname Taffe mean?

Taffe is a surname of Irish origin derived from the Gaelic name "O'Taithfhiodha" meaning 'omniscient' or 'knowledgeable'. The name could indicate that the original bearers of this surname were individuals who were recognized for their wisdom, learning or knowledge. Like many surnames, it started as a patronymic name, which signifies genealogical descent. The “O” in the original "O'Taithfhiodha" stands for ‘descendant of’. Hence, individuals with the Taffe surname are descendants of a person named Taithfhiodha. Over the centuries and through migration, the surname has undergone spelling variations such as Taffey, Tuffy, Touhy, and Taffs. Traditionally, surnames served the purpose of categorizing people in communities for social and administrative purposes. However, it's important to note that while surnames may indicate traits, occupations, or lineages of ancestors, they don’t define the characteristics or destinies of individuals who currently bear them.

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Taffe: Where does the name Taffe come from?

The last name Taffe is most commonly found today in North America, particularly among Irish-Americans, along with the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Australia. It is also found in other parts of the world, including Italy and Poland.

In the United States, the Taffe surname is most prominent in the Northeastern states including Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. It is also commonly found in California, Arizona, and Colorado, though not as widely as in the Northeast.

The Taffe surname originates from the Irish Ó Támhsaigh, meaning "son of Tamhasg." The name is derived from the Old Norse and Old Gaelic word for ‘belly’ or ‘stomach’. It was taken to Ireland by Norse Vikings who settled in Ireland during the 11th and 12th centuries.

The Taffe surname is most commonly spelt as ‘Taffe’, though variants such as ‘Taffee’, ‘Tophie’, ‘Taffey’, and ‘Taffy’ can also be found.

Current estimates suggest there around 10,000 people bearing the Taffe surname worldwide, with around 6,000 living in the United States, 900 in the UK and Ireland, and the remainder in other countries.

Variations of the surname Taffe

The surname Taffe is of Irish, Scottish and English origin. It has many variants, spellings and other surnames of the same origin. The variants for the surname Taffe include Taff, Taffe, Taf, Tafe, Tav and Tev, with Taff being the most popular spelling variant. The common Irish spelling is O'Taffy, whilst Teague is a popular alternative spelling.

The Scottish/Irish clan name Taffe is derived from the Gaelic phrase ‘Tomhasach Fein’ which translates to ‘the strong willed one’. This clan name originated in the Irish province of Ui Tuilelagh where the O’Taffy or MacTaffy clan were especially prominent. Later, some of the clan members migrated to Scotland in the late 16th & early 17th centuries, settling in areas such as Ayrshire and Banffshire, retaining their historical surname Taffe.

In England, the surname Taffe is more common and has been used with several different spellings, including Taffe, Tav, Taf, Taffe, Tafot, Taffet and Tafat. It is believed this surname originated in the Lancashire area of England, and was a topographic name given to someone who lived near a hill or mound. It may also be derived from the Old English word ‘tafa’, meaning place of the forests, and could have been a nickname for someone who lived in a wooded area.

The surname Taffe is also found in areas such as Germany, where it is more commonly known as Teufel. This spelling takes the form ‘Teuffel’ in Germany itself, and ‘Teufel’ in Swiss German. The German spelling is thought to be derived from the Old German word ‘teufel’, meaning ‘devil’.

In the Netherlands, a variant of the surname Taffe is Taaf, which could be derived from the Dutch word ‘taaf’, meaning ‘horned animal’ or ‘handle’.

Overall, Taffe is an old name which has many different copies, variants, spellings and other surnames of the same origin.

Famous people with the name Taffe

  • Matthew Taffe, an American dancer, choreographer, and teacher.
  • Debbie Taffe, an American-born actress who has appeared in many stage and film productions.
  • Clay Taffe, an American golfer who has won multiple collegiate and professional titles.
  • Pierre Taffe, a French ski mountaineer and ski instructor.
  • Lean Taffe, a British model, actor, and director.
  • Nicholas Taffe, an American professional ice hockey goaltender currently playing for the Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League.
  • Adrian Taffe, an American professional basketball player who currently plays for the Windy City Bulls.
  • Paul Taffe, an American politician and retired Navy Master Chief Petty Officer who has represented the people of Baldwin County, Alabama in the Alabama House of Representatives from 2014-2018.
  • Yolanda Taffe, a Jamaican 73-year-old grandmother who is known for her work as an AIDS advocate.
  • Eiluned Taffe, a British author and artist known for her work about historic England and the Northwest Highlands of Scotland.

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