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Surname Tarbet - Meaning and Origin

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Tarbet: What does the surname Tarbet mean?

The last name Tarbet is believed to be a variant of the surname Tarbutt, which is an occupational surname originating from the medieval Middle English term meaning “a top-dresser of cloth.” This term referred to someone who applied a finishing layer of sizing or protecting water-proofing to cloth. The etymology of Tarbutt is from the Old English terms “tear” and “butt,” which meant “a press.” Thus, Tarbutt was originally an occupational surname given to cloth workers and dyers.

The widespread availability of this surnames indicates that it has likely been around since at least Anglo-Saxon times, with the earliest known record of it dating back to 1178 in Lincolnshire. It can now be found relatively widely in English-speaking countries, with some spellings other than Tarbet such as Tarbutt, Tarbot, Tarbott, Tarbat and Tarbitt.

The Tarbet spelling is thought to have either come about through various spellings of Tarbutt over the centuries, or else it could be an entirely separate name originating from some other similar past occupation. Regardless, Tarbet is a relatively uncommon name with a centuries-old history of cloth-working and dyeing.

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Tarbet: Where does the name Tarbet come from?

The surname Tarbet is found most commonly in English-speaking countries. It is particularly prevalent in Canada, where records indicate that there are over 8,000 individuals with the last name Tarbet. In the United States, Tarbet is a relatively rare surname found mainly in the Midwest, especially in Missouri, Wisconsin, Kentucky, and Illinois. In the United Kingdom, the last name may have originated in the North East of Scotland. Currently, the highest concentration of Tarbet’s are located in Scotland's Highlands and Islands region. The name may have even been derived from the Old Norse term “Targe” meaning “Shield” and the Old Gaelic word “Barr” meaning “spear”, indicating the first bearer of the name may have been a warrior. Canada and the United Kingdom show the highest rate of surname prevalence, however some individuals with the last name Tarbet can still be found within the United States.

Variations of the surname Tarbet

The Tarbet surname has multiple variants, spellings, and surnames of the same origin. The most common variants for Tarbet are Thorburn, Tharbar, Thorbart, Tharbaird, Tarborn, Tarbart, Thorbarty, Thorber, and Thorbot. Tarbet can also be spelled as Thorbeare, Thorbear, Tharbeart, Thorbarth, Torbet, Turbeyt, Turbyt, Tarbitt, Turbett, and Tarbert.

Variants or spellings with similar origins are Thorbald, Torbott, Thorby, Thorbee, Thorbery, Turbee, Turbay, Tuchett, Terbet, Thurbut, Thurbey, Thurby, and Thurbear. Other surnames of the same origin include Tarbas, Tarbat, Turbey, Thurbur, Turbeart, Thurbott, and Turbay.

Most of these variant and surnames have been derived from the old English ‘thorbearu’, which means ‘thor’s wood’. This is likely due to the family’s roots in Scotland where Thor (the Norse God of Thunder) is widely revered. Other variants or spellings are likely to be derived from regional dialects or misspellings.

The Tarbet surname is relatively uncommon today, but those with this surname have many variants, spellings, and surnames of the same origin to choose from. It is important to research all the possible variants in order to gain a better understanding of your family history.

Famous people with the name Tarbet

  • Tamati Coffey: New Zealand politician
  • Gary Tarbet: Scottish football player
  • Malcolm Tarbet: Scottish actor
  • Matthew Tarbet: American actor
  • Stuart Tarbet: Scottish actor
  • Marcus Tarbet: British actor
  • Clifton Tarbet: American country music artist
  • Tom Tarbet: Canadian actor
  • David Tarbet: American voice actor
  • Joseph Tarbet: British actor

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