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Surname Walder - Meaning and Origin

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Redefining Identity: How My iGENEA DNA Test Unveiled Unexpected Ancestral Insights of the Walder Lineage

The ancestry DNA test I undertook at iGENEA led me on an astonishing lineage voyage, exposing unexpected familial roots across epochs, ethnicities, and geographical bounds. The surprising revelations substantially reshaped my self-identity and my understanding of the Walder family history.

E. Walder

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Walder: What does the surname Walder mean?

The last name Walder is of German origin. It is derived from the old German personal name "Waldhar" which is a compound of "wald" meaning rule or "waltan" which denotes to 'rule/govern' and "heri" meaning army. Thus, the name Walder broadly translated means 'ruler of the army' indicating a position of significant leadership or authority. It may have been used for people who held a military rank or a leader of some sort during the Medieval period. Like many surnames, it would initially have been a nickname or an occupational name. These names were given based on the job or type of work that people did and then passed down through generations as a family name. It can also be an Anglicized version of the Jewish surname 'Wald'. Variations of this name can be found in different cultures and countries across Europe.

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Walder: Where does the name Walder come from?

The last name Walder is common in parts of Europe, including Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Sweden. In particular, it can be found in large cities such as Berlin, Zurich, Vienna, and Stockholm. Walder is also a relatively common last name in the United States, where it ranks as the 1,618th most popular last name.

In Germany, the surname is most common in Baden-Württemberg, followed by North Rhine-Westphalia, Bavaria, and Lower Saxony. In Switzerland, it is widely found throughout the country, but is especially prevalent in the cantons of Bern and Zurich. Austria and Sweden, too, have significant populations of the surname, with the highest numbers in Vienna and Stockholm, respectively.

Walder may have first been borne by a person who lived near a wall (also spelled walder or waldher), which likely refers to the boundaries of a forest or other form of natural landmark. The spelling of the surname has also likely evolved over time, with variants such as Walde and Wailde being common in some parts of Europe.

Variations of the surname Walder

The surname Walder is believed to have multiple sources depending on the geographical location of the spelling.

In Germanic regions, Walder is used mainly as a variation of the original surname Waldher. In this version, Walder is given a Veld moniker, translating to “hunter” or “woodman” from the Germanic words ‘wald’ for “wood” and ‘herr’ for “lord.”

In other regions, Walder could be derived from the German personal name Walter, meaning “rule of the army”, which comes from the Germanic elements ‘wald’ for “rule” and ‘heri’ for “army.” An earlier form of this spelling was Wallther.

In Anglo-Saxon regions, Walder could have several variations and spellings; Veldor, Welder, Walther, and Walter.

Other regional spellings of Walder can come from the Middle English words for ‘weald’ meaning “forest” and the suffix “er” for “one who dwells at”, such as Walderer.

Alternative surnames from the same origin include Vealder, Welder, Wiolder, Wiolders, Whealder, Welter, Waller, Walders, Wallers, Wallar and Woller.

The surname Walder does not have any specific coat of arms, but there are some similarities that make it seem possible that the surname can be linked to the armorial bearing of a few different families with a similar name.

In summary, the surname Walder is derived either from the Germanic personal name Walter, meaning “rule of the army”, or the Middle English words for ‘weald’ meaning “forest” and the suffix “er” for “one who dwells at”. Variants of the surname include Veldor, Welder, Walther, and Walter, with alternative variants being Vealder, Welder, Wiolder, Wiolders, Whealder, Welter, Waller, Walders, Wallers, Wallar and Woller. The surname Walder does not have any specific coat of arms, however there are some similarities that may potentially link the surname to a few different armorial bearing families.

Famous people with the name Walder

  • Edith Walder: an American actress, known for her roles in films such as The Prizefighter and the Lady (1933) and Five Star Final (1931).
  • Stephen Walder: an Australian explorer who led a number of daring expeditions in the Australian Outback in the late 19th century.
  • Oskar Walder: a Swiss architect who designed numerous religious buildings around Europe, including the Twin Towers of the Louvre Museum in Paris.
  • Karl Walder: an Austrian artist who became well known for his expressionist style paintings, as well as his murals at the Vienna Academy of Music and Drama.
  • Olivia Walder: a British author of children’s books, best known for her stories “The Adventures of Winnie the Witch” and “The Magical Snowman.”
  • Ernst Walder: a German physicist who was one of the first scientists to study quantum mechanics, and who was a key figure in the development of the atomic bomb.
  • Lucian Walder: a Canadian pianist and composer, who composed and conducted several major symphony works in the early 20th century.
  • Greta Walder: a Swedish actress, best known for her roles in Swedish television dramas such as “The Brothers” and “The Summer of Helene.”
  • Roger Walder: a Swiss zoologist, who wrote numerous books on animal behavior, including “Toward a Science of Animal Behavior” and “Exploration of Animal Intelligence."

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