This German and Jewish surname of ACHORN was a topographic name for someone who lived near an oak tree or in an oak wood. In some cases the name may have been a habitation name from minor places named with this word. It is possible that it was sometimes used as a nickname for someone 'as strong as an oak'. Surnames are divided into four categories, from occupations, nicknames, baptismal and locational. All the main types of these are found in German-speaking areas, and names derived from occupations and from nicknames are particularly common. A number of these are Jewish. Patronymic surnames are derived from vernacular Germanic given names, often honouring Christian saints. Regional and ethnic names are also common. The German preposition 'von (from) or 'of', used with habitation names, is taken as a mark of aristocracy, and usually denoted proprietorship of the village or estate from where they came. Some members of the nobility affected the form VON UND ZU with their titles. In eastern Germany there was a heavy influence both from and on neighbouring Slavonic languages. Many Prussian surnames are of Slavonic origin. The name has numerous variant spellings which include EICHELBERGER, EICHENDORFF, EICHENBERGER, EICHER, EICHINGER, EICHMAN, EICHNER, EICHORN, EICHEN and EICK. A notable member of the name was Joseph Freiherr von EICHENDORF (1788-1857). He was the German poet, novelist and critic, born near Ratibor. He is best remembered for his romantic lyrics. Johann Gottfried EICHHORN (1752-1827) was the German theologian and biblical scholar, born in Dorrenzimmern in Franconia. In 1775 he became professor of oriental languages at Jena, and in 1788 at Gottingen. The word Heraldry is derived from the German HEER, (a host, an army) and HELD, (champion): the term BLASON, by which the science is denoted in French, English, Italian and German, has most probably its origin in the German word 'BLAZEN' (to blow the horn). Whenever a new knight appeared at a Tournament, the herald sounded the trumpet, and as competitors attended with closed vizors, it was his duty to explain the bearing of the shield or coat-armour belonging to each. Thus, the knowledge of the various devices and symbols was called 'Heraldry'. The Germans transmitted the word to the French, and it reached England after the Norman Conquest of 1066.
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