This German and Jewish surname of AUER was a habitation name from any of several places in South Germany, so called. The name was originally rendered as AUROCHS, meaning one who dwelt near the wild bull's, a now extinct animal. Surnames derived from placenames are divided into two broad categories; topographic names and habitation names. Topographic names are derived from general descriptive references to someone who lived near a physical feature such as an oak tree, a hill stream or a church. Habitation names are derived from pre-existing names denoting towns, villages and farmsteads. Other classes of local names include those derived from the names of rivers individual houses with signs on them, regions and whole countries. The first hereditary surnames on German soil are found in the second half of the 12th century, slightly later than in England and France. However, it was not until the 16th century that they became stabilized. The practice of adopting hereditary surnames began in the southern areas of Germany, and gradually spread northwards during the Middle Ages. A notable member of this name was Karl Freiherr von Welsbach AUER (l858-l929) Austrian chemist, born in Vienna. He invented the incandescent gas mantle and the osmium lamp. He also discovered the cerium-iron alloy known as Auer metal now used as flints in petrol lighters. When traditional Jews were forced to take family names by the local bureaucracy, it was an obligation imposed from outside traditional society, and people often took the names playfully and let their imaginations run wild by choosing names which corresponded to nothing real in their world. No one alive today can remember the times when Jews took or were given family names (for most Ashkenazim this was the end of the 18th century or the beginning of the 19th) although many remember names being changed after emigration to other countries, such as the United States and Israel in recent years. The associated coat of arms is recorded in Rietstaps Armorial General. Registered in Germany.
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