The surname of GERTZ is a German, Jewish and Russian personal name, derived from the first element HERZ meaning hardy, brave and strong. It was also a German nickname applied to a stout-hearted or kind-hearted man. The name has numerous variant spellings which include GERTZNER, HERZ, HERZER, HERZMAN, HERZL, HERCENBERG, HERZBERGER and HERZENSTEIN, to name but a few. Surnames having a derivation from nicknames form the broadest and most miscellaneous class of surnames, encompassing many different types of origin. The most typical classes refer adjectivally to the general physical aspect of the person concerned, or to his character. Many nicknames refer to a man's size or height, while others make reference to a favoured article of clothing or style of dress. Many surnames derived from the names of animals and birds. In the Middle Ages ideas were held about the characters of other living creatures, based on observation, and these associations were reflected and reinforced by large bodies of folk tales featuring animals behaving as humans. Notable members of the name include Heinrich HERZ (1857-94), German physicist, who was the first person to produce electromagnetic waves. His father was a lawyer from a wealthy Hanseatic Jewish family. The Russian philosopher Alexander HERZEN (1812-70) was given this surname because he was technically an illegitimate child, one born of the heart. His father was Ivan Yakovlev, a Russian nobleman from a minor branch of the Romanovs, and he had married Alexander's mother only according to the Lutheran rite, which was not officially accepted. Russian surnames are almost exclusively patronymic (occasionally metronymic) in form, usually ending in 'ov' or 'ev'. Habitation and topographic names are rare, and many common Russian surnames are polygenetic, and their literal meaning is clear, even though the reason for their adoption may not be.
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