The surname of GREBNER was a German occupational name for a digger of graves or ditches, or an engraver of seals. The name was derived from the German word GRABEN, meaning to dig, to excavate. It was also an Ashkenazic Jewish occupational name for a grave-digger. The name has many variant spellings which include GRABBE, GRABERT, GRABNER, GRABER, GREBERT, GREBER, GRABARZ and GRABARCZYK. The name has been anglicized to GRAVER. 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. A notable member of the name was Christian Dietrich GRABBE (1801-36) the German dramatist, born in Detmond. A precurser of Realism, he wrote powerful tragedies on the lives of 'Don Juan und Faust' (1822) and 'Napoleon' (1831). Hereditary surnames were originally imported from France into England during the Norman Conquest of 1066. Because of the close relationship between the English and German languages, some Germans are able to transform their names to the English form just by dropping a single letter. Many Germans have re-spelt their names in America. After the start of the first World War, Germans in great numbers Anglicized their names in an effort to remove all doubt as to their patriotism. Afterwards some changed back, and then during World War II the problem became acute once more, and the changing started all over again, although not with as much intensity. Many immigrants from Germany settled in Pennsylvania.
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