This Low German and Dutch surname HOFFER was of two-fold origin. It was a nickname for someone with some peculiarity or disproportion of the head, or a topographic name for someone who lived on a hill or at the head of a stream or valley. The name has numerous variant spellings which include HOVES, HOVIUS, HEAD, HAUPT, HAUBT, HAIPT, HOFFMAN, HOFER, HOEF, HOFT, HOVET and HEPPL, to name but a few. 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 Friedrich HOFFMAN (1660-1742) the German physician. He was professor of medicine at Halle, and physician to Frederick I of Prussia. Karl HOFER (1878-1955) was the German artist, born in Karlsruhe, where he studied. He spent many years in France and Italy, and his work was much influenced by his war experiences. 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. A great number of immigrants from Germany settled in Pennsylvania. 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.
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