This surname was a German topographic name for someone who lived near a cherry orchard, or a wild cherry tree. The name was originally derived from the German word KIRSCHBAUM. It may also have been an occupational name for a gatherer or seller of cherries, or a nickname for a man with a ruddy complexion. The name was also used by Ashkenazic Jews, one of the many names taken from words for trees and other features. The name has numerous variant spellings which include KIRCHHOFF, KIRSH, KERSCH, KERSCHMAN, KARSCH, KIRSHONOVITZ, KIRSBAUM, KIRSHENBOIM and KIRSZBERG, 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 Gustav Robert KIRCHHOFF (1824-87) the German physicist, born in Konigsberg. He was professor at Heidelberg from 1854 until 1875 and distinguished himself in electricity, heat, optics and spectrum analysis. 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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