This surname KUNST was derived from a Germanic personal name KONRAD composed of the elements KUONI (daring and brave) and RAD (counsel) which has probably fallen together with an originally distinct name, in which the first element was KUNI meaning race, people. The given name was extremely popular during the Middle Ages, being a hereditary name in several ruling families and also widely adopted by the people at large. The surname is also borne by Ashkenazic Jews, presumably just as an adoption of the name. The name has numerous variant spellings, including KUNTZE, KUNITZ, KURTH and KUNZE. It is known throughout Europe in its many forms, and has spread to the United States. A notable member of the name is STANLEY JASSPON KUNITZ (1905- ) the American poet, born in Worcester, Massachusetts and educated at Harvard University. A literature academic, he taught poetry at the New School of Social Research in New York City and Columbia University. His first collection of verse was 'Intellectual Things' (1930) and 'Selected Poems' 1928-1958 was awarded the Pulitzer prize in 1959. He also published literary reference books.
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.The associated coat of arms for this name are recorded in J.B Rietstaps Armorial General. Illustrated by V & H.V Rolland's. This monumental work took 23 years to complete and 85,000 coats of Arms are included in this work.
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