English: occupational name for a worker in metal, ME smith, OE smio (probably a derivative of smitan - to strike).

Metalworking was one of the earliest occupations for which specialist skills were required, and its importance ensured that this term and its cognitions and equivalents were perhaps the most widespread of all occupational surnames in Europe.

Medieval smiths were important not only in making ploughshares, horseshoes and other domestic articles, but above all for their skill in forging swords, other weapons, and armour.

Equivalents (not cognitives).
  Celtic: GOUGH
  Welsh: GOF
  French: FEVRE (usually 'le Fevre' - the Smith).
  Polish: KOWALSKI
  Russian: KUZNETSOV
  Finnish: SEPPANEN
  Lithuanian: KALVAITIS

Also, SMITH is one of the commonest surnames adopted by Gypsies in Britain, in part translating the Romany PETULENGRO, which means 'smith', (see PETULENGRO).

Reference: A Dictionary of Surnames
By Patrikia Hanks & Flavia Hodges, Oxford University Press 1988

ME - Middle English
OE - Old English

The Ray Smith Notebook of Metalworking Orgins - Copyright © 2002 Ray Smith
HTML Copyright © 2002 Jock Dempsey

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