What is the origin of the last name Klein?

The surname Klein originated in Germany and the surrounding areas, with its roots in the Old High German word "klien," meaning small or little. It was commonly used as a descriptive nickname for someone of small stature, for the youngest child, or possibly for someone who lived near a smaller version of a place. Over time, the name Klein spread across Europe and became a common Jewish surname, especially among Ashkenazi Jews. Its prevalence can be attributed to Jewish migration and the forced adoption of surnames in various regions. Today, Klein is a widespread and well-known surname, reflecting the diverse historical and cultural backgrounds of its bearers.

Countries of origin for the last name Klein

The last name Klein is of German origin and is quite common in both Germany and the United States. It is derived from the Middle High German word “klein,” which means “small” or “little.” As a surname, Klein is classified as a topographic or nickname name, referring to someone who was small in stature or of humble origins.

The name Klein has a long history, dating back to at least the 12th century in Germany. It is believed to have originated as a descriptive name for individuals, distinguishing them in some way. In early records, the spelling of the name varied, with variations such as Kleyne, Kleyn, Kleinke, and Kleine being used. Over time, the spelling standardized to Klein.

During the wave of German immigration to the United States in the 19th century, many individuals with the last name Klein settled in the country. They brought with them their language, culture, and surname. As a result, the name became established in America and can now be found throughout the country.

Like many surnames, Klein has undergone some phonetic changes and variations over time. The pronunciation of Klein can differ among individuals, but it is typically pronounced as “kline” in English. The spelling, however, remains consistent as Klein.

Klein is a relatively common last name in the United States today. It has a strong presence in various states, including New York, California, Illinois, and Pennsylvania. Many individuals with the surname Klein have achieved noteworthy accomplishments in various fields, such as science, arts, business, and politics.

Overall, the last name Klein holds a rich history and carries significance for those who bear it. It represents a connection to German heritage and often symbolizes characteristics such as modesty, simplicity, and resourcefulness. While much is known about the origins and meaning of the name Klein, there may still be undiscovered details that could further enhance our understanding of this surname and its significance.

Interesting facts about the last name Klein

  • The surname Klein originated from Germany and is derived from the German word “klein,” meaning small or little.
  • Klein is one of the most common surnames in the world, particularly among Jewish communities.
  • It is estimated that there are over 800,000 individuals with the surname Klein worldwide.
  • Many famous individuals bear the surname Klein, including the renowned German philosopher and mathematician Felix Klein.
  • The surname Klein has several variations, including Kleine, Kleinhans, Kleinmann, and Kleinschmidt.
  • In some cases, Klein is used as a Jewish surname to indicate descent from the renowned Jewish scholar and commentator Rabbi Yitzchak Luria, also known as the “Ari,” whose last name means “lion” in Hebrew.
  • Klein is often associated with the German and Ashkenazi Jewish communities but can also be found among other ethnic groups.
  • During the Jewish diaspora, many individuals with the surname Klein emigrated to various countries, including the United States, Israel, and Argentina, among others.
  • Klein is a relatively common surname in the United States, particularly among Jewish-American communities.
  • The surname Klein has various meanings in different languages. For example, in Dutch, it means “little,” while in Danish, it means “small” or “petite.”

Name Rank


There are around 81471 people with the last name Klein in the US

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