What is the origin of the last name Skinner?

The last name Skinner, of English origin, is derived from the Middle English term "skynnere," which means a skinner or one who prepared animal hides. This occupational surname was typically given to individuals involved in the trade of skinning animals or working with leather, indicating a family heritage deeply entrenched in this profession.

Countries of origin for the last name Skinner

The last name Skinner has historical roots dating back to medieval England. The name is of occupational origin, deriving from the Middle English word “skynnere,” meaning a skinner or a tanner of hides. It was a descriptive surname used to identify individuals involved in the trade of preparing animal skins to be used for leather.

The occupation of a skinner or tanner was crucial in the Middle Ages, as leather served various purposes such as clothing, shoes, and other essential items. Skillful skinners were highly valued members of society, as their expertise contributed to the production of durable and functional leather goods.

Given its occupational origin, the Skinner surname was initially adopted by individuals directly involved in the trade. As surnames became hereditary, the name Skinner was passed down through generations, eventually extending beyond the occupation itself.

The Skinner surname has been documented in various forms throughout history. Different spellings emerged over time, including Skynner, Skynnere, and Skynner, reflecting the evolving nature of the English language and variations in regional accents and dialects.

One notable historical figure with the Skinner surname is John Skinner, a prominent English composer and music engraver who lived in the 18th and 19th centuries. Although not directly related to the occupational origin of the name, this serves as an example of how surnames can diverge from their original meanings over time.

Today, the Skinner surname is found predominantly in English-speaking countries, including the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom. Descendants of early settlers and immigrants carried the name to these regions, contributing to its global distribution.

In conclusion, the surname Skinner originated from the Middle English word “skynnere,” denoting an individual involved in the trade of preparing animal skins. It reflects the importance of the tanning profession in medieval society and has persisted through centuries, branching out beyond its occupational roots. The Skinner name continues to be passed down through generations, representing a link to an ancestral trade and heritage. Understanding the etymology and historical context of surnames provides insight into the diverse tapestry of human history.

Interesting facts about the last name Skinner

  • The surname Skinner is of English origin and was derived from the Old English word “scinn” or “scyn,” which means “skin” or “hide.”
  • Skinner is an occupational surname, indicating that the original bearer of the name was involved in the trade of preparing and working with animal skins.
  • In medieval England, a skinner was a person who specialized in preparing animal skins for use in making leather goods, such as shoes, bags, and clothing.
  • The Skinner surname was first recorded in England in the late 12th century, and it has been found in various regions of the country, particularly in the southern counties.
  • Over time, the name Skinner has spread to other English-speaking countries, including the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
  • Notable individuals with the surname Skinner include B.F. Skinner, an influential psychologist known for his work on behaviorism, and Burrhus Frederic Skinner, an American behind the development of operant conditioning.
  • The Skinner family name has inspired the creation of various fictional characters, such as Principal Seymour Skinner from the popular television show “The Simpsons.”
  • In Scotland, the MacSkinner clan is a sept of the Clan MacKay, with their clan chief being recognized as the Chief of the Skinner sept.
  • According to historical records, some variations of the Skinner surname include Skinne, Skynner, and Skiner.
  • The Skinner name has been associated with several coat of arms designs, typically featuring symbols related to hunting, animals, or elements of the leatherworking trade.

Name Rank


There are around 54046 people with the last name Skinner in the US

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