Many surnames began as insulting nicknames

Most of us have suffered the indignity of being given a nasty nickname — at summer camp, university or work — that stuck with us for years.

But imagine if such a nickname followed you throughout your entire life — and then stuck to your children, your grandchildren and the rest of your descendants until the end of time.

Amazingly, name researchers believe that some of our most common surnames likely began just like that: as insults.

Michael Adams, a professor of linguistics at Indiana University, said researchers have come across names in old records like “John the Bastard.”

And while most Bastards have since found an excuse to change their name, other no-less-insulting surnames remain fairly common.

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