Herkunft und Bedeutung des Namens Koßmann

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Die meisten Koßmann' findet man in/ im Kreisfreie Stadt Berlin (BE), nämlich genau 40 Telefonanschlüsse. Etwas länger suchen muss man dagegen in/ im Hochtaunuskreis, hier wohnen die wenigsten: gerade einmal 1.

Die meisten Cosmanns findet man in/ im Landkreis Emsland (NI), nämlich genau 6 Telefonanschlüsse. Etwas länger suchen muss man dagegen in/ im Kreisfreie Stadt Bochum, hier wohnen die wenigsten: gerade einmal 1.

Die meisten Cosmans findet man in/ im Kreisfreie Stadt Krefeld (NW), nämlich genau 4 Telefonanschlüsse. Etwas länger suchen muss man dagegen in/ im Kreisfreie Stadt Mannheim, hier wohnen die wenigsten: gerade einmal 1.

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Letzter Beitrag
Herkunft und Bedeutung des Namens Koßmann


ich bin auf der Suche nach der Bedeutung und der Herkunft des Namens Koßmann. Um 1750 wurde der Name im Paderborner Raum auch Cosmann oder Cosman geschrieben.

Es wäre schön, wenn sie mir weiterhelfen könnten.

Mit freundlichen Grüßen

Bild des Benutzers Steven
Zuletzt online: vor 20 Stunden 6 Minuten
Beigetreten: 01.03.2012 - 22:54
Beiträge: 904
Zweierlei Bedeutung

Hallo Herr oder Frau Koßmann,

für Ihren Namen sind zweierlei Bedeutungen bekannt (,wobei sicher erstere unter Umständen in Ihrem Falle gegebenenfalls leichter beweisen ließe):

  1. als Herkunftsname ableitend von Orten mit Namen wie Cossen, Kossen, Kossa. Die Endung "-mann" bezeichnet dann hierbei eine männliche Person aus oben genannten Orte stammend.
  2. vom griechischen Heiligennamen "Kosmas" abgeleitet und in der Schreibweise umgedeutet/verfremdet. Übersetzt bedeutet dieser Name im Original "geschmückt, wohl geordnet, bedacht". Informationen zur Legend um den Heiligen Kosmas (Cosmas) und dessen Bruder Damian finden Sie hier: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmas_(Heiliger)

Viele Grüße

John Koßmann
Zuletzt online: vor 2 Jahre 11 Monate
Beigetreten: 17.10.2014 - 01:09
Beiträge: 1
etymology of Koßmann

Dear Steven:

Apologies for writing in English. Although I took a degree in German, English is my native language.

You are probably on the right track when you write that the surname Koßmann (variously spelled: Kosmann, Kosman, Kossman, Cosmann, Cosman, Koßmen &c.) derives from the name of a place, with the element ‑mann denoting ‘someone from that place’. But there is evidence that Koßmann derives directly from the Germanic strong verb gießen (gieszen) meaning ‘to pour; to cast (into a mould); spill, shed (forth)’, but also meaning ‘to flood, inundate’; and this last meaning is the basis for the commonly-accepted derivation of the East Germanic peoples known in English as the Goths (adj. Gothic) and in New High German as die Goten (adj. gotisch). According to one etymology from gießen, the Goths originally came from ‘poured-over’, i.e. over-flowing, inundated or flooded land in the northern lowlands or possibly near a flooded river, such as the Göta älv, which flows through Västergötland in Sweden. On this etymology of Goth from gießen see E. Prokosch, A comparative Germanic grammar (1939) p.29. The word Goth (Proto-Germanic *Gutô, pl. *Gutaniz, from the stem *Gutan-) is cognate with the Jut- in Jutland, the Gøte- in Gøteborg and the Gd- in Gdansk (among others). The peoples known as the Geats (Swedish Götar) and the Jutes (as in “the Angles, Saxons and Jutes”) are also related etymologically to the Goths. This etymology of Goth apparently originates with T.E. Karsten in Germanen und Indogermanen: Festschrift für Hermann Hirt (1936), which I have not seen. If NE. Goth and NHG. Gote derive from gießen, then they are cognate (among others) with NHG. -e Gosse ‘gutter’, which also derives (through Ablaut) from gießen, as well as with NHG. -r Guß ‘a founding, casting; cast iron or metal’.

In his Deutsches Wörterbuch Jakob Grimm or, more accurately, one of the later editors (since the volume covering gießen was published in 1958) correctly derives Gote from gießen, but he translates ‘semen emittere’. Grimm adduces Norwegian gut ‘young man’ and, on a semantic level, he compares gießen with Ionic Gk ἔρσην, Hom. Gk ἄρσην ‘male, masculine/männlich’, both from the Indo-European root *ers- ‘to flow/fließen’, then with the figurative meaning ‘masculine/männlich’ viā ‘bedew, emit semen/benetzend, Samen ergießend’, from which Skt árṣati ‘flows/fließt’ and vṛ;śan- ‘bull/Stier’ also derive. I suspect that this comparison and that this translation (‘semen emittere’) are incorrect for gießen. Most would agree that Gk ἄρσην and Skt vṛśan- are cognate with one another, but a semantic comparison with gießen is not convincing.

Sigmund Feist in his Vergleichendes Wörterbuch der gotischen Sprache (1939) (s.v. the compound noun Gut-þiuda ‘Gothic people’) is also not very elucidating. Although he mentions the gießen etymology, Feist rejects the meaning of gießen in the sense of ‘generate, produce/zeugen’ (correctly in my opinioin). But he at least entertains the possibility that Gote derives from river-names.

The Indo-European etymology of the NHG. verb gießen is quite solid and well-established. Few would dispute that NHG. gießen (Goth. giutan, ON. gjóta, Swed. giuta, OE. gēotan, Old Saxon giotan, OHG. giozzan) goes back to (or derives from) Indo-European *g¥heu-d- (spelt by some *ǵheu-d-), a dental extension or enlargement of the IE. root *g¥heu÷- ‘to pour/gießen’. [The first version (*g¥heu-d-)—with Karl Brugmann’s famous hat over the g—may be difficult to reproduce typographically. I used the computer font TransRoman.] NHG. gießen is cognate with (inter alia) Latin fundere (with nasal infix; perf. fūdī), Gk χέ[ϝ]ω (with the digamma having a w-sound) ‘I pour (out or forth)/ich gieße, schmelze’ and Skt juhṓti ‘sacrifices/opfert, gießt Butter ins Feuer’.

Under Grimm’s law Koß- corresponds exactly with goß (the ablauting preterite of gießen). In my opinion, the koß- and goß correspondence is rather compelling and makes a convincing argument for the Goth (Gote) :: Koß connexion. The logical reasoning runs (lautet): If Goth (Gote) derives from gießen and Koß- derives from gießen, then it follows that Koß- and Goth (Gote) are both cognate, i.e. related to one another. Koßmann would then designate either ‘a Gothic man’ or ‘someone from the (flooded) land of the Goths’ (vel sim.). The element Koß- is merely a manifestation of the older goß- after the mechanism of Grimm’s law or one or two other sound shifts (Lautverschiebungen) have worked their effects. I do not have easy access to any German telephone directories, but it would not be surprising if there were one or two entries of Goßmann, especially since the spelling of surnames tends to be very conservative.

But there is no way that NHG. Koß-mann derives from Greek Kos-mas (Κοσ-μάς). Even if the Gk -mas element superficially resembles NHG. -mann, the two formants (Gk ‑mas and NHG. -mann) cannot and could not be etymologically related or cognate. Furthermore, it is difficult to reconcile or account for the single -s- spelling in Kosmas with the (usually) double s (-ß- or -sz-) spelling in Koßmann. I therefore reject as untenable the etymology of Koßmann as being an Ableitung (‘derivation’) of Gk Kosmas.

However, becuase his reputation (and that of his brother) spread far and wide, it cannot be ruled out that the Syrian saint Kosmas might have at least influenced the spelling of Koßmann. The surname Koßmann could then be, as you write, an Umdeutung (‘reïnterpretation’) or Verfremdung (‘foreign distortion’) of Gk Kosmas. In other words, Gk Kosmas could have somehow influenced the orthographic shape of Koßmann, but I suspect that the resemblance is only superficial and that the origin of the name Koßmann is entirely Germanic. A direct etymological descent of Gmc Koßmann from Gk Kosmas is out of the question.

According to Blackburn & Holford-Strevens (The Oxford companion to the year [1999], p.389), Kosmas and his twin brother Damian (both martyred ca. ad 287 or 303) were known as ‘the physicians’ (in Italian medici) and their cult was especially important in Florence at the time of Cosimo de’ Medici (1389–1464), whose name means ‘Cosmas of the physicians’. The two brothers were also known in Greek as the ἀνάργυροι (‘the money-less ones’) because they accepted no fee for their curative services. If only today’s physicians would follow their example!

Little is known about my family’s ancestry. Among the few facts that we do know: my great-grandfather, one Charles Koßmann, emigrated from Baden-Baden to the USA (probably arriving first on Ellis Island) in the 1880s or 1890s. In order to make it easier on the American Anglo-Saxons (and their typewriters), he respelled the family name from Koßmann to the shorter Kossman. My own preference leans toward the spelling Koßmann and in this age of computer-keyboards the scharfes ess can now be easily reïnstated to all of its former glory. Still, we spell it Kossman on official American documents, e.g., driver’s licences, tax-forms &c. The spelling Kossman is simpler and requires less explanation, which can be tedious and time-consuming. The longer spelling Koßmann, however, is more traditional and, if I may say so, more attractive with the scharfes ess restored and the proper spelling of the -mann element. Sometimes there is much to be said for æsthetics and tradition. Nevertheless, when in Rome (read: the USA) … .

Hope the preceding is not too long or boring (langweilig) and I certainly hope that it helps the person signed “Koßmann” who wrote previously (21. April 2012). I do not claim to have all of the answers regarding the etymology of Koßmann and I would welcome any comments, criticisms and corrections in German, English or French. I am interested in all things Indo-European. Thus my interest in this family name is not entirely motivated by self-interest.


John Kurt Koßmann

Department of Indo-European Studies


e-Mail: jkurtkossman@verizon.net;

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