English, Welsh, French, and Romanian: from the personal name George, Latin Georgius, Greek Geōrgios, from an adjectival form, geōrgios ‘rustic’, of Greek geōrgos ‘farmer’. This became established as a personal name in classical times through its association with the fashion for pastoral poetry. Its popularity in western Europe increased at the time of the Crusades, which brought greater contact with the Orthodox Church, in which several Christian martyrs and saints of this name are venerated, in particular a saint believed to have been martyred at Nicomedia in AD 303, who, however, is at best a shadowy figure historically. Nevertheless, by the end of the Middle Ages Saint George had become associated with an unhistorical legend of dragon-slaying exploits, which caught the popular imagination throughout Europe, and he came to be considered the patron saint of England among other places. In North America, the English form of the surname has absorbed many cognates from other languages, e.g. German Georg , Assyrian/Chaldean Giwargis, Gewargis , or Georgis , and Albanian Gjergji , and also their patronymics and other derivatives, e.g. Greek Georgiadis , Georgopoulos , Hatzigeorgiou ‘George the Pilgrim’, and Papageorgiou , Romanian Georgescu or Gheorghescu, Serbian Djordjevic . The name George is also found among Christians in southern India (compare Geevarghese and Varghese ), but since South Indians traditionally do not have hereditary surnames, the southern Indian name was in most cases registered as such only after immigration of its bearers to the US.German: variant of Georg .Native American (e.g. Navajo): adoption of the English personal name George (see 1 above) as a surname.
Dictionary of American Family Names © Patrick Hanks 2003, 2006.