1 English: from Middle English hals ‘neck’ (Old English h(e)als). This was a nickname for a man with a long neck or for a conspicuous sufferer from goiter (a common affliction in medieval times).2 English (Devon): topographic name denoting someone living on a neck of land (from Middle English atte halse ‘at the neck’), or a habitational name from either of two places in Devon and Somerset named Halse, from this word. To a lesser extent Halse in Northamptonshire, named from Old English hals + hōh ‘ridge’, may also have contributed to the surname.3 Norwegian: habitational name from any of three farmsteads in the county of Møre og Romsdal. The farmsteads are so named from the Old Norse dative singular of hals ‘neck’, referring to a neck of land, or a ridge between two valleys.
Dictionary of American Family Names © Patrick Hanks 2003, 2006.