Jewish Personal Names

Their Origin, Derivation, and Diminutive Forms

Rabbi Shmuel Gorr

Rabbi Gorr, Edited by Chaim Freedman

This book deals with Jewish personal names (first names).

For example, the name Zeev, a Hebrew name meaning "wolf", became Germanized as Wolf, then became a diminutive Wolfel, and finally Velvel.

Gorr gives the following for "Tzirre" (which produces Tsirlin/Cherlin):


The various endings (-el, -ka and variations) are diminutives.

Jewel. Etymology: German zier, ornament.

Gorr mentions also a possible connection with Hebrew (le'tzayyer, paint), which seems fanciful.

By adding "son of" to Tzirre or one of the diminutives, one gets various matronymic surnames: Tzirlin, Tzirkin, Tzirel'man, Tzirel'son, etc.

A curiosity: the common name Zeitlin is formed in a similar way, from the female name Tzitta, which - unusually - comes from Italian (zitta, fast).

To the family trees.

Back to the Family Home Page