‘Andersen’ and 'Anderson' – related?


"Andersen" is the surname of the famous Danish fairy tale writer, Hans Christian Andersen.

"Anderson" is a common surname in Anglophone countries.

Do they have the same root?


Posted 2016-08-07T06:55:55.147

Reputation: 467

Question was closed 2016-08-07T20:34:36.353

3This has absolutely nothing to do with English, but in Scandinavian naming convention, the son or daughter was named with the father's or mother's name (patronymic or matronymic) followed by "son" (or "sen") or more rarely "dotter." Thus, a fellow born to a man named Anders might be named Torger Andersson. The custom is still followed in some of Scandinavia, particularly in Iceland. (A former Prime Minister of Iceland was Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir; her father was named Sigurd.) Many English names have Scandinavian roots, tracing back to the Danelaw. – P. E. Dant Reinstate Monica – 2016-08-07T07:20:08.360

1It has everything to do with English, since the surnames are used in English. It might be off-topic here, since questions about etymology and historical English are off topic, and perhaps questions about borrowed words and anglicizing words too. It seems ELU might be a better place. – Alan Carmack – 2016-08-07T13:10:23.533

1I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's about the history of English compared to related languages. – Nathan Tuggy – 2016-08-07T13:16:26.423

2I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it asks about the difference in two proper (family) names and their etymology, and is not about learning English. – user3169 – 2016-08-07T17:34:06.763

@AlanCarmack Perhaps, but if I was learning German, one could ask exactly the same question on German SE. As far as the names are concerned, would that make it a German learning question? – user3169 – 2016-08-07T17:36:28.810

@AlanCarmack We might as well ask here about the derivation of the names Obama and Khan. While the U.S. president uses the former surname, and the mayor of London the latter, and they both appear frequently in English-language journals, the surnames are not English words. – P. E. Dant Reinstate Monica – 2016-08-08T00:49:49.333



They both mean the same thing, but have come to be spelt differently as the languages they are used in evolve. From what I can find, son, sen, and søn share the Proto-Germanic root sunuz.

Both forms mean "son of Anders" (or "son of Andrew"). I would not be surprised to learn that any immigrants from Scandinavia to Britain anglicised their surname to better fit in, or immigrants from Britain to Scandinavia did the reverse.

As a bit of trivia, in addition to the literal use as "son of Andrew," some of the use of the name Anderson (also fitz Andrew and MacGhilleAndrais) in Scotland comes from St. Andrew being the patron saint of Scotland.


Posted 2016-08-07T06:55:55.147

Reputation: 5 462

Perhaps to somewhat expand on this, -son is the form in modern Swedish and Icelandic, whilst Danish and Norwegian have -sen. – tripleee – 2019-01-16T07:48:09.383