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meaning of the name Steinhoff
Posted by: Nick Sheedy (ID *****5929) Date: January 01, 2006 at 12:30:40
  of 89

I thought I would share a note in regard to the meaning of the name Steinhoff:

Litterally translated, "stein hoff" means "stone hope." This didn't make much sense to me, until I learned that there is an archaic meaning of hope that means trust or reliance, which (as English is a Germanic language) is akin to the German "hoffen", which means to literally "to leap up in expectation." As an archaic verb, it can mean to trust or to rely; and as a noun it can mean trust or reliance.

Early in my inquiry, I was told that steinhoff meant stone house or farmhouse. But I also received a definition that it could refer to the paved entryway, patio or foyer to a house or building, especially if there was a something like a walled-in courtyard.

Correspondence with Jürgen-Gernot Steinhoff of Hamburg, Germany in January 2002 offered the following:
"The name Steinhoff means a house or a farmhouse built of stone, and that in former days it was not usual to build a house of stone. The name you will find espacially in the region of Westfalen and Niedersachsen, for example around the town Münster and near the region of Braunschweig and as you know around and in Gerbstedt/Mansfeld. There are even Steinhoffs in the Netherlands; they also came from Germany. We find the name Steinhoff for the first time in the year 1036 with Hans im Steynhof in the region of Westfalen."

My great-uncle, Forrest Sheedy (who does not relate to the Steinhoff side), was fluent in and taught the German language for years; he served as a translator and commander of an anti-panzer division defending the forward command post of General Dean's army, which went through France and Germany during WWII. He told me that "Steinhoff", more particularly, does not refer to a farm house structure alone, but rather to the complex of a farm house and other buildings with a common fence or wall. And so a STEINHOFF historically would describe the group of a house, barn, carriage house, or other out-buildings which may have a common (stone) wall . Such a compound would have been built in past times for defense and to keep the residents and most important animals (i.e. food sources and stores) of the household secure; such a place would be related in meaning to archaic hope or hoffen as a location where they would have placed thier trust or reliance. Thus, I conclude that a stein hoff refers to a reliable place to reside and for safe-keeping: specifically a stone-built walled-in farmstead.

I hope that this is of interest, and would be interested to hear from anyone who might have some comments, or insight or knowledge of the German language.

Best regrads,
--Nick Sheedy,
John Day, Oregon


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