Gender: Masculine
Origin: German/Yiddish
Meaning: “old man.”
Germ (AHLT-mahn); Eng (ALT-men)

This old and obscure German name is often associated with a surname. Its bearers mostly being of Askkenzi Jewish descent or of German ancestry. The name did start off as a first name. In fact, it was borne by a medieval German saint and bishop. Altmann of Passau, (1015-1091), is most noted for his clerical reforms as well as for his founding of several monasteries throughout Wesphalia. His feast day and  name-day is commerated on August 8. The name’s Jewish associations are probably just as strong as its Christian. Altmann, as a given name, became very popular among German Jews starting in the Middle Ages. There was an old folk belief, specific among the Ashkenazim that giving a child a name with undesirable traits would have a sort of repellent effect against the associations the name represented. Therefore, it was often believed that naming your child a name like “old man” would make him live a long and vibrant life. In German speaking countries, the name has long been out of favor, since it still carries a literal meaning in German.  However, in the United States, due to the popularity of surname names, the name might be quite appealing to the American ear. There is Hunter, Taylor and I’ve even seen Cutter, so why not Altmann. Another possible attraction to this name is that it incorporates both Jewish and Christian heritage, perhaps a suitable name for a child of mixed faiths. The name is also the name of a German brand of car, as well as a the summit of the Appenzell Alps in Switzerland. Another cool association!

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