Origin of the Surname Hauri

An updated version of this information appears on Geni.com.

The standard spelling of the name is now Hauri in Switzerland and Haury in Germany. In the United States, the usual spellings are Howery, Howry and Howrey. In early records the name is variously spelled Haury, Höri, Horin and Houri. We find Hovri at 1282, 1303 and 1308 in Steffisburg, Hoori 1310 at Jegentorf, and Hörinus in Latin charters at Beromünster in 1313 and 1324. These various spellings might point to slightly different pronunciations.

According to the Staatsarchiv des Kantons Aargau, the Hauri family originated at Beromünster, and subsequently spread into Sursee and surrounding communities. Before 1800, various members of the family were citizens of the following communities [Emil Meier, Familiennamenbuch der Schweiz (Zürich 1968-71)]:

Hauri, at Hirschthal, Moosleerau, Reinach, Reitnau, Seengen, Seon, Staffelbach, and Zofingen in Aargau.
Hauri, at Härkingen in Solothurn.
Hauri, at Schötz in Lucerne.
Haury, at Mauensee in Lucerne.

The following surnames, which appear as citizens before 1800 [Emil Meier, Familiennamenbuch der Schweiz (Zürich 1968-71)], probably have a separate origin:

Haari, at Lenk and Niederried bei Interlaken in Berne.
Harer, no information.
Hari, at Adelboden, Frutigen, Kandergrund, and Kandersteg in Berne.
Harri, at Kandersteg in Berne.
Härri, at Birrwil and Othmarsingen in Aargau.
Heri, at Biberist, Derendingen and Gerlafingen in Solothurn.
Heuri, at Hägendorf in Solothurn.


According Dr. J. J. Siegrist at the Staatsarchiv des Kantons Aargau, it is generally accepted that the surname Hauri is derived from the Alemannic verb hauren, which meant “to speak loudly.” The noun form, hauri, could be applied to a loud person, or possibly to a boaster. The Alemannic dialect of German is spoken in southwestern Germany and in German Switzerland, the ancient duchy of Alemannia (Swabia).

This theory is supported by the following sources:

Albert Heintze, Die Deutschen Familien-Namen (Berlin 1933) defines the name as an overly loud person [”ein über lauter Mensch”].

Patrick Hanks, ed., Dictionary of American Family Names (Oxford University 2003) identifies Hauri as a Swiss-German nickname meaning “crier,” from the Alemannic hauren, “to cry.”

Max Gottschald, Deutsche Namenkunde, unsere Familiennamen nach ihrer Entstehung und Bedeutung (Berlin 1954) defines Hauri as a Swiss name meaning either an owl or an overly loud person. [”Hauri: 1. Schweiz “Uhu,” 2. “überlauter Mensch.”]

Hans Bahlow, Deutsches Namenlexikon: Familien- und Vornamen nach Ursprung und Sinn erklärt (Frankfort-am-Main 1985) derives Hauri from the Alemannic hauren, and equates it to Schreier and Brummer:

“Haury, Hauri (n) nur in der Schweiz,= “Schreier” (zu alem.hauren); vgl. Brumsy “Brummer” (zu brumsen).”

“Schreier s. Schrei: Vgl. Schreijagg-hans, -vogel. Auch Schreiert.”

“Brummer (Hbg. oft, Meckl.): ndd.=”Dnurrer, Schreier”, auch Brumm (e). Joh. Brummere 1339 Lub. Vgl Bummegrelle 1369 Brschwg., grelle = “Speiss” wie in Schleppergrelle. Ein Brummelbar 1366 Grfsw. Zu Brummel vgl. aber brum = brom = bram “Moor” in den ON. Brummel (Westf: Brmlo) u. Brumsel/Ems (Brum-seli) wie Bramsel (Bram-seli 890).”

Worth Considering

1. From one of my correspondents: Most Swiss surnames ending in -i or -y have a devolved occupational or locational suffix. In plain English, the -i evolved from -er. Thus, Jager turned to Jaggi, von Regl turned to Regler then to Regli. Hauri could easily have derived from Haurer, with Haurer meaning “from Haur” or “someone who Hauers.” So, the name might have originally been Haurer or von Haur.

2. The surname Hauri might be derived from the place name Höri. I have talked to scholars who dismiss this possibility, and to some who accept it. In medieval High German, certain dipthongs merged into others by a process that is well-documented. For example, [ou] and [u:] merged into [au]. Those who dismiss a derivation from Höri say [oe] could not become [au]. Yet, the earliest Hauri at Beromünster wasHörinus.

3. There is a Höri in Zürich, consisting of Endhöri, Niederhöri and Oberhöri. I have not been able to find an etymology for Hori, but one correspondent says it was a common feature of the Swiss landscape. The village in Zürich has as its coat of arms two crossed silver cake forks in blue, accompanied from four golden cakes. The arms are said to refer to the property ofKüchelers Höri, suggesting the name might have been derived from an oven.

4. There is a place named Höri in Reichenbach im Kandertal, Berne.

5. There is a peninsula named Höri in the western Bodensee, which belonged in medieval times to monastery at Reichenau. A local story says God created the peninsula as the last and most beautiful place on earth, with the words “Jetzt hör’i auf!”

6. The name Hauri might derive from Horen. There is a ruined castle by this name at Küttigen in Aargau. However, the original name of that castle is unknown. The ruin took its name after the Middle Ages from neighboring fields. Still later, in the 19th century, it came to be called Rosenberg. The castle was built in the first half of the 12th century and abandoned about 1200. Küttigen was then owned by Stift Beromünster (from 1335 to 1535 it was in the possession of the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem). The castle might have served as a residence for the klösterlichen Meier.

For What It’s Worth

In the Battle of Sempach (1386) those killed included three brothers von Bärenfels; Thüring I, Ritter von Hallwil; Rudolf I von Schönau, called Hürus; five Lords von Reinach; and others. The nickname Hürus (“the Mighty”), which was applied to others in the same period, might have some etymological connection to Hauri.


Some other etymologies have been suggested, but must be dismissed as having no foundation:

1. Some sources suggest that Hauri might have been the title of the speaker of a court or a term for a town crier. Dr. J. J. Siegrist at the Staatsarchiv des Kantons Aargau characterized these theories as “nonsense.”

2. Dr. Oscar Kuhns, “German Family Names” in America Germanica V, (University of Pennsylvania, 1902), p. 305, suggested that the name Hauri was originally a nickname for sharp-minded or high-spirited person. He derived the name from two stems, hug + hart. He defined hug as “mind, spirit.” He neglected to define hart, but presumably intended it to have the normal meaning of “hard, sharp, severe.” Dr. J. J. Siegrist at the Staatsarchiv des Kantons Aargau characterized this theory as “nonsense.”

3. An unknown source claimed that the name Hauri comes fromhouri, a term for one of the nymphs who serve the devout Moslem in Paradise, and by extension, a description of any beautiful woman. I find nothing to support this theory. Most etymological dictionaries derive the word from the French houri, via the Persian huri (”a nymph in Paradise”), and ultimately from the Arabic haura (”to be beautifully dark-eyed,” like a gazelle). The word did not appear in French until 1654, nor in English until 1737. It is unlikely to be much older than that in German. One off-beat source derives the word ultimately from Ishtar, said to have been called Har, and relates the word to the English words harem, harlot and whore, as well as to the Greek Horae, the goddesses of the seasons.

4. Charles Montandon, Origine des Noms de Familles de Suisse Romande derives the name Hauri from the German word for hero. There is nothing to support this theory:

“Haudenschild – Bouclier du héros, en vieil allemand, comme Hauenschild. Le germanique hald, held, héros, halhari, armée héroïque, a laissé aussi Held, Heldner, Heldenmayer (intendant preux), Hauri, Haury. Le germanique hild, combattant, a donné Hild, Hilden, Hilt, Hilty, ainsi que Hildbrand, Hildebrand, Hildebrandt, Hildenbrand, Hilderbrand, Hillebrand, Hiltbrand, Hiltebrand (feu du combat), enfin Hiltbrunner (source du combat) et Hiltpold (audace du combat).” (2.3.97)”

“Held = héros, preux. Kuhn, Kühne, Kuonen, Kuoni = hardi, courageux. Kraft, Krafft = fort, vigoureux. Wild = sauvage. Marti, Marty = martial (du latin Martinus, de Mars, dieu de la guerre). Krieg, Krieger = guerrier. Buhler, Bühler, Buhlmann, Bühlmann = homme courtois, galant.” (11.9.94)”

“Hodier – De l’ancien nom germanique Haldhari (= armée héroïque), comme Haudier et Audier. L’ancien germanique hald, héros, ou hild, combat, a donné également Hude, Hudry et Hauri. Cependant, Haury signifie aussi “forge” en gascon.” (23.1.94)”

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