by Justin Swanström, 2013
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”].
- 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 the surnames Schreier and Brummer.
- 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.”
Recent research suggests that the name Hauri might instead derive from Horw, now a suburb of Lucerne, Switzerland. Horw is 18 miles south of Beromünster where the Hauris first appear. The earliest form of the village name was Horwe, and someone from the village would have been called Horwer. Most Swiss surnames ending in -i or -y have a devolved occupational or locational suffix. That is, the -i evolved from -er. Thus, Jager turned to Jaggi, and von Regl turned to Regler then to Regli. Hauri could have derived from Horwer, meaning “from Horwe”.
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
For more information on the Hauri genealogy, see the Hauri Haury Howery Howry Howrey Family project.
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, and Hori, Houri, and Hauri slightly later. These various spellings might point to slightly different pronunciations.
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.
The following surnames, which appear as citizens in Switzerland 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
The following surnames also probably have a separate origin:
- Harari, in Morocco, Syria
- Harary, in Morocco, Syria
- Hariri, in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria
- Haurie, in France (Gascony)
- Hourie, in Scotland (Orkney)
- Howrie, in Scotland (Orkney)
Other etymologies have been suggested, but have not gained acceptance:
- Internet sites and family genealogies often suggest the name Hauri was the title for the speaker of a court or a term for a town crier (cf. Patrick Hanks, ed., Dictionary of American Family Names (Oxford University 2003)). Dr. J. J. Siegrist at the Staatsarchiv des Kantons Aargau characterizes these theories as “nonsense.”
- Most Swiss surnames ending in -i or -y have a devolved occupational or locational suffix. That is, the -i evolved from -er. Thus, Jager turned to Jaggi, and von Regl turned to Regler then to Regli. Hauri could have derived from Haurer, with Haurer meaning “from Haur” or “someone who Hauers.” So, the name Hauri might have originally been Haurer or von Haur.
- The surname Hauri might be derived from the place name Höri. Most authorities dismiss this possibility. 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 of Hauri from Höri say [oe] could not become [au]. Yet, the earliest Hauri at Beromünster was named in a Latin charter as Hörinus.
- 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.
- 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.”
- Charles Montandon, Origine des Noms de Familles de Suisse Romande derives the name Hauri from the German word for hero. "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" (2.3.97). "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). There is nothing to support this theory.
- An unknown source claimed the name Hauri comes from houri, a term for one of the nymphs who serve the devout Moslem in Paradise, and by extension, a description of any beautiful woman. The word is French, from 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 unique source derives the word houri 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.
- Dr. J. J. Siegrist at the Staatsarchiv des Kantons Aargau (Personal Communication to Justin Swanström, 1978)