Kohen - Cohen (and Its Variations) As A Surname

Cohen (and Its Variations) As A Surname

The status of kohen in Judaism has no necessary relationship to a person's surname. Though it is true that descendants of Kohanim often bear surnames that reflect their genealogy, there are many families with the surname Cohen (or any number of variations) who are not Kohanim nor even Jewish. Conversely, there are many Kohanim who do not have Cohen as a surname.

There are numerous variations to the spelling of the surname Cohen. These are often corrupted by translation or transliteration into or from other languages, as exemplified below (not a complete list).

  • English: Cohen, Cowen, Cahn, Cahan, Carne, Cohn, Cone, Conn, Conway, Cohan, Cohaner, Cahanman, Chaplan, Kaplan (Cohan is also an Irish surname and Conway is also a surname of Welsh origin. Cowen is often a variant of the Scottish surname Cowan.)
  • German: Kohn, Cohn, Kogen, Korn, Kuhn, Kahn, Cön/Coen, Katz (a Hebrew abbreviation for Kohen Zedek (כהן צדק) i.e. "righteous priest"), Jachmann, Jachmann-Kohn, Jachkone
  • Dutch: Cohen, Käin, Kohn, Kon, Cogen
  • French: Cahen, Cohen, Caen, Cahun, Kahane
  • Hungarian: Kohen, Kovacs, Káhán
  • Russian: Kogan, Brevda, Kagedan/Kagidan (in Hebrew, this name is spelled "kaf-shin-daled-nun" and is an acronym for "Kohanei Shluchei DeShmaya Ninhu," which is Aramaic for "priests are the messengers of heaven"). Kazhdan/Kazdan/Kasdan/Kasdin/Kasden/Kogan/Kogon/Kogensohn/Kagan/Kaganovich/Kaganovsky are also possible variations of this name
  • Serbian: Koen, Kon, Kojen
  • Polish: Kon, Kochan, Jach
  • Italian: Coen, Cohen, Prohen, Sacerdote (Italian for "priest"), Sacerdoti, Sacerdoti Coen
  • Spanish: Coen, Cohen, Koen, Cannoh, Canno, Canoh, Cano
  • Basque: Apeztegui "priestly house", in basque "apaiz" (priestly) and "tegi" (house). Also Apéstegui, Apesteguia, Apaestegui, Aphesteguy
  • Portuguese: Cão, Cunha
  • Persian: Kohan, Kahen, Kohanzad, Kohanchi, Kohani
  • Turkish: Kohen
  • Arabic: al-Kohen, al-Kahen, al-Kahin
  • Ancient/Modern Hebrew: Kohen, HaKohen, ben-Kohen, bar-Kohen
  • Others: Maze/Mazo, Mazer (acronym of mi zera Aharon, i.e. "from the seed of Aaron"), Azoulai (acronym from ishah zonah ve'challelah lo yikachu, meaning "a foreign or divorced woman he shall not take;" prohibition binding on Kohanim), Rappaport, Kahane

However, by no means are all Jews with these surnames Kohanim. Additionally, some "Cohen"-type surnames are considered stronger indications of the status than others. "Cohen" is one of the hardest to substantiate due to its sheer commonality.

In contemporary Israel, "Moshe Cohen" is the equivalent of "John Smith" in English-speaking countries - i.e., proverbially the most common of names.

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Famous quotes containing the word cohen:

    Parents must begin to discover their children as individuals of developing tastes and views and so help them be, and see, themselves as thinking, feeling people. It is far too easy for a middle-years child to absorb an over-simplified picture of himself as a sloppy, unreliable, careless, irresponsible, lazy creature and not much more—an attitude toward himself he will carry far beyond these years.
    —Dorothy H. Cohen (20th century)