Mystery Monday: Quant

Every Monday we will post an entry that hasn’t yet been published with a view towards harnessing the collective onomastic power of the internet. If you have any thoughts about the name’s origin, other variants it might be related to, other examples of its use, etc., please share them in the comments! If you wish to browse other Mystery Monday names, there is an index.

Today’s name is a rather-modern sounding late 16th C Swedish name — or, at least, a name found in Sweden. Between 1591 and 1597, in a list of innkeepers from Stockholm, the same man shows up named Quant, Quante, and Qwant. While it’s reasonable to assume that most of Stockholm’s innkeepers were Swedish, there are other names in the list that show distinctly non-Swedish (generally more German) influences, so it’s entirely possible that Mr. Quant is not Swedish himself.


What this means is that we could be looking beyond Sweden for the origin of the name. There is an older Danish word qvant ‘young child’ mentioned in Wiktionary’s entry for the Westrobothnian word ‘gwadd’ (we’ll wait while you go and look up “Westrobothnian” — you wouldn’t be the only one to admi that they’d never heard of that language before this post!) — however, there’s no evidence to back up the existence of this word, so we’re quite reasonably leery of taking this as the root without further support.

Have you got any support to lend to us? Or other suggestions as to the origin of the name? Please share in the comments!


Filed under crowd-sourcing, dictionary entries, monthly topic

2 responses to “Mystery Monday: Quant

  1. Brian M. Scott

    According to Brechenmacher, Etymologisches Wörterbuch der Deutschen Familiennamen, the German surname Quant is from MHG, MLG quant ‘Schlaukopf, Schelm, Schalk’, (smart aleck, prankster, rogue, imp, etc.). The Grimm brothers’ Deutsches Wörterbuch adds Windbeutel ‘windbag’. This appears to be cognate with Dutch kwant ‘een zonderling’ (an eccentric, a weirdo).

  2. Rebecca Le Get

    It seems to also show up as a byname (which I think support’s Brian’s suggestion that it’s descriptive)?

    SMP volume 1, column 37 sn. Albrikt has:
    1296 Albertas Quant
    1317 (gen.) Alberti dicti Quant

    and “Das Bruderbuch der Revaler Tafelgilde (1364-1549)” on p. 394 has a “Mert Qwant”

    Could it be the innkeeper is being referred to by his byname? Or it’s a byname that started to be used as a given name?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.