A quick Google yielded no fruit; perhaps a language aficionado or expert could shed some more light.

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    Are you asking who it refers to or what words the surname evolved from? May 16, 2021 at 7:47
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    I think it’s supposed to be in the same vein as a question here about ‘Fahrenheit’ — that is, ‘what would it have meant if it had been an actual german word?’ May 16, 2021 at 7:56
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    When referring to the physicist, it's "Schrödinger" or "Schroedinger", but under no circumstances "Schrodinger".
    – HalvarF
    May 16, 2021 at 8:12
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    It's a question about onomastics. What details are needed?
    – David Vogt
    May 16, 2021 at 11:04
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    @RDBury stackexchanges are about expert knowledge, not just knowing the language and thus being able to answer the question; this is a trap that language sites easily fall into, like ELL. Expert knowledge (or just google-fu) can tell us that ‘Wallace’ comes from the Anglo-Norman-French ‘Waleis’, meaning ‘Welshman’, and way back to Old Low Franconian ‘Walhisk’, meaning foreigner. May 17, 2021 at 11:06

1 Answer 1


Names ending on -er often refer to the person's origin (cf. "Ich bin ein Berliner"), and -ing or -ingen are typical endings of village or town names. So some ancestor could have been a Schrödinger in the sense of coming from Schröding or Schrödingen. There may have been several places of that name. As an example though, the wikipedia entry of a very old village named Schröding in Bavaria states that its name goes back to a man named Scort who lived around 800, and it was referred to as Scrotingin in a document from 1050. Place names on -ing or -ingen often go back to person names, so Scrotingin or Schröding(en) would mean something like "where Scort and his folks live". "Schröder" is also a common (much younger) family name that goes back to old words for taylor or drayman.

Of course, when refering to family name Schrödinger, these are all just speculations, common patterns that don't need to apply to this specific family. See also Wortherkunft.de, although they don't cite any sources either.

Erwin Schrödinger was an Austrian physicist, most known for his important contributions to quantum theory.


A popular meme is Schrödinger's cat, a thought experiment (1935) where a cat is in a superposed state of being both alive and dead at the same time if you use quantum mechanics to describe it. This paradox is still relevant when discussing the philosophy of quantum mechanics. Also, a fundamental equation in quantum mechanics is named after Schrödinger.

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    Good answer. Let me add, that in Austria (where Erwin Schrödinger was born) the name Schrödinger sounds like the name of a person from Germany. Schrödinger is not a typical Austrian name, same is true for Schröder. I don't know where Erwin Schrödinger's early ancestors came from, but I would guess, that it's Germany. Erwins Father Rudolf Schrödinger also was born in Vienna/Austria and Erwins Grandfather Joseph Schrödinger was in Vienna when he studied Chemistry, but I didn't find out where Joseph was born. May 17, 2021 at 7:34
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    People don’t generally use ‘meme’ in the general sense of ‘an idea that spreads’. Unless you did mean to suggest that Schrödinger’s cat is a meme in its other, more common, sense, something funny that lots of people know, which I guess is true :D May 17, 2021 at 11:00
  • @Fivesideddice: I mean it in the sense of a story that is much more widely known than other comparable ideas of physics thanks to a number of special properties (cat, death, understandability, paradox) that make it more rewarding to tell. I read Dawkins, but I don't follow meme theory, so I might not be current on what people understand by it.
    – HalvarF
    May 17, 2021 at 12:21
  • Müller, Maier, Wagner, Fischer, Schuster, ... are very common names, ending in "er" and are, to my knowledge, not based on origin, but on profession: operating a (corn) mill, processing milk, building trolleys, ... . May 18, 2021 at 15:03
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    @userunknown: I think we are all aware of that. What are you trying to tell me? What profession is Schrödinger then in your opinion?
    – HalvarF
    May 18, 2021 at 15:11

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