Von vs Van: Difference and Comparison

Earlier, people gave great importance to their names and surnames compared to today. Ancient names had deeper meanings associated with them and followed certain naming rules.

The names had prefixes and suffixes, and they added a proper meaning to them. As the caste system very commonly prevailed at that time, people were distinguished from each other based on their names and surnames.

The adoption of the names was based on religious origins. Germans, Romans, French, Dutch, Italians and every other community have a set of names and surnames of their own.

Likewise, Von and Van are two prefixes for surnames used by different regions of people, meaning of or from. The surnames with which such prefixes are associated relate to their fathers and forefathers, their characteristics, origins, and professions.


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Von has a German origin. People used it on their surnames, mainly in noble families in German countries.

Van, on the contrary, has a Dutch origin. It was used mostly by the commoners and prevailed everywhere, irrespective of status.

Key Takeaways

  1. Von and Van indicate a person’s origin, but “von” is used for German names, and “van” is used for Dutch names.
  2. The word “von” means “of” or “from,” while “van” means “of” or “belonging to.”
  3. Von is used before a person’s surname, while the van is placed directly before the person’s first or given name.

Von vs Van

The difference between Von and Van is that Von is the prefix used on surnames in German, Austrian and Russian countries, whereas Van is used in Dutch and Vietnamese for converting the names to English names.

Von vs Van

Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonVonVan
OriginVon is a prefix that has a German origin. Van is a prefix that has a Dutch origin.
RegionIt is used on surnames in German, Austrian and Russian countries.While it is used in Dutch countries and Vietnam.
Deals withIt mainly deals with noble and high-class families. Whereas it deals with commoners as well as reputed families.
PurposeIt is mainly used to depict status in society. It is used commonly, with no such specific purpose.
NounIt is only used as a prefix. While it can be used as a prefix and also as a noun.
FormIt can take other forms like von der. Even it can take other forms like van der.

What is Von?

During the ancient era, names and surnames had fixed and intense meanings. The names given were derived from certain origins that they were associated with.

German names have specific sets of prefixes attached to their names and surnames. Most of their names either have a professional origin or a geographical one.

Surnames originated during the Middle Ages. Since then, surnames have come attached with prefixes or suffixes.

Von has other forms like von der. Such forms are used with names of a specific community or category of people.


What is Van?

The types and styles of names vary from place to place from the very start. Some regions have names given to people based on their geographical origins, while some are named after their ancestors or a specific characteristic or profession.

Dutch names can come with more than one name and a surname. The names are gender-specific.

Several prefixes are made to be used on surnames of Dutch names. One such prefix is Van, often used on Dutch surnames.

Just like Von, Van also has other forms like van der. In addition, the van can also be used as a noun in names while converting them into English names.


Main Differences Between Von and Van

  1. Von has a German origin, while Van has a Dutch origin.
  2. Von is used in German, Austrian and Russian countries; Van is used in Dutch countries and Vietnam.
  3. Von deals with noble families; Van deals with commoners too.
  4. Von depicted status in society, but Van had no such purpose.
  5. Van could be used in two ways, unlike Von.
  6. Von and Van have other forms, like von der and van der.
Difference Between X and Y 2023 04 23T092837.648


  1. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/bilingualism-language-and-cognition/article/abs/object-and-action-naming-in-russian-and-germanspeaking-monolingual-and-bilingual-children/5FB6626BF944820E9EC5F4E9B85946F2
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0749596X05000240
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