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Genealogy Terminology

Posted in Miscellaneous Information

I’ve started working on my ancestry research again. I’m currently researching the Dutch side of my family right now.

It’s been a year or two since I researched that branch. While I remembered some of the terminology used on official documents, I’d forgotten some, too. And, of course, I’ve come across some new terms as well.

Google Translate is great, but it only goes so far. Sometimes, it even gives you translations that are obviously, and hilariously, wrong. For example:

Translation exampleFor the record, the highlighted portions should be “Sheriff &” and “appeared” (as in, appeared before me) respectively.

So I turned to Google, where I discovered something I didn’t know existed: foreign language ancestry word lists. List of words that are often used in official ancestry documents.

I scanned through several, and so far, the best one is on They’ve got a convenient hub page linking to all of their word lists. also has a great set of word lists. A quick search for genealogy terminology on their support site reveals lists of Dutch, SpanishGerman, Italian, and French terms, and I’m willing to bet there are others.

So, if you’re having difficult translating your ancestry records, try those.

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