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Surname Van der Goot traced to farms and possibly waterways

Going far beyond today’s word meaning

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

PUTTEN - Dozens of households in Canada and the USA are known by the surname Vandergoot. It is not surprising therefore, that a member of the Vandergoot clan would at some point raise the question, “What actually does my grandfather’s last name mean.” He was not very happy with the explanation given in a Dutch dictionary of the noun goot: trench, drain, gutter, among others. From the gutter?

This dictionary explanation raises a point best settled first. Current dictionaries are not compiled for genealogical research, they offer word meanings for today’s vocabulary. Surnames mostly represent centuries’ old linguistic meanings that may have evolved significantly; goot is a good example of this, so it is best to consult an etymological Dutch dictionary instead.

Still, this current dictionary did offer a valuable clue about the Vandergoot surname origin. If they had checked an older dictionary, they would have noticed a less restricted explanation of the noun goot since these include afvoersloot or ditch as a word equivalent. Other sources, including one online *1), provide a far more extensive explanation for goot, adding drainage canal, channel, gully and waterway as well.


If this explanation below holds water, there may have been more waterways that were actually named Goot. A check into topographical name lists produced this result: De Goot *2), a waterway in Overijssel, found near the city of Kampen. De Goot links the IJssel River branch Ganzediep with Zwartemeer. *2) By calling it De Goot, local people obviously saw this waterway as a drainage channel.

With this discovery, it becomes a bit easier to see how the surname Van der Goot could get into being. For example, a family living near or at the waterway called Goot becomes distinguished (Van der Goot) from another one living closer to the dike (Van Dyk).

To read the rest of this well illustrated and lengthy article, order a copy of the September 25, 2011 issue (as long as supplies last). This article is part of an ongoing series on Dutch surnames.