Recorded in many forms including Grab, Grabbe, Grabb, Graber, Grabner, Grabiner, and diminutives and patronymics such as Graben, Grabic, Grabiec, Grabov, and Grabinski, this is a surname of Germanic or Polish origins. In its different spellings it is found throughout Northern Europe, including the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Yugoslavia, as well as Russia and the Ukraine. It has two possible derivations, the first being from the pre 7th century word "grab" meaning the hornbeam tree, and hence describing either a person who lived or worked by a hornbeam wood, or more likely came from one of the various small places called Grab. The second is from the ancient word "graben" meaning to dig, and hence an occupational name which described a contractor who specialised in the digging of ditches, dykes, and probably graves. Occupational surnames were not at first hereditary. They only became so when a son or sometimes a grandson, followed the father into the family business or occupation. In this case early examples of the surname recording taken from surviving rolls and charters of the medieval period include: Eberhard zu Graben of Gamshurst in 1355, Konrad Graber of Ulm in 1365, Heini Grabli of Heidelberg in 1420, and Gottschalk Grabbe of Lippe in 1578.
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