There are at least two possible explanations for this surname. Variously recorded as Rebhan, Rebhun, Rebhahn, Reban, Reben, Rebin, Rebone, Ribban, Ribben, Ribbens, Ribbon, Ribbins and others, it is often Germanic, but may also be English or Jewish. It probably derives from the early German word "rebhuhn" meaning a partridge, and as such was either a metonymic for a hunter or breeder of these birds, or may be a nickname for one who was thought in some way to resemble a partridge, possibly by being a fast mover! A second possibility is that the name is occupational and may have referred to a ribbon merchant or manufacturer. This is almost certainly the case with many pure English recordings, although again the word as "riben" is one which is believed to have originated in Germany. Surnames from nicknames are one of the largest groupings, and this coupled with the fact that the medieval times was also one of very robust humour, often makes it difficult to interpret precisely what was meant some seven centuries later. This surname where German is one of the earliest surnames recorded. Examples include Sifrid Rebhahn in the charters of Schmittlotheim in the year 1265, whilst Haus Rephun is recorded in Konstanz in the year 1488.
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