There are at least three possible explanations for this surname. Variously recorded as Rebhan, Rebhun, Rebhahn, Reban, Reben, Rebin, Rebone, Ribban, Ribben, Ribbens, Ribbon, Ribbins and others, it is probably German, but may also be English or Jewish. It is probably 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 simple nickname for one who was thought in some way to resemble a partridge! About fifteen percent of all European surnames started out life as a nickname, so this is quite possible, although it is usually difficult seven or more centuries later, to be accurate as to what the precise reason was for bestowing a particular soubriquet upon a person.A second possibility is that the name 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. It is one of the earliest surnames recorded in Germany with Sifrid Rebhahn being recorded in the charters of Schmittlotheim in the year 1265 whilst Haus Rephun is recorded in Konstanz in the year 1488.
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