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German: from Middle High German tafel ‘table’, ‘gameboard’, or ‘panel painting’, a metonymic occupational name for a maker of wooden panels (for tables, carvings, paintings, or room paneling), or alternatively a topographic name for someone who lived by a roadside shrine or other religious motif; such depictions were (and still are common) in Bavaria and Austria. In some instances this may be a reduced form of, literally ‘panel maker’. In this sense the name is also established as a Polish surname.