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German and English: from Middle High German ram, Middle English ram(m) ‘ram’, ‘male sheep’, hence a nickname for a forceful or lusty individual (in the case of the English name, perhaps in part representing a continued use of an Old English byname). It may also occasionally have been a metonymic occupational name for a shepherd, or a habitational name for someone who lived at a house distinguished by the sign of a ram. The German term also denotes a pile-driver or battering ram, and the surname may have arisen as an occupational name for someone who operated either of these.