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English and Scottish: from Middle English raven, used as a nickname for a thievish or dark-haired person. In some cases it may be from a personal name derived from this word, a survival into Middle English of the Old Norse byname Hrafn or of an Old English cognate name (Hræfn). A few early forms such as William atte Raven (London 1344) suggest that it may also in part be derived from a house sign.