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Adler is a surname of German origin meaning eagle,[1] and has a frequency in the United Kingdom of less than 0.004%, and of 0.008% in the United States.[2] In Christian iconography, the eagle is the symbol of John the Evangelist, and as such a stylized eagle was commonly used as a house sign/totem in German speaking areas. From the tenement the term easily moved to its inhabitants, particularly to those having only one name. This phenomenon can be easily seen in German and Austrian censuses from the 16th and 17th centuries.[3] The term might have been assigned also as a name descriptive of character or outward characteristics.

Die Adler (the eagles) also is a nickname for the Germany national football team.

Notable Adlers[edit]

Actors, writers and producers[edit]

Engineers and scientists[edit]


  • Chris Adler (drummer) (born 1972), drummer of the metal band "Lamb of God"
  • Cisco Adler, the artist featured in all songs of the artist Shwayze
  • Guido Adler (1855–1941), Bohemian-Austrian musicologist and writer on music
  • Hans G. Adler (1904–1979), South African pianist, musicologist, and antique keyboard instrument collector
  • Henry Adler, American drum kit educator, player and actor
  • Hugo Chaim Adler (1896–1955), Belgian composer, cantor, and choir conductor
  • James Adler (born 1950), Composer and pianist from Chicago, Illinois
  • Julia Rebekka Adler (born 1978), German violist.
  • Larry Adler (1914–2001), American musician, widely acknowledged as one of the world's most skilled harmonica players
  • Richard Adler (1921–2012), Jewish-American lyricist, composer and producer of several Broadway shows
  • Samuel Adler (born 1928), Jewish-American composer and conductor
  • Steven Adler (born 1965), a drummer for the hard rock band Guns N' Roses
  • Vincent Adler, Hungarian pianist, composer
  • Willie Adler (born 1976), guitarist of the metal band Lamb of God


  • Frederick Charles Adler (1889–1959), London-born conductor known as "F. Charles Adler"
  • Kurt Adler (1907–1977), Czech-born Austrian-American conductor, Metropolitan Opera chorus master (1943–1973)
  • Kurt Herbert Adler (1905–1988), Vienna-born American conductor, San Francisco Opera general director (1953–1981)
  • Peter Herman Adler (1899–1990), Czech-born American conductor, director of NBC Opera Theatre (1950–1964)


Rabbis and theologians[edit]

  • Binyomin Adler (born 1969), founder of Maor Torah Center, Oak Park, Michigan
  • Felix Adler (Society for Ethical Culture) (1851–1933), Leader of Ethical Humanism
  • Hermann Adler (1839–1911), Orthodox Chief Rabbi of the British Empire from 1891 to 1911
  • Johann Kaspar Adler (1488–1560), also Kaspar Aquila, Caspari Aquilae, real name Johann Kaspar Adler, German reformer
  • Nathan Adler (1741–1800), German kabalist
  • Nathan Marcus Adler (ca. 1800–1891), Orthodox Chief Rabbi of the British Empire from 1845 to 1891
  • Samuel Adler (rabbi) (1809–1891), Reform rabbi
  • Morris Adler (1906–1966), leading conservative rabbi in Detroit (at Shaarey Zedek, Detroit and later Southfield, Michigan) and author of The World of the Talmud; died March 11, 1966, twenty-seven days after being shot by a member of his congregation.



Fictional characters[edit]

  • Adler von Berg, a Luftwaffe pilot-turned-adventurer, the protagonist of the Belgian comics series Adler by René Sterne
  • Grace Adler, female lead in the TV series Will and Grace
  • Henry Adler, main character in David Wellington's film I Love a Man in Uniform
  • Irene Adler, fictional character featured in the Sherlock Holmes story "A Scandal in Bohemia" by Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Scott Adler, a fictional character featured in the Tom Clancy Jack Ryan universe novels. Adler is a career U.S. Department of State employee who rises throughout the series, eventually becoming Secretary of State.
  • Vincent Adler, antagonist behind the first two seasons of White Collar
  • Wilhelm Adler, main character in Saul Bellow's novella Seize the Day
  • Samantha Adler, arms dealer in the novel series Son Altesse Sérénissime
  • Klaus Adler, would-be Führer of the Moon Nazis in the movie Iron Sky (2012).
  • Rafe Adler, the main antagonist of Uncharted 4: A Thief's End .


  1. ^ Hanks, P. (2003). Dictionary of American Family Names: 3-Volume Set. Oxford University Press, USA. p. 10. ISBN 978-0-19-508137-4. Retrieved 7 September 2018. 
  2. ^ "Adler Distribution".  Retrieved 25 January 2014
  3. ^ "Adler Surname Meaning and Distribution".  Retrieved 25 January 2014