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Juhl is a surname originating in Denmark. It is most common in Denmark and the USA. (Other spellings and connected names are thought to include Juul, Jul, Juhls, Juel, Juell, Iuel, and Yule [1]).


In Danish, "Juhl" is pronounced 'yool' or 'yooh'.

In American-English, "Juhl" is pronounced the same as the English word 'jewel' or Jool.

After coming to America, most Danes bearing the Juhl name changed the pronunciation to avoid confusion. ('J' is a different sound in Continental-Germanic languages than it is in English). Some Danish-Americans with the Juhl surname, and especially with the Juul surname, changed the spelling (Danish "Juhl" or "Juul"-->English "Yule") in order to keep the pronunciation. (See Juhl in the USA, note the lower relative number of Juuls in the USA but high number of Yules).


There are two possible origins for Juhl lines of Danish origin.


  • The Danish word for the Midwinter season (Jul), which falls around the Winter solstice and Christmas. From this term the English word "Yule" is also derived. It is believed that persons in some way associated with the Midwinter season, or Christmas Day specifically, took or were given this name.

The word "Jul" (Midwinter) is thought to be the likely the ultimate origin of most of Juhl/Juul lines [1], especially as many of the Danish Juhls of today originally spelled their name as Juul or Jul, prior to standardizations of spelling in the 19th century.


  • The Danish word for wheel, "hjul". Those whose occupations dealt with the wheel, e.g. wheel-makers, would have taken this name.


There is a noble family attested to in Danish history from the 1200s AD, whose name is usually spelled "Juel" (occasionally "Iuel", a holdover of the times before the widespread adoption of the letter 'J'). However, different people adopted the name "Juhl" (or its variants) at different times and for different reasons, and it is unclear if any of the Danish Juhl lines (or Iuel, etc.) of today have continuity this far back. Certainly, the great majority of Danes' surnames have continuity only to the late 1700s at the earliest, when the change from patronyms to fixed surnames began in Denmark.

Distribution by country[edit]

Approximately 15,000 people in the world bear the name "Juhl" or one of its variants. Almost all of them live in Scandinavia, Northern-Germany, or the USA.

Distribution of JUHL Surname, by Country
Juhl Juul Juel Juell Juhls Jul Iuel Yule Total, all spellings Sources
Denmark 3,528 3,369 548 0 16 163 71 0 7,689 Danish Statistical Agency
USA 2,123 426 467 226 ? ? ? 1,130 4,372 Census, 2000: [2],[3],[4],[5] No data when name is borne by under 100 persons.
Germany 856 40 0 0 168 2 0 13 1,079 Extrapolation from phone listings: [6][7][8] and Geogen Surname Mapping
Norway 14 457 147 224 6 4 11 0 863 Norwegian Statistical Agency: [9], [10]
Sweden 140 98 45 3 0 0 45 0 331 Statistics Sweden
Total 6,655 4,390 1,207 453 190 169 127 1,143 14,334


The bulk of the Danish Juhls live in South-Jutland. "Juhl" is the 93rd most common surname in the country—and the 30th most-common non-patronym-based surname. "Juul" is the 107th most-common name overall and 40th when excluding patronyms. "Juel" is the 793rd most-common surname.[11]

United States[edit]

Heavy Danish immigration to the USA, from the 1850s through the 1920s, is responsible for so many Juhls living in the USA today. Juhls going to the USA primarily settled in the U.S. state of Iowa. As a result, "Juhl" is one of 10,000 most-common names in the USA [12], and one of the 70 most-common names in Iowa[13].

NOTE: Some Juhls who settled in the USA kept the pronunciation intact by changing the name to "Yule". This was evidently much more common for the more-foreign-seeming "Juul" surname, which is significantly less-common in the USA relative to "Juhl" (1:5) than the ratio in Denmark (nearly 1:1). A small number may have changed their names to "Jewell", as was common among foreigners with names unusual to the American ear.


The name is somewhat common in Northern-Germany (German state of Schleswig-Holstein) because of the Prussian-Danish War of 1864. Prussia seized the southern third of Danish Jutland (where most Juhls lived), and so it became incorporated into the German Empire in 1871. Most of Southern-Jutland was returned to Denmark by plebiscite in 1920. There were a number of lines of Juhl families along the old Pommern Coast of then Prussia which is now on both sides of the German – Polish border.


Although Norway was once ruled by Denmark (Danish naval hero Niels Juhl was born in Oslo to Danish parents), it is likely that most Norwegian "Juuls" are independent lineages, as "Jul" is a pan-Scandinavian word for Midwinter.

"Juul" is the 1,186th-most-common name in Norway.[14]

Notable Juhls[edit]



  • Jerry Juhl (1938-2005) television and movie writer and Muppets cofounder.
  • Finn Juhl (1912-1989), furniture designer (born in Denmark, worked in the USA)
  • Albert Juhl, the Iowa farmer on whose land the plane carrying Buddy Holly crashed. See The Day the Music Died.



See also[edit]