GenealogyMagazine.com - Was Your Ancestor Courteous -- Or Did He Just Wear Short Stockings?: Same Surname, Different Meaning
Of American surnames most frequently appearing in the Social Security Death Index, Curtis ranks at 267 of 50,000. Its derivation is often linked to the word courteous; a characteristic — as defined in the Middle Ages — of one with courtly manners, refinement or education. Curtis, however, has more than one origin. It also comes from Curthose, a nickname given to someone wearing short stockings. The Middle English word curt (meaning short) was coupled with hose, originally a man’s stockings.