English and French: from the title of nobility, Middle English, Old French baron, barun (of Germanic origin; compare Barnes 2). As a surname it is unlikely to be a status name denoting a person of rank. The great baronial families of Europe had distinctive surnames of their own. Generally, the surname referred to service in a baronial household or was acquired as a nickname by a peasant who had ideas above his station. The title was also awarded to certain freemen of the cities of London and York and of the Cinque Ports. Compare the Scottish form Barron.