Reber is a surname of Swiss and German origin. It is an occupational surname, designating a person occupied as a vine-dresser or vintner, from "Rebe", the German for "vine". Alternatively, it has been suggested that it may be derived from a given name such as Radobert.
As of 2012, the Swiss phone book has some 2,000 entries for people called Reber, while the German phone book has some 900 entries.
There are two known unrelated instances of this name, one native to Swabia, the other to the Bernese Simmental. Both are attested from the 16th century.
The 16th-century origins of the Swabian branch have been traced to Justingen (today part of Schelklingen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany). One Jean Reber, a native of Justingen, is recorded to have received the citizenship of Mulhouse in 1605, founding a branch of this family in the Alsace.
A branch of this family in Basel, derived from the Mulhouse branch, was founded by Nicolas Reber (1735-1821), who migrated from Mulhouse to Basel, receiving citizenship there in 1763 and marrying Sara Passavant of Basel (1744-1815) in 1764.
The Familiennamenbuch der Schweiz records ten instances of the name in the Canton of Berne before 1800.
A number of members of the Bernese branch are recorded to have emigrated from Diemtigen to the Russian Empire during the 1850s to 1880s.
Reber in North America
People with this surname are known to have emigrated to North America in the 18th century. In the United States, persons with the last name Reber primarily live in Pennsylvania; there are also large numbers in Ohio, California, Minnesota, Utah, Montana and Colorado. The US white pages yield some 4,200 entries for the name.