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The surname Oliver is of several different origins.

The surname Oliver is derived from the Old French personal name Olivier. The Oliver surname (meaning "seller, or processor of olive oil") seems to be French Norman in origin. The Olivers were probably part of William the Conqueror's Norman Invasion of Britain in 1066. The Oliver family was a sept of the Scotland Highlands' powerful Fraser Clan and was a very powerful clan themselves in Roxburghshire and the Borders area. It arrived in Scotland and Ireland in the 14th century. This Old French name was introduced to Scotland and Ireland by the Normans. During the Middle Ages, it was a popular name throughout Europe. It was borne by one of Charlemagne's paladins, and friend of Roland. Ostensibly, the name is said to derive from the Latin olivarius, meaning "olive tree". However, all of Charlemagne's paladins bore Germanic names; and the Latin derivation of the name may be a result of folk etymology working on an unidentified Germanic personal name, possibly a cognate of Alvaro; or possibly distantly connected with the Old Norse Óleifr, meaning "ancestral relic".

The Catalan and (Occitan) French surname is topographic name. It is derived from oliver, meaning "olive tree". It may also be related to the homonymous name listed above.

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