The German surname Bretzke is believed by etymologists to be of two origins. In the first place, the surname Bretzger is of toponymic origin. Toponymic names are those surnames which derive their origin from a place name near which the original bearer lived or held land. In this instance, the surname Bretzger is derived from the place name Bretzingen in Buchen and Baden. In the second place, the surname Bretzger is of occupational origin. Occupational names are those surnames which derive their origin from the trade or profession of the father of the initial bearer of the name as a surname. Here, the surname Bretzger is an old Swabian form of Bretzler meaning "pretzel baked goods", from the German word "brezel", meaning "pretzel", thus referring to "one who baked or sold pretzels".
Variants of the surname Bretzger are Bretzler, Pretzger, Pretzell, Bretzeller, Breitkreitz, Britzke, Breitzke, Breitz, Britz, Britzkretz, Breitkreuz, Britzmann, Bretzmann, Brietzke, Britzkow, Pritzke and Bretzke. Reference to this surname or to a variant includes a record of one Marcus Pretzger from Rain in Bavarian Swabia in 1484. One Hainrich Pretzing, a hospital master from Tuebingen, was mentioned in records dated 1437. Jos. Pretzell from Holzheim in Ulm has been documented in records of 1482. Hugo Bretzeller, a chairman of the Bakers of Basel was recorded in 1341