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Consolidated Surname File 2
Created by Administrator Account in 12/19/2009 10:50:42 AM

 


 
 
 

CICHEWSKI -- CICHOWSKI

… My last name is Cicheskie, This is the exact spelling of my grandfather and greatgrandfather (both of whom were born in Poland). They came to this country (settling in PA) in approx. 1903. Can you help with the orig. and also why the ending in -skie instead of -ski?

This name, in this form, does not exist in Poland any more -- at least there was no one named Cicheski or Cicheskie as of 1990. Most likely this is a variant form of a name that has since been standardized. The basic root is clearly cichy, "quiet, calm, peaceful," and the surname probably started as a reference to origin in a town or village named Ciche, Cichewo, Cichowo, something like that (all of which would mean basically "quiet place, or place of the quiet one"). In many parts of Poland the w in the ending -ewski is pronounced very softly or even dropped, so we are probably dealing with a name that was Cichewski but came to be spelled as it was pronounced.

There were 3,435 Poles named Cichowski as of 1990, and this may be relevant because the suffixes -owski and -ewski are basically the same thing; whether the vowel is e or o depends on Polish linguistics. There has been a bit of standardization going on in Poland since literacy became more or less universal, so a lot of variant forms of names have disappeared as people started going by the "standard" form. That may be what happened here -- some folks who used to go by Cichewski or Cicheski may have changed it to Cichowski, but this happened after some of the family had emigrated. That may explain why Cicheski is no longer seen in Poland.

In any case, it's a pretty sure bet the surname means "one from Ciche, Cichy, Cichowo," etc., and there are quite a few places in Poland that bear names that qualify. If you can find out what specific part of Poland the family came from, search that area for places with names starting Cich-, and if you find one nearby, chances are good that's the place the name originally referred to. It's doubtful any records go back far enough to prove it, but you never know!

As for -skie vs. -ski, I doubt it's significant. That may just be an Anglicized form, meant to help people pronounce the -ski correctly. It is true that, grammatically speaking, Cicheskie can be a form of the name Cicheski, referring to more than one female; thus if you saw a Polish-language document referring to, say, "Marta and Anna and Agata Cicheski," the Polish would be "Marta i Anna i Agata Cicheskie." That could account for the spelling -- or as I said, it may just be a spelling variant. I doubt it really makes any difference.

Copyright © 2000 W.F. Hoffman. All rights reserved. Used by permission.


JURGIEL

… I'm interested in finding any information on the name Jurgiel. It's my last name. I know it's Polish. But I've never heard of anyone else with it. If you could help I would be grateful. I'm trying to look up my heritage.

Jurgiel is one of many surnames that come from first names, in this case from a form of the name that appears in Polish as Jerzy, in English as George, in Czech as Jiri, in German as Georg, etc. The particular form Jurg- is thought to have been influenced by German (that -rg- toward the end is the tip-off). That doesn't mean the family bearing the name wasn't Polish -- over the centuries many, many ethnic groups have interacted with Poles and left some trace on the forms of names in particular areas. It's also worth mentioning that the name "George" shows up in Lithuanian as Jurgis (again, at some point in the distant past they may have gotten the name from Germans living in the area), and Jurgelis is a moderately common surname among Lithuanians -- it would mean basically "little George, son of George." Jurgiel might come into Polish by way of contact with Lithuanians or Germans, but that would not make it any less a Polish name. (After all, many saints' names appear in many European languages, yet are originally of Greek, Hebrew, or Latin origin -- but Pierre is no less French for having come from Latin Petrus). Whatever the exact origin, the name probably began as meaning "son of George."

As of 1990 there were 491 Polish citizens named Jurgiel. They lived in small numbers in many provinces, but the largest numbers show up in the provinces of Białystok (154), Pila (44), and Szczecin (39). Białystok is in northeastern Poland, right by the border with Lithuania and Belarus, and Pila and Szczecin are in northwestern Poland, where there were and are a lot of people of German ethnic origin -- so again we see a possible link with Lithuanian and German. But as I say, that doesn't make the Jurgiel's any less Polish... Interestingly, the surname Jurgielewicz, literally "son of Jurgiel," is more common than Jurgiel itself; as of 1990 there were 1,213 Poles named Jurgielewicz, and again, the name is most common in northern Poland, in areas near where Poles had constant contact with Germans and Lithuanians.

Copyright © 2000 W.F. Hoffman. All rights reserved. Used by permission.


ADAMCZAK -- TIPINSKI -- CIPINSKI

My maternal grandfather's name was Stanley Vincent Adamczak. Is this a variant of Adamczyk that existed in Poland? Or is it a misspelling made upon arrival in the USA?

ADAMCZAK is very likely correct. The suffixes -czak and -czyk both mean "son of," and many names exist in both forms. So ADAMCZAK, pronounced "ah-DOM-chock," is just as good a name as ADAMCZYK ("ah-DOM-chick"). As of 1990 there were 7,872 Polish citizens named Adamczak, as opposed to 49,599
named Adamczyk; both names are found all over Poland, with no useful concentration in any one area. I don't know why the form with -czyk is so much more common than the one with -czak, but we sometimes see these puzzling phenomena with names.

My second major questions is: My maternal gransmother's name was Belle Marie Tipinski, and her father, Boleslaw Tipinski, came from Poland circa 1900. Is the name Tipinski in your book? And is it a common name in Poland?

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were no Polish citizens named TIPINSKI. This is not surprising: while the combination TI is not totally unknown in Polish, it doesn't usually occur in native Polish names and words. Poles prefer instinctively to use either
TY-, which sounds sort of like the "ti" in English "tip," or else CI-,
which sounds kind of like "ch" in "cheese." But the combination of T with I just doesn't usually happen in Polish except with words and names borrowed from other languages.

So the question is, what was the name originally? Or what is the standard form of the name today? It's tricky trying to figure something like this out, because there are literally hundreds of thousands of Polish names, and a change of one letter can sometimes involve enormous differences. But following the logic of what I just said, I see three likely possibilities: 1) TYPINSKI; 2) CIPINSKI; 3) the name originated as TIPINSKI in some other
Slavic language, possibly Russian or Ukrainian, and was brought into Polish as is.

As of 1990 there were 74 Polish citizens named TYPINSKI (accent over the N, pronounced roughly "tip-EEN-skee"). They were scattered in small numbers all over Poland, with by far the largest number 29, living in the province of Zamosc, on the Ukrainian border. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have.

There were 90 Poles named CIPINSKI (accent over the N, pronounced roughly "chee-PEEN-skee"). The largest numbers lived in the provinces of Katowice, 33; Skierniewice, 21; and Wroclaw, 11.

As I said, there were no TIPINSKI's in Poland as of 1990, and I have no other data for other countries. None of my sources on other languages discuss this name.

In any event, the name probably refers to a place name, meaning "one from Tipin/Cipin/Typin" or some similar name. Without being sure of the surname's form, it's hard to say what the name of the place might have been. There's a place named Ciepien, that's a possibility, but there are others. If you'd like to investigate some of the possibilities, you could go to this Website:

http://www.jewishgen.org/ShtetlSeeker/loctown.htm

Enter "Cipin" or "Typin" or "Tipin" as the place you're looking for (they all code the same in Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex anyway) and hit "Start Search." It will provide a long list of places in Eastern Europe with names that could be a phonetic match for this name. Most of them you can ignore; concentrate mainly on places in Belarus, Poland, Russia, and Ukraine that are reasonably close to the spellings I gave. Who knows, this might give you something to work with.

Copyright © 2000 W.F. Hoffman. All rights reserved. Used by permission.


WASELEWICZ

I have never seen my given surname posted anywhere, nor have I any knowledge of it's origins. In college, a German professor asked if I knew the etymology of my name. He indicated that he thought it had some religious significance. Possibly you could help id some way. The name is Waselewicz. Thank you.

In Polish the suffix -ewicz means "son of," and Wasel- is a variant of the Eastern Slavic first name Poles spell Wasilij; we would spell it Vasily. It developed as a first name from the Greek word basileus, "king." Via the Orthodox Church this name came into usage among Eastern Slavs (Belarusians, Russians, and Ukrainians) as Vasily or Vasyl or Vasylko; in Polish it became Bazyli, and in English it became Basil. Note that languages influenced primarily by Latin retained the initial B sound, whereas the Greek-influenced Eastern Slavs turned it into a V sound, which Poles spell with the letter W.

It's not unusual for Slavs in general to have used a great many different forms of the name before one or two finally came to be regarded as standard, and this often shows up in surnames, which developed centuries ago. So even though the standard form of the first name these days is Vasily, it's not odd that it might appear as Vasel, especially when a suffix was added. The name probably originated among Belarusians or Ukrainians as Vaselevich, but Polish was the standard language of record for a long time in those regions, and thus the Polish spelling Waselewicz came into existence.

The bottom line, therefore, is that the name means "son of Basil." It almost certainly originated among Belarusians, or Ukrainians (or perhaps Russians, but that's less likely). Later it came to be written in Polish form because Polish was the language of record for the entire Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, which included Lithuania, Belarus, and most of Ukraine. Various different forms of this same basic name appear among Poles, including Wasilewicz, borne by 765 Polish citizens as of 1990, and Wasylewicz, borne by 240. As of 1990, according to the best data available, there were no Polish citizens who spelled the name WASELEWICZ -- probably because over the last century there has been a tendency to standardize name spellings, influenced by the greater degree of literacy. If you looked in older records for some of those families with the names Wasilewicz and Wasylewicz, chances are quite good you would see those names occasionally spelled Waselewicz. Wasielewicz is also a plausible spelling variation.

Unfortunately I have no data on the frequency of the name in Belarus or Ukraine, and of course it would be spelled in Cyrillic, not the Roman alphabet, looking kind of like this:

B A C E JI E B N 4

The N is backwards, the JI is joined at the top with a horizontal stroke, and 4 is a pretty weak approximation of the letter in question -- but if you ever see the name in Cyrillic, this may be close enough to help you recognize it.

That's about all I can tell you. I hope it's some help, and wish you the best of luck with your research.

Copyright © 2000 W.F. Hoffman. All rights reserved. Used by permission.


MAJORSZKY -- MAJORSKI

I saw your site on the internet and thought I would write you. I have a Polish name in our family background and was wondering if you have any information on it. The name has been in Hungary since before 1840 and the spelling is probably a bit Hungarianized too, but family history says that it came from Poland and was lower royalty. The name is MAJORSZKY. Do you have anything on that?

I don't have anything specifically on this name, but I can venture an educated guess and feel fairly confident it's right. I've run into a lot of Hungarian names borne by Poles, with spellings modified so that they're written the way Poles expect a name pronounced that way to be spelled. And I've seen at least some Polish names borne by Hungarians, similarly modified. In Hungarian the sound Poles spell as S, a simple "s" sound as in "so," is written SZ. And just to make things really confusing, Hungarians use the letter S to stand for the "sh" sound Poles write as SZ! Hungarian is exactly backwards from Polish in that respect.

So we're not assuming too much if we figure a Pole named MAJORSKI (or possibly someone from another Slavic group, a Czech or Slovak, etc.) could very well have come to live in Hungary, and gradually the spelling was changed to reflect Hungarian norms. Polish MAJORSKI and Hungarian MAJORSZKY are pronounced so similarly that this hypothesis is quite plausible.

MAJORSKI is not a common name at all in Poland these days -- as of 1990 the best data available shows only 2 Poles by that name, both living somewhere in the province of Bydgoszcz. There are other names, however, from the same root that are more common, including MAJOR (1,779), MAJORCZYK (868), MAJOREK (932), MAJOROWSKI (223), etc. I'm not sure why Majorski isn't more common -- perhaps most of the folks by that name moved to Hungary!? There may be more to this, but none of my sources go into it.

MAJORSKI comes from the Latin word _major_ or _maior_, "greater, bigger," and especially in a sense of rank or position, such as "major" in the military and even "mayor" as head of a town's government. So the name MAJORSKI certainly could be connected with a degree of rank and authority. I don't have specifics on noble families, so there's not a lot more I can tell you. But you might be able to learn more if you post a question to the mailing list Herbarz-L. It is frequented by gentlemen with access to various armorials and libraries, and very often they are able to provide some information on specific noble families and their coats of arms.

To subscribe (which costs nothing), send an E-mail message with just the word SUBSCRIBE to this address:

HERBARZ-L-request@rootsweb.com

No one reads this note -- a computer will process it automatically, add you to the mailing list, and send you a brief note explaining procedures. Then you can post a note to the list itself, where it will be read by the members, at this address:

HERBARZ-L@rootsweb.com

That's about all I can tell you. I hope it's some help, and wish you the best of luck with your research.

Copyright © 2000 W.F. Hoffman. All rights reserved. Used by permission.


MISIOROWSKI

Do you have any information on the above family name? From Ulcie Solna, east of Kraków. Still have family in Poland with this name. Was told at one point that it meant butcher or meat cutter.

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 245 Polish citizens by this name. The largest numbers lived in the following provinces: Warsaw 33, Katowice 31, Kielce 53, and Krakow 35; the rest lived in much smaller numbers all over the country. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have.

With some Polish names it's fairly easy to tell what they come from without detailed info on a given family; with others there just is no way to say anything firm without research into the family's background. MISIOROWSKI is one of the latter. Names in the form X-owski usually refer to the name of a place beginning with the X part, with which the family was connected at one time; if they were noble, they owned it, and if not, they lived and worked there. So you'd expect this name to mean "one from Misiory or Misiorowo" or some similar name. But offhand I can't find any places with names that qualify. The thing is, Polish surnames developed centuries ago, and often came from the name of a field or hill or little settlement, names used only by locals, that would be unlikely to appear on any map or in any gazetteer. So the place this name refers to may be quite obscure, or may even have disappeared or renamed or absorbed into another community centuries ago.

If the form of the surname is reliable, it would seem to mean "one from Misiory or Misiorowo," and that name in turn comes from the noun misiora, "sorrel, mousetail (Myosurus)"; so the surname could be interpreted as "one from the place of sorrel." But I hesitate to accept that because there is, in fact, a noun misiarz that means "one who gelds animals." That -rz would simplify to -r- when suffixes were added, and the -a- could easily change to -o-; we see that happen all the time with Polish names. So even though the name appears to refer to a connection with a place name derived from misiora, it would be foolish not to recognize the real possibility that the name has changed slightly over the centuries and originally meant "kin of the animal gelder, one from the place of the animal gelders." 

As far as that goes, the Polish word for "meat" is mięso (the e has a tail under it and is pronounced roughly like "en"). Given a little change in the pronunciation and spelling of the name, Misiorowski might originally have referred to a butcher or meat dealer. The form of the name as we have it now suggests otherwise; but the name certainly might have changed somewhere along the way, even before the family ever left Poland.

As I say, without detailed research into your particular family, there's no way I can know which one meaning is relevant. It's one thing to say misiarz or mięso could yield a name in the form Misior-; it's another thing to prove it actually happened. So all I can do is offer these plausible explanations. With any luck your research may help you uncover some fact that will settle the matter one way or the other. 

Copyright © 2000 W.F. Hoffman. All rights reserved. Used by permission.


GREGORCZYK -- GRZEGORCZYK

I was wondering if you could tell me anything about the surname
Gregorczyk. My grandmother was Polish, but her family anglicized the name to Gregor after they arrived in Canada. I believe that the original Polish name was Gregorczyk.  They lived in what was then Austrian Poland (Galicia). I wonder if this name  was common in that part of Poland.


The standard spelling of this name in Polish is GRZEGORCZYK. It is possible that your ancestors bore this name with Gregor- instead of Grzegor-, because there are regional differences in pronunciation that can affect spelling. A German linguistic influence, for instance, might affect this name and make it Gregor- instead of Grzegor-. But more often than not, Poles would spell this name Grzegorczyk, and pronounce it sort of like "g'zheh-GORE-chick" (whereas Gregorczyk would be more like "greh-GORE-chick").

It comes from the first name Grzegorz, the Polish form of the name we call "Gregory." The -czyk suffix is quite common in Polish, and in surnames usually translates as "son of." So this is one of several
surnames in Polish that translate as "son of Gregory." As such, it is a name that could develop independently almost anywhere people spoke Polish and there were guys named Grzegorz. So we'd expect it to be moderately common and widespread, with no concentration in any one part of the country.

That is what modern distribution and frequency data shows. As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 10,123 Polish citizens named GRZEGORCZYK, living all over Poland. As for the non-standard spelling GREGORCZYK, it, too, is reasonably common; there were 3,999 Poles who used that form of the name. It's interesting, though, that there was a definite concentration of Poles by that name in the southeastern province of Radom -- 1,218. The other provinces with large numbers were Ciechanow, 115; Katowice 380; Kielce, 113; Kraków 165; Lublin 130; Olsztyn 124; Szczecin 119; and Warsaw, 348.

This data doesn't allow one to focus too precisely on any one area; but it does suggest that the name is especially common in that part of former Galicia near the city of Radom. Perhaps this will be some help to you.

Copyright © 2000 W.F. Hoffman. All rights reserved. Used by permission.


 

 

SZRPARSKI -- TRZENZALSKI -- TRZEMZALSKI

 

I have two surnames that I am stumped on. They are: Tekla SZRPARSKI and Stanislawa TRZENZALSKI. I am assuming that these two women are from somewhere around the area of Strzelno, Poland, which is near Gniezno, as that is where their spouses were from. I wondered if anyone has access to the Slownik Nazwisk and could possibly do a lookup for me in that, to see where these names were concentrated at. Also, does anyone have any ideas of what these two names could possibly mean?

Unfortunately, the Slownik nazwisk says there was no one in Poland by either of those names. It's possible the names were rare and died out after the families emigrated. But more often, when I run into something like this, it turns out the forms of the names are wrong -- somewhere along the line they've been misread or distorted. Before looking I thought SZRPARSKI had to be mangled, and I strongly suspect TRZENZALSKI is too. Those don't look or sound right. And considering how many hundreds of thousands of Polish surnames there are, it can be very difficult to take a distorted or misspelled form and deduce what the original was. Sometimes you can -- it's not too tough to see that Covalsky is Kowalski, or Catcavage is Kotkiewicz -- but usually it's not possible because there are just too many variables.

I did find one possibility for Trzenzalski, however, and it looks pretty good: TRZEMZALSKI (dot over the second Z). As of 1990 there were 89 Polish citizens by this name. They were scattered all over in small numbers: the largest numbers lived in the provinces of Bydgoszcz (12), Katowice (19), and Krosno (18). Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have.

This surname most likely refers to the name of a place with which the family was connected at some point. The only candidate I could find is TRZEMŻAL in former Bydgoszcz province. If you'd like to see where it is, go to this Website:

http://www.jewishgen.org/ShtetlSeeker/loctown.htm

Enter TRZEMZAL as the place you're looking for, and click on "Start Search." You'll get a list of places with names that COULD phonetically match up with Trzemzal. Scroll down till you find: TRZEMZAL 5233 1754 POLAND 132.2 miles W of Warsaw. Click on it, and you should get a map that shows the location. The Strzelno you mentioned is perhaps, oh, 10-15 km. ENE of Trzemzal, so it's reasonable to suppose that in your ancestors' case the surname just mean "one from Trzemzal." It could be Trzenzalski is just an misspelling, or it could possibly be a legitimate phonetic variation of the name, since the EM and EN sounds can be pretty
close. Either way, I strongly suspect this is the answer to your
question on this name.

As for Szrparski, the only thing I can suggest is to keep doing research until you find a document with a reliable spelling and a name of the place of origin. If you find that, let me know and I'll see if I can tell you anything. Good luck!


MNICH

I would appreciate any information concerning the surname "MNICH".

According to Polish experts, this surname comes from the Polish noun mnich, "monk, friar." Presumably it originated as a nickname for the relatives of one who was a monk, or as a nickname for one who somehow reminded people of a monk, or even one who was the opposite of a monk -- the name may have been meant ironically in s/me cases. As of 1990 there were 2,734 Polish citizens named Mnich, living all over Poland, with no particular concentration in any one part of the country.


SADLOWSKI -- KRZYKWA -- GIZYNSKI -- JORGELEIT -- JURGELATJTIS

I just found your information on the internet for Polish surnames. Unfortunately my family names are not listed. If you could give me any information on any of the names I would appreciate it very much. SADLOWSKI, KRZYKWA, GIZYNSKI, JORGELEIT OR JURGELATJTIS

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 836 Polish citizens named GIZYNSKI. In Polish this name is spelled with a dot over the Z and an accent over the N, and pronounced roughly "gi-ZHIN-skee." It derives ultimately from the noun giza, "hind leg of a pig or ox," but it probably refers to the family's connection with any of a number of places with names somehow connected with that root, such as Gizyn and Gizyno. If you'd like to see some of the places this surname might be connected with, search for "Gizyn" at this Website:

http://www.jewishgen.org/ShtetlSeeker/loctown.htm 

JORGELEIT is a Germanized or Anglicized form of the name JURGELAITIS, which is actually Lithuanian in origin and means basically "son of little George." 

KRZYKWA was the name of 272 Polish citizens as of 1990. Polish name expert Prof. Kazimierz Rymut mentions this name in his book Nazwiska Polakow [The Surnames of Poles]. He says it comes from the noun krzykwa, "storm."

SADLOWSKI was borne by 2,879 Poles as of 1990. It is another name referring to a place name, Sadlow or Sadlowo or something similar, deriving from the noun sadlo, "fat, lard." So the surname means roughly "one from Sadlow or Sadlowo" and can further be broken down as "one from the place of fat or lard."


GLAZA

I am trying to find the origin and history of the name Glaza. I know of a Johannes Glaza (b. 1822) who lived in the city of Sliwice (Cewice) if that is any help. Thank you very much for your time!

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 928 Polish citizens named GLAZA. The largest numbers lived in the provinces of Bydgoszcz (302) and Gdansk (373), with the rest scattered in much smaller numbers all over the country. 

None of my sources give any definitive information on what this name comes from. It might possibly come from the noun glaz, "glaze, silver mixed with gold," or from German Glas, "glass." There is a native Polish word głaz, "stone, boulder," but the problem is that it has the L with a slash through it (which I represent on-line as Ł, pronounced like our W ), and it is very hard to say whether and under what circumstances it would be relevant to a name with the standard L. As of 1990 there was no one in Poland named GŁAZA, but there were 2,013 named GŁAZ. So it's very much debatable as to whether that has anything to do with GLAZA.


MLECZEWSKI -- NUSZKOWSKI

A friend of mine just gave me your website and told me you do quick surname origins and meanings. I am wondering if you would be kind enough to consider a short analysis of my maiden name, which was Mleczewski. Old Bible records indicate my grandfather was born either in 1889 or 1890 in Tadejewo, Rypin, Pomarskie, POLAND. I recall, as a child, I was told he was a well-educated man, who served as a governmental interpreter. I do remember he spoke several languages. (Don't know if you want or need this last information, but for what it might be worth, I've included it.) His mother's maiden name was Nuszk'owska. >>

Literally Mleczewski means "of, from the _ of milk"; in names ending with -ewski or -owski, that blank is filled in with something so obvious it didn't need to be spelled out, either with "place" or "kin." So this name could mean "kin of the milk guy." But more likely it means "one from the place of milk," referring to a place with a name derived from Polish mleko, "milk." Such a place could be named Mleczew or Mleczewo, or almost anything beginning with Mlecz-. There is at least one good candidate, Mleczewo, a few kilometers east of Sztum, which is southeast of Gdansk and southwest of Elblag. Mleczewski makes perfect sense as meaning "one from Mleczewo." However, it is quite possible there are or were other places with names from which the surname might develop; Mleczewo's just the best one I could find offhand.

By the way, he was born in Tadejewo (or Tadajewo?), Rypin, Pomorskie. That's just an adjective referring to the region of Pomerania. There's a Tadajewo very near Rypin, east of Torun -- presumably that's the place you're referring to. It's quite a distance south of Mleczewo, so it's hard to say whether that Mleczewo is the place to which the name refers in your ancestor's case; but it is at least possible.

Mleczewski is not a very common name at all. As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were only 29 Poles by that name. They lived in the provinces of Gdansk (5), Torun (21), and Wloclawek (3). Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have. As of 1990 Rypin and Tadajewo were in Wloclawek province, so that suggests those 3 Mleczewskis in that province might be relatives; for that matter, some of the 21 in Torun province might also be, that's not too far away.

It's interesting that Nuszkowski is also a rare name: there were only 22 Poles by that name, living in the provinces of Bydgoszcz (8), Gdansk (10), and Szczecin (4). It, too, probably refers to a place named something like Nuszki or Nuszkowo. I can't find any places by those names on modern maps, but that's not unusual -- surnames developed centuries ago, and often the places they referred to have since disappeared, changed names, become too small to show up on most maps, etc.


MARAJDA

I ... wondered if you had ever come across the name "MARAJDA" in your investigations? My husband's grandmother was an Anna Marajda, and she married a Peter Wisniak. He spoke Russian and Polish, she only Polish.

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 23 Polish citizens named MARAJDA. Two of them lived somewhere in the province of Sieradz, the rest lived in the province of Lodz. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have. But perhaps it will help you focus your research on the Lodz area, since the odds are that's the most likely area in which to find relatives.

As for the derivation or meaning of this name, I'm afraid none of my sources give any information at all. This makes me suspect the name is not Polish in origin. But I couldn't find anything on it in my German, Lithuanian, or Ukrainian sources, either. So I'm at a loss to suggest what language it came from, let alone what it means. Most Polish names beginning with Mar- come either from short forms of the first name Marek, "Mark," or from the noun mara, "phantom, nightmare." There's also a verb marac that means "to dirty, smear, soil." But I can think of no plausible way for MARAJDA to come from any of those roots.


GRYGLEWICZ -- FARON

My husband's grandparents immigrated from Poland in the very early 1900's. Their names are listed as Andrez Gryglewicz and Anna Farron. I am having trouble researching them. Could you tell me what the origin of the names are and if I am even close in spelling.

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 537 Polish citizens named GRYGLEWICZ, so this is probably a correct spelling of the name. The suffix -ewicz means "son of," and Grygl- comes from Grygiel, a kind of nickname or variant from of the first name we know as "Gregory." So the surname means basically "son of Greg." That name Grygiel is found more in the eastern part of Poland or the regions just east of there, i.e., Lithuania, Belarus, and Ukraine; so most likely the first bearers of this name came from that general area. In the centuries since then, however, the name has been spread all over Poland -- these days there is no one region in which this name is concentrated.

As for FARRON, Poles usually don't use double letters unless you
actually pronounce the letter twice; the doubling of the R probably
happened after the family left Poland. In this case, I suspect the original form was FARON, pronounced roughly "FAR-own," a name borne by 1,701 Polish citizens as of 1990 (there was no one named FARRON). The largest numbers lived in the following provinces: Katowice 194, Kraków 98, Nowy Sacz 769, and Opole 166. So it is most common in southcentral and southwestern Poland.

I found only one expert who discussed this name, but he was an expert on names in the Nowy Sacz region, which is where the name is most common -- so his insights are probably reliable. He said it derives from faron, which is a variant of the noun piorun, "lightning." Presumably it started as a nickname for one whom people somehow associated with lightning. He mentions it might also be connected with the noun fanfaron, which came from French and means "boaster, braggart, fop."

 

 

JAZWIEC - HASKIEWICZ - GLOGOWSKI

Since I have started to trace my family tree, I have discovered many family surnames that I would like to know the origin of, but I will limit myself to inquiring about only a few. I am familiar with the origin of a couple names. Among those, Gajda, which is the name of the bagpipe-type instruments from Gorny Slask (Upper Silesia), and Sieradzki, from the town of Sieradz, near Wielkopolska. However, My interest primarily lies in the names Nawrocki, Jazwiec, Has'kiewicz (accent on s) and Głogowski.

Nawrocki comes from the verb nawracać, nawrócić, "to turn, revert, convert," especially referring to a change in religion or conversion; as of 1990 there were 21,798 Poles by this name, living all over Poland.

Jazwiec, the name of 777 Poles as of 1990, comes from a Polish noun meaning "badger"; the largest numbers lived in the provinces of Kalisz (234), Katowice (97), and Krakow (111) in southcentral Poland.

Głogowski means "one from Głogów or Głogówko," and there were 6,886 Poles by that name as of 1990.

Haśkiewicz means "son of Hasiek or Haśko," and as of 1990 there were 205 Poles by that name, scattered in small numbers all over Poland.


BUDZYNSKI - KARPINSKI

I am researching a friend's family name of Budzynski and Karpinski.

I'm afraid I can't help much. Both names are fairly common, and both come from place names that can apply to a number of different villages in Poland. As of 1990 there were 7,212 BUDZYNSKI's, living all over Poland; the name just means "one from Budzyn or Budzynka," and there are several villages and towns with names that could yield this surname. There were 19,174 Poles named KARPINSKI, also living all over the country, and that name just means "one from Karpin or Karpno" or some similar place name. So as is common with Polish surnames, the names themselves provide no useful information in tracing a given family. The only way to discover anything useful is by way of detailed genealogical research that may shed light on exactly which Budzyn or Budzynka or Karpin or Karpno this particular family was once connected with.


GRABSKI

I am looking for general info on the last name of grabski. I am third generation in the united states.

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 4,738 Polish citizens named GRABSKI. The largest numbers lived in the following provinces: Bielsko-Biala 263, Bydgoszcz 220, Gdansk 199, Katowice 298, Lodz 282, Poznan 219, Warsaw 642. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have. About all this data really tells us is
that the name is found all over Poland, so that a Grabski family could come from anywhere.

This name probably refers in most cases to the name of a place the family was associated with at some point. The problem is, there are a lot of places that qualify, places named Grab, Grabie, etc. They come from the roots grab, "hornbeam tree," grabie, "rake," and grabic', "to rob." Most likely the majority of the places were named either for a local concentration of hornbeams or for a founder or owner named Grab. So Grabski literally means "of the hornbeam" or "of Grab" or "of the place of Grab or the hornbeams." Without detailed research into a specific family there's no way to know what the exact link was in their particular case.


FRENZEL

Do you have any idea what the origin of FRENZEL is?

It's German in origin, a diminutive of Franz, "Francis." Spelled Frenzel or Fra"nzel in German, it would mean something like "little Frank." It's not a very common name in Poland these days -- as of 1990 there were only 104 Polish citizens named Frenzel, scattered all over the country.  It's probably pretty common in Germany, but I have no data for that country.


KUNDE

I am interested in learning about my last name Kunde my people came from the Koslin area of Prussia.

Kunde is a German name, which is not surprising or unusual in that area. According to Hans Bahlow's Deutsches Namenlexikon, this name comes from Middle High German kunde, meaning "known person, native."

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 44 Polish citizens named KUNDE, living in the following provinces: Bydgoszcz 16, Gdansk 6, Slupsk 22. The form KUNDA is much more common; there were 789 Poles by that name, including 29 in the province of Koszalin. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have.


ZATORSKI

I found your site, and perhaps you can help me. I am attempting to find a section of my mother's family that did not manage to escape Poland before the Nazi occupation. The family name is Zatorski or Zatorsky. I am curious as to the origins of this name.

ZATORSKI is adjectival in form, and comes from the noun zator, "blockage, especially of a river's course; ice jam," or from place names derived from that noun. There are at least three villages or settlements called Zator (at least 2, one near Bielsko-Biala and one near Skierniewice) and Zatory (near Ostrołęka). As of 1990 there were 4,287 Polish citizens named Zatorski, living all over Poland. So like the vast majority of Polish surnames, this one doesn't provide a researcher a whole lot to work with.


FALKOWSKI, WAWAK

I am interested in two, Falkowski and Wawak and would appreciate any information on them.

FALKOWSKI just means "one from Falki or Falkow or Falkowa or Falkowo," and thus refers to a family's connection at some point with any of a number of places with names beginning Falk-. Without detailed info on a specific family there is no way to know which of these places the name refers to.

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 9,306 Polish citizens named FALKOWSKI. The largest numbers lived in the following provinces: Warsaw 898, Białystok 1,550, Olsztyn 546, Torun 879, and Wloclawek 406. So the name is especially common in northeastern and northcentral Poland; but a Falkowski family could really come from anywhere in Poland. With any luck your research may help you focus on a particular region or area, and if you find a place with a name beginning Falk- nearby, chances are decent that is the place the name referred to originally. The name is pronounced roughly "fall-KOFF-skee," or sometimes "fall-KOSS-kee."

As of 1990 there were 748 Polish citizens named WAWAK ("VAH-vahk"), of whom by far the largest concentration, 516, lived in the south central province of Bielsko-Biala. The name is thought to have come from a kind of affectionate short form or nickname of the Polish first name
Wawrzyniec, "Lawrence." So Wawak originally meant something like "little Larry" or, more likely, "kin of Larry."


ZGONINA

I read with interest your material about names on the Polish Roots website. Could you please tell me anything you know about the name "Zgonina" which probably originated in the Slask region? Also, what does your more-detailed analysis of names involved and what is your fee?

I'm going to have to change what it says on the Website -- I just don't have time to do detailed research. All I can offer is "quick and dirty" analysis. To do anything more, you have to undertake detailed research into the geographical, historical, social, and linguistic context in which a particular family came to be associated with a specific name. I'm too committed to other projects to have any time for that kind of painstaking research in the foreseeable future.

What I can tell you is that the name Zgonina probably comes from the noun zgonina, "chaff." As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were only 64 Polish citizens by this name. They lived in the following provinces: Czestochowa 7, Katowice 22, Opole 31, Zielona Gora 4. This distribution tends to support your belief that the name originated in the region of Slask or Silesia -- Katowice and Opole are major cities of Silesia. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have.


PRZYBYLO

I came upon your name through the internet. Recently, my father passed away. He was remarkably closed mouthed, and revealed little about himself or his family. The little I do know is his father immigrated to the US just prior to 1900 supposedly from Krakow. His name was Michael Przybylo and his new home was Chicago. The only other facts I know are that my father's birth certificate listed Michael's place of birth as Pilsen and he had a brother, Joseph. We always considered the tracing of our name and heritage futile due to two wars we thought would destroy any records. Any comments you might have would be greatly appreciated.

The name PRZYBYLO is spelled in Polish with a slash through the L, and is pronounced roughly "p'shih-BI-woe," where the middle syllable has the short I sound in "bit." It comes from a noun meaning "new arrival, newcomer," and is widespread all over Poland. As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 2,744 Polish citizens by this name; 418 lived in the province of Krakow alone. The origin and meaning of the name itself offer nothing useful in the way of tracing ancestry.

Tracing your heritage in Poland is not the futile effort you might think. You'd be amazed at how many records survive in Poland; I routinely hear from people who've traced their families back to the 1700's. If you'd like to try doing some research in earnest, I recommend buying a copy of Rosemary Chorzempa's "Polish Roots." It's widely available, it's less than $20, and countless people have told me they found it priceless in terms of the help it gave them in getting started.


TYLINSKI, ZIELINSKI

I am trying to research the surnames "Tylinski" and "Zielinski" - I believe that my Tylinski Grandfather came from the Wielkopolska region - I believe from a town called "Kolo". I think the spelling is reasonably true, as he came to the U.S. sometime after 1900. I am unable to find anything on the Tylinski name (except for a few references, but nothing of substance). I have just begun searching on"Zielinski", but I know even less about my grandmother's history.

Well, ZIELINSKI is spelled with an accent over the N and pronounced roughly "zheh-LEEN-skee." It's one of many Polish names that are so common and so widespread that there is no one derivation. As of 1990 there were 85,988 Polish citizens named Zielinski, living in large numbers all over Poland. There isn't one big Zielinski family that got the name one way, there are many families who all got the name independently in different ways; if you were in a big room full of Zielinskis, you would probably find this Zielinski family got their name one way, that one another, and that one yet another. The most we can say is that the basic root of the name is ziel-, which means "green," as seen in words such as ziolo, "herb" (a "green"), zielen, "the color green," and so on. So ZIELINSKI may have started in some cases as referring to the kin of a fellow who raised or sold herbs, or a fellow who always wore green, or some other perceived association between a person or family and something green.

In most cases, however, it probably started as a reference to the name of a place the person or family came from. There are many towns, villages, estates, etc. with names like Zielen or Zielin or
Zielina, all from the root meaning "green," and Zielinski could refer to any of them; it can just as easily mean "one from Zielen," "one from Zielin," "one from Zielina," etc. So there's no way to learn from the name itself anything about a given Zielinski family. Only successful genealogical research may uncover facts about which particular place the name refers to, if it refers to a place, or what the family's connection to "green" originally was, if it doesn't.

TYLINSKI is spelled with an accent over the N also, and is pronounced roughly "till-EEN-skee." Theoretically it can refer to a place name, something like Tyla or Tylin or Tylina or Tylno; but I can't find any places with names that fit. That doesn't necessarily mean much -- surnames developed centuries ago, and often the places they referred to have since disappeared, changed names, become too small to show up on most maps, etc. Often surnames came from the names locals used for a particular field or hill or other feature of the land, names that would never show up on any but the most detailed maps, or in local guides. So it is quite plausible the name means "one from Tyla" or any of the other possibilities I mentioned.

But TYLINSKI literally means "of, from, connected with the _ of Tyl," so it might also mean "kin of Tyl." That is a name that can come from a number of different roots, including tyl, "rear, back, behind," or tyle, "how much," or the German first name Thill, or even from a nickname from "Bartlomiej," the Polish form of "Bartholomew." So without detailed information on a specific family's background there's no way even to make a reasonable guess exactly which meaning is relevant. All I can do is list the possibilities, in hopes that one day your research will uncover some fact that will shed light on exactly how the name developed.

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 739 Polish citizens named Tylinski. The largest numbers lived in the following provinces: Warsaw 103, Leszno 111, Lodz 82, and Poznan 116. So there is no one area with which this name is particularly associated; a Tylinski could come from almost anywhere in Poland, especially western Poland. I'm afraid the place name Kolo isn't necessarily much help because there are at least 3 places by that name in Poland. The one you want is probably the one east of Konin and northwest of Lodz, since as of 1999 that is in the far eastern part of modern Wielkopolska province; but it's unwise to rule out the others until you're certain. In 1990 Kolo was in Konin province, and the Slownik nazwisk directory shows no Polish citizens named Tylinski living in Konin province.


SKIKIEWICZ

...this is intriguing and it has me thinking if it's associated with something that the person is/was doing than I wonder what 'Skikiewicz' can mean(surely it can't be a skiing instructor) there was some mention that my g/grandfather had some dealings/trading in horses could that be part of it in a Slavic language

Polish surname expert Kazimierz Rymut mentions Skikiewicz in his book Nazwiska Polakow. Obviously it means "son of Skik," and he derives that name from the dialect noun skik, a variant of standard Polish skok, which means "jump." The so-called Slownik warszawski adds that in addition to its use as a noun, skik is a dialect term used as an interjection meaning "hop! hush!" Neither source identifies what dialect this term is used in, but I suspect it would originate in the Kresy, the eastern regions of the Commonwealth, and especially in Ukraine. One reason I say so is that the term skik is used in exactly this way in Ukrainian; and Ukrainian has a tendency to change O in most Slavic languages into I. Even without any information from Rymut or the dictionary, one could reasonably suggest Skik might be a Ukrainian form of Polish Skok.

So it appears safe to say SKIKIEWICZ means "son of Skik," and that name began as a sort of nickname, much as if you called a person "Hop" or "Jumpy" in English. It's impossible to say any more than that without detailed research into the family's history. Considering that such names are typically several centuries old, it's questionable whether any records survive that will establish exactly how a fellow came to be called this. Perhaps the most we can do is propose reasonable and plausible suggestions based on the core meaning of the word.

You probably know this is a fairly rare name in modern Poland. As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were only 64 Polish citizens named Skikiewicz. The largest numbers lived in the following provinces: Gorzow 15, Lublin 11, and Wroclaw 16. The rest were scattered all over the country in tiny numbers. That distribution may seem inconsistent with Ukrainian derivation until you factor in the effects of the post-World War II forced relocation of millions from eastern Poland to the western territories recovered from Germany. These days we often see distinctively Ukrainian surnames concentrated in western Poland, far away from where we'd expect to see them. If we had data from before 1939, I suspect the name Skikiewicz would be found primarily in the east. However, I can't prove it.


BRUDZISZ, PIERZ

I'm currently working with a Family Tree Maker to log my family tree. Some data I have obtained from other family research are the surnames PIERZ , GORSKI, both from Mosczcenica, Poland. Also any inofrmation on the surname Brudzisz, which is either Polish or Austrian? Thanks for your help. Brudzisz became Bridges around 1910 in USA with the birth of my granfather and the spelling that was reported by the midwife, so the story goes.

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 122 Polish citizens named BRUDZISZ. The largest numbers lived in the following provinces: Gorzow 19, Katowice 13, Krosno 17, Nowy Sacz 12, Tarnow 32. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have. In Poland there are at least 9 places called Moszczenica -- which is almost certainly the correct spelling of the place name in question -- so I can't tell you which one your family came from. Many of them are in the south central and southeastern part of the country, which from roughly 1772 to 1918 was called Galicia and was ruled by the Austrian Empire. That explains how a name can be Polish and Austrian -- Poland was divided up by Germany, Russia, and Austria, and for a long time "Poland" ceased to exist as a nation, so people from there were officially classified as Germans, Russians, and Austrians by citizenship, but Polish by ethnicity.

The root of this name is seen in the noun brud, "dirt, filth," and the verb brudzic', "to dirty," so Brudzisz was probably a nickname for one who was usually pretty dirty, perhaps because of his work. The name is pronounced "BREW-jish," and if you say it out loud it's not hard to hear how it could be Americanized as "Bridges." We run into this all the time, as Polish names that sounded strange to Americans were modified to something a little less "foreign."

GORSKI is an extremely common Polish surname, borne by 41,790 Poles as of 1990. It comes from the noun góra, "hill, mountain," or from a place name derived from that noun such as Góra or Góry. It can be regarded as a kind of Polish equivalent to the English surname Hill, both in meaning and popularity.

PIERZ was the name of 602 Polish citizens as of 1990. The largest numbers lived in the following provinces: Warsaw 23, Czestochowa 101, Katowice 46, Koszalin 33, Krakow 31, Nowy Sacz 33, Tarnow 105, Wroclaw 92. So it's found all throughout southern Poland, especially the south central and southeastern parts of the country. It appears to derive from the noun pierze, meaning "feathers, plumage," and may have started as a nickname for one whose hair or clothes somehow reminded people of a bird's plumage. The name is pronounced roughly "p'yesh."


CZERWINSKI, PETKA

I would appreciate any information you may have on the name PETKA (my fathers) or CZERWINSKI (my mothers).

With a lot of Polish names there is no one sure derivation. PETKA could come from several different roots. Perhaps the most likely is that it started as a kind of affectionate short form or nickname for Piotr or Pietr, Polish forms of the first name Peter; thus it may have originally
meant "son of Pete" or "kin of Pete." But it might also come from a variant of the term pestka, "stone in a fruit." Without more detailed information on the family's background, there is simply no way to say which is relevant.

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 564 Polish citizens named PETKA. The largest numbers lived in the following provinces: Gdansk 258, Katowice 42, and Rzeszow 55. So the name is found all over the country, but is particularly common in the area around Gdansk, on the Baltic in northcentral Poland. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have.

As for CZERWINSKI, I recently responded to another researcher asking about that name. I can add nothing to what I told him, so I have quoted that note below.


I am starting to research my family's roots. As I was searching different sites , I came upon yours. I noticed that my last name ,Czerwinski, was not on your list. I was wondering if you had gotten any new information on the origins and meaning of my last name. Any information would be greatly appriciated. 

CZERWINSKI in Polish is written with an accent over the N and is pronounced roughly "chair-VEEN-skee." Another spelling of the same basic name is Czerwienski. Both are thought to come either from the root seen in the noun czerw, "maggot, grub," or from the root seen in czerwien, "red." More directly, the surname probably refers to a family's connection with the name of a place where they once lived or worked, or -- if they were noble -- an estate they once owned; there are numerous mentions in the records of nobles named Czerwinski, so some Czerwinskis (though by no means all) descend from noble families. One source links this surname with a village called Czerwienne, today known as Miedzyczerwienne, near Nowy Targ in Nowy Sacz province. But that's only one of a number of places the surname might refer to, including places with the names Czerwieniec, Czerwiensk, Czerwin, Czerwinsk, etc. Without more information on a specific family's history, there is no way to know which of these places the name refers to in a given instance. Those place names, in turn, would derive from either czerw, "maggot, grub," or from czerwien, "red."

So basically Czerwinski means "one from Czerwin (or any of the other places with similar names," and thus could be interpreted as "one from the place of grubs," "kin of the maggot" (in some cases Czerw appears to have been a nickname for a person who had something to do with the village's history), or "one from the red place," so called because of something reddish in the vicinity, such as soil, a mountain, etc.

Czerwinski is a pretty common name. As of 1990 there were 27,088 Polish citizens by this name, living in large numbers all over Poland. So a Czerwinski family could have come from anywhere in Poland; and it's a good bet there are a number of distinct families that came to bear this name independently, rather than one great big Czerwinski family.


DRAPINSKI, DROPINSKI

Could you please tell me what you know on the name Drapinski or Dropinski.

DRAPINSKI is probably from the root drap- seen in the verb drapac', "to scrape." As of 1990 there were 576 Polish citizens by this name, living all over Poland, with no significant concentration in any one area. DROPINSKI is probably from the noun drop, "bustard" (a kind of bird), or the archaic noun dropa, "scratch, mark." As of 1990 there were 350 Polish citizens named Dropinski, living all over Poland with some concentration in the western part of the country.

In either case a connection with the name of a place beginning Drap- or Drop- is quite possible. I can't find any places by those names on modern maps, but that's not unusual -- surnames developed centuries ago, and often the places they referred to have since disappeared, changed names, become too small to show up on most maps, etc.


SZYGENDA

do you have the meaning of the surname "Szygenda"? or is there one? thank you.

I'm sorry, none of my sources have anything on the origin of this name. All I can tell you is that as of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 501 Polish citizens named SZYGENDA, with the largest number by far, 232, living in the province of Konin. There were also larger numbers in the provinces of Koszalin, 51, and Poznan, 55. So the name is found mainly in western Poland,
especially the area just west of the center of the country. But I'm afraid that's all I can tell you.

If you would like to get an opinion from the real experts and don't mind spending about $20, you can write the
Anthroponymic Workshop of the Polish Language Institute in Krakow. The staff consists of Polish scholars specializing in name origins, with access to large collections
of material on the subject; there is surely no one else in the world better qualified to answer questions on Polish names. They can correspond in English, and the charge for researching a single name is seldom more than $20-30. You write to them with your request, and the  individual who does the research will reply, and will tell you how much he/she is charging and how best to send payment. It is usually quite painless, and most people I hear from are very satisfied with the results; but the staff has been a bit slow lately in answering letters -- they have lots of other work to do, after all -- so patience is advisable.

I'd be very interested in hearing what they have to tell you, because this one has me baffled. I can't find anything that sheds any light on it at all.


PIETROWIAK, NIEDZIELA

My husband was told by his family that Pietrowiak means "House of Peter" but I'm not sure how correct it is. Could you be so kind as to tell me the true meaning of this surname and how it differs from Pietrowski or Piotrowski surnames I've seen in the Polish military books?

Polish has a great variety of suffixes it adds to the roots of names in order to express different relationships; some of them don't really mean anything very specific, they just refer to a general connection. The -ski names you mention all refer to some kind of connection with a man named Piotr (Peter), which can also appear as Pietr and in various other forms. Pietrowski and Piotrowski both mean more or less "of, from the place of Peter," referring to a family's connection with any of a number of places with names like Pietrow or Piotrow or Pietrowo or Piotrowo, etc. PIETROWIAK (pronounced roughly "p'yet-ROVE-yock") is a little more general; it could mean "one from Peter's place," but it could also just mean "kin of Peter." The suffix -iak is all-purpose; it can mean "kin of" or "little" or just vaguely "one connected with." The Pietrow- consists of the name Pietr plus a general possessive suffix -ow, and thus means little more than "of Peter." So "kin of Peter" or "son of Peter's kin" is about as accurate as you can get. Your husband's family's rendering of "House of Peter" is really not bad; let's say it could be interpreted that way, but could also be rendered a little less specifically.

The name is not as common as I would have expected. As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were only 278 Polish citizens named Pietrowiak. I would have expected more; compare 2,031 Pietrowski's, 851 Piotrowiak's (which for all intents and purposes means the same thing as Pietrowiak), and 57,934 Piotrowski's. 

The largest numbers of those Pietrowiaks lived in the following provinces: Kalisz 37, Leszno 70, and Poznan 62. So while the name is found all over Poland, it is most common in an area just a little west of the center of the country. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have.

My mother-in-law's maiden name is Niedziela. Could you please explain its origin and meaning?

NIEDZIELA ("nye-JELL-ah") means literally "not do," and is the standard Polish word for "Sunday," because that is the day when Christians were not supposed to work. I suppose the name could be applied to a person in the sense of "do-nothing, lazy," but most of the time it probably was a reference to the day of the week -- perhaps the person to whom the name was first applied was born on a Sunday, or had some special work or duty he performed on Sunday. Names like these derived from nicknames originated centuries ago, and in most cases we can't determine the exact reason for which they were originally given. About all we can do is note associations and make plausible suggestions. In this case a Niedziela was probably one for whom the nickname "Sunday" somehow seemed appropriate.

It's a moderately common name. As of 1990 there were 6,543 Polish citizens named Niedziela, living all over Poland. About all one can say about the distribution is that the name is more common in southern Poland than in the north.


STRYSZYK, SWIĄTKOWSKI

I found your homepage and thank you so much for posting all that information! I am researching two Polish names that did not appear on your list and am wondering if you have seen them before: Swiatkowski (known variants: Swiontkowski, Swontkowski, Swietkowski)
--
immigrated to the US from Monkowarsk, Kriese Bromberg, Posen Stryszyk -- immigrated to the US from Grossluto, Prussia (I've not yet found  where this was exactly) Do you have any history on these names at all?


The first name is generally spelled Świątkowski in Polish; I'm using Ś to stand for the S with an accent over it, and Ą to stand for the Polish nasal vowel written as an A with a tail under it, pronounced much like "own". The nasal vowel Ą sounds like "on" and thus is often written that way, so Świątkowski is also often spelled phonetically as Świontkowski. Both versions are pronounced the same, something like "shvyont-KOFF-skee." 

There is another nasal vowel written as an E with a tail under it, and I use Ę to stand for it; it is pronounced more or less like "en," but we often see names with one nasal vowel have variants with the other. So Świątkowski is the standard form, with Świontkowski a variant
spelling. We also see the form Świętkowski, which sounds more like "shvyent-KOFF-skee."

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 5,793 Poles who spelled the name Świątkowski, as opposed to only 48 who spelled it Świontkowski. These names are scattered all over Poland, with no useful or significant concentration in any one area. The form Świętkowski was borne by 163, with the largest single number, 52, living in the northeastern province of Białystok, and the rest scattered all over.

All these names refer to a family's connection with a place named something like Świątki or Świątkowo; so the name just means "one from Świątki" (or Świątkowo or whatever). There are quite a few places with names that qualify, so without more detailed info on a specific family's background, there's no way to know which one the surname refers to in a given case. I will say this, however; there is a Świątkowo southwest of Bydgoszcz (which the Germans called Bromberg) and more or less south of Mąkowarsk, which is surely the Monkowarsk you mention. I can't say for sure this is the place the name refers to in your family's case. But it seems plausible, because it's the closest candidate and it seems to match up fairly well.

Names beginning with Świątk- come ultimately from the root swięty, "holy, sacred," which in archaic Polish meant "mighty." In most cases the place names either mean something like "sanctuary, holy place," or else "place of Świątek or Świątko," referring to men who bore names derived from that root. Thus Świątkowski can be interpreted either as "of the holy place" or "of the place of Świątek or Świątko." But usually the meaning, for all practical purposes, is "one from Świątki" or "one from Świątkowo."

STRYSZYK was the name of 192 Polish citizens as of 1990, of whom the majority, 146, lived in Bydgoszcz province. So it sounds as if this family came from the main settlement of people by this name in Poland, and perhaps there are a number of relatives still living there. Unfortunately I have no access to further details such as first names or addresses, so I can't offer you any further help in that regard.

This name, pronounced roughly "STRISH-ick," appears to come from the noun strych, "attic, loft," also used to mean "beggar, pauper." The -yk ending is a diminutive, so the name may mean "little attic, loft," or perhaps "son of the beggar." It could refer to a person who lived in
a small loft or attic, perhaps one too poor to live anywhere else. But people can be quite imaginative when it comes to giving nicknames that might later become surnames, so all we can do is suggest reasonable interpretations. Typically these names developed centuries ago, and frequently records survive that let us determine the exact meaning; so as I say, all we can do is suggest interpretations that make sense.


DYCZKOWSKI, WLODYGA

My cousin and I have been tracing our Polish roots but we've run into a brick wall getting back beyond my maternal grandparents who emigrated to Canada in the early 1900's. They, or at least he, was born in Kety, Biala, Poland which is a short drive from Krakow.

Can you help us with the origin of those names?


Unfortunately, Polish surnames seldom offer any real help with tracing a family's roots, because the vast majority of them are too common, rare, widespread, ambiguous, etc. I doubt anything I can tell you will be that much assistance, but I'll be glad to tell you what little I can.

DYCZKOWSKI, pronounced roughly "ditch-KOFF-skee," just means "one from Dyczki or Dyczkow or Dyczkowo" or some similar place name. This might refer to Dyczkow, now Dychkiv, near Ternopil in Ukraine; or it could refer to Dziczki, now Dychky, near Rohatyn, Ukraine; or it might refer to some other place not mentioned in my sources. Both the places I mentioned are in Ukraine now but before 1918 were in the crownland of Galicia, a subdivision of the Austrian Empire, seized from the Commonwealth of Poland and Lithuania during the partitions in the late 18th century. This area, which includes what are now southeastern Poland and western Ukraine, is where most Polish and Ukrainian emigrants came from who immigrated to Canada. 

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 753 Polish citizens named Dyczkowski, living all over the country, with no significant concentration in any one region. Of course that may be a moot point, since your Dyczkowskis may well have come from what is now Ukraine, and I have no data for that country. 

ORLICKI ("oar-LEET-skee") breaks down as meaning "of the sons of the eagle," from Orlicz, "son of the eagle," from orzel, "eagle." It probably refers to a family's connection with any of a number of places with names like Orlica or Orlice or Orlik, in Poland or Ukraine; but it might also have been used to refer to the kin of one nicknamed "the Eagle." As of 1990 there were 1,085 Polish citizens by that name; the largest single number, 226, lived in the province of Bielsko-Biala, a fact that may be relevant to your research. The rest were scattered all over Poland. I have no access to further details such as first names or addresses, so that's all I can tell you on that one.

WLODYGA is spelled in Polish with a slash through the L; so the name is pronounced roughly "v'woe-DIG-ah." It appears to come from a variant form of the noun włodyka, a term or title for one in authority, with such meanings as "headman" and "bishop of the Greek rite." This form is Polish, in Ukrainian it would be more like vladyka, so it seems likely this family came from Poland; they might have been Greek Catholic rather than Roman Catholic, but there's not enough evidence to say this with any certainty. As of 1990 there were 184 Polish citizens named Włodyga, with the largest numbers in the provinces of Warsaw (51), Bielsko-Biala (26), and Katowice (43). As I said before, I can't help you get names or addresses for them.


DOMARECKI, MODLISZEWSKI

I am looking for the meaning or origin of these two Polish surnames, Modliszewski and Domarecka. Thank you for any help that you can give. 

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 216 Polish citizens named MODLISZEWSKI. They lived scattered in small numbers all over Poland, so there is no one area we can point to and say "That's where Modliszewskis came from."

The name refers to the name of a place with which the family was associated at some point, but unfortunately there are several different names and places the name might refer to, places with names like Modliszewo, Modliszewice, Modliszow, Modliszewko, etc. The last two are near Gniezno, in former Poznan province, whereas Modliszewo is near Kielce and Modliszewice is near Walbrzych. Thus without detailed research into a given family's background, there is no way to which place the name refers to in that instance; Modliszewski could refer to any of them.

DOMARECKA is the feminine form of DOMARECKI; that is, a male would be called Domarecki, a female Domarecka. This is a variant of a name that is spelled several ways, because as names were developing the vowels A and E were sometimes used interchangeably, depending on slight regional variations in pronunciation. Here is what I wrote another researcher who asked about another form of the name, DOMERACKI. The info is equally applicable to Domarecki.


The probable origin of this name is from an old Slavic pagan first name, Domarad, literally "glad at home." The ancient Poles and other Slavs gave their children names that were meant to be good omens, so giving a child a name like that was to express hope he would have a happy home. There are several villages in Poland with names that come from this name, probably because someone named Domarad founded them or owned them at some point; they include a village called Domarady in Olsztyn province, and villages called Domaradz in Krosno, Opole, and Slupsk provinces. There may be others that don't show up on my maps, but this shows there are at least four different places this surname could come from.

There are several reasonably common surnames formed either directly from the name Domarad, or else from places such as those I just mentioned, which in turn got their name from Domarad.  

As of 1990 there were 1,129 Polish citizens named DOMERACKI, with the largest numbers in the provinces of Bydgoszcz (302), Olsztyn (117), and Torun (139), and smaller numbers scattered all over the country. There were another 755 who spelled it DOMERADZKI, which would be pronounced exactly the same, roughly as "dome-air-OTT-skee," and for all practical purposes they could be considered the same name; the Domeradzki's were most common in the provinces of Warsaw 107, Płock 91, Radom 98, and Wloclawek 74. However, neither name is associated with any one area to such a degree that we can say "Here's where the name came from" ... Besides Domeracki and Domeradzki we also have the "standard" or most common form DOMARADZKI (there were 3,409 Poles by that name as of 1990), as well as DOMARACKI (317) and DOMARECKI (603). All of these are just variants of the same basic name with slight differences due to regional pronunciations, errors, etc. The data strongly suggests there isn't just one big family that shares this name, but rather the name got started independently in different places at different times.

=====

I'm sorry none of this provides helpful clues as to precisely where either name originated in your family's cases. But from my experience that's true of about 95% of Polish surnames. Only occasionally do I run into one that has some aspect of its form or frequency or geographic distribution that provides a really solid clue as to just where a given family by that name came from. Usually the only way to get a good fix on where and how a name developed is by way of successful genealogical research, which can uncover info that sheds light on the historical, geographical, social, and linguistic context in which a specific name came to be associated with a specific family.
 

Copyright © 2000 W.F. Hoffman. All rights reserved. Used by permission. 

 


 

FERFECKI

Appreciate any information you can give me on the origin and meaning of my surname. All I know is that my grandfather Joseph Ferfecki came to the U.S from Poland in the early 1900's and settled in Chicago.

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 776 Polish citizens named FERFECKI (pronounced roughly "fair-FETT-skee"). The largest numbers lived in the following provinces: Bielsko-Biala 384, Katowice 107, and Rzeszow 98. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have. But this data allows us to say the name is most common in southern Poland, and especially southcentral Poland.

A scholar who did a book on names in that area mentions FERFECKI and says it's not certain what the name derives from, but it probably comes from the German name Ferfert. This may sound odd, but there are and have been large numbers of Germans living in Poland, and it's not at all rare to find Polonized names that started out as German. So the best educated guess scholars have made is that this name means "kin of Ferfert" or "one from Ferfert's place." 


ORYNIAK, SUSZKO

I found your list of meanings of Polish names and didn't find these two [SUSZKO and ORYNIAK] on it. Would you know what they mean? Many thanks in advance.

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 82 Polish citizens named ORYNIAK. The largest numbers lived in the provinces of Warsaw (15) and Radom (45), with the rest scattered in small numbers all over Poland. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have.

The most likely derivation of Oryniak (pronounced roughly "oh-RINN-yock") is from the Ukrainian feminine first name Oryna, a Ukrainian version of "Irene." The -iak suffix is one that usually shows a general connection with the first part of the name, so that Oryniak probably meant "son of Irene" or "kin of Irene." Surnames derived from women's names are somewhat rare in Polish, but more common among Eastern Slavs (i. e., Ukrainians, Belarusians, and Russians). So this name has a kind of eastern flavor to it -- we'd expect it to have originated more often among Ukrainians, say, then Poles. This is not at all unusual; we see a lot of mixing in names between Poles and Ukrainians, and the history of these countries makes it clear that this is to be expected.

As of 1990 there were 1,024 Poles named SUSZKO. The largest numbers lived in the province of Białystok (167), with the rest scattered in smaller numbers all over Poland. For comparison, there were 3,134 with the similar name SUSZEK, and 801 named SUSZKA. None of these names is concentrated in any one area to the point we can say "People by that name came from here"; families by these names could come from anywhere in Poland.

The basic root here is such-, "dry"; the noun susz means "dried fruit or vegetables," and a suszka is, among other things, a tree that has dried up after pruning. The suffixes -ek and -ka and -ko are diminutives, so that the name might mean something like "little dry one," referring perhaps to a person who was thin and leathery or his kin. Or it might refer to that noun suszka and began as a nickname for one who dried fruits and vegetables, or liked to eat them -- some connection of that sort. Without detailed info on the family's background it's impossible to be more specific on the exact meaning of a name that developed centuries ago, but it's pretty clear it referred to some perceived association between a person or family and something dried out.


MIROWSKI

could u tell me what the surname MIROWSKI MEANS

It really just means at some point the family was connected with any of a number of villages named Mirów, Mirowo, Mirowice, etc. There are a number of different places the surname could refer to, so this Mirowski might come from one, that Mirowski from another. As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 3,946 Polish citizens named Mirowski, living all over the country, with no particular concentration in any one area.


HORODYNSKI, HORODENSKI, GWOZDEK

aloha, wondering if you could help me discern the root of a friends last name? She is in the process of changing her name from the Ellis Islandized Horski to the original Polish Horodynski. A relative of her's mentioned over the holidays that the name was hyphenated after the n. Assuming, after perusing the your surname listings, the origins lie in the area her relatives were from I was hoping you could shed some insight on the meaning/locale of Horod(?). If you could also find the roots of my grandmothers maiden name, Gwozdek, it would be much appreciated.

The relative got it a little wrong. In Polish this name would be spelled with an accent over the N; since I can't reproduce that letter without a certain amount of aggravation, I just use Ń to stand for it, thus spelling this name HORODYŃSKI. The name is pronounced roughly "ho-row-DINN-skee." It's actually a Polish spelling of a Ukrainian name, which would be written in Cyrillic -- but if you write it out phonetically, Horodynski is a pretty close match.

It comes ultimately from Ukrainian horod, "town, city," but most likely refers to the name of a specific town or village the family came from at some point. There are a number of places with names that could yield this surname, places with names like Horodno and Horodenka. Without detailed research into the family's background, there's no way to know which one the surname refers to in their particular case. But they would be located in eastern Poland or in Ukraine, because of the form of the name. In Polish it would be Grodynski or Grodzinski because Ukrainian horod matches up with Polish gród (the Polish word, however, does not mean "city, town," but refers to the ancient military fortifications around which medieval towns first sprang up); the same root appears in Russian gorod, "city," and in seen in place names such as "Leningrad" and "Stalingrad." It's related to the same Indo-European root that shows up in English "yard" and "garden," referring to an area enclosed and tended or secured.

Thus if the name were Polish in origin it would be more like Grodzinski or Grodynski. The fact that it begins Horod- proves it must be Ukrainian. This isn't odd; Poles and Ukrainians have interacted extensively over the centuries, so that you see lots of distinctively Polish names in Ukraine and distinctively Ukrainian names in Poland. Poland ruled Ukraine for a long time, and many people of Ukrainian ethnic descent were identified by others, and even identified themselves, as Polish citizens. Thus "Polish" can be a misleading term; you often find that Polish names are not of Polish linguistic origin.

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 370 Polish citizens named HORODYŃSKI. They were scattered all over Poland, with no really significant concentration in any one area of the country. There were also 281 Poles named HORODEŃSKI, which is a very similar name meaning much the same thing; Horodyński and Horodeński came be regarded as variants of the same name, except Horodeński is found mainly in the area of Białystok (214) in northeastern Poland. That's because in that region there is a dialect tendency to change a Y sound into an E, so they'd pronounce "Horodyński" as "Horodeński," and eventually the spelling would reflect that fact.

As of 1990 there were 117 Polish citizens named GWOZDEK (pronounced roughly "g'voz-deck"); the largest numbers lived in the provinces of Katowice, 65, and Opole, 23; so the name is most common in southcentral and southwestern Poland, roughly in the region known as Silesia. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have.

This name can derive from two different roots: gwozd, an archaic word meaning "forest, woods," or from gwozdz (accents over the o and both z's), meaning "nail." The suffix -ek is diminutive, so the name Gwozdek can mean either "little forest" or "little nail." It presumably began as a nickname, possibly for one who lived in or near a small forest, or for one who reminded people of a little nail, or for the son of one who made or sold or used nails. These surnames developed centuries ago, and we often cannot say with any precision exactly what the original meaning was; the best we can do is note what they appear to mean and make
plausible suggestions on why that name came to be associated with this family.


OLCHOWY, OLCHAWA, LIERMANN, STOIBER

I am interested in these Polish/German surnames. Liermann (Prussia area) Olchowa (Kracow area) Stoiber (southern Poland area)

OLCHOWA is the feminine form of OLCHOWY, which comes from an adjective meaning "of the alder tree." Presumably someone by this name lived near a grove of alders, or worked with or sold alder wood -- some sort of connection like that.

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 359 Polish citizens named OLCHOWY or OLCHOWA. They lived all over Poland, with more living in southern Poland than in the north; 7 people by that name lived in the province of Krakow. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have.

There is also a similar name OLCHAWA, meaning much the same thing, except it might also refer to a place named Olchawa, which in turn was surely named for some connection with alders. Olchawa is a somewhat more common name; it was borne by 912 Poles as of 1990, with the largest numbers in the provinces of Katowice (114), Krakow (70), Nowy Sacz (207), and Tarnow (183). I mention this because A and O can easily be misread for each other, and they also are known to switch in names sometimes because of regional pronunciation tendencies. Thus it is entirely possible at some point you'll find the name in question is Olchawa instead of Olchowa, and this info may be relevant.

As of 1990 there were 4 Polish citizens named LIERMANN, living in the provinces of Gdansk (1) and Kalisz (3). There was no one named STOIBER. After World War II millions of ethnic Germans fled Poland for East Germany, so German names are much rarer now than they used to be.

In Hans Bahlow's Deutsches Namenlexikon it says STOIBER is a variant of STEUBER, from a verb meaning "to scatter, stir up dust, run away." In standard Hochdeutsch STEUBER is pronounced "shtoy-ber," so among Poles it could easily be spelled phonetically as Stoiber or Stojber or Sztojber. Bahlow says LIERMANN comes from Liermann, Low German for a term meaning "organ grinder, street player." LIERMANN is a German spelling, unaffected by Polish phonetics and orthography.


DULKA

I saw your notice on the internet and wondered if you could help me with any information as to the origins of my husbands surname, Dulka, as he is now deceased and my young son appears to be the only male left in this area to carry this name it would be really nice to be able to tell him the background of his name.

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 245 Polish citizens named DULKA. The largest numbers lived in the following provinces: Bydgoszcz 34, Gdansk 26, Katowice 22, and Torun 116. So the name is most common in the area just north and northwest of the center of the country. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have.

Polish name expert Prof. Kazimierz Rymut mentions this name in his book Nazwiska Polakow [The Surnames of Poles]. He says it appears in records as far back as 1414 and comes from the root dul-, "swelling, thickening." While it's hard to be sure with names that began so long ago, it seems likely this began as a nickname for one who had a conspicuous swelling on his body -- perhaps a swollen nose or a large bump or something like that. The suffix -ka is diminutive, so that the name means literally "little swelling."


PANASEWICZ

... Would appreciate if you could advise on the name: Panasewicz (Last), Marek (First)

Well, Marek is simply the Polish form of the first name "Mark." As for Panasewicz, the -ewicz ending means "son of," so the surname means "son of Panas." That name is a little harder to interpret, because it could come from a couple of different roots, and without detailed information on a given family it's impossible to say which one the name actually came from. It could come from the noun pan, "lord, mister, gentleman," in which case the surname could conceivably have meant something like "son of the lord, son of the gentleman."

But if the family originally came from the eastern part of Poland or from Belarus or Ukraine, the more likely source is from the first name Panas, a short form of Opanas or Apanas, which is in turn an Eastern Slavic version of the first name seen in Polish as Atanazy and in Latin as Athanasius, from a Greek word meaning "immortality." This name never caught on in western Europe, but is not so rare among followers of the Orthodox church, and that includes Belarusians and Ukrainians. So "son of Panas" is a perfectly plausible and even probably derivation, if the family has any connection with eastern Poland, Belarus, or Ukraine.

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 611 Polish citizens named Panasewicz (pronounced roughly "pah-nah-SAVE-itch"). The largest numbers lived in the provinces of Białystok (254) and Suwałki (87), both in northeastern Poland, near the border with Belarus; the rest lived scattered all over the country. If we had data from several centuries ago, it's likely most of the Panasewiczes would be found living in the eastern part of the old Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. But in the centuries since the name was established, it has spread all over Poland.

There is also a variant of this name, Panasiewicz (pronounced roughly "pah-nah-SHAVE-itch"), borne by 702 Poles as of 1990; and it, too, is found in the largest numbers in provinces on the eastern border, e. g., Biala Podlaska 47, Lublin 42, Suwałki 120, Zamosc 188.


SZYJANOWSKI

I'd like to get some information about name - "SHIYANOVSKIY" (it's English spelling). What's name origins and meanings.

In Polish this name would be spelled SZYJANOWSKI. As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 5 Polish citizens named Szyjanowski, all living in the province of Szczecin, in far northwestern Poland near the German border. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, so I cannot tell you how to contact them.

Names ending in -owski usually refer to the name of a place with which the family was connected. We would expect Szyjanowski to mean "one from Szyjan, Szyjany, Szyjanow, Szyjanowo," and so forth -- any of these names could produce this surname. I can't find any places by those names on modern maps, but that's not unusual -- surnames developed centuries ago, and often the places they referred to have since disappeared, changed names, become too small to show up on most maps, etc. Without more information, I cannot say exactly what the surname comes from; but it probably does refer to the name of a place where the family once lived, a place with a name beginning Szyjan- (Polish spelling; in English it would be Shiyan-).


CHAZEN, CHAZON

Can you please check out the name "Chazen"

According to Alexander Beider's Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Kingdom of Poland, CHAZEN is a variant of CHAZON, which comes from a Hebrew word meaning "cantor in a synagogue." Beider says in the last century this name was found among Jews living in the districts of Płock, Sierpc, Konskie, Gostynin, and Warsaw.

As of 1990 there was no listing of anyone named Chazen or Chazon in Poland. If we had data from before the Holocaust I'm sure this name would show up, but names that were fairly common in Poland before 1939 now either don't appear or appear in very tiny numbers. In any case, the only data I have access to is from 1990.


DRAB, ZJAWIN, ZUKOWSKI

I recently discovered your work on the internet and wonder if you can shed any light on the following names:Zjawin, Drab, and Zukowski. I am assuming the last is Polish and understand that Zuk translates into beetle, however, I am not even certain if Zjawin or Drab are Polish names. I have never found any reference at all for Zjawin and have found Drab once on a list of Slovak names. ANY information you might have would be so much appreciated.

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 3,360 Polish citizens named DRAB. Polish name expert Prof. Kazimierz Rymut mentions this name in his book Nazwiska Polakow [The Surnames of Poles], saying that it comes from the noun drab, which means "mercenary" or "uncouth fellow," and is also a term for a kind of ladder; as a surname, however, it probably refers to the "mercenary" or "uncouth fellow" meanings. The name is pronounced more or less like the English word "drop."

Similarly, ŻUKOWSKI (the name is pronounced roughly "zhoo-KOFF-skee") is another surname referring to place names such as Żuki and Żuków and Żukowo. So the name means basically "one from the place of the żuk." That noun can mean "dung beetle" and also "black ox." As of 1990 there were 14,508 Poles named Żukowski, and this name, too, is fairly common and widespread, because there are a lot of villages named Żuki, Żuków, etc.

ZJAWIN ("Z'YAH-veen") is rarer; as of 1990 there were only 358 Poles by that name. The largest numbers lived in the following provinces: Jelenia Gora 63, Legnica 42, Wroclaw 48, Zielona Gora 108; so this name is most common in the southwestern corner of Poland. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've
given here is all I have. Prof. Rymut mentions Zjawin in his book, saying it comes from the root seen in the verb zjawic', "to appear," and the noun zjawa, "apparition." Zjawin would mean literally "one of the apparition." Perhaps it began as a nickname for one who was thought to have seen apparitions, or one who people thought looked like an apparition.


SZEWC

... I am doing a family search on the surname Szewc. The family came from Krakow, Poland around 1938. If you have any information could you please inform us or point us to a direction which we could search.

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 3,330 Polish citizens named Szewc. The name was found all over the country, although it is more common in southern Poland than in the north, especially in the province of Tarnobrzeg, with 892 Szewc's. There were 88 living in the province of Krakow. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have.

The origin of some Polish surnames is difficult to establish, but this one is simple. It comes from the noun szewc, "shoemaker." So it's one of the many surnames that began as a reference to a man's occupation, and came to be applied to his family, and thus became a hereditary surname -- much like the English name Shoemaker. By the way, this name is pronounced roughly "shefts."


POREDA

... Any info you can share on the surname Poreda would be greatly appreciated.

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 779 Polish citizens named Poreda. The largest numbers lived in the following provinces: Warsaw 99, Łomża 159, Lodz 65, Siedlce 50, and Suwałki 122. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have. This data suggests the name is most common in the area north and east of the center of the country, but that's about the most we can say.

Polish name expert Prof. Kazimierz Rymut mentions this name in his book Nazwiska Polakow [The Surnames of Poles]. He believes it is a dialect variation of Porada, which comes from the noun porada, "advice." He adds, however, that this would be found mainly in Pomerania; it is a trait of northern dialects to turn standard Polish A into E, but I'm not sure that applies to this name when it is found in northeastern Poland. It's a little odd that a Pomeranian name variant would show up primarily in Łomza and Suwałki provinces! Still, it's possible; and none of my sources suggest any other derivation. So for now I would say it probably started as a nickname for one who gave good advice, is found primarily in northeastern Poland.


MAJEWSKI

... I am a college student at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. For one of my classes, Intro to Global Studies, I was told to find a project to work on for the entire semester. The project I chose was of my genealogy. I found your web page quite useful, however, I did not find the meaning of my surname. My last name is Majewski, which was very similar to Maciejewski. I was wondering if they had anything in common as faw as ancestory and meaning go, like perhaps my family dropped the "Cie" to make it shorter??? 

Well, with Polish names we never say never, because Polish names were often mangled badly during and after immigration, especially when the immigrants tried to adapt to life in this country and found that Americans had trouble with their names. So it would be irresponsible to say Majewski can't be from another name such as Maciejewski. In fact, it's usually impossible to say anything very definitive about most names without detailed research into the family's history. 

But it's unlikely this name has been changed. Majewski, pronounced roughly "mah-YEFF-skee," is a very common name in Poland; and if a Polish name like Maciejewski ("mah-chay-EFF-skee") were going to be Americanized, it would surely be changed to something more "American-sounding" than Majewski. So it's highly likely Majewski is the correct and original form of the name.

Names ending in -ewski usually derive from the name of a place with which the family was associated at some point; if they were noble, they owned estates there, and if they were peasants, they lived and worked there. A name like Majewski would refer to places with names beginning Maj-, and especially Majew or Majewo. Unfortunately, there are several places in Poland called Majewo, including ones in the pre-1999 provinces of Białystok, Elblag, and Gdansk. So again, without detailed info on a specific family's history, there's no way to tell which place they came from. But it is probable the name simply means "one from Majewo." 

That name comes from the noun maj, the Polish word for "May." Majewski means literally "of, from the _ of May," where the blank is usually filled in with something so obvious it didn't need to be spelled out -- usually "family" or "place." It's known that the name Maj has been borne by Poles, usually referring to some connection between a person and that month; a person by that name might have been born in May, or might have some special duty or job he did every May. About all we can say is that there would be some perceived association with the month of May. So the name might mean "kin of May." But in most cases it would be correctly interpreted as "one from the place of May" = "one from Majewo."

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 46,379 Polish citizens named Majewski. They lived all over the country, and there is no one part of the country with which the name is associated. So a family named Majewski could come from anywhere in Poland.


KOMANSKI

... Martin Komanski was my Grandfather. I think he lived in Lodz,Poland. My father was Frank Komanski, Born 1895-in Poland, Died 1931 in Stamford,CT, USA. My mother was Ksenia Mageira Komanski, Born 1895 in the Ukraine, Died 1966 in Stamford,CT, USA. My name is K. Dorothy Komanski Wood & you can post this were ever you wish to,if you think it will help with our search.

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 191 Polish citizens named Komanski. The largest numbers lived in the following provinces: Warsaw 25, Czestochowa 23, Krosno 40, and Tarnobrzeg 27, with smaller numbers scattered all over Poland. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have.

None of my sources discuss this name, so I can't say with any certainty what it comes from. Most likely, however, is that it refers to the name of a place where the family once lived. Thus, for instance, there is a mountain Koman in the Carpathians, and there is a village Komanino in Sierpc district. The surname might refer to these places, or some others that are too small to show up in my sources. The thing is, Polish (and Ukrainian) surnames developed centuries ago, and often came from the name of a field or hill or little settlement, names used only by locals, that would be unlikely to appear on any map or in any gazetteer. So the place this name refers to may be quite obscure, or may even have disappeared or renamed or absorbed into another community centuries ago.


DAWIEC

... surname Dawiec

As of 1990 there were 739 Polish citizens named Dawiec. The largest number, 243, lived in the province of Nowy Sacz, with the rest scattered in much smaller numbers all over Poland. None of my sources discuss the origin of the name, so I can't say much on that. It appears to come from the verb dawac', "to give," and thus might mean "giver, one who gives." But that's just a guess.


PATRYLO

... My maternal grandmother's maiden name was Tessie Patryolo. I've seen it spelled Patrylo, also, which I believe is a misspelling. Do you have any information on the name? Thank you for your assistance. 

Actually Patrylo is more likely to be right. We rarely see native Polish or Belarusian or Ukrainian names with the ending -yolo -- that would seem more likely to be of Italian origin -- whereas -ylo is not unusual. So the name probably is Patrylo, or rather Patryło. I'm using Ł to stand for the Polish L with a slash through it, pronounced like our W; the Polish pronunciation of this name would be "pot-RI-woe," where the middle syllable has a short i sound as in "ship." 

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 59 Polish citizens named Patryło (and none named Patryolo). They were scattered all over, mainly in the southern part of the country. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have.

None of my sources discuss the origin of this name, and it's kind of hard to say what it comes from. I can find no native Polish or Ukrainian roots that seem relevant, although it's possible it comes from the root seen in the Polish verb patrzyc', "to look at." If so, the name would mean "one always looking on, one always watching or looking." This is possible, but it's not really convincing.

Maybe a little more likely is derivation from a first name, and if that's so, the name could be a variation of Piotr, "Peter," or just maybe "Patrick." That last name, however, has never caught on among Slavs, so it would be very surprising if Patryło meant "kin of Patrick" -- it's not impossible, I suppose, but it's very far-fetched. "Kin of Peter" is a little easier to swallow. We see the name Peter show up in many different forms among Poles and Ukrainians, including Petr, Pietr, Piotr, Petro, etc. And Belarusians sometimes use it in the form Pyatr. So it's not too outrageous to suggest this surname means "kin of Peter" and originated somewhere east of Warsaw, most likely in Belarus or Ukraine.


SADLOWSKI

... Hi I have been looking through your website and I was wondering if you could help me. Through your web site I learned that a name ending in -owski usually means the name was taken from a city. Then I remembered that my grandfather told me that our last name was taken after a city. Since I can not ask him any more I thought maybe you can help. I went to a Polish map to look but I found nothing. Maybe you can at least tell me where to find maps to look at. Right now all I know is that my grandfather was the first one in his family born in America around 1923. I guess I would need a map from the teens to the 20's if it even exists. Our Surname is Sadlowski. I have looked it up in the phone book in many cities and besides my aunt in Jersey city I have never seen the same name. 

Names in the form X-owski usually refer to the names of places where the family once lived; that is, they mean more or less "one from X," but the X can take different forms. In this case Sadlowski could theoretically refer to places called Sadly or Sadlow or Sadlowo or Sadlowice, etc. 

There are at least three places in Poland with names that would fit, and chances are one of them is the one for which your particular Sadlowskis were named. Without detailed research into the family's past, there's no way for me to know which one it would be. But you can see maps of them, and maybe find details that will help, if you go to this Website:

http://www.jewishgen.org/ShtetlSeeker/loctown.htm 

Enter "Sadlow" as the place you're looking for, and click on "Start the Search." It will return a long list of places in central and eastern Europe with names that could possibly be phonetic matches for Sadlow or Sadlowo, etc. Scroll down till you get to the part of the list with places in Poland, and look for Sadlowo. There are three of them. Click on their coordinates (printed in blue and underlined) and you'll see a Mapquest map of the area in which they are located. You can print the map, zoom in, zoom out, etc. I find this a very useful tool for locating places.

There are two points I should mention. One is that in Polish all three places are spelled with an L with a slash through it. So the real place name is Sadłowo, and the Polish spelling of the surname is Sadłowski. This can matter, because in Polish-language reference works the Ł follows L in alphabetical listings. So Sadłowo would come after Sadly, for instance, if that L in Sadly is the normal L without a slash. (The Ł is pronounced much like our W, so Sadłowski is usually pronounced "sod-WOFF-skee.")

Also, with most Polish place names -- and this is no exception -- there are several possible matches. The only way to know which one is relevant to your family is to do some research and dig up papers -- naturalization papers, passports, ship passenger lists, parish records, something -- that gives more info. It could be the name of the nearest large town, the county seat, the province, something along those lines. I know that's easier said than done, especially if you don't have much to work with. But it's the only way I know of to proceed (short of finding a bona fide psychic!).

As of 1990 there were 2,879 Polish citizens named Sadłowski, scattered all over Poland, with no real concentration in any one area. So the frequency and distribution data on the name doesn't give us much to work with either. 


CHACHUŁA — HAHUŁA

...I was about to do some pruning of my accumulated eMail (452 I'm afraid) and I found your contribution. It reminded me that Anita Camplese just told me that my surname Chachula means "snout" in Polish. Now, I don't have a really good command of Polish, but I can comprehend quite a few words and this surprised me. I think the name may have been spelled Hahula in some places also. What do you think?

Well, Anita most likely got that info from me or my book, and I got it from a book by Dr. Kazimierz Rymut, widely regarded as the prime expert on Polish surnames. I'm afraid that is what Chachuła means (the ł stands for the Polish slashed l, pronounced like our w). In Polish the ch and h are pronounced exactly the same, so Hahuła would be merely a variant spelling of Chachuła -- both would be pronounced roughly "hah-WHO-wah," and both come from an archaic or dialect term chachuła meaning "snout, muzzle, mug" (I confirmed this in my 8-volume Polish dictionary, so it's not just Rymut saying so. This is not a word used much in modern standard Polish, probably only students of archaic or dialect Polish would ever have heard of it.)

When people ask me to tell them what their name means, I often have to ask back "Are you sure you want to know?" It's amazing how many Polish names mean something comic or downright insulting, and believe me, by comparison yours is not one of the more unpleasant ones! Presumably a name like Chachuła got started as a nickname for someone with a large or prominent mouth, perhaps like our slang expression "big-mouth." It's not very flattering, but as I say, I've seen much, much worse!

At least you have company -- as of 1990 there were 1,056 Polish citizens named Chachuła; they were scattered all over the country, with the largest numbers in the provinces of Kalisz (100), Katowice (70), and Lodz (249), in a kind of line runing roughly from central to southcentral Poland.


CICHOCKI — CIECHOCKI

...My surname is Cichocki.. Unfortunately my father has passed on and left me with very little knowlege of my history. I would like to let my kids know more about their heritage. Any info you can supply would be gratefully received.

It is possible Cichocki might in some cases might be a variant of Ciechocki, a name from the basic root ciech-, "joy, consolation." But in the vast majority of cases it surely comes ultimately from the root cich-, "quiet, calm." The name is pronounced roughly "chee-HOT-skee," and is probably connected with the noun cichota, "quiet, calmness." The personal name Cichot appears in 16th-century documents, and Cichocki is probably just an adjectival form of that name; you'd expect such a name would be given to someone who was calm and quiet, didn't make a fuss -- really kind of complimentary, as Poles have a certain respect for people who are modest and unassuming and take care of business without making a big fuss out of it. Cichocki most likely started out with the basic adjectival meaning of either "[someone or something] connected with or related to Cichot" or "one who is quiet." It's also conceivable it might derive from a place name, except I can't find any place with a name that fits (something like Cichota, Cichota), so the connection is probably with a person rather than a place.

This is a pretty common name, as of 1990 there were 13,228 Poles named Cichocki. They lived all over Poland, with no one area standing out as the place to find Cichocki's -- so we have to assume there isn't just one big Cichocki family, but rather numerous families in different areas that all got the name independently.


BRISCH — BRYŚ — BRYSZ

...Could you please the meaning of the surname of Brisch?

I'm afraid none of my sources mention it, at least not in that spelling, which is German. Spelling it phonetically by Polish values, it would be either Bryś or Brysz in Polish. These names do appear in Poland -- as of 1990 there were 2,248 Poles named Bryś and 319 named Brysz. This surname comes from the Latin first name Brictius, which was originally of Celtic origin. So it doesn't really mean anything, it's just a nickname for someone named Brictius, or for his son.


CEROCKI

... I need anything you have on the following surname of my Polish Chicago area family: Cerotsky, Cerotzky, Cerozky, Cerotski...

I wish I could help, but there was no one in Poland by any of those names as of 1990, and the problem is that the form of the name is questionable. None of those spellings looks right, it's almost certain the name was originally something else -- but there are too many possibilities to figure out what. It could be Ceracki, Seracki, or Cieracki, or Czeracki, on and on. Without a better idea of the original form of the name, I'd just be spinning my wheels trying to speculate on the name's origin or meaning.

I do note that obituaries appeared in the Dziennik Chicagoski (a Polish-language Chicago-area newspaper published 1890-1972) for a Anna Helena Cerocka on 17 December 1924, and for an Augustyna Cerocka on 12 January 1923. Cerocki is a credible spelling of the name, judging by the forms you gave, and Cerocka is just the feminine form of that surname -- so there may be info on a Chicago-area fmaily named Cerocki available through these obits. You might visit the Webpage of the Polish Genealogical Society of America http://www.pgsa.org and search their databases for more people by the name Cerocki/Cerocka and the other spellings. You just might find some relatives! And there are explanations on the Web page as to how you can get hold of copies of the obits or other records involved.


OLESZAK

... I would like to know the origin and meaning of the name Oleszak.

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 436 Polish citizens named Oleszak. The largest number, 165, lived in the province of Poznan, with the rest scattered in much smaller numbers all over the country. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have.

Oleszak is pronounced roughly "oh-LESH-ock." Polish name expert Prof. Kazimierz Rymut mentions it in his book Nazwiska Polakow [The Surnames of Poles]. It comes from the name Olesz plus the suffix -ak, which is a kind of general suffix meaning "of, from, connected with." So Oleszak means more or less "son of Olesz, kin of Olesz." That name, in turn, comes from a nickname for either Aleksander (Alexander) or Aleksy (Alexy). Among Poles and Ukrainians both names -- which come from the same Greek root meaning "protect, defend" -- were often pronounced and spelled with an initial O rather than A, so almost any name deriving from Alexander or Alexy will have its counterparts spelled with O-. In the process of making nicknames, Poles and Ukrainians tended to take the first few sounds of a name, drop the rest, and add suffixes (kind of like our "Eddy" from "Edward"); so Olesz could come from either of those names. If we wanted to give an English approximation of Oleszak, therefore, it would be kind of like "Al's kin, Al's son." 

Obviously a name like this could get started almost anywhere, and thus it gives no useful clues as to exactly where a family by that name might come from. The only clue is that it starts with O- rather than A-, but that doesn't really narrow it down any. So the only way to nail down exactly where a family named Oleszak came from is by successful genealogical research. Your Oleszaks might come from here, someone else's Oleszaks might come from a completely different place. The only thing they'd have in common is that both families, somewhere along the line, had an ancestor who was often called by the nickname Olesz.

 

Copyright © 2000 W.F. Hoffman. All rights reserved. Used by permission.


LIPINSKI, SZACHNITOWSKI

... Would you have any information as to the names Lipinski or Szachnitowski? I would appreciate any info you could tell me.

In Polish the name Lipinski is spelled with an accent over the N, and is pronounced "lee-PEEN-skee." As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 23,390 Polish citizens named Lipinski, living all over the country; there is no concentration in any one area, a Lipinski family could come from anywhere in Poland. 

The surname refers to the name of a place where the family lived or worked at some point. The problem is, Lipinski could come from a number of different place names, including Lipno, Lipie, Lipina, Lipiny, etc. There are a great many places by these names in Poland. They all come from lipa, "linden tree," so that you can interpret Lipinski as "one from the place of the lindens." So without detailed info on a family's history, there's no possible way to tell which of these places a given Lipinski family might have been named for.

Szachnitowski (pronounced roughly "shokh-nee-TOFF-skee," with kh representing a guttural like the "ch" in German "Bach") is a fairly rare name. As of 1990 there were only 71 Polish citizens by that name. The largest numbers lived in the provinces of Katowice (17), Szczecin (11), and Torun (30), with the rest scattered in small numbers all over Poland. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have.

Usually -owski names also refer to names of places, so we'd expect this to mean "one from Szachnitowo" or some similar name. I can't find any place by this name or anything similar on modern maps, but that's not unusual. Polish surnames developed centuries ago, and often came from the name of a field or hill or little settlement, names used only by locals, that would be unlikely to appear on any map or in any gazetteer. So the place this name refers to may be quite obscure, or may even have disappeared or renamed or absorbed into another community centuries ago.


MLEKODAJ

... I am in search of any info on the name Mlekodaj. My husband's grandparents came to Chicago from Poland in the early 1900s, I am guessing. Their names were Albert and Josephine Mlekodaj. At some point they moved to northern Indiana. Can you enlighten me any further?

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 83 Polish citizens named Mlekodaj. Most surnames are scattered all over Poland, but this one is unusually concentrated: 67 of those 83 lived in one province, that of Nowy Sacz in southcentral Poland. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have. But at least you have some reason to believe the family probably came from the area near the city of Nowy Sacz.

The name comes from the roots mleko, "milk," and daj-, "give." So it means "milk-give," literally. The term mlekodajny is used to refer to cows who give milk, and presumably Mlekodaj was given originally as a nickname to one somehow connected with dairy cows, or one who gave or sold milk, or one who loved milk. Surnames developed centuries ago and it's hard for us, all these centuries later, to know for sure exactly why they seemed appropriate. We can, however, interpret the basic meaning of the words and make plausible suggestions, and that's what I've tried to do.


WINSZMAN

... If you have time please tell me what Winshman or in Polish Vinchman'means. Also, if you have any idea what the name Milka means I would love to know. It is my great grandmother's name and my middle name. 

I hope I'm correct in assuming these names are of Jewish families -- if I'm wrong, that could change things a lot. When asking any question related to genealogy, it's good to mention whether the families were Jewish or not, because there are many practical research considerations different for Christians and Jews.

Polish doesn't use the letter V, and the sound CH is used as a guttural, so it's virtually certain Vinchman is not the Polish spelling. But "Winshman" or "Vinchman" would probably equate to Polish Winszman in Polish. Alexander Beider mentions this name in his Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Kingdom of Poland. He says it was borne by Jews living in the areas of Bedzin and Nowo-Radomsk (there may have been Jews with this name in other parts of Poland, his data covers only the part ruled by Russia). Beider says it comes from German Wunsch, central Yiddish vinsh, "wish, desire," thus meaning "wish-man." That suggests it was originally given to one known for being wishful or having strong desires. 

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were no Polish citizens named Winszman. Unfortunately, this is not surprising, in view of the Holocaust; names of Yiddish origin, common before 1939, are now very rare in Poland.

Milka is tricky because it can come from the Slavic root mil-, "dear, beloved," and thus would mean "little beloved one, darling." But Beider says it comes from a Hebrew name Milkah found in Genesis 11:29. Normally we'd expect Jewish females bearing this name to bear it in reference to the Biblical reference, but we can't entirely rule out a Slavic influence. It's possible Jews might have liked it because it was an ancient Hebrew name that also meant something nice in Polish, Russian, etc.


FABISZAK

... My great-grandparents, Stanislaw(1869-1942) and Adamina(1871-1935) FABISAK, were from Weglew, Golina, Konin, 120 miles west of Warsaw. They came over in 1890 and settled in Northampton, Mass. Some of my recently located cousins think that the original surname was FABISZAK. but no one is really sure. Do you, by chance, have any information about the meaning of this particular surname? 

It is likely the name was originally either Fabisiak or Fabiszak, because as of 1990 there was no listing of anyone in Poland named Fabisak, whereas there were 4,422 named Fabisiak and 891 named Fabiszak. It seems likely Fabisak is a slight modification of one of these two names. 

Fabisiak and Fabiszak are closely related and sound similar; in effect, they're slightly different versions of the same basic name. They both sound roughly like "fah-BEESH-ock," and names that sound the same but are spelled differently are easily confused. Both come from the Latin name Fabianus, or in English "Fabian." Poles often formed nicknames from popular first names by taking the first few sounds of the name, dropping the rest, and adding suffixes. So they would take Fabi- from "Fabian," drop the rest, add -s to make a kind of nickname "Fabis," and later the suffix -iak could be added to that to make Fabisiak; or if they added -sz instead of plain -s, the addition of -ak would give Fabiszak. They all mean pretty much the same thing, "son of Fabian" or "kin of Fabian."

As I said, as of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 4,422 Polish citizens named Fabisiak, living all over Poland, with especially large numbers in the provinces of Warsaw (1,170), Kalisz (235), Konin (206), Płock (310), and Szczecin (202). The 891 named Fabiszak lived all over Poland, but with larger numbers in the provinces of Bydgoszcz (163) and Konin (277). 


REMIAN or REMIJAN

... If you have time, I would appreciate any information you may be able to find on the last name Remijan. The only information that we have is that it may possibly mean Son of Remi (as in Johnson). My father is an only child, my grandfather has already passed on, and my grandmother has severe alzheimer's, so it is difficult to get any family history to pass on other than the fact that my grandfather's family first immigrated to Pennsylvania.

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there was no one in Poland named Remijan. There were 162 named Remian, and it is quite plausible that Remijan was a spelling variation of that name. The largest numbers lived in the following provinces: Warsaw 16, Tarnow 53, and Wroclaw 32. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have.

Polish name scholar Jozef Bubak mentions Remijan in a book he did on surnames found in the area of Nowy Sacz and Stary Sacz, in southcentral Poland; it was the only source I found that mentioned it. Sources from 1664 mention a Hipolit Remijan who was the wójt (village headman, local authority) for Maszkowice, west of Nowy Sacz. So this establishes that the name did once exist in that area (although no Remians lived in the province of Nowy Sacz as of 1990). Bubak speculates it may come either from the first name Jeremi or Jeremiasz (Jeremiah, Jeremy) or the first name Remigiusz, which came from Latin Remigius, the source of the French and English name Remi or Remy. So "son of Remi" or "kin of Remi" is a plausible interpretation, as is "son of Jeremy." But neither one is certain; they're just the best suggestions one expert was able to make.

I don't know if there's anything to it, but an Armenian connection is possible. Armenian names usually end in -ian, meaning "son of," so Remian or Remijan might work as an Armenian name meaning "son of Remi," also. We find Armenian names among people living in Poland, so the idea is not as outrageous as it sounds. Still, one does not have to conclude that that suffix -ian indicates Armenian descent; it can and does exist in native Polish names as well. But since we can't be positive about any of this anyway, I thought it wouldn't hurt to mention this possibility, for what it's worth.

To conclude, the name is found in Poland, but these days is spelled Remian. It is scattered throughout the country, with larger numbers found near Warsaw, Tarnow, and Wroclaw; and in the 1600's there were obviously people by this name living in the area west of Nowy Sacz, in southcentral Poland. The derivation is uncertain, but it's plausible to suggest a connection with the Polish versions of the names Jeremy or Jeremiah and Remy or Remi.


ADAMCZYK, ADAMSKI

... I have searched for family ties from Poland for 5 years now, and always come to a dead end. Death certificates, marriage licensees are of no real help. The 1910-1920 census have no official record of my grandmother, Marya Adamczyk, (Adamski) under either spelling. It is VERY important to me to find some thread to follow. Primarily, I am interested in finding any Jewish ties. Can you give me any information about the name derivatives of Adamski? I know that it is a common name, but any light on the subject is better than none. 

I wish I could help you, but with some names there's nothing you can do. Adamski just means "of Adam," and Adamczyk means "son of Adam." As of 1990 there were 49,599 Polish citizens named Adamczyk, and 28,406 named Adamski; they lived all over Poland, with no concentration in any one part of the country. So neither name tells you anything helpful -- they just mean the family descends from a guy named Adam who could have lived anywhere in Poland. 

I'm sorry I couldn't tell you more, but I see no point in deceiving you; these names don't give you much to work with. Good luck with your research, I hope you finally make a breakthrough.


KOT

...interested in receiving information on the name Kot.

This one's short and simple: it comes from the Polish word kot, meaning "cat." As of 1990 there were 19,902 Polish citizens named Kot, living all over Poland, with no concentration in any one part of the country.


WOLNIK

Hi! My name is Danielle Wolnik-Tudor and I visited your site today. I have just started doing research on my father's ancestors (surname Wolnik). They came from Poland sometime in the 1800's and I am trying to find out a meaning or origin on the name. Anything you can tell me about it would be appreciated. 

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 1,773 Polish citizens named Wolnik. The largest numbers lived in the following provinces: Bydgoszcz 101, Czestochowa 103, Katowice 785, Krakow 96, Leszno 110, Tarnow 189, Zielona Gora 109. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have. What this data tells us is that the name is most common in southern Poland, especially the southcentral part of the country.

Polish name expert Prof. Kazimierz Rymut mentions this name in his book Nazwiska Polakow [The Surnames of Poles]. He says it comes from the archaic noun wolnik, which meant "a man freed from having to labor obligations to a liege lord, a newly-arrived settler, a settler in a new colony [called a wola] exempted from taxes and duties for a certain period." The basic root is the adjective wolny, "free," but it usually refers to one who had earned his way free of the labor and services serfs were obliged to perform for their feudal masters.


KLUCZYK

Hello I am trying to figure out where my last name may have come from . I am also doing my own genealogy that's when I started finding the change of my last name. I am not asking for genealogy help I am only asking you a question if you can answer it. my last name is kluczyk .now when I went searching my family roots .I don't have any family members alive to ask this to . I found a deceased uncle in the social security death index, I sent away for iiit. when i received it I noticed the last name was keys? the g-parents were from New York, would you have any information you may be able to provide me with. 

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 927 Polish citizens named KLUCZYK. The largest numbers lived in the following provinces: Białystok 140, Bydgoszcz 64, Kalisz 124, Leszno 51, Warsaw 183. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have. About all this data tells us is that the name is not concentrated in any one area; a family named Kluczyk could come from many different parts of Poland.

Polish name expert Prof. Kazimierz Rymut mentions this name in his book Nazwiska Polakow [The Surnames of Poles]. He says it appears in records as early as 1255, and comes from the word klucz, "key." The ending -yk is diminutive, so that the noun kluczyk literally means "little key." It is also used in various other meanings, including "clavicle" (which comes from a Latin word meaning "little key") and "primrose." 

Your information about an uncle named Keys suggests that some members of the family retained the original Polish version, while others decided to change it, to fit in better in America; so they went with what amounts to a translation of the Polish word. This is not unusual. Many immigrants found that Americans had trouble with their names, so they changed them to something less foreign-sounding. If they could find an English name that meant more or less the same thing as their Polish name, that was often the name they went with. 


ŁACNY

... The surname I am searching is Łacny. I am told in Poland this name had the meaning "easy." My question is, why the little slash thru the first letter (L) of the surname? Appreciate your information. 

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 849 Polish citizens named Łacny. The largest numbers lived in the following provinces: Czestochowa 68, Katowice 83, Krakow 62, Nowy Sacz 58, Opole 71, Tarnow 95, Wroclaw 91, and Zielona Gora 56. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have. The date shows this name is more common in southern Poland than in the north, but that's about all we can say about it.

The Ł is regarded by Poles as the "hard" L, and is pronounced in most areas much line English W. There is also the "soft" L, which looks just like ours and is pronounced more or less the same as ours. This name begins with the hard L, and since it's difficult to print that letter on-line without a certain amount of fuss and bother, we just represent it in various ways, such as Ł or L- or L/... The name Łacny is pronounced roughly "WOTT-snee."

Polish name expert Prof. Kazimierz Rymut mentions this name in his book Nazwiska Polakow [The Surnames of Poles], and he confirms that it comes from the adjective łacny, "easy." Presumably it began as a nickname that seemed somehow appropriate for a person -- maybe one who did things easily, or had an easy way about it -- and stuck. More than that we can't say, unless detailed genealogical research uncovers some additional information on why this particular name would come to be associated with a given family.


DZIATKOWSKI, KASIEWSKI

... I am currently researching my family names as above. I have traced the family back to Ernst Kassiewski in circa 1770. In the next generation, 1817, the surname changed to Kaschewski? Why would that be? Eduard married Charlotte Dziatkowsky in the 1840s - they lived in East Prussia near Wegorzewo. I see that Dzialdowo is not that far away? Could Dziatkowsky be derived from that town? 

I'd recommend you read an encyclopedia article on the history of Poland, and especially the partitioning of Poland. It's very hard to understand much of what you find in research -- including changes in name spelling -- without that background knowledge. Basically, the reason the spelling changed is almost certainly because Kaschewski is a German phonetic spelling of Kassiewski, and at that time the Germans ruled all this area and tended to Germanize everything. Eventually it got to the point that speaking Polish was not even allowed. So through most of the 19th century we see an increasing tendency to spell things in a German way, rather than Polish, till eventually Polish disappears from records.

Kassiewski is probably an archaic spelling; in modern Polish they seldom use double letters. So Kasiewski is probably closer to the correct form. Also possibly relevant is Kaszewski. Note that all these forms are pronounced much the same, sort of like "kosh-EFF-skee." It's just a question of whether you're spelling the name according to German phonetics, older Polish phonetics, or modern Polish phonetics.

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were only 25 Polish citizens named Kasiewski; they lived in the provinces of Olsztyn (9) and Ostrołęka (16). Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have. In any case, the Kasiewskis in Poland today don't live in the near vicinity of Wegorzewo, but they're not too far away.

There were 1,381 Poles named Kaszewski, living scattered all over Poland, with no concentration in any one area. There was only 1 in Suwałki province, however, and not that many in neighboring provinces, so this name may not be relevant. Still, any time you have a name with -sie- in it you want to at least take a look at names with -sze- because those combinations are pronounced very similarly and thus are easily confused. 

Names in the form X-owski or -ewski usually refer to the name of a place beginning with the X part, with which the family was connected at one time; if they were noble, they owned it, and if not, they lived and worked there. So this name seems likely to mean "one from Kasiew or Kasiewo" or something similar. I can't find any places by those names on modern maps, but that's not unusual -- surnames developed centuries ago, and often the places they referred to have since disappeared, changed names, become too small to show up on most maps, etc. It is also very possible the name has been changed over the centuries; in other words, other possibilities such as Kaszewski or Koszewski or Kosiewski may be involved. Without detailed research into the individual family's history, there is no way to know; I can only deal with the form of the name I have at hand.

As for the name Dziatkowski, pronounced "jot-KOFF-skee" or, more colloquially, "jot-KOSS-kee," as of 1990 there were 189 Polish citizens by that name, of whom the majority, 101, lived in Suwałki province! So it seems entirely possible some Dziatkowski relatives still live in the area of Wegorzewo. Unfortunately, as I said, I have no access to further details such as first names or addresses.

This name, too, probably refers to the name of a place, and there are several in Poland that might be relevant. One worth some attention is Dziadkowice, 14.5 km NE of Siemiatycze in Białystok province. This surname could very well have started out meaning "one from Dziadkowice," and that village is not all that far from the area where your ancestors came from. But again, without detailed genealogical research there is no way to know for sure which of the various places with names beginning Dziadk- is the one your particular family came from. Incidentally, all these place names probably derive from the noun dziadek, "grandfather," so that they originally meant "grandfather's place."


BORKOWSKI

... I can't tell you how thrilled I was to wander into your site. My father has been looking for information about our name for some time, he hasnt had much luck because it is not a common name in our area. I d appreciate any information you can give me to pass onto him. The name we re interested in is Borkowski. thanks again. 

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 32,555 Polish citizens named Borkowski, living in large numbers all over Poland. While not quite the "Smith" or "Jones" of Polish, it is a pretty common name.

Names in the form X-owski usually refer to the name of a place beginning with the X part, with which the family was connected at one time; if they were noble, they owned it, and if not, they lived and worked there. So this surname means basically "one from Borki or Borków or Borkowo" or a number of other names beginning Bork-. One reason the surname is common is because there are a lot of places in Poland with names beginning Bork-. Some come from the root seen in the noun borek, "small forest," so that in some cases the surname might be interpreted as "one from the place of the forests." But more often it probably refers to places named for their owners or founders, who went by nicknames deriving from ancient Polish pagan first names such as Borzyslaw, Bolebor, etc., where the root bor- "means struggle, fight, battle." Thus the place names meant more or less "place of Bor" and the surname means "one from the place of Bor."

So the short answer is, the surname Borkowski means "one from Borki or Borków or Borkowo," etc., referring to a number of places with names beginning Bork-. Those places might have those names by reference to nearby forests, or to early owners or founders with first names such as Borek or Borko, which in turn derive from ancient Slavic first names based on a root meaning "fight, struggle." For practical genealogical purposes, however, the key is that the name is pretty common, is found all over Poland, and can refer to a family's connection with a number of different places. Only successful genealogical research can hope to establish which particular place an individual Borkowski family came from.


BASAIK, FAFINSKI, PIWOWARSKI

... I am in the process of doing some research on my family's lineage. Would you have any information on the following last names : Piwowarski ( I have been told that it means "Beer Maker") this was my maiden name. Basaik, which was my great grandmother's name and Fafinski which was my great grandfather's name. Any help or guidance you could lend would be greatly appreciated.

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 5,642 Polish citizens named Piwowarski. They lived all over Poland, with no significant concentration in any one area. As you say, the name comes from piwowar, "brewer" (literally "beer-brew") and just means "of the brewer," presumably "kin of the brewer." It is pronounced "pee-vo-VAHR-skee."

As of 1990 there were 536 Poles named Fafinski (with an accent over the N), pronounced "fah-FEEN-skee." The largest numbers lived in the following provinces: Ciechanow 64, Gdansk 56, Olsztyn 216, and Torun 67; the rest were scattered in small numbers all over Poland. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have.

None of my sources discuss the origin of this name, so I can only make an educated guess. I would expect it to refer to a place name, something like Fafin or Fafnia. I can't find any places by those names on modern maps, but that's not unusual -- surnames developed centuries ago, and often the places they referred to have since disappeared, changed names, become too small to show up on most maps, etc. The name might also mean something like "kin of Fafa," referring to a first name. That might come from the verb fafac', "to say 'fe'" (an expression of disgust). So Fafinski might mean "kin of the one who says 'fe'" or "one from the place of the one who said 'fe'" (sounds almost like a Monty Python sketch!). There is a term fafula, "booby, fathead," from the same basic root. I can't be sure, but that's my best guess.

Basaik is a problem; I have to suspect that's the original correct spelling of the name, or else the name is not originally Polish. As of 1990 there was no one in Poland by that name, and -aik is not a combination normally seen in Polish. Basiak would make sense, but not Basaik. In any case, it probably comes from nicknames beginning Bas-, which can come from several names, including Basia, a nickname for "Barbara," or from Sebastian. Whichever name it referred to (and in different cases it could refer to different names), it would mean something like "kin of X."


MIECZNIKOWSKI, PAWELCZYK

... Could you please tell the origins and or meanings of the following: Miecznikowski, Pawelczyk.

Pawelczyk comes from addition of the suffix -czyk, usually meaning "son of," to the first name Paweł, "Paul" (the Polish L with a slash through it, pronounced like our W). So it's one of several Polish names meaning "son of Paul," and thus would be comparable to the English name Paulson. As of 1990 there were 2,743 Poles by named Pawelczyk, living all over the country, with no particular concentration in any one area, though this particular form seems to be more common in the northern part of Poland. There were another 3,174 named Pawełczyk, and that form seems more com-on in the south.

Miecznikowski comes from the noun miecznik, "master of the sword," an honorary position held by a noble who was in charge of the sword for a king or higher noble. But this surname probably means either "kin of the miecznik" or especially "one from the place of the miecznik." Thus the surname probably began as a name for one who came from a place called something like Mieczników or Miecznikowo, "place of the miecznik," referring perhaps to an estate or village owned or founded by a miecznik. I could find no places by this name in my sources, which may only suggest they have since disappeared or been renamed or been absorbed into larger communities, or may suggest the name was one used only by locals, unlikely to appear on any but the most detailed maps. As of 1990 there were 1,822 Polish citizens named Miecznikowski; the largest numbers lived in the provinces of Warsaw (517), Ciechanow (240), Olsztyn (172), and Ostrołęka (193). So the name is found all over Poland, but is most common in the northeastern part of the country.


GENDOLLA

... My dad once told me that our family name, Gendolla, has its origin in Poland. I would like to know more about it, about its meaning. Could you help me?

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 9 Polish citizens named Gendolla. They lived in the following provinces: Bydgoszcz 1, Poznan 5, Wroclaw 3. There were 26 with the name Gendoła, using Ł to stand for the Polish L with a slash through it, pronounced like our W; they lived in the provinces of Bydgoszcz, 4; Gdansk, 4; Pila, 15; and Walbrzych, 3. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have.

None of my sources discuss this name, but I think I can make a reasonably good guess as to its origin. In Polish there are two nasal vowels written with tails under them, which I represent on-line with tildes; so there is Ą, pronounced usually like "own," and Ę, pronounced usually like "en." Any time we see a Polish name with EN, it's reasonable to ask if it's a phonetic spelling of that nasal vowel Ę. So if we replace EN with Ę, we have Gędolla. Polish doesn't usually use double letters, that normally is a sign of some foreign influence on the spelling. So that gives us Gędola.

The root gęd- or gąd- means "to play (an instrument)," and the suffixes -ała or -oła or -yła usually mean "one always doing _, one closely connected with _," where the blank is the root preceding the suffixes. So Gędola makes sense as a name meaning "one always playing." I think it's pretty likely this name started out as a sort of nickname for one who loved to play music. I can't be certain, but this is reasonably consistent with analysis of other names beginning Gąd- or Gęd-. There are other, more common names that express more or less the same thing, but that's what I think the name means.


ZAGROBELNY

... looking for Zagrobelny. Last known of one Thadeus Zagrobelny living in Glubczyce,woj Opolskie. 

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 593 Polish citizens named Zagrobelny. The largest numbers lived in the provinces of Przemysl (175) and Wroclaw (89). There were 28 living in Opole province. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have.

The name probably comes from the noun zagroble, "area behind or past the dam or dike," from the roots za, "behind, past, on the other side of," and grobla, "dam." Thus Zagrobelny most likely began as a reference to where a family lived or worked, "the ones on the other side of the dam."


MAJEROWICZ, SKIRZYNSKI

... Hello, I saw your information on Polish surnames on the web. My mother's side of the family has its ancestry in Poland. There are two names I would appreciate any information on that you may be able to find. If you can find any quick and dirty info, that is fine. Also, I may be interested in more detailed information and would be willing to pay the $20 per name if you can provide such info. The two names are as follows:  Majerowicz and Skirzynski

These are the names of my grandparents. Unfortunately, I do not where from Poland they came. My brother visited immigration and naturalization and search their records years ago. Zero information was found on Majerowicz, and a little bit on Skirzynski, names of my greatgrandfather and his children. The word "Czajkowsk" is written in his notes. He does not remember whether this is name or a town or something else.


As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 420 Polish citizens named Majerowicz. There was no one part of the country in which the name was concentrated; a family by this name could come from anywhere in Poland.

The suffix -owicz means "son of," so Majerowicz (pronounced roughly "my-air-OH-vich") means literally "son of Majer." The derivation of this name depends on religion: if the family was Jewish, it comes from the Hebrew name Me'ir, from a root meaning "light, illumination." If the family was Christian, it probably comes from German Meier, "steward of an estate" or "dairy-farmer." Germans lived all over Poland, so it's not at all unusual to find Poles bearing names that prove to be ultimately of Germanic origin. 

As of 1990 there were 326 Polish citizens named Skirzynski (accent over the N, pronounced roughly "skee-ZHINN-skee"). The largest numbers lived in the following provinces: Warsaw 60, Płock 53, and Radom 61; the rest were scattered in much smaller numbers all over the country. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have. This data suggests the name is most common in an area just a little north and east of the center of Poland.

Skirzynski is a hard one to trace. Most often names ending in -ynski refer to place names, so that this could mean "one from Skira, one from Skirzyn," something like that. But I can find no places with names that qualify. That's not necessarily significant, however; surnames developed centuries ago, and often the places they referred to have since disappeared, changed names, become too small to show up on most maps, etc.

If it's not from a place name, it could come from the roots skra, "spark," or skier, "ruffian, police guard," or skierowac', "to direct, send." There's also an expression skirz meaning "because, on account of," and it's possible a person might get a nickname from an expression like that, if people noticed he tended to say it a lot. Still, none of these explanations is all that persuasive, and I have nothing that says definitely one way or the other.

I don't have the time or resources to do more detailed research on names; all I can give is "quick and dirty" analysis. If you would like to get an opinion from the real experts and don't mind spending about $20, you can write the
Anthroponymic Workshop of the Polish Language Institute in Krakow. The staff consists of Polish scholars specializing in name origins, with access to large collections of material on the subject; there is surely no one else in the world better qualified to answer questions on Polish names. They can correspond in English, and the charge for researching a single name is seldom more than $20-30. You write to them with your request, and the individual who does the research will reply, and will tell you how much he/she is charging and how best to send payment. It is usually quite painless, and most people I hear from are very satisfied with the results; but the staff has been a bit slow lately in answering letters -- they have lots of other work to do, after all -- so patience is advisable.


SKONIECZNY

... I am interested in the name Skonieczny. I realize that there is a fee of $20 and would be happy to pay--or any other reasonable amount. 

I only charge a fee if I have to spend more than, say, half an hour digging up info in my sources. In most cases, as in this one, it only takes a few minutes to find everything I have on a particular name, and I don't charge for that information.

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 5,727 Polish citizens named Skonieczny (females would have the feminine form Skonieczna). The largest numbers lived in the following provinces: Bydgoszcz 619, Lodz 385, Wloclawek 452, and Warsaw 669. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have. What this data tells us is that the name is found all over Poland, but is particularly common in areas in the center of the country and just northeast and northwest of there.

Polish name expert Prof. Kazimierz Rymut mentions this name in his book Nazwiska Polaków [The Surnames of Poles]. He says it comes from the archaic adjective skonieczny, meaning "final, one living at the end"; that in turn derives from the preposition z, "from, of," prefixed to the noun koniec, "end." So the name originally meant something like "the last one" or "the one living at the end," say, of a street or village. 

That's about all I can tell you. By its nature this is a name that can't be defined too exactly or associated with one specific region; it just indicates that a person or family was perceived as being final or last in some context. I would think most often it would refer to where they lived, on the outskirts of a village or settlement. But many names have no great degree of precision built into them, and this is one. It just means "final, last, at the end."


OCHABSKI, KRULIKOWSKI, KRÓLIKOWSKI

... Please, if you could help me with ANY information on the last names of Ochabski and Krulikovski, I would be deeply in your debt.

In Polish Ochabski would be pronounced more or less like "oh-HOBB-skee." As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 12 Polish citizens named Ochabski. They lived in the provinces of Katowice (11) and Konin (1). Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have.

This name may come from the name of a place. One possibility is Ochaby Wielkie, near the Czech border, which under the 1975-1998 set-up was in the province Bielsko-Biala. If you'd like to see a map of this place, go to this Website:

http://www.jewishgen.org/ShtetlSeeker/loctown.htm 

Enter "Ochaby" as the name of the place you're looking for, and make sure you specify to search using the Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex. Click on "Start the Search." In a moment you'll get a list of places with names that might match Ochaby phonetically. Scroll on down to the ones in Poland and click on Ochaby at 49 degrees 51', 18 degrees 46'. This will bring up a map of the area which you can save, print, etc

It's also conceivable Ochabski could come from, say, the Ukrai.ian term okhab, "swamp," or from a variant of the first name Achab (Ahab). But considering that most Ochabski's lived in Katowice province, and that's near where Ochaby is, it's quite plausible the surname began as a reference to the family's connection with that place. Of course, only genealogical research would uncover enough information to establish for sure that's the connection, and I can't do that research. But the link seems pretty reasonable to me.

As of 1990 there were only 293 Poles name Krulikowski (pronounced somewhat like "crew-lick-OFF-skee"). But in Polish the vowel U and the vowel Ó are pronounced the same, and names are often spelled more than one way. In Polish this name is usually spelled Królikowski; as of 1990, there were 10,731 Polish citizens named Królikowski, scattered all over Poland. One cannot point to any one area and say "That's where a family named Królikowski came from"; a family by this name could come from anywhere in Poland.

Names in the form X-owski usually refer to the name of a place beginning with the X part, with which the family was connected at one time; if they were noble, they owned it, and if not, they lived and worked there. We would expect this surname to mean, therefore, "one from Królików or Królikowo or Królikowice," or some similar place name. Unfortunately, there are a number of places with names that fit; without much more detailed info on a specific family, there's no way to know which one the surname refers to in a given case.

The surname and the place names ultimately derive from the Polish noun królik, literally "little king" (in Polish "king" is król); in old Polish that word meant "king's viceroy," and is also a term used for a kind of rabbit, Latin name Oryctolagus cuniculus L. So the surname means "one from the place of the rabbits," or possibly "one from the place of the viceroy"; we can't rule out the possibility that in isolated instances the name might also have meant "kin of the viceroy" or "kin of the rabbit," but most of the time it would refer to the place name. 

To sum up, the immediate derivation is from królik, "viceroy, or a rabbit," and chances are the surname originally referred to the family's connection with people or a place somehow connected with a królik, especially a place with a name beginning Królikow-.


KARASZKIEWICZ

... I wonder if you would review my surname, Karaszkiewicz, and share your findings with me and any others who would be interested.

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there 202 Polish citizens named Karaszkiewicz. The largest numbers lived in the provinces of Warsaw (67) and Poznan (27), with the rest scattered all over Poland. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have.

I should add that in Polish SZ sounds like our "sh," and there's another Polish sound that's similar, written as an accented S. In carefully pronounced, proper Polish the SZ and Ś are distinguishable sounds that, in theory, should never be confused; but in practice they are often used interchangeably. Thus a name spelled with an SZ can sometimes also be spelled with Ś. This is relevant because as of 1990 there were 742 Polish citizens named Karaśkiewicz. The largest numbers lived in those same provinces, Warsaw (112) and Poznan (136). So one can regard these as two different versions of the same basic name.

Polish name expert Prof. Kazimierz Rymut mentions both forms of this name in his book Nazwiska Polaków [The Surnames of Poles]. He says both come from the noun karaś, "crucian carp" (a kind of fish). Karaś is a moderately common surname in its own right, borne by 8,724 Poles as of 1990. The -k- is a diminutive, and -iewicz means "son of," so the name means literally "son of the little carp." Most likely Karasek/Karasko/Karaszek/Karaszko, "little carp," came to be used used as a nickname for one who liked to fish for carp, or sell them, or eat them, or somehow reminded people of a carp. Then Karaśkiewicz or Karaszkiewicz could come to be used as a name for his sons or kin, and eventually stuck as a surname.


NIZIŃSKI

... Do you have anything on Nizinski? That is my wife's maiden name.

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 1,528 Polish citizens named Niziński, spelled with an accent over the 2nd N. The Poles by this name were scattered all over the country; there was no one area with which the name was particularly associated.

The basic root of this name is niz-, which means "low," but in most cases this surname would almost certainly refer to the term nizina, "lowland, valley, depression," or to a specific place with a name such as Nizina or Niziny. There are several places in Poland that have these names, and it's pretty likely they were all called this because they were in a valley or a lowland. So Niziński (pronounced roughly "nee-ZHEEN-skee") would mean more or less "one from Nizina or Niziny" = "one from the place in the valley." As you can imagine, a name like this is equally applicable in many different areas of Poland, so it's not too surprising the name is found all over the country, with no particular concentration in any one area.


BŁASZCZYK

... I am looking for information on my father's family name Blaszczyk

In Polish this name is spelled with a slash through the L, and pronounced roughly "B'WASH-chick." As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 24,791 Polish citizens named Błaszczyk, living in large numbers all over the country. So there is no one area we can point to and say "That's where a Błaszczyk family must have come from"; a family by this name could have come from anywhere in Poland.

Polish name expert Prof. Kazimierz Rymut mentions this name in his book Nazwiska Polaków [The Surnames of Poles]. He says it developed by addition of suffixes to nicknames or short forms of first names beginning with Bła-, especially the name BłaŻej (slash through the L, dot over the z), the Polish form of "Blaise." This is not a very common name in the West, but St. Blaise was a bishop and martyr venerated as the patron of those with throat diseases, and BłaŻej is not an unusual name in Poland. So we run into a lot of surnames formed from it. The suffix -czyk usually means "son of." The closest English translation of Błaszczyk, therefore, is "son of Blaise, kin of Blaise."
  

Copyright © 2000 W.F. Hoffman. All rights reserved. Used by permission.


DZIERWA

... Hi. I am just starting to research my family, and my great-grandmother's name was Sadie Bernice Dzierva. I looked on your site (which is very informative) but found nothing on Dzierva. Can you help? 

Well, a compilation of 1990 data on Poles and their surnames showed some 800,000+ distinct names borne by Poles as of that year. So there are one or two I haven't gotten to yet!

The name we're looking for is Dzierwa -- Poles don't use the letter V, they use W as we use V (and frequently in their handwriting it looks rather like a V), so it's easily confused. The name is pronounced roughly "JARE-vah."

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 918 Polish citizens named Dzierwa. The largest numbers lived in the following provinces: Katowice 165, Krakow 261, and Tarnow 217. So the name is most common in southcentral and southeastern Poland. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have.

According to a Polish name expert who wrote a book focusing on names in southcentral Poland, Dzierwa and its companion forms Dzirwa, Dzierzwa, and Dzirzwa come from the root seen in the verb dzierać, "to tear, rip." It would apparently have started out as an old first name or nickname, perhaps not unlike "Rip" in English (e. g., actors Rip Torn, Rip Taylor), a manly, heroic sort of name for one who ripped and tore his way out of difficulties. If we accept that comparison of "Rip" and "Dzier-" as names expressing something similar in different cultures, I think Dzierwa can be interpreted as little more than "kin of Rip."


GABIS

... Hi, I am trying to find where my fathers Grandparents came from the last name is Gabis. They were supposed to have come from Poland\Russia but I have no idea where to start in Poland. Any help at all would be nice. 

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 90 Polish citizens named Gabis (pronounced roughly "GAH-bees"). They were scattered in small numbers all over Poland, with no significant concentration in any one area; so the name distribution data doesn't really tell us much about where your ancestors may have come from.

There were 48 more named Gabiś -- I'm using Ś to stand for the Polish S with an accent over it, pronounced kind of like a soft "sh," so that this name sounds more like "GAH-beesh." The largest number, 22, lived in the southwestern province of Leszno, with the rest scattered in small numbers all over. The ones in Leszno may not be relevant to your research because Leszno was in the German partition of Poland, whereas your ancestors lived in the Russian partition, which covered much of central and eastern Poland, as well as Lithuania, Belarus, and some of northern Ukraine. So unless the family was forced to relocate from east to west -- as happened to millions after World War II -- it seems doubtful this information is relevant.

Polish name expert Prof. Kazimierz Rymut mentions this name in his book Nazwiska Polaków [The Surnames of Poles]. He says it comes from the root seen in the verb gabać, "to provoke, torment, attack." This suggests Gabis might have started as a kind of nickname for one prone to provoke or torment others. 

I'm afraid this doesn't tell you much that's helpful in determining where your family came from, but that's the rule rather than the exception with surnames. Relatively few provide any kind of useful clue as to a family's origin. Only genealogical research may uncover enough information on a specific family's background to establish a historical and linguistic context in which it is possible to determine exactly how and why the name developed and "stuck" in a given case. 


KOPERSKI

... I've recently started worked on a family history .... I'm wondering if you have any info on Koperski ?

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 2,948 Polish citizens named Koperski. The largest numbers lived in the following provinces: Bydgoszcz 192, Czestochowa 126, Katowice 104, Płock 172, Poznan 481, Skierniewice 103, and Warsaw 339. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have. This data tells us the name is found all over Poland, with no real concentration in any one region.

Polish name expert Prof. Kazimierz Rymut mentions this name in his book Nazwiska Polaków [The Surnames of Poles]. He says it derives from the noun koper, "dill," or perhaps in some cases from kopr, "copper." In form it's an adjective -- the -ski just means "of, from, connected with, pertaining to" -- so the name Koperski means "one somehow connected with dill (or copper)." In practice it's likely to refer to a person or family who grew dill it, sold it, used it in cooking, something like that. It might also refer to the name of a place with which the family was connected, a name meaning, in effect, "the dill place." About all we can say for sure, all these centuries later, is that there was some perceived connection between the family and dill.


BAROWICZ, MAZURKIEWICZ

... Looking for the origin and age of the Mazurkiewicz family. Also Barowicz. 

I'm afraid there is no such thing as THE Mazurkiewicz family; there are almost certainly a number of independent families who share this name, which means "son of one from Mazovia," a region of northeastern Poland. As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 15,364 Polish citizens named Mazurkiewicz, living all over the country. So one cannot talk in general terms about Mazurkiewiczes, but only in terms of specific families bearing this name, as different families would vary in age and exact origin.

Polish name expert Prof. Kazimierz Rymut mentions Barowicz in his book Nazwiska Polaków [The Surnames of Poles]. He says it usually comes from the German word Bär, "bear"; that was probably used as a nickname or first name for one of great size and strength. The -owicz just means "son of," so the name literally means "son of the bear." Rymut adds that in some cases, especially with less ancient names, Bar- can come from the first name Bartłomiej, "Bartholomew," so Barowicz could conceivably mean "son of Bart." Without research into individual families, there's no way to know which derivation is relevant in a given case; but Barowicz is probably an older name, and as such probably does come from the word for "bear."

As of 1990 there were 206 Polish citizens named Barowicz. The largest numbers lived in the provinces of Legnica, 83, and Wroclaw, 52, in southwestern Poland, in areas long ruled by the Germans; the rest were scattered all over in much smaller numbers. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have.


SIEMBAB

... I wonder if you can tell me something about my family name which is Siembab. I believe it is the proper spelling although I was told many years ago that it could also be spelled Siebab with a hook under the E and pronounced as it is presently spelled. My family came from southern Poland. 

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 752 Polish citizens named Siembab. The largest number by far, 422, lived in the province of Tarnów in southeastern Poland; the rest were scattered in much smaller numbers all over the country. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have. This data indicates enough of a concentration in Tarnów province that it would make sense to regard the Tarnow area as the one in which the name originated, and it later spread to other parts of Poland.

You're right that this name could also be spelled Siębab. This Ę is usually pronounced more or less like "en," but before B or P it changes to the sound of "em." Thus Siębab and Siembab are pronounced the same, much like "SHEM-bob." And we see in Polish records that when there is more than one phonetically adequate way to write a name, you're likely to see more than one spelling. But Siembab is clearly considered the standard spelling these days, because as of 1990 there were only 14 Poles who used the form Siębab, all living in Przemysl province in southeastern Poland. (As I said before, I have no way to get more info such as names and addresses.)

This name puzzles me because I can't find anything on it in any of my sources, and it's difficult to make an educated guess on what it might mean. The root siem- in Polish can be an archaic form of the numeral siedem, "seven," and bab- is a root meaning "woman," so that Siembab could plausibly be interpreted as "seven women." But just because that is plausible doesn't mean it is right! 

The root siem- also appears in the noun siemię, "seed," and this same root appears in other Slavic languages with the basic meaning of "family"; that root is now archaic in Polish, as the word rodzina has taken over the meaning of "family," but we see ancient Polish first names such as Siemomysl and Siemoslaw with the root used in the sense of "family." Names beginning with Siem- can also come from a form of the first name "Simon." Still, "family women" or "seed women" or "Simon's women" don't strike me as convincing interpretations, either because they don't make sense or the form Siembab just isn't consistent with a construction meaning that.

So I don't have a definitive word from any scholars who have studied the name, and my gut feeling is that none of my educated guesses (which often turn out to be correct) is really quite right --or at least I can't be sure they're right. If I had to go with one of them, I'd go with "seven women," perhaps beginning as a nickname for a male born into a family composed mostly of women. Since I'm the only male in my immediate family, which consists of six people and four generations, I don't feel such an interpretation strains credulity. But I keep coming back to the same point: the fact that it's plausible doesn't mean it's right!

If you would like to get an opinion from the real experts and don't mind spending about $20, you can write the
Anthroponymic Workshop of the Polish Language Institute in Krakow. The staff consists of Polish scholars specializing in name origins, with access to large collections of material on the subject; there is surely no one else in the world better qualified to answer questions on Polish names. They can correspond in English, and the charge for researching a single name is seldom more than $20-30. You write to them with your request, and the individual who does the research will reply, and will tell you how much he/she is charging and how best to send payment. It is usually quite painless, and most people I hear from are very satisfied with the results; but the staff has been a bit slow lately in answering letters -- they have lots of other work to do, after all -- so patience is advisable.

If you do contact the Workshop, I'd be very interested in hearing what they have to say. I would like to add such info to the next edition of my surname book, so we can share it with others who have this name.


WOJDYŁO

... I was wondering what the meaning of my last name Wojdylo means....I would appreciate it if you can provide some info about it.

In Polish this name is spelled with the L with a slash through it, which is pronounced like our W; as opposed to the normal unslashed L. Polish W is pronounced like our V. So the name is pronounced roughly "voy-DIH-woe," with the middle syllable sounding almost like "dill" except that the L is more like a W.

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 1,633 Polish citizens named Wojdyło. The largest numbers lived in the following provinces: Katowice 126, Krakow 83, Przemysl 449, Rzeszow 72, Tarnobrzeg 61, Torun 80, and Wroclaw 62. So while this name was seen all over Poland, it was most common in the southern part, especially southeastern Poland. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, so I can't tell you how to get addresses for those Wojdyło's.

Polish name expert Prof. Kazimierz Rymut mentions this name in his book Nazwiska Polaków [The Surnames of Poles]. He says it appears in records as far back as 1385, and comes from the basic Polish root woj-, "warrior, war." It may come straight from that root in the meaning of "warrior," in which case Wojdyło would be kind of like "kin of the warrior." But it may also have originated as a kind of nickname formed from ancient pagan Polish surnames beginning with that root, such as Wojciech ("war" + "glad" ?= "joyful warrior"), Wojsław ("war" + "fame" ? = "famous warrior"), etc. So one way or the other the name Wojdyło goes back to this root meaning "war," but it's hard to say whether it began as a reference to the kin of a warrior or simply as a kind of nickname for one of those old pagan first names (sort of the same way we get "Eddie" from "Edward"). Only genealogical research may uncover enough information on a specific family's background to establish a historical and linguistic context in which it is possible to determine exactly how and why the name developed and "stuck" in a given case. 


WOJDYŁA

... I am curious to the origin of my maternal grandmother's maiden name of Wojdyla. She came from the Malopolskie district. I am also curious because of the closeness to the Pope's name of Wojtyla. How many Wojdyla's were there in Poland in 1990?

In Polish this name is spelled with the L with a slash through it, which is pronounced like our W; as opposed to the normal unslashed L. Polish W is pronounced like our V. So the name is pronounced roughly "voy-DIH-wah," with the middle syllable sounding almost like "dill" except that the L is more like a W.

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 2,680 Polish citizens named Wojdyła. The largest numbers lived in the following provinces: Katowice 286, Krakow 193, Krosno 244, Nowy Sacz 172, Opole 185, and Przemysl 264. So while this name was seen all over Poland, it was most common in the southern part, ranging all the way from southwestern to southeastern Poland. Clearly this includes Malopolska, so the data is consistent with the information you have. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, so I can't tell you how to get addresses for those Wojdyła's.

Polish name expert Prof. Kazimierz Rymut mentions this name in his book Nazwiska Polaków [The Surnames of Poles]. He says it appears in records as far back as 1473, and comes from the basic Polish root woj-, "warrior, war." It may come straight from that root in the meaning of "warrior," in which case Wojdyła would be kind of like "kin of the warrior." But it may also have originated as a kind of nickname formed from ancient pagan Polish surnames beginning with that root, such as Wojciech ("war" + "glad" ?= "joyful warrior"), Wojsław ("war" + "fame" ? = "famous warrior"), etc. So one way or the other the name Wojdyła goes back to this root meaning "war," but it's hard to say whether it began as a reference to the kin of a warrior or simply as a kind of nickname for one of those old pagan first names (sort of the same way we get "Eddie" from "Edward"). Only genealogical research may uncover enough information on a specific family's background to establish a historical and linguistic context in which it is possible to determine exactly how and why the name developed and "stuck" in a given case. 

The name Wojdyła is indeed very close to that of the Pope, Wojtyła, but that doesn't necessarily mean much. It is, of course, possible the names might link up somewhere way back -- D and T are closely related sounds, so it wouldn't take much at all for Wojdyła and Wojtyła to be confused. Still, it seems likely in most cases they are unrelated except for a similarity in sound, occasioned by origin in a common root; but that doesn't imply a blood connection, any more than we'd expect a Jones to be related to a Johnson. Wojtyła may come from that first name Wojciech, but it may also come from the noun wójt, an official in charge of a rural district. Thus his name may come from an entirely different root.


SOBANIA

... Came across your offer of help on the web and wondered if I could take advantage of it! Its very kind of you to offer. I only need a 'quick and simple' guide, anything you may have to point me in the right direction. The family name I would like some clues for is Sobania from the Kielce region in late 1800s.

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 569 Polish citizens named Sobania. The largest numbers lived in the following provinces: Katowice 57, Opole 63, and Radom 254; the list said only 1 lived in Kielce province at that time. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have. This data suggests there are two pockets of concentration of this name, one in southwestern Poland (the region called Silesia), the other a little southeast of the center of the country (near Radom).

Polish name expert Prof. Kazimierz Rymut mentions this name in his book Nazwiska Polakow [The Surnames of Poles]. He says it appears in records as early as 1469, and comes from first names beginning with Sob-. There are several names that could apply, such as Sobestian (a variant of Sebastian), or Sobiesław or Sobiepan (ancient pagan Slavic first names, no equivalents in English). Poles often formed nicknames from popular first names by taking the first few sounds of the name, dropping the rest, and adding suffixes (much as we do with names like "Eddie" from "Edward"). So they would take the Sob- part from the names I mentioned above, drop the rest, and add suffixes to come up with Sobania. There is no way to translate the name, any more than we can translate "Ted" -- they're just nicknames from longer names that did mean something long ago. The closest we could come is "kin of Sobie," noting that that is a nickname from Sobestian or Sobiesław, etc.


SIDOR

... I have been researching my family history and would like to know if you have any information on the surname Sidur or Sidor. My great grandfather was from Bren Oslechowski, Poland. Any information would be greatly appreciated. 

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 5,607 Polish citizens named Sidor, as opposed to 34 named Sidur, so odds are it was Sidor. Both names are found all over Poland, but with concentrations in the eastern and southeastern part of the country; for instance, the largest numbers of Sidors lived in the provinces of Lublin (1,210) and Zamosc (409).

Polish name expert Prof. Kazimierz Rymut mentions Sidor in his book Nazwiska Polakow [The Surnames of Poles], and I think it's reasonable to assume Sidur is just a misspelling or variant of that name. The surname Sidor comes from the first name Izydor, which comes from the Greek name Isidoros, meaning "gift of Isis." This name did not become common in Poland until the last couple of centuries, and the distribution data quoted above suggests it is still more common among eastern Poles and Ukrainians, due to the influence of the Greek Orthodox and Greek Catholic churches in those regions. Some names coming from Greek are much more common among Eastern Slavs because they were connected with saints of the Orthodox Church, which tended to use Greek, rather than the Roman Catholic Church, which used Latin. 

So as the distribution data suggests, this name first came into use among Eastern Slavs and gradually spread among Poles; but it is still more common in eastern Poland than western.


CZUCZKO

... I enjoyed your web site and wondered if you can find any information on Czuczko. I have had a very difficult time finding anything, so any bit of info would be greatly appreciated.

This is not a very common name. As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 101 Polish citizens named Czuczko. They lived in the following provinces: Biala Podlaska 1, Gdansk 4, Gorzow 4, Jelenia Gora 1, Katowice 7, Koszalin 3, Olsztyn 46, Przemysl 17, Slupsk 8, Szczecin 3, Zielona Gora 7. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have.

This data tells us the name is somewhat concentrated in northeastern Poland, but is found scattered all over the country. It is hard to say whether this dispersion is a recent phenomenon. After World War II, large numbers of ethnic Poles, Lithuanians, Belarusians, and Ukrainians were forced to relocate from east to west; if we had data from before 1939, we might find most of the Czuczko's concentrated in the east. But we don't have such data, so all I can do is speculate.

None of my sources directly address the question of this name's origin, but I note in a 7-volume Polish dictionary that the term czuczka is a variant spelling of ciuc'ka, a diminutive of ciucia, which is a child's expression for "little dog, puppy." Thus czuczka would be kind of like "doggy" in English. It is quite plausible that the name Czuczko comes from this word. It may have begun as a kind of nickname for one who liked dogs, or who had kids who went around calling dogs by that name -- all these centuries later, it's difficult to know exactly what caused people to associate a particular person or family with a particular nickname. About the most we can say is that there was some kind of link between a person or family and this child's term for puppies.

The name is pronounced "CHOOCH-ko," and the reason it can readily be confused with words beginning ciuc- is because Poles pronounce the combinations -ci- and -cz- more or less the way we pronounce "ch." There is a distinction between the two sounds in proper Polish, but we see them confused often enough in names to know that a name with -cz- can be connected with a name with -ci-.


PILIPIEC

... My name is Peppie Pilipiec. I am searching for a long time about the meaning and origin of the name Pilipiec and found nothing about it. Short time ago I got acces to internet and I hoped to find some information but until now without success. Maybe you can help me.
I am living in Holland and (so far I know) my family is the only one with the surname Pilipiec. I don't have much detailed information about my family history. There is some relation with the Czech Republic and with Hungary. But the oldest information I have originates from Poland. From stories my father told me in the past there could also be some relation with Ukraine, but I am not sure about that. Because my name is different from most other names in my country people often ask me about the origin. Maybe you can help me. Is it a common surname or am I the last and only one with this name? Maybe you also can tell me how to pronounce it.


As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 182 Polish citizens named Pilipiec. The largest numbers lived in the following provinces: Koszalin 27, Olsztyn 15, Zamosc 71. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have... I should add that after World War II, large numbers of people were forced to move from eastern Poland to the west, so it is quite possible most of hose people named Pilipiec who live in western or northern Poland (Koszalin and Olsztyn provinces) originally came from southeastern Poland, near Zamosc. The data we have is too recent to tell us for sure; I wish we had data from before 1939, it would settle many questions.

This name is pronounced in Polish roughly as "pee-LEEP-yets" (that's using English phonetic values; a German, for instance, would write it "pie-LIEP-jetz"). It comes from Pilip, a form of the first name known in English as "Philip," plus the suffix -iec, which means roughly "son of, kin of." So Pilipiec means "kin of Philip." 

It is entirely possible there is a Ukrainian connection here. You see, in Polish the standard form of that first name is Filip; the same form is used in Czech. But in Ukrainian it is Pylyp, where the y stands for a short i sound, somewhat like that in English "ship"; the I's in Filip, on the other hand, sound more like the ee in English "sheep." A name in the form Pilipiec might well have originated among Ukrainians rather than Poles or Czechs, with later lengthening of the vowels from y to i. (Among Hungarians the name is Fülöp, that is with umlaut over the U and O; that different form, and the -iec suffix, make it unlikely this name is Hungarian in origin).

Still, one cannot be certain of a Ukrainian connection. The Slavic languages did not originally have the F-sound, so that in older records we often see P used instead of F. Thus in older records one does see Poles using the form Pilip, and only later did Filip become standard. So those P's in Pilipiec do not prove the name originated among Ukrainians; it could also have developed in Polish or Czech centuries ago, before the more modern form "Filip" became standard. Still, the moment I saw this name I thought of the Ukrainian form Pylyp; and people did sometimes move in ancient times, so that we see Ukrainian names in Poland and Polish names in Ukraine. 

To summarize, we can say with certainty that the name means "kin of Philip" or "son of Philip," and is most often seen in modern Poland in the area of Zamosc, in the southeastern part of the country, very near the border with Ukraine. We cannot be quite so certain whether the name was originally Polish, Ukrainian, or Czech (or even Slovak). Many names are very similar in those languages, and often the form of the name itself does not provide us with enough information to be certain. In this case, genealogical research is your best hope of answering the question of the exact origin, as it may shed light on the historical, linguistic, and social background in which the name developed.


MADAJCZYK

...I have been unable to find anything about my surname, Madajczyk. Do you know anything?

Polish name expert Prof. Kazimierz Rymut mentions this name in his book Nazwiska Polakow [The Surnames of Poles]. He says it developed by addition of the suffix -czyk, which generally means "son of," to the name Madaj. That name generally comes from a short form of the Latin first name Amadeus, rare in this country but not uncommon in Europe -- it is best known as the middle name of the composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The Latin name comes from the roots ama-, "love," and Deus, "God," so it could be interpreted as "one who loves God" or perhaps "one dear to God"; there are equivalents to this name in many languages, including German Gottlieb and Polish Bogumil, meaning the same thing. So the name can be interpreted as "son of Amadeus."

Rymut mentions that in some cases Madaj- might also come from the feminine name Magdalena, and I've seen surname scholars who think there may be a connect with the name "Matthew" or "Matthias," in Polish Mateusz and Maciej. These are possibilies, but in most cases the connection probably is with that name Amadeus.

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 595 Polish citizens named Madajczyk (pronounced roughly "mah-DIE-chick"). The largest numbers lived in the following provinces: Poznan 78, and Wloclawek 228. So the name is found all over Poland but is most common in the areas just west and north of the center of the country. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have.


GACKI

... Was wondering if you would have any information on the origin and meaning of my father's last name, Gatski. I am sure it is not the original spelling.

In Polish the ts sound is spelled c, so the original spelling in Polish would be Gacki. It's pronounced more or less "GOT-skee."

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there 2,236 Polish citizens named Gacki. The largest numbers lived in the following provinces: Bydgoszcz 149, Katowice 615, Lodz 113, Łomża 168, and Opole 238; the rest were scattered in smaller numbers all over Poland. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have. This data suggests the name is most common in southcentral and southwestern Poland, but not to the point that one can assume a Gacki came from there -- a family by this name could come from almost anywhere in Poland.

My sources indicate that the ultimate root of the name is most likely that seen in the noun gac' (accent over the c), "fascine, a bundle of sticks" (used generally to strengthen walls or various constructions). The direct connection, however, is probably with places with names from that root, especially various places named Gac' or Gacki, of which there are more than a dozen. So the surname probably means "one from Gac' or Gacki."

Neither the derivation nor the frequency data provides any clues that let us say which particular Gac' or Gacki a given Gacki family once came from. The only way to determine that is through genealogical research, which may allow one to focus on a particular area. Then, instead of trying to deal with a dozen Gac'es or Gacki's, one can say "It has to be one located near X" and search that area for the most likely candidate.


KAMIEŃSKI, KAMIŃSKI, KAMINSKY

... Hello! I was wondering if you by any chance had any information on the surname of Kaminski.

Yes, I've answered questions on this name before. I've quoted below my response to a girl in grade school who needed info on a paper she was writing on her name, which her family spelled Kaminsky. As I explain, slightly different versions of this name are very popular among many Slavs, but Kaminski is most likely Polish rather than Russian or Czech or Ukrainian. I think all the information I wrote to her may be helpful to you, so I'll quote the whole reply. I hope it is some help to you, and wish you the best of luck.


Kaminsky or Kaminski is a surname we find among many peoples of eastern Europe. I don't know if you've ever heard the word "Slav," it is a general term used for many related ethnic groups of eastern Europe, including the Poles, Belarusians, Bulgarians, Czechs, Russians, Ukrainians, Slovaks, Serbs, Croats, etc.

About 1,200 years ago these people were all one large group and all spoke the same language; but as time went on they split up, moved to different parts of eastern Europe, and their language changed and developed into many different languages, as the peoples themselves gradually developed into different ethnic groups. A lot of words are still similar in the various Slavic languages, however, and your name comes from one of them, a word meaning "stone, rock." 

Poles spell this word kamień. Czechs spell it kámen. When Russians write it in their alphabet, Cyrillic, it looks like KAMEHb; Ukrainians also use the Cyrillic alphabet, and they spell it a little differently, KAMIHb. So they all write the word different ways, but they all pronounce it more or less the same, sort of like saying "COMM-yen" in English (Ukrainians pronounce it more like "COMM-een"). Many surnames come from this word, and the one you bear is written in slightly different ways, too, depending on where it came from: Poles, for instance, spell the name either Kamiński or Kamieński. The spelling you now have, Kaminsky, might be Czech; it might be the Russian or Ukrainian forms spelled in English letters; or it may have been Polish but people changed the final -I of Kamiński to -Y in this country (this happened often when Poles came to America). You can't always tell just by looking at the name which country it came form, it could come from many countries where Slavs live.

Surnames like Kamiński usually started because of a link with a place. In Polish kamieński just means "of, from, pertaining to stone or rock," and sometimes it got started as a name for a person who worked with rock (like a stone-carver), or lived in a rocky place, or had some other connection with rocks. But much of the time the name started because a person lived in a place with a name like Kamień or Kamiń -- which just means it was a rocky place. So Kamiński means either "rock-person" or "one from Kamień or Kamiń" = "one from the rocky place." Looking only at Poland, there are literally dozens of places named Kamień, and this name could come from any of them; there are also many villages and towns in Ukraine, Russia, etc. where the name could also come from.

As of 1990 there were 87,935 Polish citizens named Kamiński, and another 1,514 named Kamieński. I don't have sources with data for other countries such as Ukraine, Russia, the Czech Republic, etc., but I'm pretty sure the name is just as common there. 

So in summary: 

1) the name comes from a Slavic word for "rock, stone," especially as a reference to people who lived in or came from a place with a name like Kamień or Kamiń

2) it could be Polish, Czech, Russian, Ukrainian, etc., but the spellig Kamiński is usually Polish

3) and it is a very, very common name in Eastern Europe.


WIECZOREK

... Hi!! My name is Veronica Corra de Wieczorek that why i want to know if this surname is common in Poland and what it mean may father in law tell us that is something like ligth afternoon or so...

Your father-in-law is close; this surname comes from the Polish noun wieczorek, pronounced roughly "vyeh-CHORE-ek," which means "evening" or "a small party in the evening." It comes from the noun wieczór, "evening," with the addition of the diminutive suffix -ek. So Wieczorek literally means "little evening," and might have originated as a sort of nickname for one who was most active in the late afternoon or evening, or one who often held little parties in the evening. The dividing line between late afternoon and early evening is not sharp, so it's reasonable to say the name could be understood as meaning "late afternoon" as well; but the dictionary definition, at least, is "evening."

One source also mentions that wieczorek is also a term for "bat," presumably referring to bats' habit of first coming out in the early evening; so it might also have started as a nickname for one who reminded people somehow of a bat. Another mentions that this term could be confused with another word, więciorek (the ę stands for the Polish nasal vowel written as an E with a tail under it and pronounced more or less like "en"); the pronunciation of the two words is very close, "vyeh-CHORE-ek" vs. "vyen-CHORE-ek," so it's not hard to see how they might be confused. That word means "a small fish-pot." This name could get started as a reference to a person's occupation and the gear he used in it, or it could be a nickname.

Still, it seems most likely the name started out due to some perceived connection between a person or family and something that happened in the late afternoon or early evening. These names developed centuries ago, and often we cannot hope to know exactly what led people to start calling certain folks by a specific name. The most we can do is say what the name means and make reasonable suggestions as to why it seemed applicable.

Wieczorek is a pretty common name in Poland. As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 46,920 Poles named Wieczorek, living in large numbers all over the country. So there's no one part of Poland with which the name is particularly associated; a Wieczorek could come from anywhere.

The "de Wieczorek" is interesting, you don't usually run into Polish names with de unless the family left Poland for France before coming to North America. In the Middle Ages Polish nobles used Latin de with the name of their estate, so that Jan who owned the estate at Piotrkowo might be called Johannes de Piotrkowo, "John of Piotrkowo." Later Poles quit using the de and adopted a more Polish way of saying the same thing, adding -ski to the end of the estate's name, so that this Jan would be called Jan Piotrkowski. There are similar names from Wieczorek, such as Wieczorowski and Wieczorkowski. 

I don't have any information that would shed light on why a particular family might go by "de Wieczorek." As I suggested, it's possible they lived in France for a while and called themselves by this name to indicate nobility. It's even possible they weren't noble but used this name to suggest they were. Still, all that's speculation; I don't have information on specific families, only on the origins and meanings of names from a linguistic standpoint.


NIKODEMSKI

... I'm starting to search around for info on our family name, Nikodemski. Will buy your first book, but am also interested in any other informational leads. 

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 516 Polish citizens named Nikodemski. The largest numbers lived in the provinces of Lodz (170) and Ostrołęka (57), with the rest scattered in much smaller numbers all over Poland. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have. This data shows the name is most common these days in the center of the country (around Lodz) and a little to the northeast of the center (around Ostrołęka).

The meaning of the name is simple: "of Nicodemus." Words ending in -ski originated as adjectives, so Nikodemski would mean "of, from, connected with, relating to Nicodemus." In the context of surnames, it would probably mean "kin of Nicodemus" or "one from the place of Nicodemus." That name, in turn, is Biblical, coming from Greek Nikodemos, "lord over the people." So about all the name tells us is that at some point in the past you had an ancestor named Nicodemus who was well-known enough that the locals started referring to his kin with this name, or who had a farm or settlement with which people bearing this name were associated.


WOJTYNA

... I am hoping you can help me in finding the origin and the meaning to the surname of Wojtyna. It is my great-great-grandfathers name. He was born in Lancut, Poland back in 1879. 

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 1,116 Polish citizens named Wojtyna. The largest numbers lived in the following provinces: Katowice 91, Kielce 199, Przemysl 115, Rzeszow 79 (which is the province Lancut was in), and Zamosc 60. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have. The data shows that the name is found all over Poland but is especially common in the southeastern part of the country.

Poles pronounce this name roughly "voy-TINN-ah." Polish name expert Prof. Kazimierz Rymut mentions it in his book Nazwiska Polaków [The Surnames of Poles]. He says it, like most names beginning with Wojt-, can come from either of two roots, and it can be very difficult telling which one is relevant in a given case. These names can come from the first name Wojciech, an ancient Slavic name meaning "war-joy," possibly meant in the sense of "may this child be a joyful warrior, may he find joy in battle." The other possibility is from the noun wójt, an official in charge of a district covering several villages. Wojtyna makes sense as meaning "kin of the wójt" or even "wife of the wójt"; that suffix -yna is one often added to a word or name to indicate a married female, so that "wójt's wife" is especially plausible. Still, there's no denying the name could just as easily mean "kin of Wojciech." In cases like this the only thing that would prove which derivation is correct would be genealogical research that uncovers records shedding light on the matter. But frankly, it's doubtful you'd find records that go back far enough -- a name like this developed centuries ago.


WYRZYKOWSKI

... Do you have any info on the surname Wyrzykowski ( now Wyzykowski)

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 5,523 Polish citizens named Wyrzykowski. While there was a particularly large number, 960, in the province of Warsaw, the name is found all over Poland, to the extent that one cannot really point to any one area and say "That's where Wyrzykowski's came from." They could come from anywhere in Poland.

Names in the form X-owski usually refer to the name of a place beginning with the X part, with which the family was connected at one time; if they were noble, they owned it, and if not, they lived and worked there. In this case, we'd expect this surname to mean "one from Wyrzyki or Wyrzyków or Wyrzykowo" or some similar name beginning with Wyrzyk-. Unfortunately, there are several places in Poland with names that qualify, including Wyrzyki's in the provinces (per the 1979-1998 provincial organization) of Białystok, Ciechanow, and Łomża. Another source mentions a connection of Wyrzykowski with Wyrzyków in the district of Kamieniec in the Mazovia region; I couldn't find that on any map, it's possible it has disappeared or has been renamed in the centuries since the surname developed.

So without detailed information on a specific family's background, there's no way to know which particular place a specific Wyrzykowski family came from. With any luck, genealogical research would uncover enough facts to establish this connection. But that is beyond the scope of what I can do.


LUCIŃSKI

... Thanks for any indications about my name [Lucinski].

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 468 Polish citizens named Luciński. The largest numbers lived in the following provinces: Kielce 154, Płock 52, Poznan 38, and Warsaw 38; the rest lived in much smaller numbers scattered all over Poland. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have.

None of my sources discuss the derivation of this name, but it seems likely it refers to the name of a place where the family once lived; if they were noble, they owned the estate there, and if they were not noble, they worked there. There are several places in Poland the name might refer to, such as Lucin in Siedlce province, Lucin in Szczecin province, and Luciny in Leszno province (these are the provinces during the period 1975-1998; last year all this changed again, but most maps available show the 1975-1998 arrangement). 

Thus as with many Polish surnames, the name itself tells you little about where the family came from. Only detailed genealogical research into a specific family's past will uncover enough information to determine which place the name refers to in that family's case (different Lucinski families might come by the name in different ways).


LEWICKI, SAKOWICZ, SITKO, SÓWKA

... Hi again: A couple of weeks ago you gave me information regarding my Grandfather's side of the family in Poland and I was delighted with your response. I have since found information relative to my Grandmother, and was wondering if you would be kind enough to give me a brief analysis of her side of the family. Her maiden name was Lewicki. She came from Teolin, Sokolka, Balostuckie (Białystok??), Poland. Her Mother's maiden name was Sitko. Also whenever your time permits, my sister-in-law, is interested in a brief analysis of her family surnames: Sowka and Sakowicz.

Lewicki (pronounced "leh-VEET-skee") is a moderately common surname. As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 13,441 Polish citizens named Lewicki, living all over the country. There was no one area of the country in which it was concentrated; a Lewicki could come from almost anywhere. As of 1990 there were 407 Polish citizens named Lewicki living in the province of Białystok, which is most likely the province in which your grandmother's relatives resided.

In most cases Lewicki would refer to the name of a place where the family once lived, places with names like Lewice. The root of the place name could come from the first name Lew, from the Polish word for "lion" (used much like Leo or Leon in English), in which case the surname would mean "one from the place of Lew's sons." It could also come from the adjective lewy, "left," referring to one who lived in a place left of some landmark, or one who was left-handed. If there is any Jewish ancestry, it can also come from the term Lewit, "Levite," referring to the priestly tribe descending from Levi; in that case Lewicki would mean "kin of the Levite." So there are several different possible interpretations, and without detailed genealogical research into a given family's history there's no way to know which one is appropriate in their particular case.

In Sakowicz ("sah-KO-vitch") the -owicz means "son of," so the name means "son of Sak." That is a personal name derived from the noun sak, "fishing net, sack," presumably used originally as a nickname for one who made or used a sak, or who somehow reminded people of a sak in other ways. Polish name expert Prof. Kazimierz Rymut mentions the name Sakowicz in his book Nazwiska Polaków [The Surnames of Poles], saying it appears in records as far back as 1390. As of 1990 there were 2,712 Polish citizens by this name, including 854 in the province of Białystok, the largest single number for any province of Poland.

Sitko ("SHEET-ko") is thought to come from the noun sitko, "strainer, dredger," a diminutive of sito, "sieve, strainer." Rymut also mentions this name in his book, saying it appears in records as early as 1389. As of 1990 there were 4,387 Poles by this name, including 261 in Białystok province.

Sowka is spelled in Polish with an accent over the O, Sówka, and pronounced roughly "SOOF-kah." It comes from the term sówka, a kind of owl, Athene noctua, or the Noctuidae family of moths. The basic root is sowa, "owl," plus the diminutive suffix -ka, "little." According to Rymut, this name appears in records as early as 1355. As of 1990 there were 1,498 Poles named Sówka, scattered all over Poland (although none appeared to live in Białystok province).

Incidentally, Teolin is a village some 15-20 km. west of Sokolka in what was Białystok province until last year, at which time the provinces were reorganized; it is now in Podlaskie province, near the border with Belarus. 


RANOWIECKI

... I have been searching for any information on my Maiden name Ranowiecki. I know nothing about it. I know that my ggrandfather came from Warsaw , or so I have been told, but so far have no verification of this. The best lead I have right now is my name is spelled very closly to the province of Mazowieckie , I'm hoping this is a sign that he lived in this area (Warsaw) Were surnames adapted from provinces? As you might find out there are NO other Ranowiecki's to be found except my family and we are very few. No one has any information about our name. Please help :) 

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were no Polish citizens named Ranowiecki. Of course this doesn't mean the name isn't real; it could be there are a few who were missed in the data compilation, or it could mean the name was fairly rare and died out after the family emigrated. But it does make it very hard to say what part of Poland the name came from.

The similarity of the name to Mazowiecki is, I'm afraid, meaningless. It arises from the fact that Polish uses certain sounds and syllables a lot, and so some unrelated words can sound familiar. It means no more than saying that "information" and "formation" must mean the same thing because they both end in -formation.

In form the name is an adjective, like most names ending in -ski or -cki or -zki. It would seem to mean "of Ranowiec, from Ranowiec," or some similar name beginning with Ranow-. The -iec part usually means "property of, kin of," so that Ranowiec seems likely to mean "property of Ranow, kin of Ranow." Polish name expert Prof. Kazimierz Rymut doesn't mention Ranowiecki in his book Nazwiska Polaków [The Surnames of Poles], but he does mention Ranow, saying it can come from several roots, including rano, "morning," or rana, "wound," or an ancient pagan name Ranimir. 

This suggests the surname Ranowiecki meant either "one from the place of Ranow" or "one of the kin of Ranow or his sons." I can't find any place in eastern Europe named with a name beginning Ranow-, but that doesn't necessarily mean much. Surnames developed centuries ago, and often referred to the name locals had for a field or hill or some small settlement; such place names may never have been used by anyone but locals, or may have been renamed or absorbed into other communities, or may have disappeared. Or, as I say, the surname may just refer to the kin of an ancestor named Ranow or something similar, which could come from any of the roots mentioned above.

All of which means surname analysis is not likely to help you much. I'm afraid the only thing that's likely to tell you anything is genealogical research -- digging out naturalization papers, census records, ship passenger lists, that sort of thing. On one of those, if you're lucky, you may find a bit more information that will help you trace the family back to where it came from in Poland. At that point you may find something that sheds light on the name's origin -- perhaps a reference to some nearby place called Ranowiec or something similar, perhaps an alternate form of the name that clarifies its original meaning.

I don't have the time or resources to do that kind of detailed research on individual families; all I can give is "quick and dirty" analysis. If you would like to get an opinion from the real experts and don't mind spending about $20, you can write the
Anthroponymic Workshop of the Polish Language Institute in Krakow. The staff consists of Polish scholars specializing in name origins, with access to large collections of material on the subject; there is surely no one else in the world better qualified to answer questions on Polish names. They can correspond in English, and the charge for researching a single name is seldom more than $20-30. You write to them with your request, and the individual who does the research will reply, and will tell you how much he/she is charging and how best to send payment. It is usually quite painless, and most people I hear from are very satisfied with the results; but the staff has been a bit slow lately in answering letters -- they have lots of other work to do, after all -- so patience is advisable.

  

Copyright © 2000 W.F. Hoffman. All rights reserved. Used by permission. 


FRONCZAK, FRĄCZAK

... Please do a "short" analysis on the name: Fronczak. I will purchase your book on Polish Surnames for my library, but my guess is that the name, Fronczk, is not included. I will be surprised if it is!

If the name is Fronczak, yes, it is in my book. If it's Fronczk, no, it's not. But I'm assuming Fronczk is a typo and the name you want is Fronczak.

First off, I need to explain that any time you see ON in a Polish word or name coming before a consonant, chances are very good the original Polish spelling was with the nasal vowel written as an A with a tail under it, which I represent on-line as Ą. This sound is generally pronounced much like "on," and since names were often spelled phonetically, a name like Frączak could be, and often was, spelled Fronczak in records. The two spellings can legitimately be regarded as variants of the same name.

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 2,022 Polish citizens named Fronczak, and there were 1,871 who spelled it Frączak. This is interesting, normally the Ą spelling is standard and the ON has much smaller numbers; but for some reason (which I don't pretend to know) the ON spelling is more common in Poland these days. (Another phonetic spelling is Fronciak, but it's extremely rare).

The largest numbers of Frączak's lived in the following provinces: Warsaw 556, Lodz 135, Radom 202, and Skierniewice 104; the rest were scattered all over Poland. For Fronczak the largest numbers lived in these provinces: Warsaw 668, Ciechnaow 112, and Lodz 94. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have. This data tells us the name is found all over Poland, but is particularly common in the area at and just east of the central part of the country (in its current borders).

Polish name expert Prof. Kazimierz Rymut mentions this name in his book Nazwiska Polaków [The Surnames of Poles]. He says it comes from a short form of the first name Franciszek, "Francis." While Franciszek is the standard form of the name in modern Polish, in earlier records -- which are the ones of interest when it comes to surname development, since surnames developed centuries ago -- it appears in a number of different forms. Sometimes that first part Franc- was pronounced and came to be spelled more like Frąc- or Fronc-, which helped create short forms or nicknames that could be written Franc, Frąc, or Fronc. The suffix -ak is a diminutive, but in surnames often means "kin of, son of," so that this Polish surname can be interpreted more or less as "son of Frank, kin of Frank."


KĘDRA, KENDRA

... Hi, I just found your website (through an initial SCA search), and I love it! I was wondering what you could tell me about the Polish surname Kendra. My great grandparents came to the US from Poland at the beginning of the century, and my grandfather assures me that the name was NOT changed at Ellis Island. I had a short Polish language course once, and the teacher said she had indeed heard of the name. Any help...? Thank you so much!

I'm very glad to hear you like my Website. It represents a fair amount of work, and it's gratifying to hear from folks who find it helpful and interesting.

Now, as for the name Kendra, it is quite plausible that the name wasn't changed during the immigration process; but this is not the standard Polish spelling of the name. Whenever we see a Polish name with EN before a consonant, we have to be aware that there's a nasal vowel in Polish written as an E with a tail under it. This vowel is usually pronounced much like "en," so that Kędra is pronounced more or less "KEN-drah." Until this century, when literacy became the rule rather than the exception, names were often spelled inconsistently and phonetically. So the name Kendra is almost certainly a variant of Kędra, and can be spelled either way because either spelling fits the pronunciation of the name. By standard Polish spelling rules, however, Kędra is the correct spelling. 

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 2,778 Polish citizens named Kędra. The largest numbers lived in the following provinces: Katowice 116, Kielce 111, Krosno 361, Lublin 209, Radom 101, Tarnobrzeg 222, Tarnow 116, Zamosc 133, Warsaw 156. (Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, and can't tell you how to get such data). What this data tells us is that the name is found all over Poland, but is particularly common in the southeastern part, the region called Malopolska (Little Poland), which was included in the area seized by the Austrians in the late 1700's and called Galicia.

By contrast, only 141 Poles spelled the name Kendra. With increasing literacy, alternate spellings of names have become less common, as people come to learn the "correct" spelling and prefer it. Still, if you went back and looked at records for the families using the form Kędra, chances are good you'll occasionally see it spelled Kendra. In Polish records -- as in English or American, for that matter -- spellings have often been inconsistent. It's a comparatively recent notion that surnames should always be spelled exactly the same way; in earlier societies there was far less demand for spelling consistency, so it's not unusual to see the same name spelled several different ways.

Polish name expert Prof. Kazimierz Rymut mentions this name in his book Nazwiska Polaków [The Surnames of Poles]. He says Kędra comes from a basic root kędr- seen in terms such as kędry, "a young bride's hair after cutting" and kędzior, "lock of hair." In many areas it was customary for young unmarried women to wear their hair long, and to cut it shorter for the first time when she married; there was even a kind of ceremony connected with this, called the oczepiny, when a bride's hair was cut and she first wore the cap reserved for married women. So you see that this root kędr- is used pretty consistently to refer to locks of hair or tresses, especially a maiden's.

Names like this typically got started as nicknames referring to some prominent trait of an individual. So Kędra presumably started as a reference to one who had long tresses or a particularly prominent lock of hair. It might even refer to a man who wore his hair long, like a maiden. All these centuries after names developed, it's hard to say just exactly what the feature was that caused people to associate certain names with certain individuals. The most we can do is note what the name means and make plausible suggestions as to why that name stuck with certain people, to the extent that it ultimately became a surname.


CUBER, GLEMBIN

... Hi I'm from Australia and have had no luck with any of my searches on Polish surnames. My grandfather's surname was Glembin and he was from Puck. My grandmother's surname was Cuber and she was from near Katowice. Do you know anything about these surnames ?

In Polish Cuber would be pronounced roughly "TSOO-bear." As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 2,032 Polish citizens by that name. The largest number by far, 1,193, lived in the province of Katowice; the rest were scattered in much smaller numbers all over Poland. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have. But this data confirms that your grandmother came from the area where this name is most common by far.

Two different sources on surnames confirm that this name derives from the German noun Zuber, a variant of Zober, which means "two-handled tub; firkin." German Zuber is pronounced the same as Polish Cuber, so it's the same name, just spelled differently because of different phonetic and orthographic preferences. Hans Bahlow's Deutsches Namenlexikon confirms that Zuber is a surname from this word and adds that the surname generally refers to one's occupation as a tub maker. The Katowice area was and is home to many ethnic Germans, so we see a lot of mixing of German and Polish words in names from that region. It is perfectly plausible that a Zuber family, of German origin and occupied in making tubs, would come to be called Cuber by Poles; it's also possible a Pole who made tubs might end up with this name because the German term had come to be the one most used in that area for any person involved in this occupation.

Glembin is a rarer name; as of 1990 there were only 182 Poles by that name, but 155 of them lived in Gdansk province, and most of the rest lived in neighboring provinces. So again, your grandfather came from the area where this name is most common. Unfortunately, as I said, I don't have access to first names or addresses for any of those Glembins.

This name is also susceptible to spelling variation because of Polish phonetics. The L can also be the L with a slash through it, pronounced like our W. There were 6 Poles named Głembin, all living in Gdansk province. Also the -EM- might be spelled with the Polish nasal vowel written as an E with a tail under it. In most situations that vowel is pronounced much like "en," but before a B or P it sounds like "em," so that the name could also be spelled Glębin or Głębin. Those spellings are rare, however; there was only an indication of one Pole who spelled it Głębin, also living in Gdansk province. 

Even though the spelling Glembin is the most common in terms of surnames, that may be due to German influence, as there are also many Germans in the Gdansk area (including Puck). In terms of standard Polish linguistics, Głębin (pronounced roughly "GWEM-bean") is almost certainly the form to work with, and the spelling as Glembin is incidental to the actual meaning of the name.

The root of this name would most likely be głąb; Ą stands for the other Polish nasal vowel, written as an A with a tail under it and pronounced like "om" before a B or P. The nasal vowels often alternate in different forms, so it is feasible that głąb would become głęb- when suffixes are added. In fact, Polish grammar and linguistics dictate that this is what would happen. So Glembin would be a variant spelling of Głębin, which derives from the root głąb with addition of the possessive suffix -in.

Polish name expert Kazimierz Rymut says in his book on Polish surnames that names beginning Głęb- (and therefore also Glemb-) derive from the noun głąb that means "stalk" or "heart, core" of cabbage or similar plants -- i. e., the core that's left when you remove the edible leaves. He mentions that there are records of an old first name Głębin that comes from this root; this name would mean something like "man of the stalk." It's not immediately apparent why this would come to be a name associated with people, but one source suggests it was a mild insult. It implied that a person was kind of dense, as worthless as a cabbage from which all the edible parts have been eaten away. The English expression "cabbage head" is something along the same lines. Many Polish names do come from such insulting terms; I have to feel in many cases they were meant affectionately rather than cruelly, much as men often call their friends by names that, at least superficially, are rather insulting. So Glembin would mean something rather like "[kin] of the cabbage-head."

I am a little puzzled as to why scholars insist these names come from that root, however. There is a noun głąb that has variants such as głębina; this root means "depth," so that głębina is a noun meaning "depth, deep place (in water, for instance)." It seems plausible to me this could just as easily produce surnames as "cabbage stalk." Perhaps this surname arose as a nickname for one who was somehow associated with depth; perhaps he lived in a place that was perceived as deep, or, who knows, maybe he was thought to be a deep person? 

Still, Rymut has a lot more experience analyzing Polish names than I do, so I'm reluctant to disagree with him. I just wanted to mention this as a possibility worth considering. The expert opinion is that names like this derive from that term for cabbage stalk; but I still wonder if it might refer, in some cases, to "depth."


ZAWADA

... I'm trying to find out about my family name history when I found your website. If you could help it would be great! My family name is Zawada and all I know is my grandfather lived in New Jersey for a while then moved to upper Michigan. His name was Joseph and was married to Violet. If you can point me in the right direction it would be great. Thank you! 

Unfortunately, Zawada is a moderately common name. As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 11,686 Polish citizens named Zawada. They lived all over Poland, especially the southern part of the country. The name comes from a noun zawada that means "obstacle, impediment," and in archaic usage "fortress," because soldiers often set up fortified positions in places where some natural feature of the land would block the way for enemy armies and make them vulnerable to attack.

The name itself, therefore, isn't much help in tracing the family. Your best bet is to search for records in this country that might tell exactly where in Poland your ancestors came from, such as parish records, naturalization records, ship passenger lists, passports, etc. If you'd like a little help with genealogical research, I have two suggestions. 1) Go to the PolishRoots Web page at
http://www.polishroots.org/reference.htm and read the files there under "For Starters." 2) Look for a copy of the book Polish Roots by Rosemary Chorzempa. It's widely available at book stores and costs less than $20, and many people have told me they found it priceless for the help it gave them.

There are two Polish genealogical societies that might be able to help you. The Polish Genealogical Society of Michigan might be able to help you with the Michigan end of your research; for more info, visit their Website at
http://www.pgsm.org/

The PGS of the Northeast might be able to help you find some leads on the New Jersey end. Their Website is at this address: http://members.aol.com/pgsne2/.


KOSUB, KOZUB

... I didn't see my name, Kosub, on your list so I was wondering if you could tell me what this name means. Sometimes it is spelled Kozub. Any information would be greatly appreciated. 

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 32 Polish citizens named Kosub, living in the provinces of Katowice (26), Krakow (4), and Opole (2). Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have. This data tells us the name is found exclusively in southcentral Poland.

But Kosub is probably a variant of the name Kozub, borne by 2,968 Polish citizens as of 1990. The largest numbers lived in the following provinces: Katowice 725, Kielce 240, Krakow 381, and Tarnów 384. This data tells us the name is found all over Poland, but is particularly common in the southcentral and southeastern part of the country. In older records this name is sometimes seen spelled Kosub, and that spelling makes particular sense in an area with lots of Germans, such as Katowice; in German the S before vowels is pronounced like Z, so that German Kosub is pronounced the same as Polish Kozub, and thus that alternate spelling makes sense in an area where there might be a German influence on spelling and pronunciation.

Polish name expert Prof. Kazimierz Rymut mentions Kozub in his book Nazwiska Polaków [The Surnames of Poles]. He says it appears in records as early as 1369, and comes from the noun kozub, "a small bark basket," also used to mean "an obstinate fellow." One would imagine the latter usage would more often be relevant with names, although it's possible the term might also be used as a nickname for one who made bark baskets or used them in his work.

There is one other possibility worth mentioning, though it's kind of far-fetched. There is a word Kaszub which means "Kashubian, one from the area of Kashubia, near Gdansk." The Kashubians are a Slavic ethnic group closely related to Poles, but with their own language and customs. My point is that we see this name used in various forms, including Koszuba, and thus it is at least conceivable your name MIGHT come from a variant of that name. A lot would depend on where your name comes from. If it's from, say, southcentral Poland, I'd say it's almost certainly from that noun kozub. But if your research should happen to show a link with the area west and south of Gdansk, a Kashub connection just might be relevant. If you'd like to learn more about the Kaszubs, you can start at this address:
http://feefhs.org/kana/frg-kana.html 

To sum up, your name is probably from the noun kozub, "small bark basket; obstinate fellow." This is not a rare name, and is particularly common in the southcentral and southeastern part of Poland, particularly near Katowice. Much less likely is a connection with the word for "Kashub"; I would pay attention to that only if your research shows your family came from the region of Kashubia.


SOWA

...I was just wondering if you knew the meaning of the last name: Sowa. I believe it is Polish, but I am unsure

This probably is a Polish name, although many Slavic names sound very similar, so it could conceivably have developed in some other language as well. But as of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were there were 17,750 Polish citizens named Sowa (pronounced roughly "SO-vah"), so it is definitely a name found among Poles. This name is not confined to any one part of the country; a family named Sowa could have come from anywhere in Poland.

Polish name expert Prof. Kazimierz Rymut mentions this name in his book Nazwiska Polaków [The Surnames of Poles]. He says it appears in records as early as 1404 and comes from the noun sowa, which means "owl." Presumably it began as a nickname for someone who struck people as being owl-like, or who liked owls. Surnames developed centuries ago, often as nicknames, and it's usually very difficult or impossible to establish exactly what the nature of the connection was between a person given a name and the object that name represented. About all we can do in such cases is explain what the word means and make plausible suggestions as to how and why that word came to be associated with a person or family.


GŁASZCZ

... Just a quick note to ask if you have any information on my surname, Glaszcz. My father and his family came over from Poland around 1950, and I am just starting to try and learn more about my ancestry on my father's side. Any help you can give me would be greatly appreciated and I'm in no rush.

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 157 Polish citizens named Głaszcz. The Ł is pronounced like our W, so that the name would sound like "g'woshch" (not too easy for non-Poles to pronounce). The largest numbers lived in the following provinces: Lodz 62, Siedlce 34, Slupsk 18, Torun 22. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have. This data tells us the name is not very common, nor is it confined to any one area of Poland; it is found in the central part of the country, but also in east central and northwestern Poland. 

None of my sources discuss the origin of the name. Going strictly by Polish linguistics, it appears to come from the root seen in the verb głaska
ć, "to stroke, caress, fondle." So it makes sense that the name Głaszcz might have been given originally as a nickname for one who had a gentle touch, who stroked or caressed others. I can't be certain that's right, but it is plausible both from a linguistic point of view and in terms of common sense. Unfortunately, it doesn't tell you a whole lot that helps with tracing the family, but the truth is, very few Polish surnames do. Most are too common or rare or ambiguous; I estimate 5% or fewer have any distinctive feature that provides a useful lead in tracing the family bearing that name.


PYCZKOWSKI

... I'm looking for the translation of the family name Pyczkowski, this was my grandfather's surname which was changed sometime around 1910 to Pichcuskie, my current surname. Apparently the translation was done letter for letter that's why the final "E" at the end of the current name. My grandfathers given name was Michael. His date of death was in the mid 1950s. The family originally settled in Shamokin, PA. My grandfather, as well as my father & most of my uncles were coal miners until the late 1950s, all from Shamokin, PA.

In Polish this name is pronounced "pitch-KOFF-skee," although in every-day talk it may sound more like "pitch-KOSS-kee." As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 40 Polish citizens named Pyczkowski. They lived in the following provinces: Katowice 1, Łomża 6, Lodz 1, Suwałki 29, Szczecin 3. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have. This data shows that the name is fairly rare, and is found mainly in the northeastern part of Poland (in its current borders).

Names in the form X-owski usually refer to the name of a place beginning with the X part, with which the family was connected at one time; if they were noble, they owned it, and if not, they lived and worked there. So we would expect Pyczkowski to mean "one from Pyczki, Pyczkow, Pyczkowo," or some place with a similar name. I can't find any places by those names on modern maps, but that's not unusual -- surnames developed centuries ago, and often the places they referred to have since disappeared, changed names, become too small to show up on most maps, etc.

The place names, in turn, probably came from the root seen in the noun pyka, "finch," and in the verb pykac', "to puff." Thus Pyczkowski may be interpreted as meaning "one from the place of the finches." But it may prove very difficult to find the specific place to which the surname refers. Usually the only way to determine something like this is through successful genealogical research, which may establish exactly where in Poland the family came from and then provide leads as to the geographical, social, historical, and linguistic context in which the name came to be associated with a specific family.


MĘŻYDŁO

... Dear Sir, I am hoping you can help me. I have been trying to find any information about this name and always come up empty. I now am not even sure if it is Polish. I have my ggrandmother's marriage record and the name is spelt, Meyzdto, I also have her death cert. and on it the spelling is Merzydto, the family isn't sure how to pronunce the name let alone spell it. It is believed that she was from Poland but no one is sure. Please if you can supply any thing about this name it would be greatly appreciated. 

Slavic names were often badly distorted during the process of immigration, especially if they contain sounds totally foreign to English, and this is such a name. For one thing, the ending is not -TO but -ŁO; I'm using Ł to stand for the Polish L with a slash through it, pronounced like our W. Also the E is not a standard E but is written in Polish as an E with a tail under it, which I represent on-line as Ę; it is pronounced normally much like "en." Also in Polish RZ is pronounced the same as the Z with a dot over it, which I render on-line as Ż; in this case it sounds a lot like the ZH in "Zhivago." So the standard Polish spelling of this name is MęŻydło (tail under the E, dot over the Z, slash through the L), pronounced roughly "men-ZHID-woe." You can see how this name could be distorted when someone bearing it came to America!

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 209 Polish citizens named MęŻydło. The largest numbers lived in the province of Bydgoszcz, with the rest scattered in small numbers all over. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have.

Polish name expert Prof. Kazimierz Rymut mentions this name in his book Nazwiska Polaków [The Surnames of Poles]. He says it comes from the basic root meaning "man, valiant man." The exact meaning of this name is hard to decipher; it might have meant "kin of the valiant man," or something along those lines. The suffix -ydło usually serves to indicate that a particular thing is a concrete realization of whatever the root means, or is a tool by which one accomplishes whatever the root means. So I'm inclined to think the name might mean "kin of the valiant man" or "the very model of a valiant man." But it might also have been meant ironically, sort of like "the opposite of a valiant man." It's very hard to say.

If you would like to get an opinion from the real experts and don't mind spending about $20, you can write the
Anthroponymic Workshop of the Polish Language Institute in Krakow. The staff consists of Polish scholars specializing in name origins, with access to large collections of material on the subject; there is surely no one else in the world better qualified to answer questions on Polish names. They can correspond in English, and the charge for researching a single name is seldom more than $20-30. You write to them with your request, and the individual who does the research will reply, and will tell you how much he/she is charging and how best to send payment. It is usually quite painless, and most people I hear from are very satisfied with the results; but the staff has been a bit slow lately in answering letters -- they have lots of other work to do, after all -- so patience is advisable.


GAŁAZIN, TOCZYŁOWSKI

... I was given your e-mail address tonight. I was interested in getting any information regarding my surname Galazin (with a slash thru the L) on the net tonight someone looked up my surname in your book was unable to find it. It is rare, even in the US. On ancestry.com, I found 49 Galazin's in the SSDI and 48 or 49 Galazin's in the US phone listings. I have written to 20 of them and got an answer from 5 this past summer. It seems that the Galazin's who all wrote to me, their grandparents came from the Suwałki Province in northeast Poland-Russia. When I found my grandfathers declaration of Intent at the Northumberland county courthouse in PA this summer, it said that he came from Lesanka, Russia-Poland in 1904 June 30th on the Brandenburg. I would like to find out anything in regards to my surname. I would like to find out if my grandfather had any brothers or sisters and what his parents names where and if he still has family there. There are other Galazin's in the Us, that spell their surname Galazyn, Galasyn, but as far as i know they are not related to me. I would be interested in finding out anything about my mother's surname Tocyloski sometimes spelled Toczyloski. My mother's father came from Russia-Poland. His name was Mathue Tocyloski. I have not located his Declaration of Intent or Naturalization Petition yet. He arrived in PA. I do not know the year or ship. He married at age 23 in June 1910. 

I'm afraid I can't help you locate your relatives; only genealogical research can accomplish that. All I offer is some insight on the meaning and origin of names, and, in cases where a name is found concentrated in a specific area, I can share that information and possibly draw a few conclusions based on the data. 

"Poland-Russia" would refer to that part of Poland seized by the Russian Empire in the late 1700's, when the empires of Germany, Russia, and Austria took over Poland and divided its territory among themselves. The area seized by Russia was roughly central and eastern Poland, along with what are now the independent nations of Lithuania and Belarus, plus some of northern Ukraine. So saying your ancestors came from "Poland Russia" is a little like saying they came from New England -- it's better than nothing, but it still covers a lot of area. It also means they may have lived in what is now Lithuania or Belarus, and I have no data for those countries; my data applies only to the nation of Poland in its current borders, which differ greatly from the borders of the Commonwealth of Poland and Lithuania before the partitions.

In Polish the name Galazin can be spelled several ways. One way is Gałazin, pronounced like our W. Another way is Gałazyn, and yet another way is Gałażyn, using the Polish Z with a dot over it, pronounced like the "zh" in "Zhivago." All these names are almost certainly related in terms of linguistic origin, but may or may not indicate a blood relationship between the families bearing them; that, again, is something only genealogical research can determine. This may be clearer when I say that there are thousands and thousands of people named Hoffman and Hoffmann and Hofmann, but very few of them are related to me. A similar surname does not necessarily indicate a blood relationship; and sometimes close relatives bear different forms of the same name. That's why analysis of the name alone does not suffice to clarify kinship or the lack thereof.

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 33 Polish citizens named Gałazin. They lived in the following provinces: Gdansk 4, Gorzow 6, Suwałki 23. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have. But this data does suggest the Galazins you've corresponded with in the Suwałki area (which was in the Russian partition) might well be relatives. This name would be pronounced roughly "gah-WAH-zheen."

There were also 5 Poles who went by the name Gałazyn, living in the provinces of Białystok (1), Łomża (1), and Suwałki (3). This name sounds somewhat like "gah-WAH-zinn."

There were 194 named GałaŻyn, with the largest numbers living in the provinces of Białystok (22) and Suwałki (140). This name is pronounced roughly "gah-WAH-zheen." 

All this data seems to indicate the name is found primarily in what is now northeastern Poland, not far from Suwałki, and used to be in the Russian partition. Since the pronunciations of these names are all very similar, it's quite possible they're all variants of the same basic name.

Unfortunately, none of my sources discuss the derivation of the name. It's probably not Polish, judging by its phonetic composition. It's more likely to be Belarusian, Russian, possibly even Lithuanian, especially in view of where it's concentrated; but my sources on those languages are far less extensive than for Polish.

So I can't tell you anything about the origin of the name. If you would like to get an opinion from the real experts and don't mind spending about $20, you can write the
Anthroponymic Workshop of the Polish Language Institute in Krakow. The staff consists of Polish scholars specializing in name origins, with access to large collections of material on the subject; there is surely no one else in the world better qualified to answer questions on Polish names. They can correspond in English, and the charge for researching a single name is seldom more than $20-30. You write to them with your request, and the individual who does the research will reply, and will tell you how much he/she is charging and how best to send payment. It is usually quite painless, and most people I hear from are very satisfied with the results; but the staff has been a bit slow lately in answering letters -- they have lots of other work to do, after all -- so patience is advisable.

With Toczyłoski or Toczyłoski, we must recognize that this is a phonetic spelling. In every-day speech people in the northeastern region of Poland often change the "ch" sound of CZ to the "ts" sound spelled C, and they often drop the W entirely from the suffix -owski. So "tot-see-WOSS-kee" is how they say it, and thus it often used to be spelled that way; but the standard, "correct" written form is Toczyłowski.

As of 1990 there were 461 Polish citizens named Toczyłowski; the largest numbers lived in the provinces of Warsaw, 45; Białystok, 41; and Suwałki, 229. So this name, too, is concentrated in northeastern Poland.

Names in the form X-owski usually refer to the name of a place where the family once lived, a place with a name beginning X. Thus we'd expect Toczyłowski to refer to a village or settlement named something like Toczył-. One very plausible candidate is Toczyłowo, which was in Łomża province until they reorganized the provinces last year; it's a village just a couple of kilometers north of Grajewo. Toczyłowski makes perfect sense as meaning "one from Toczyłowo," or, if the name is old enough, it could be the name of a noble family that once owned the estate of Toczyłowo. There might be some other place with a similar name that could generate this surname, but Toczyłowo strikes me as worth a close look.

I tried to find a "Lesanka," but could not. It may be too small to show up on my maps, or the name may have been distorted or misunderstood or misspelled -- this happened all the time. All I can suggest is that you focus on the general area of Suwałki, especially near Toczyłowo, and see if you can spot a place with a name that could have been distorted into Lesanka.


KOPACZ

... i would like any information that you have on the name Kopacz. thank you 

This name is thought to come from the noun kopacz, "digger," from the verb kopać, "to dig, kick." It is pronounced roughly "KO-potch," and as of 1990 there were 5,889 Polish citizens by that name. It is found all over Poland, with no real concentration in any one area, so I'm afraid it doesn't offer much in the way of leads as to where a specific Kopacz family might have come from.


KISIEL, KISIELKA

... I was wondering if there was anything you could tell me about my last name: Kisielka. 

In Polish this name is pronounced roughly "key-SHELL-kah." As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were only 5 Polish citizens named Kisielka, living somewhere in the province of Tarnów, in southeastern Poland. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have.

This particular form of the name may be rare today, but it was not at all unusual in earlier times for people to go by several different names, all variants of the same basic name. You sometimes see the same person referred to by three different forms of his name in three different documents; there wasn't as much pressure then to bear one unchanging, consistent name, and many folks were illiterate anyway and couldn't tell if their name was being written down correctly. The -ka is a diminutive suffix, meaning "little," and it was also added sometimes to a surname to make a feminine form of the name. So Kisielka may have been used mainly -- in fact probably was -- as a variant or nickname of a much more common name, Kisiel ("KEY-shell), borne by 9,893 Poles as of 1990. So it's quite possible you also need to keep your eyes open for Kisiel or Kisielko or some other similar name. Kisielka could easily have been a nickname, meaning "little Kisiel," or "Mrs. Kisiel," that stuck as a surname for a few folks, but more often appeared as simply Kisiel.

The root of both names is the noun kisiel, which is a term for a jelly-type dessert made with potato starch. One scholar adds that it was sometimes used in an extended sense as a nickname for a soft fellow who was soft and didn't like war." It's hard to say exactly what the name meant in a given case, however. It may have become associated with an individual who liked kisiel, or who made particularly good kisiel -- all these centuries later it's usually very hard to determine exactly why a particular name stuck with a particular family. About all we can say is that in your family's case there was something about one of your ancestors that made this name somehow seem appropriate, and it stuck as a surname for his descendants.


JARACZESKI, JARACZEWSKI

... Sorry to bother you as I know that you are busy. My great grandfather came to America from Poland in 1874. His name was John Jaraczeski and their are several descendants with the name Jaraczeski in America. Have you run across this name before in Poland? I have been in contact with a Jaraczewski who thinks that our families are connected. I have seen the name Jaraczewski in other locations but have not run across the spelling Jaraczeski. Before coming to America they lived in Kwieciszewo near Magilno, Bydgoszcz. I would appreciate any information on the name.

It is perfectly normal to find names ending in -eski that are variants of the same name ending in -ewski. To understand this, you have to understand the pronunciation of the names. Jaraczewski is pronounced roughly "yah-rah-CHEFF-skee," but that's the "proper" or standard pronunciation. In fact, in many parts of Poland they have a tendency in every-day speech to drop the sound represented by the letter W (which in that particular case is pronounced more like an F) and pronounce the suffix "-ESS-kee" instead of "-EFF-shee." So even though the name is spelled Jaraczewski, in many areas they actually say "yah-rah-CHESS-kee," which would be spelled Jaraczeski. 

In older records, back before literacy became widespread and various social factors began pressing people to spell their names "correctly" and consistently, names were often spelled phonetically. Remember that a lot of Poles were illiterate, or at most could write their names. They really had no way of knowing whether their names were being entered correctly in the records, and to be honest, it wasn't something they lost a lot of sleep over. In most European countries, and in America as well, name spellings varied considerably. It's only in more recent times, with widespread literacy and bureaucratic concerns to spur them on, that people began to worry about spelling their names consistently and according to approved standards.

So a researcher tracing the roots of a family named Jaraczewski will often find that name spelled phonetically as Jaraczeski. In some cases the spelling without the W stuck and became the way the name was usually spelled, and that's presumably what happened with your family. That doesn't change the fact that the name is simply a variant of Jaraczewski, and for research purposes can usually be regarded as the same name. If you find old documents in Poland on your family, you may see the name spelled either way; the same is true of those who bear the form Jaraczewski. The same is true of lots of other Polish names, such as Dombroski vs. Dombrowski, Janczeski vs. Janczewski, etc. It's kind of like my name, which can be spelled Hoffman or Hoffmann without the presence or absence of that extra -n really meaning much of anything.

So the Jaraczewskis you've talked to may be right; it is quite possible you're related. The presence or absence of that W does not necessarily have any great significance. The only way I'd put much emphasis on it is if you do research and you find that your family stubbornly spelled it -eski and only -eski. But usually I'd expect to find it alternating as -eski or -ewski almost at random.

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 466 Polish citizens named Jaraczewski (and none who spelled it Jaraczeski, probably because these days most folks have gotten in the habit of using the standard forms of names). The largest numbers of Jaraczewskis lived in the following provinces: Leszno 108, Poznan 93; only 7 lived in Bydgoszcz province. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have.

The data suggests the name is more common in western Poland than anywhere else, with nearly half of all the Jaraczewskis living in those two provinces of Poznan and Leszno, and the rest scattered in much smaller numbers all over. 

The name means "one from Jaraczew or Jaraczewo," place names that mean basically "[place] of Horace"; Jaracz is a form of Horace used in Poland centuries ago, back when names were being established, but it's more or less gone out of common use these days. Thus we can interpret Jaraczewski as meaning "one from the place of Jaracz = Horace." 

There's a Jaraczewo just a few km. west of Pila, which in turn is west of Bydgoszcz. Most likely many of the Jaraczewskis got their name because at some point they came from this place Jaraczewo, or had some sort of connection with it. But I'm pretty sure that's not the only possibility. Polish surnames developed centuries ago, and often came from the name of a particular farm or field or hill or little settlement, names used only by locals, that would be unlikely to appear on any map or in any gazetteer. So the place this name refers to may be quite obscure, or may even have disappeared or renamed or absorbed into another community centuries ago. 

One book I have mentions that records from western Poland in the latter half of the 14th century refer to noble families named Jaraczewski who took their names from estates in "Jaraczewo, district of Mogilno, district of Srem." If I'm reading it right, this means there was a Jaraczewo near Mogilno and one near Srem, and each was associated with a noble Jaraczewski family. This Mogilno is almost certainly the town you refer to as "Magilno," just a few km. northwest of Kwieciszewo. 

If you'd like to see a map of this area, go to this Website:

http://www.jewishgen.org/ShtetlSeeker/loctown.htm

Enter "Kwieciszewo" as the name of the place you're looking for, and make sure you specify to search using the Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex. Specify "Poland" as the country to search in. Click on "Start the Search." In a moment you'll get a list of places with names that might match Kwieciszewo phonetically. It's a short one, so find "Kwieciszewo, 5237 1803, Poland, 126.7 miles WNW of Warsaw." Click on the numbers in blue (they're latitude and longitude), and you'll get a map you can print, zoom in or out, etc. This will give you a fair idea of the area.

So the bottom line is, all Jaraczewskis didn't come from the same place. Some came from the Jaraczewo near Pila; but it seems certain some -- probably including your family -- came from a place I can no longer find in my sources, but near Mogilno. That location correlates so well with the data you have that I would be amazed if it doesn't turn out to be the place the surname refers to, in your case.

I can't tell you exactly how to proceed from here, but I hope this information gives you something to work with, so you can develop some promising leads. I wish you the best of luck with your research.

Copyright © 2000 W.F. Hoffman. All rights reserved. Used by permission.


ŁOTROWSKI

... If you could help, I have been trying to get the meaning of my last name: Lotrowski. I have found the word lotrow us certain texts on the web, but have been unable to get the meaning. Thanks in advance.

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were no Polish citizens named Lotrowski. This surprised me, I expected to find at least a few. It's possible there were some among the 6% of the population not covered in the database from which this work was compiled. It's also possible the name was always rather rare, and it died out after your ancestors left Poland. More than that I cannot say.

The ultimate source of the name is surely the noun łotr, using the Polish L with a slash through the L, pronounced like our W, so that the name sounds roughly like "woter" (that is, English "water" with an O rather than an A). This word means "rogue, scoundrel, rascal," and was also used to refer to the thief crucified with Jesus. That doesn't necessarily mean your ancestors were scoundrels, however. Chances are the surname comes from the name of a place, something like Łotry or Łotrow or Łotrowo, and that name comes from the word meaning "scoundrel." Thus the surname could be interpreted as meaning "one from the place of the scoundrels." It's also possible the surname meant "kin of the scoundrels," but most of the time an -owski name derives from a place name.

I can't find any places by those names on modern maps, but that's not unusual -- surnames developed centuries ago, and often the places they referred to have since disappeared, changed names, become too small to show up on most maps, etc. 

To summarize, the name is either very rare or has died out in Poland, but in form and meaning it is a perfectly plausible name (although one can never overlook the possibility that it has been changed somewhere along the line, and if we had the original form we might be able to say more). It almost certainly comes from a word meaning "scoundrel, rogue," but most likely refers to the name of a place the family came from, and that place name, in turn, is what comes from the word łotr. I can't find any mention of a place with a name that fits, but that's not unusual because many of the places referred to by surnames were very small, or had names used only by the locals, or have disappeared, etc.

I know that's not a lot of information, but it's all I can offer. I hope it helps a little, and wish you the best of luck with your research.

 

Copyright © 2000 W.F. Hoffman. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

  

 

 

 

Copyright © 2000 W.F. Hoffman. All rights reserved. Used by Permission.  


PRZEBENDOWSKI

I`m looking for some information about the grandmother of my grandfather "Pelagja Prebendow (or Prewendow) Przebendowski (or Przewendowski) from Poznan. Did you ever hear that surname? 

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were no Polish citizens listed with the names Prebendow or Prewendow. There were 16 named PREBENDOWSKI, all living in western Poland. There were 90 named PREWENDOWSKI, scattered all over Poland. There were none named Przebendowski or Przewendowski.

Names ending in -owski usually come from the name of a place with which the family was associated at some point. Thus I would expect Przebendowski or Przewendowski to mean "one from Przebendowo" or something similar. There are several places in Poland with names that qualify, including Przebendow in Tarnów province, and 4 places named Przebędowo (where I'm using ę to stand for the Polish nasal vowel written as an E with a tail under it and pronounced much like "en"). In most cases I would expect Przebendowski to mean "one from Przebendow" or "one from Przebędowo."

PREBENDOW may come from the noun prebenda, "prebend, benefice" (auf Deutsch "Praebende, Pfruende"), perhaps referring to one who lived on property associated with a prebend or benefice, or kin of such a person.

That is all I can tell you. If you would like to get an opinion from the real experts and don't mind spending some money, you can write the Anthroponymic Workshop of the Polish Language Institute in Krakow. The staff consists of Polish scholars specializing in name origins, with access to large collections of material on the subject; there is surely no one else in the world better qualified to answer questions on Polish names. They can correspond in English (and probably German, too), and the charge for researching a single name is seldom more than US$20. You write to them with your request, and the individual who does the research will reply, and will tell you how much he/she is charging and how best to send payment. It is usually quite painless, and most people I hear from are very satisfied with the results; but the staff has been a bit slow lately in answering letters -- they have lots of other work to do, after all -- so patience is advisable. If you'd like to give this a try, here's the
Institute address.


DONEJGIER

Do you have any information on the following name: Doneygier.

Alexander Beider mentions this name in his book "A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Kingdom of Poland." Of course he lists it in the standard Polish spelling DONEJGIER, but since Y and J were often used interchangeably, that difference is not necessarily significant. He simply says the name was found among Jews living in the Suwałki area (in northeastern Poland, near the modern border with Lithuania) and that it appears to refer to the name of a place, Donejki, in Nowoaleksandrowsk district of Kowno province of the Russian Empire.

Beider's book only deals with Jews living in the territory of the
Kingdom of Poland, whereas it sounds as if your ancestors came from Galicia, in the Austrian partition. So his book wouldn't cover the area where your ancestors lived. But the derivation of the name may well be the same. Presumably at some point your family took its name from that place and later moved southward. Unfortunately, with names it's not smart to jump to conclusions without lots and lots of detailed info on a family's background, so I can't say for sure; but it seems plausible.

By the way, I looked at the JewishGen FamilyFinder database at this address:

http://www.jewishgen.org/jgff/jgffweb.htm

There are a number of people looking for what may be variants of this name such as Donniger, Doneger, Donaiger, etc. Go to that address, scroll down to the search form, type in the surname, and under "Search type" click on D-M Soundex, then "Search." This will give you names and in some cases addresses of other folks researching similar names -- you might make a connection that will help.

It does seem likely that the name changed from Jankiel to Ankiel. Your listing of the generations of Doneygier seems plausible to me, using the -owicz forms to trace them back. Of course, as I said, it's risky drawing conclusions only from name info. The only way to be sure is to get hold of dates and other data and match them up to confirm what the name data tells you. But I could find no flaw in your logic.


LABA

Do you by chance have any general information on the surname Laba. My grandfather came from a small German village in the north mountains of Lebanon called Beit Menzer. Laba was his surname. I have had several people tell me that the surname was Polish in origin. Any information or direction that you could give me would be greatly appreciated.

Without a great deal of detailed information on a family's background, it's difficult to say for sure what nationality a particular name may be, especially a short one like LABA. Certainly this combination of sounds can occur in any number of languages. But it is true that there is a Polish name LABA, and this name seems more likely to be of Polish origin than German.

In Polish the name would be ŁABA -- I'm using Ł to stand for the
Polish L with a slash through it, which is pronounced like our W but
usually was rendered as plain L by non-Poles. ŁABA is pronounced roughly "WAH-bah." As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 1,370 Polish citizens by this name; they lived all over Poland, although the name is somewhat more common in the southern part of the country.

Polish name expert Prof. Kazimierz Rymut mentions this name in his book Nazwiska Polakow [The Surnames of Poles]. He says it comes from the noun łaba, a variant of łapa, which means "paw." So it probably originated as a nickname for one who had large, paw-like hands, or one who had a dog with big paws, or some other perceived association with paws.

I have sometimes wondered if the name might be associated, in some cases, with people who lived along the Elbe River, because in Polish the name of that river is also Łaba. But the Polish experts who've done research into name origins seem pretty confident that in most cases the name did originate from the word for "paw," as explained above.


SZYPERSKI

Big breakthrough today on the Szrparski name. Although that is what
it looks like on the death certificate of the son, I found the son's
birth record in church records for Rzadkwin, Poland today, as well as the birth records for his brothers and sisters.
The spelling of the name appears as:
 SZYPERSKA
 SRYPERSKA
 SRYPIERSKA
I also found the mother's death record and her father is listed as  Antonios SRYPERSKI. Do these make a little more sense, as far as Polish spelling goes?


This is why I no longer waste time wracking my brains trying to figure out odd-looking names -- they almost always turn out to be misspelled!  SZYPERSKA is the correct spelling -- this is a feminine form of the name SZYPERSKI. The Polish lower-case script z is very easy for us to misread as an r, but it's 99.9% certain the name in question is SZYPERSKI, or, when applied to a female, SZYPERSKA.

Polish name expert Prof. Kazimierz Rymut mentions this name in his book Nazwiska Polakow [The Surnames of Poles]. He says it comes from the noun szyper, "skipper, boat crewman." In other words, it comes ultimately from German and from the same basic source as our word "skipper." Certain crafts and professions were dominated by Germans, and that's how a lot of terms came from German into Polish, often changing slightly along the way. Eventually they could become surnames, and that's almost certainly what happened here. So SZYPERSKI, pronounced roughly "ship-AIR-skee," means "kin of the skipper, kin of the boatman."
The ancestor to whom this name originally referred might have been a German named something like Schiffer or Schipper, or he might have been a Pole who worked on a boat as a szyper and thus came to be referred to in terms of his profession. This is especially likely in areas where there was a strong German element to the population, which is probably true of the area your ancestors came from.

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 676 Polish citizens named Szyperski. The largest numbers lived in the provinces of Warsaw (93) and Bydgoszcz (244) -- so it seems fairly likely at least some of those in Bydgoszcz might be related to you. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have.

That's about all I can tell you, but I hope it will prove useful. It
seems to me you now have a pretty decent amount of info to work with, and I hope it helps you make many breakthroughs!


NARBUT - NORBUT

My great grandfather arrived in 1873 from Russia but on checking a death certificate for one of his children, the country of birth was listed as Poland. Can you tell me anything about the name Narbutt. Thank you. 

Much of what is now central and eastern Poland was under Russian rule from the early 1800's till World War I, and for much of that period there was, officially speaking, no such place as "Poland," only "German Poland," "Austrian Poland," and "Russian Poland." Often these designations were abbreviated simply as "Germany," "Austria," and "Poland." It would be worth your while to read an encyclopedia article on the history of Poland to learn a little about all this, because it has enormous effects on research. For instance, if he was born in Russia or Poland, he may well have been born in what is now Lithuania or Belarus -- without more detail, there's no way to know.

NARBUT is a Polonized form of a Lithuanian name, NARBUTAS or NORBUTAS. It comes from two Lithuanian roots joined together to form a name, which is the way many old names were formed by Poles, Lithuanians, Germans, etc. The Lithuanian roots were nor-, "to want, desire," and but-, "to be." The interpretation of the name is debatable; literally it means "want to be," but obviously meant more than that. It probably expressed the parents' desire to give the child a name of good omen that would help him become glorious and make him want to be important, something like that. But even Lithuanian scholars have trouble deciding what these ancient two-part names actually meant.

I believe there was a noble family named Narbutas or Norbutas, and when Lithuania and Poland joined forces centuries ago to form the Commonwealth of Two Nations, many prominent Lithuanian families allowed their names to be Polonized and even spoke Polish. So we see a number of scholars and leaders named Narbut or Norbut. 

A gentleman who can tell you much more is David Zincavage, E-mail
jdz@inr.net. He had Narbuts among his ancestors, so he can fill in a lot of info I know nothing about.


SLIWINSKI

my niece is doing a school project on surnames....we have found no information on our family name...Sliwinski. 
We have very little information about our father who lost his family during WWII so we don't even know what part of Poland he comes from and whether that town still remains in Poland. We would very much like her to know more about her roots and where her grandparents came from... 


I'm afraid I can't help you much with that, because this name is too common and widespread in Poland; a Sliwinski could come from anywhere. Without specific info on a family's background, there's no way to know which particular area that family came from. This Sliwinski might come from here, that one from there, and so on.

What I can tell you is this. The name in Polish is written with accents over the first S and the N, which I render on-line as Ś and Ń; so it would be ŚLIWIŃSKI, and it's pronounced roughly "shlee-VEEN-skee." It refers to the name of a place the family was connected with at some point; if they were noble, they owned it, and if not, they lived and worked there. The problem is, there are quite a few places this surname might refer to, places named Śliwin or Śliwiny or Śliwna or Śliwno. They all come from the noun śliwa, "plum tree." So the place names mean more or less "place of the plum trees," and ŚLIWIŃSKI means "of, from the place of the plum trees." 

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 16,815 Polish citizens by this name. As I said, they lived all over Poland, with no significant concentration in any one area.


TOMPOROWSKI

I'm hitting a major stumbling block on my Tomporowskis who allegedly came from Szczytno, Mazury, Poland. Do you have a suggestion for a site that might be able to give me some insight into the meaning of the name Tomporowski? 

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 399 Polish citizens named TOMPOROWSKI. The largest numbers lived in the following provinces: Gdansk 28, Katowice 27, Ciechanow 63, Olsztyn 53, Szczecin 26, Tarnobrzeg 104. The rest were scattered in small numbers all over Poland. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses. This data suggests that the name is most common in the southeastern part of the country, but is found all over Poland.

It is pronounced roughly "tome-pore-OFF-skee," and probably refers to the name of a place named something like Tomporów or Tomporowo. Names in the form X-owski usually means "one from X-owo," so we would expect the place to have a name fairly close to Tomporów or Tomporowo. However, I notice that tompor is a variant form of the noun usually seen as topór, " which means "battle-ax," and was also the name of a coat of arms. So it's possible the place from which the surname comes was once called Tomporów or Tomporowo, but the name later changed to Toporów or Toporowo. Unfortunately, there are several places by those names, in the former provinces of Białystok, Rzeszow, Sieradz, and Zielona Gora. So without much more detailed info on a specific family, it's impossible to say which of these places, or some other place with a similar name, the surname referred to originally.

Actually, TOMPOROWSKI can be interpreted "of the _ of the battle-ax," where the blank is filled in with something so obvious it didn't have to be spelled out -- usually either "kin" or "place." So the surname means either "kin of the Battle-ax," perhaps referring to one who bore Tompor/Topór as a nickname, or else "place of the battle-ax," which brings us back to Tomporowo, etc. As I say, derivation from the place names is more likely, but "kin of the battle-ax" is also possible.

As to exactly how a given family came to have this name, I'm afraid only genealogical research may provide an answer to that question, by uncovering information on the historical and linguistic context in which the name developed and "stuck" in a given case. That kind of detailed research into a single family, however, is beyond the scope of what I can do; I can only provide general, "off-the-rack" derivations, and have to leave "custom fits" to individual researchers. There are over 800,000 Polish surnames -- there's no way I'll ever live long enough to do really exhaustive, detailed studies of even a few hundred of them.


GDOWIK

I ran across your web page and was wondering if you could tell me anything you might know about my last name of Gdowik. As far as my family history goes it is from the south of Poland but I am not sure what it means nor its exact origin. Can you help me?

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 141 Polish citizens named GDOWIK. The largest numbers lived in the following provinces: Elblag 30, Katowice 19, and Rzeszow 46. The rest were scattered in tiny numbers all over the country. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have... This data suggests the name is most common in southeastern Poland, near Rzeszow. Elblag is in northcentral Poland, and Katowice is in southcentral Poland; it's hard to say whether the name really developed in places so far apart, or if it originally came from southeastern Poland but was scattered in other areas during the course of all the post-World War II forced relocations of millions. I suspect it was, and that the name originally comes from southeastern Poland. But I can't prove it.

Polish name expert Prof. Kazimierz Rymut mentions this name in his book Nazwiska Polakow [The Surnames of Poles]. He says it comes from gdowa, which is a dialect form of the word seen in standard Polish as wdowa, "widow." So Gdowik would mean basically "son of the widow," and that's about all we can say about it.


KRZTON

Hello my name is artur krzton. im doing a project for searching the meaning of my last name. I'm not sure if it originated from Poland or not but both of my parents are 100% polish and as far back as to their grandparents. I  looked everywhere and I can't find anything. I think that krz-
means cris, but I don't know what -ton means.


As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 517 Polish citizens named KRZTON. The largest numbers lived in the provinces of Krakow (131) and Rzeszow (235), with the rest scattered in much smaller numbers all over the country. So this name is found mainly in southcentral and southeastern Poland, especially in the area around those two cities. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have...
With this distribution it seems likely there's not just one big Krzton family, but probably several who came to bear this name independently -- although of course it's impossible for me to say without detailed research into the history of all families involved.

In Polish the N has an accent over it; it is rather hard for non-Poles to pronounced, sounding somewhat like "ksh-TOIN." Polish name expert Prof. Kazimierz Rymut mentions this name in his book Nazwiska Polakow [The Surnames of Poles]. He says it derives from the noun krzta, which means "fragment, bit." The -on suffix does not have a specific meaning that can be defined in a few words; the name Krzton would mean something like "the guy with a fragment, with a little bit." It presumably began as a nickname, possibly for one who so poor that all he owned was a tiny piece of something. Like nicknames in any language, this one can be hard to make sense of unless you're there at the right time and place; but apparently at the time it struck people as a good name, because it stuck and eventually came to be used as a surname for his descendants.


JUROSZEK

I would like to know the origin of my great-grandfather's surname which is Yuroszek. Please let me know if you have any information or links to this name.

In Polish this name would begin with J, not Y -- the letter Y does not occur initially in Polish, but Polish J is pronounced the way we pronounce Y. When Poles with names beginning with J left Europe for English-speaking countries, their names were often modified by replacing the J with Y, to make it a bit easier for their new neighbors to pronounce. So within Poland the name you're looking for is JUROSZEK, pronounced roughly "your-OSH-ek."

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 732 Polish citizens named JUROSZEK. The largest numbers lived in the provinces of Bielsko-Biala (583) and Katowice (103), so this name is found primarily in southcentral Poland, right by where the Polish border meets the eastern border of the Czech Republic.

Polish name expert Prof. Kazimierz Rymut mentions this name in his book Nazwiska Polakow [The Surnames of Poles]. He says it comes from a variation of the name "George." In Polish the standard form of that name is Jerzy (pronounced "YEAH-zhee"), but in many parts of Poland other
forms, influenced by other languages such as Czech and Ukrainian, were historically quite common. Thus Jura or Juri is often seen in southern and eastern Poland. JUROSZ was a kind of nickname formed from those names, and -ek is a diminutive suffix, so that Juroszek means roughly "little George" or "son of little George." As such it is one of the many, many Polish surnames that started out as a reference to the name of a family's father or prominent ancestor.


MARCHLEWICZ

My son has a homework assignment to find the meaning of his last name. I searched several websites with no luck. Hope you can help me with the last name of Marchlewicz.

In Polish the name is pronounced roughly "mark-LAY-vich," except the -ch doesn't really sound like a K but more like the
guttural sound in German "Bach." Still, "mark-LAY-vich" is pretty close.

In Polish names the suffix -ewicz or -owicz means "son of," so this name means "son of Marchel." Marchel is a variation of the first name better known as "Melchior," which comes from Hebrew melki-or, "the King [God] is my light." Catholic tradition in the Middle Ages said this was the name of one of the Three Wise Men or Magi who visited the infant Jesus (the others were called Balthazar and Casper). This legend was popular in the Middle Ages, and it helped make these three names moderately popular name in Poland at that time, although these days they are pretty rare. In Poland "Melchior" came to be used in several different forms, due to spelling variations and dialect influences; those forms included Majcher, Malcher, and Marchel, and surnames developed from all these different versions of the name. To summarize, the surname Marchlewicz means "son of Melchior," based on an old Polish variation of that name.

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 872 Polish citizens named Marchlewicz. The largest numbers lived in the following provinces: Bydgoszcz 170, Gdansk 81 and Torun 168. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have. This data shows that the name is found all over Poland, but it is most common today in an area just north and west of the center of the country.


SIENKOWSKI

I am interested in finding the origin of our family name. I am aware of a town from a 1923 map of Poland that shows a town east of the Polish border at the time named "Sienkowo".

It would help a lot to have some idea of where your family came from, because names in the form X-owski usually refer to the names of places beginning X with which the family was associated at one time. So SIENKOWSKI probably just means "one from Sienki, Sienków, Sienkowo," or a similar name. Unfortunately, there are a number of places in Poland and Belarus and Ukraine (which used to be part of the Polish Commonwealth) that could give rise to this name. The Sienkowo you mentioned might well be the very one from which your family took its name; without detailed info on a specific family's background, however, there is no way to say anything definitive about which of the various possible places the surname referred to originally . 

I have one source that mentions a SIENKOWSKI family (accent over the N, pronounced roughly "shen-KOFF-skee") that was apparently noble and took its name from its estate of Sienków near Belz in southeastern Poland. Again, this family might or might not be connected with you, but at least it does give a concrete example of how the surname is connected with a place name. 

The one thing I can say is that it's likely the family and place both came from the eastern part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (what are now eastern Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine), because that's where names beginning Sienk- tended to originate. Usually they both derive from Eastern Slavic nicknames for either "Simon" or "Zenon," Sienko or Zienko or something similar. Sienków or Sienkowo usually means "[place] of Sienko/Zienko," and SIENKOWSKI means "of, from [the place] of Sienko/Zienko."

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 325 Polish citizens named SIENKOWSKI, and another 1,059 who spelled it SIEŃKOWSKI (i. e., with an accent over the N). The former is scattered in small numbers all over Poland. The version with the accented N is also found all over Poland, but is somewhat concentrated in the provinces of Ciechanow (110), Ostrołęka (178), Suwałki (305) and Warsaw (133).

Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have. Of course my data does not include people by this name living in what are now Belarus and Ukraine, and it's quite possible the name is moderately common in those countries, too.


BARA

Thank you for your interesting web page. I'm interested in the meaning of my surname... Bara.  I've had many people tell me it must have been shortened at Ellis Island, but my Father claims there were 4 other families with the name on his block in the "Back-of-the-Yards" neighborhood of Chicago. He has no info on meaning.

Thanks in advance for any info you can provide.


Don't listen to people who don't know what they're talking about. There's a misconception that Polish names all are 15 syllables long and end in -ski -- it's utter nonsense. There are many Polish names that are 4 or 5 letters long, and BARA is one of them. Of course, it's possible in your family's case the name was shortened somewhere along the line (probably not at Ellis Island, but that's beside the point). Only good research will prove the matter one way or the other. But BARA is a documented Polish name.

Polish name expert Prof. Kazimierz Rymut mentions it in his book Nazwiska Polakow [The Surnames of Poles]. He says names beginning with BAR- usually derive from German Baer, "bear." This isn't as odd as it may sound; many, many Germans came to live in Poland, and we see a lot of mixing of Polish and German names. Rymut also says in some cases BARA could have come from a short form or nickname of the first name Bartlomiej, "Bartholomew." Bartek and Bartosz are more common nicknames from Bartlomiej, but Bara is certainly a possibility. Unfortunately, without very detailed research into the family's background, there's no way to know for sure whether the name came in a given case from the German word for "bear" or from the nickname for Bartholomew. But one of the two derivations is likely to prove correct.

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 1,345 Polish citizens named Bara. The largest numbers lived in the following provinces: Gdansk 120, Katowice 274, Krosno 129, Lodz 95, and Tarnobrzeg 110. A look at the map will show you the name is scattered all over the country, but is more common in the southern part of the country. That's about all we can conclude from that data.


STACHOWICZ

I was wondering if you could shed any light on my last name. It is actually spelled S t a c h o w i c z.........a mistake in birth records years ago added the 'e'. Also - any idea as to where in Poland the name comes from....that is, what region or town??

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 6,251 Polish citizens named STACHOWICZ. They lived all over Poland; there is no one area with which the name is particularly associated, and
a family named Stachowicz could have come from anywhere in Poland. The name is pronounced roughly "stah-HOE-vich," except the CH doesn't really sound like our H, but more like the guttural "ch" in German "Bach."

Polish name expert Prof. Kazimierz Rymut mentions this name in his book Nazwiska Polakow [The Surnames of Poles]; he says it first appears in records as early as 1346. The suffix -owicz means "son of," and Stach is an ancient nickname that developed from various Polish names beginning Sta-, especially the first name Stanislaw; so the name means basically "son of Stach." Poles often formed nicknames from popular first names by taking the first few sounds of the name, dropping the rest, and adding suffixes. So they would take Sta- from Stanislaw, drop the rest, and add the -ch to form Stach. Once that name existed, it was only a matter of time before people began referring to the sons or kin of a fellow named Stach as Stachowicz, and eventually that name "stuck" as a surname. 

Incidentally, Stanislaw is the name with which Stach is most likely to be connected, but there are others, especially the first name Eustachy, the Polish equivalent of "Eustace."


GROCHOLSKI

I would appreciate any information you may have about the surname Grocholski. I am told my family comes from Poznan and that my ancestors made carriages for nobility. They are referred to as "Kashub's" Their language was a mixture of Polish and German.

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 1,281 Polish citizens named GROCHOLSKI. They lived all over Poland, with no real concentration in any one province -- there was a sizable number, 118, in the province of Poznan, however. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have.

This name probably derives from the name of a place with which the family was connected at some point; there are several candidates, including Grocholice and Grocholin. The basic root of all these names is grochol, a kind of vetch, Vicia angustifolia, so the name may just mean "one from Grocholin or Grocholice" = roughly "one from the place of the vetch." Also relevant might be the noun grochal "churl, simpleton"; the name Grocholski might have originally meant "of the grochol or grochal," and thus "kin of the simpleton." But I'd think the connection with a place name beginning Grochol- is more likely. Without detailed research into a specific family's past, however, there's no way to say which place the name refers to in their case.

One possibility worth looking at is Grochol, at 53 degrees 19', 18 degrees 05'; it's not far from the right area. If you'd like to see a map showing where this is, go to the following Website:

http://www.jewishgen.org/ShtetlSeeker/loctown.htm 

Enter Grochol as the name of the place you're looking for, and click on "Start the Search." In a moment you'll get a list of places with names that might match "Grochol" phonetically. Scroll on down to the ones in Poland and click on the one named Grochol. A map will come up showing you where it's located; you can zoom in or out. This is one of several places the surname might refer to -- there are others, including Grocholin and Grocholice.

If you'd like more info about the Kashubs -- a fascinating people -- you might visit this Webpage:

http://feefhs.org/kana/frg-kana.html 


CHODZINSKI

I was wondering if you could interpret the surname Chodzinski? This was my Great Grandfather who Immigrated to the US. On his papers it states that he came from Germany, Poland. Go figure!

If I may give you some friendly advice, the best thing you can do is go read an encyclopedia article on the history of Poland over the last two centuries. To make any sense of Polish research you have to know about the partitioning of Poland, which basically divided Poland between Germany, Russia and Austria roughly 1772-1918. Your ancestor came from the part of Poland seized by Germany, which covered the western and northern regions of Poland in its current borders. At that time, officially speaking, no such place as Poland existed, so officials often weren't allowed to accept "Poland" as a place of origin: it had to be "Germany" or "Russia" or "Austria," or at best "German Poland" or "Russian Poland" or "Austrian Poland." It will be a lot easier for you to understand what you run across in your research if you know a little
about the history.  Another place to check is the history discussion at PolishRoots :
index.htmpolhistory.htm 

As for the surname CHODZINSKI, in Polish it is spelled with an accent over the N, and is pronounced roughly  "hod-JEEN-skee." As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 566 Polish citizens by this name. They were scattered in small numbers all over the country, so a Chodzinski could come from virtually anywhere in Poland -- there is no one region with which the name is associated.

None of my sources discuss the origin of this specific name, but Polish name expert Prof. Kazimierz Rymut says in his book Nazwiska Polakow [The Surnames of Poles] that names beginning Chodz- usually come from the root seen in the verb chodzic', "to go, to walk." That is probably correct as far as the ultimate origin, and the name might have started out meaning something like "kin of the walker." But most likely the surname refers to the name of a place derived from that root, a place named something like Chodziny or Choda. I can't find any places on modern maps with names that fit, but that's not unusual -- surnames developed centuries ago, and often the places they referred to have since disappeared, changed names, become too small to show up on most maps, etc.

 Copyright © 2000 W.F. Hoffman. All rights reserved. Used by permission. 


 

Copyright © 2000 W.F. Hoffman. All rights reserved. Used by permission.


SOŁTYS - SCHULTZ

... I once studied the Czechoslovak language at the Army Language school at the Presidio in California and one teacher once remarked to me that the spelling of Soltys was common in Czech and meant mayor of a small village. Any meaning for it in Polish.? For ur information, my father Andrew Sr. was born in 1893 , baptized in the Parish of Tarnogrod in Wojewodstwo Lubelskie, powiat Bilgorajski i rodzony wsi Bukowinie. I thank you in advance for your graciousness. 

I didn't know Soltys is also common in Czech, but there's certainly no reason why it couldn't be. Your teacher was basically correct. The word in Polish is spelled with a slash through the L (which I represent on-line as Ł), pronounced much like our W, so that the name, Sołtys, sounds roughly like "SOW-tiss." It comes from a Middle High German word schultheisse that later became Schultheiss; it means literally "debt caller," and referred to the official who would come and call the roll of the local peasants and collect the rent in money or produce or whatever that the villagers owed the lord who owned the village or estate. That appears to be the original meaning of the word. Eventually it came to be a more general term for a village headman or mayor. 

In German this word became a name and gradually turned into the well-known German name Schultz. In Polish it was gradually Polonized into sołtys, and the surnam% Sołtys developed from that. It's a moderately common name in Poland, borne by 7,735 Polish citizens as of 1990. There's no one specific part of the country where the name is concentrated, although it's more common in the south and southeast (the region called Małopolska) than anywhere else. Lublin province, which is where your father came from, is in that region.

"Wojewodstwo Lubelskie, powiat Bilgorajski i rodzony wsi Bukowinie" appears to mean your father was born in the village of Bukowina in the county of Biłgoraj, province of Lublin. There are a lot of places called Bukowina (it's also the name of a region now in Ukraine), so it's a good thing you have this additional data to specify exactly which one you need. By the way, if I'm not mistaken, this area was in Lublin province from after World War II to about 1975. Then they reorganized the provinces, and it was in Zamosc province until 1999, when they reorganized the provinces. Now it's in the new, reorganized province of Lublin. This might cause confusion in your research if you're not familiar with the organizational changes.

Whenever I see the name Sołtys I always think of American chess grandmaster Andy Soltis -- I was interested in chess before I became interested in Polish names, and it wasn't till years after I first heard of him that I realized "Hey, I know what his name comes from!" Soltis is merely an Americanized spelling of the Polish (or possibly Czech) name.


KOS[S]AKOWSKI

... My mother always had told me that my grandfather, Ludwig Kossakowski, was a Count. When I was younger, genealogy meant nothing. Now I am very interested but my mother is gone. Can you help me find out anything about Kossakowki. I did not find it on your list. Thank you very much.

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 3,671 Polish citizens named Kossakowski. The largest numbers lived in the following provinces: Białystok 252, Łomża 902, Pila 264, Suwałki 262, Warsaw 589. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have. This data shows that the name is found all over Poland but is most common in the northeastern part of the country.

It's odd that the name is spelled with SS, because Polish usually prefers not to use double letters unless you actually say the letter twice. As of 1990 there were 2,834 Poles who spelled the name Kosakowski with one S; they, too, were most common in the northeastern part of the country. I'm not sure why the unusual spelling with SS is more common than that with one S, which you'd expect to be the norm.

Polish name expert Prof. Kazimierz Rymut mentions this name in his book Nazwiska Polaków [The Surnames of Poles]. He says either spelling comes from the root seen in the nouns kos, "blackbird," and kosa, "scythe," and the verb kosic', "to mow." He suggests names beginning Kosak- are especially likely to refer to the noun kosak, "undertaker," but I don't think you can rule out a connection with one of the other meanings. In any case, Kosakowski or Kossakowski might mean "kin of the undertaker (or of the mower, or of the blackbird guy)," but most often they would refer to the names of places the family came from, and those place names, in turn, would derive from the root kos-. (Prof. Rymut knows his stuff, but I can't help wondering if there's any possible connection with "Cossack"? In Polish that's kozak, and Kozakowski was the name of 1,254 Poles as of 1990. I'd say the connection is probably with kosak, but don't rule out a possible connection with "Cossack," because kosak and kozak differ only by one letter, and Z and S often switch in names.)

In any case, Kossakowski would usually have started out meaning "one from Kosaki" or "one from Kosakowo." There are at least three places in Poland by these names; one, Kosaki, was in Łomża province as of 1990; and there were two Kosakowo's, one in Gdansk province and one in Olsztyn province. Note that all these places are in the general area where the surname is most common, which tends to support the hypothesis that the surname began as a reference to the places in question.

Without the kind of detailed info you can get only from genealogical research, I can't tell you which of the places your family might have been connected with. It could refer to any of them. But with luck you will find some facts that will clear up which one is likely to be relevant.


CZAJKOWSKI - TCHAIKOVSKY

... Awhile ago you helped us with some research for our family name Bekish, you were very helpful and I would like to thank you again. Although you could not help us with Checolska we recently discovered that spelling to be incorrect. The correct spelling is Tchaikovsky. If you would have any information at all it would be greatly appreciated.

I'm glad you got more information. I have found that if the spelling of a name doesn't look right to me, and none of my sources mention it, nine times out of ten it was misspelled somewhere along the way. That's why I have to have a fairly accurate spelling, or I can't really say much that's useful.

Having said that, I must tell you Tchaikovsky is not a Polish spelling; it makes no sense at all by Polish phonetics and orthographics. I recognize, of course, as the spelling of the name of the Russian composer Pyotr Ilich Tchaikovsky. That's a kind of Germanized or Frenchified rendering of the Russian form, which is written in Cyrillic. If you take the Cyrillic letters and turn them into English phonetic renderings, it comes out more like Chaikovsky. I recognize this as the name spelled Czajkowski by Poles. All these different spellings are pronounced the same, "chi-KOFF-skee," with the first syllable rhyming with "why." In other words, as different as these spellings look, they are all ways of writing the same name; they only look different because different languages write different sounds in different ways.

Czajkowski comes from the noun czajka, "lapwing" (a kind of bird), but more specifically it would refer to the name of a place, something like Czajki or Czajkow or Czajkowa or Czajkowo; and those place names, in turn, would come from the word for "lapwing." Typically a place would get a name like this either because it was "the place of the lapwings," an area where these birds were abundant, or because the place was owned or founded by someone named Czajko or something similar. So Czajkowski means "one from the place of the lapwings" or "one from the place of Czajko or Czajek, etc." In some cases names beginning Czaj- can also derive from the verb czajac', "to lie in wait for," but I think most of the time Czajkowski would refer to a place named for the lapwing. Unfortunately, there are a number of places in Poland with names this surname could derive from, so without detailed info on a specific family, there's no way to know which place the name refers to in their case.

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 22,131 Polish citizens named Czajkowski. They lived all over Poland, with no particular connection to any one part of the country.

I should make sure one thing is clear. This name can be Polish; but it can also be Ukrainian or Russian, because the same word exists in those languages and there are places with similar names in those countries. In Russian the word (rendered as chaika by English phonetic values) means "seagull," whereas in Polish and Ukrainian it means "lapwing." But the point is, the name is most likely to be Polish in origin, but it can also be Russian or Ukrainian, because there are places in Russia and Ukraine with names that could yield this surname. 


STACHULA

... I am writing to ask if you know anything about my maiden name. It is Stachula. Stachula seems to be a rare name, as all the ones in the Chicago area (and probably Wisc. too) are related to me. My grandparents immigrated here from Lublin, Poland. 

In Polish this name is spelled Stachula and pronounced roughly "sta-HOO-lah," except that H sound is a bit more guttural than our H, more like the ch in German "Bach." As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 494 Polish citizens named Stachula. The largest number, 123, lived in the southeastern province of Tarnobrzeg, with the rest scattered in much smaller numbers all over the country; 25 lived in Lublin province. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have.

Polish name expert Prof. Kazimierz Rymut mentions this name in his book Nazwiska Polaków [The Surnames of Poles]. He says it derives from a nickname for first names beginning with Sta-, especially the popular name Stanislaw. Poles often formed affectionate diminutives of first names by taking the first few sounds, dropping the rest, and adding suffixes such as -ch or -sz. So the first part of the process went as follows: Stanislaw -> Sta- + -ch = Stach. Once that name existed, Poles eventually would add further suffixes to it, such as -ula. It's a little like the way English took John or James and made the nickname Jack, then later added -y or -ie to create Jacky or Jackie. But this sort of thing is not that common in English, whereas it's very common in Polish, and Polish has a whole range of suffixes it adds to names. Note that you can't say "Jacky" or "Teddy" really means anything -- they're just nicknames formed from older first names that did originally mean something. To the extent that Stachula can be said to mean anything, about the closest we can come to translating it is "kin of Stanislaw."

It's also possible in some cases that names beginning with Stach- come from another first name, Eustachy ("Eustace" in English). That would be rarer, however, than derivation from Stanislaw.


STEC

... I am trying to find info on my in-laws name, Stec. I saw nothing on your web site, but I have seen other spellings that I believe are related--Stecz, Stetz. The only history I know is Anton Stec who came to the USA from Tarnow poland during WWI. Do you have anywhere I can go to find this name.

Polish name expert Prof. Kazimierz Rymut mentions this name in his book Nazwiska Polaków [The Surnames of Poles]. He says Stec (pronounced "stets") developed as a kind of nickname or affectionate form of the first name Stefan, "Stephen." So it's roughly comparable to "Steve" in English, except it long ago came into use as a surname, presumably as a way of referring to the kin of some person commonly called by that nickname in his local community. By German phonetic values this name would be spelled Stetz, and that's probably where that spelling came from.

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 8,335 Polish citizens named Stec. They lived all over the country, but the name is definitely more common in the southern part of the country than in the north. There were 803 Poles named Stec living in Tarnów province alone.


TULISZEWSKI, WYSOCKI

... I wondered if you had information on two other family names: Tuliszewski and Wysocki? 

Both Tuliszewski and Wysocki would refer to the names of places with which the families were connected at some point; if noble, they owned estates at those places, and if not, they probably lived and worked there. 

Tuliszewski would mean "one from Tuliszew" or some similar place name. I can't find any places by those names on modern maps, but that's not unusual -- surnames developed centuries ago, and often the places they referred to have since disappeared, changed names, become too small to show up on most maps, etc. The name is pronounced roughly "too-lish-EFF-skee." As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 115 Polish citizens named Tuliszewski. They were scattered in small numbers all over the country, with no significant concentration in any one area.

Wysocki ("vee-SOT-skee") can refer to any of a large number of places with names like Wysoka, Wysockie, Wysocice, etc. What these names all have in common is a connection with the root wysok-, "high, elevated," so that they probably refer to the elevation of the terrain in the area where the village or town was located. Wysocki is pretty common by Polish standards -- as of 1990 there were 29,720 Poles by this name Wysocki, living in large numbers all over the country.


GIBOWSKI

... Do you have any info on the name Gibowski? Anything you may have would be appreciated. 

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 497 Polish citizens named Gibowski. The largest numbers lived in the provinces of Bydgoszcz (52) and Poznan (157), with the rest scattered in small numbers all over. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have. But this does tell us the name is somewhat concentrated mainly in western Poland, in the area from around Poland north to Bydgoszcz.

Surnames in the form X-owski usually mean "one from X," that is, they refer to the name of some place the family came from at some point. We'd expect Gibowski to mean "one from Giby" or "one from Gibowo" or some similar name beginning with Gib-. There is a village called Giby in Suwałki province, but that's awfully far away from western Poland. Most likely the surname refers to more than one place with a name beginning Gib-, and not all of them show up in my sources. That's not unusual -- surnames developed centuries ago, and often the places they referred to have since disappeared, changed names, become too small to show up on most maps, etc.


KALIŃSKI

... Would you help me to know what my family surname of Kalinski may mean?

Names ending in -ski are adjectival, and Kaliński (pronounced "kah-LEEN-skee" and written with an accent over the N) means literally "of, from, connected with, relating to kalina." That is a Polish noun meaning "guelder rose" (Viburnum) or "cranberry tree." So the name means literally "of the guelder rose" or "of the cranberry tree." As a surname it might refer to a family's living in any of a number of places called Kalina (presumably because these plants were common in the area), or it might refer to some perceived association between the family and those plants. Thus it might refer to one who lived in an area with these plants, or who wore clothes colored like them, or some other connection. It's difficult to say without detailed research into a given family what the connection was, but there obviously was enough of a connection that people found Kalinski an appropriate name for this person or family.

In some cases the name might also come from the Latin feminine first name Aquilina (literally "of the eagle"); but I think that would be true only occasionally. Most of the time the derivation would be from the noun kalina.

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 5,250 Polish citizens named Kalinski. The largest number, 933, lived in the province of Warsaw; the rest were scattered in somewhat smaller numbers all over Poland. Essentially, a family by this name could have come from anywhere in the country.


POPOVITCH - POPOWICZ

...I am a writer currently working on a piece of fiction concerning Polish-Americans. I would like to be sure that the surname I have chosen for my characters is appropriately Polish. This is probably an odd request but I have not been able to make an accurate determination and your site allowed me to write to you, so I am. Is the surname Popovitch a Polish one? If not, can you suggest a good resource for this kind of information?

As an author myself, I understand and applaud your emphasis on accuracy in the smallest details. Too many writers don't bother with such "trifles," and I respect anyone who will go to a little trouble to "get it right"!

The spelling Popovitch makes sense as an Americanized phonetic spelling of the Polish surname Popowicz. That name, pronounced roughly "pop-OH-vitch," is definitely attested among Poles. As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 1,912 Polish citizens named Popowicz. There was no one part of Poland in which the name was concentrated; you run into people by that name all over the country. I would think that makes it a very good choice for your purposes -- there's no danger someone will read your work and say, for instance, "This is absurd, that name is found only among the residents of the region of Kaszuby, and the fellow in this story is certainly no Kaszub!" 

In Polish names the suffix -owicz means "son of," so that Popowicz means "son of the pop" (pronounced with an O sound about halfway between the short o of English "pop" and the long O of English "Pope"). In modern usage that term means "clergyman of the Eastern church," referring to a priest of the Greek Catholic rite; but in older Polish it could also be applied to a Roman Catholic priest. It comes ultimately from the same root as "Pope" and "papa," clearly in the sense that a clergyman was a father to his parishioners. The older meaning of "Roman Catholic priest" is probably relevant because surnames developed centuries ago, so we must take into account their meanings back then, not their modern meanings; the name Popowicz appears in records as early as 1412! 

This needs a little historical context. In the last few centuries there's been considerable mixing of ethnic groups and religions, so that today one finds Greek Catholics living in western and northern Poland. But centuries ago, when the name first appeared, there was no such thing as a Greek Catholic rite (or, as they were first called, Uniates). That did not develop until the 1600's, if memory serves. Before then you had Belarusians and Ukrainians who used Orthodox liturgy but felt some allegiance to the Roman Pope. It was in the 1600's that a compromise was worked out whereby the so-called Uniates could keep their Eastern rite and liturgy, but recognized the Pope as their spiritual leader. This, of course, was black heresy to all true Orthodox believers, and over the next few centuries there was a lot of conflict between Greek Catholics and Orthodox adherents. Poles, on the other hand, seem to have accepted Greek Catholics as followers of the same basic religion, or as followers of a rather exotic version of the True Faith, since they both accepted the Pope's leadership.

The point is that when this name Popowicz first appears in Polish, it must have referred to Roman Catholic priests, and perhaps also Orthodox priests; it couldn't refer to Uniates because no such critter existed. As time went on, and the Uniate church (later called Greek Catholic because the term "Uniate" came to be viewed as pejorative) came into existence, the term pop came to be associated more and more with the clergy of that church. In more modern times the term is identified exclusively with Greek Catholic priests. But back when the name Popowicz developed among Poles, it probably referred in most cases to Roman Catholic priests.

I don't know if we should be too literal in saying it means "priest's son" -- since obviously Roman Catholic priests weren't supposed to be having sons! Still, priests are human too, and it might be the name was sometimes applied to the son of a priest who strayed. But I believe it can also be used in a more general sense, "kin of the priest," not just in the literal sense of a son.

I hope I've helped you with this information. If you want to clarify what I said about the religious aspect, you might do a little basic research into the origins of the Uniate or Greek Catholic church. But the bottom line is, Popowicz is a perfectly good name for a Pole to bear; and Popovitch makes sense as an Anglicized form of that name. If a Pole by that name found himself dealing with German officials, the name might end up spelled Popowitsch. But Popovitch is quite credible as the form a Polish immigrant to America might choose to go by, because it retained the original pronunciation of his name but made it a bit more accessible to Americans.


PIECHOCKI

... If you have any spare time, could you please try to find something on my last name Piechocki.

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 5,437 Polish citizens named Piechocki. The largest numbers lived in the following provinces: Bydgoszcz 548, Konin 316, and Poznan 1,146. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have. This data tells us the name is found all over Poland but is most common in an area north and west of the center of the country (in its current borders). Unfortunately, that's no help trying to trace a specific family that bears this name -- a Piechocki could come from almost anywhere in Poland, but is statistically somewhat more likely to come from the area of the provinces mentioned above. 

Polish name expert Prof. Kazimierz Rymut mentions this name in his book Nazwiska Polaków [The Surnames of Poles]. He says names beginning Piech- usually developed from nicknames for Piotr, "Peter." Poles often formed nicknames or affectionate diminutives by taking the first few letters of a name, dropping the rest, and adding suffixes, so that Piotr/Pietr -> Pie- + -ch = Piech. Once that name existed, it could easily have suffixes added to it, so that Piechocki may mean nothing more than "kin of Peter" or "one from the place of Peter's kin."

It's worth mentioning, however, that Piechocki could also have originated as an adjectival form of the noun piechota, "infantry," so that it could mean "kin of the one from the infantry." I'd think that might be more relevant; most names beginning Piech- would come from the nickname for Peter, but ones beginning Piechot- or Piechoc- more likely come from the word for "infantry." Still, either is possible; surviving records make clear that the surname Piechota can come from the nickname for "Peter."

Also, Piechocki might refer to a place name, such as Piechocice, Piechotne, and Piechoty -- there are various villages by those names, and without detailed info on a specific family there's no way to know for sure which one the surname refers to.

To summarize, with many Polish names you can't give a simple, unambiguous derivation unless you have access to very detailed info on that particular family and the context in which it came to be associated with a specific name. Piechocki could mean "kin of the infantryman" or "one from the place of the infantry," but it could also mean "kin of Peter" or "one from the place of Peter." Without firm data indicating which is relevant, I can only give info on the possible derivations, and leave it to you to do subsequent research that might tell you more.


ŚMIAŁKOWSKI

... I am interested in any information you could give me on the surname Smialkowski. I believe my great grandparents came from Galicia, Poland and settled in Northeast Minneapolis, Minnesota. Their children changed the name to Smalkoski, leaving little chance for others to be able to contact them. So I am struggling for information. My great uncles and aunts would never talk about Poland. I believe the family had much pain. Thank you for any help you can give.

In Polish this name is spelled with an accent over the S and a slash through the L, so that it is spelled Śmiałkowski. It is pronounced roughly "shm'yaw-KOFF-skee."

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 985 Polish citizens named Śmiałkowski. The largest numbers lived in the following provinces: Lodz 228, Katowice 83, Płock 71, Poznan 67, and Szczecin 67, with the rest scattered in smaller numbers all over the country. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have. 

This data tells us that there is a significant concentration in the area near the city of Lodz, but not enough of a concentration to serve as a reliable guide for where a given Śmiałkowski family came from. Besides, your info suggests the family came from Galicia, the part of Poland seized by Austria during the partitions -- it included the southcentral and southeastern part of modern Poland, as well as western Ukraine. So the distribution data is no real help in tracing your family -- which is the case, I'd estimate, at least 90% of the time with Polish surnames.

Names in the form X-owski usually refer to the name of a place beginning with the X part, with which the family was connected at one time; if they were noble, they owned it, and if not, they lived and worked there. So we would expect this name to mean "one from Śmiałki or Śmiałkowo," place names literally meaning "[place] of the bold one." They were probably named for an owner or founder who bore the name or nickname Śmiałek, "bold one."

Without much more detailed info on a specific family there's no way to know for sure which place the surname might refer to. It's worth mentioning, however, that there is a Śmiałki northwest of Czestochowa in southcentral Poland; this is not far from the western edge of Galicia. So the name might mean "one from Śmiałki." The thing is, Polish surnames developed centuries ago, and often came from the name of a field or hill or little settlement, names used only by locals, that would be unlikely to appear on any map or in any gazetteer. So the place this name refers to may be quite obscure, or may even have disappeared or renamed or absorbed into another community centuries ago. Śmiałki is the only place I can find on modern maps that makes sense as the place the surname might refer to; but it would be irresponsible to jump to the conclusion that that HAS to be the right place.

I'm afraid only genealogical research is likely to uncover facts that would establish the right place. Once you trace the family back to a specific area in Poland, it becomes possible to search that area for places with names that qualify. But I'm afraid that's more than I can do; I only have the time and resources to do "quick and dirty" analysis.


KOCZARA

... Do you know what Koczara stands for? 

According to my sources, the name Koczara (pronounced roughly "co-CHAR-ah") comes from the noun koczar, which means "cabriolet," a small carriage. A person who bore this name presumably drove such a carriage for a living. 

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 697 Polish citizens named Koczara. The largest numbers lived in the following provinces: Warsaw 114, Ciechanow 67, Krakow 71, Ostrołęka 172. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have. This data tells us the name is found all over Poland but is most common in an area just northwest of the center of the country (in its current borders).


FLEISCHER - FLESZAR

... I just found your page. I've always been interested in finding out more about my Polish heritage. My grandfather came over to America with his parents early in life. He came over before being in kindergarten, so he really has no recollection of anything in Poland. My great-grandfather's name was Wladyslaw Fleszar. My grandparents tried to find out info on the name and the family line, but found nothing but people trying to make a buck on false information - for instance, after the move my great-grandfather "Americanized" his name to Walter Flesher. These places told my grandparents they could trace his name back for hundreds of years in Poland - of course, Flesher was not his Polish name, so these traces were not true. If there is anything you can direct me to, or even a sentence or two in your spare time, I'd be appreciative.

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 906 Polish citizens named Fleszar (pronounced roughly "FLESH-are"). The largest numbers lived in the following provinces: Poznan 105, Rzeszow 280, Walbrzych 85. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have. This data suggests the name is found all over Poland, with concentrations in a couple of areas, western Poland (near Poznan) and southeastern Poland (near Rzeszow). As I say, this is not unusual; one finds names of German origin all over the country, especially in the west (which was long ruled and colonized by Germans) and in the southeast, which was never ruled by Germany but became home to many German immigrants.

One of the books I have, concentrating on Polonized forms of German names, shows Fleszar as coming from German Fleischer, "butcher" (from the same basic Germanic root as our word "flesh"). There have always been large numbers of Germans who came to settle in Poland, so it's not unusual to see Poles bearing names of German linguistic origin. Presumably a family Fleszar started out as a German family named Fleischer, presumably earning a living as butchers; as time went by and they settled among Poles, the form of their name was gradually Polonized so as to be easier for Poles to pronounce. It's possible an ethnic Pole might come to bear this name because he lived among a lot of Germans, but as a rule you'd expect a Fleszar to be of Germanic origin ultimately, because Polish has native words meaning "butcher," e. g. rzeznik.


RASIMOWICZ

... I often wondered what the derivation of my name was. I never see it posted. My name is now Rasinowich but I know it was changed. My father used Rasimowicz when entering the service. Would appreciate any information.

When a name has been changed the first problem is figuring out what the original form was, and often there's no way to tell for sure without hard evidence -- documents such as naturalization papers, passport applications, ship passenger lists, etc. I can't be certain what the original form was, but Rasimowicz is a real possibility. It is pronounced roughly "rah-shee-MO-vitch," of which Rasimowich could obviously be just a slight Anglicization. So while it's not certain Rasimowicz is the right original form, I will proceed on the assumption that it is, because the odds are good it is. 

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 62 Polish citizens named Rasimowicz. The largest numbers lived in the following provinces: Łomża 13, Olsztyn 22, Suwałki 13. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have. But this data shows the name is most common in northeastern Poland, and that makes sense given certain clues the name provides.

The suffix -owicz means "son of," and while it is found all over Poland, it is especially common in eastern and especially northeastern Poland, which fits in with the distribution data. This suggests the surname means "son of Rasim." There are several possibilities for what that name comes from, but I think the most likely one is that it started out as a short form for a Slavic adaptation of the Greek name Gerasimos, "honored, prized." This name is somewhat rare among ethnic Poles, but is more common among Eastern Slavs, namely Belarusians and Ukrainians, in forms such as Harasim or Harasym; Greek-based names are often associated with adherents of the Orthodox church, such as the Belarusians and Ukrainians, whereas Poles were more likely to take names from Roman Catholic saints, influenced more often by Latin than Greek. 

In other words, I strongly suspect this name Rasim is a short form or nickname of Harasim or Harasym and originated among Belarusians or Ukrainians, followers either of the Orthodox church or the Greek Catholic rite. So the surname Rasimowicz, which might also be spelled Rasymowicz sometimes, probably means "son of Harasym." The data on the name's frequency and distribution is consistent with this; we often see names of Eastern Slavic origin in northeastern and eastern Poland. The family may have lived elsewhere later, but they probably started out living somewhere in eastern Poland or in the regions just east of the current Polish border, Lithuania or Belarus or Ukraine. These regions were long regarded as eastern territories of the old Polish Commonwealth, and people living in them were often ethnic Poles or regarded as Polish citizens. So even if the name is of Belarusian or Ukrainian linguistic origin, that wouldn't necessarily make the families bearing it any less Polish. Some of Poland's greatest heroes, including Kosciuszko and Mickiewicz, actually came from Lithuania, Belarus, and Ukraine.

I've drawn some pretty sweeping conclusions based on a little data, and might be wrong. But I really think this is the right derivation of this surname. It means "son of [Ha]rasim" and is most likely of eastern Slavic origin.

 

  

Copyright © 2000 W.F. Hoffman. All rights reserved. Used by Permission.  

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