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, Poland
Polish Surnames


In Poland and most of the former Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, surnames first appeared during the late Middle Ages. They initially denoted the differences between various people living in the same town or village and bearing the same name. The conventions were similar to those of English surnames, using occupations, patronymic descent, geographic origins, or personal characteristics. Thus, early surnames indicating occupation include Karczmarz ("innkeeper"), Kowal ("blacksmith"), "Złotnik" ("gold smith") and Bednarczyk ("young cooper"), while those indicating patronymic descent include Szczepaniak ("Son of Szczepan), Józefowicz ("Son of Józef), and Kaźmirkiewicz ("Son of Kazimierz"). Similarly, early surnames like Mazur ("the one from Mazury") indicated geographic origin, while ones like Nowak ("the new one"), Biały ("the pale one"), and Wielgus ("the big one") indicated personal characteristics.

In the early 16th century, (the Polish Renaissance), toponymic names became common, especially among the nobility. Initially, the surnames were in a form of "[first name] z ("de", "of") [location]". Later, most surnames were changed to adjective forms, e.g. Jakub Wiślicki ("James of Wiślica") and Zbigniew Oleśnicki ("Zbigniew of Oleśnica"), with masculine suffixes -ski, -cki, -dzki and -icz or respective feminine suffixes -ska, -cka, -dzka and -icz on the east of Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. Names formed this way are adjectives grammatically, and therefore change their form depending on sex; for example, Jan Kowalski and Maria Kowalska collectively use the plural Kowalscy.

Names with masculine suffixes -ski, -cki, and -dzki, and corresponding feminine suffixes -ska, -cka, and -dzka became associated with noble origin. Many people from lower classes successively changed their surnames to fit this pattern. This produced many Kowalskis, Bednarskis, Kaczmarskis and so on.

A separate class of surnames derive from the names of noble clans. These are used either as separate names or the first part of a double-barrelled name. Thus, persons named Jan Nieczuja and Krzysztof Nieczuja-Machocki might be related. Similarly, after World War I and World War II, many members of Polish underground organizations adopted their war-time pseudonyms as the first part of their surnames. Edward Rydz thus became Marshal of Poland Edward Śmigły-Rydz and Zdzisław Jeziorański became Jan Nowak-Jeziorański.

wikipedia.org

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