Collected Name Resources from LoARs (2010-present): - Polish -
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Collected Name Resources from LoARs (2010-present)

Articles from Juliana de Luna and Lillia de Vaux

- Polish -

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September 2013 - Juliana de Luna Link to LoAR Cover Letter

In recent months, we have discussed Eastern European naming practices. This month, I am discussing Polish names. Polish is most closely related to Czech and Slovak; we label those three and related languages the North Slavic regional naming group in Appendix C of SENA.

Poland has a complicated history, and has over time included many areas that are not part of modern Poland. From the 14th century until well after 1600, Poland was part of a union with Lithuania (see the Cover Letter from July 2013 for more information about Lithuania). But the area in which Polish was dominant historically is mostly covered by modern Poland.

The simplest and most typical structure for a Polish name is to a given name followed by a relationship byname formed from a relative's given name, usually the father's name. For women, it could also be constructed from a husband's name. Luckily, our most readily available sources are all lists of given names, making it relatively simple to construct a full name.

First, we have "Polish Given Names in Nazwiska Polak{o'}w" by Walraven van Nijmegen and Arval Benicoeur ( This article provides an undated list of given names "reverse engineered" from relationship bynames. For dated lists of given names, we have "Polish Feminine Given Names, 1600-1650" by Aryanhwy merch Catmael (, and Lillia de Vaux, "A Preliminary Survey of Names from the Historical Dictionary of Personal Names in Bia{l/}ystok" from the 2011 KWHSS Proceedings ( The latter includes male and female given names mostly dating from c1450 to 1650, and discusses basic construction of relationship bynames.

Patronyms can be marked or--for men only--unmarked. Marking in Polish is accomplished in several ways. For men, the suffix -wic(z)/-wicc can be added to the father's given name (e.g., Andrzeiewicz), or syn "son" can be added before the father's full name (Jeromin syn Wojciecha Klepacskiego). In addition, a diminutive suffix, -ik/-yk can be added to the father's given name (Krystoncyk "Little Krystyn"). Women in period always bear feminized bynames formed by adding a suffix to their father or husband's given name or surname. Married women generally use the suffix -owa or -ina/-yna (Jakubowa and Czayczyna), and unmarried women -owna or -anka (Falkowna and Kisczanka). Which suffix is used depends on the relationship and the ending of the name being modified. Widows are often identified with wdowa before the patronymic byname. Unfortunately in many cases, the woman's own given name is not known, as only the feminized bynames are recorded. Such a name would not be registerable in the SCA, as our standards require a given name.

Locative surnames are either formed by using a genitive (possessive) form of the place name with the preposition z, or by using an adjectival form (ending in -ski for men or -ska for women). Descriptive, toponymic, and occupational bynames are also attested, and can be feminized just as the other types of bynames. In addition, Latinized given names and locative bynames, and particles like filius are appropriate for our period, even when combined with Polish surnames. Name patterns include double given names (for men), and double and triple bynames. However, it is not always clear if the second given name is a true given name or an unmarked patronym. Women with multiple bynames generally bear their maiden name and married name, with or without a locative.

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