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100 Traditional Polish Surnames

Updated
Discover the fascinating history of Polish surnames, from the expected to the obscure.

You might think you know everything about Polish last names, but not all end in “ski,” and many come from other surrounding cultures, invaders, and influences. Polish surnames are just not as simple as they might seem.

You’ll find all there is to know with our easy-to-understand list of Polish family names. From their meanings to their history, these names have a fascinating story behind them we’re ready to help bring to light.


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100 Popular Polish Surnames

Go on a trip that delves into the history and meaning of these unique Polish last names ahead.

Abramowicz

Abramowicz is a Jewish-Slavic surname from Abraham, to denote “a descendent of Abraham.” It’s often been used by Ashkenazi Jews, who later changed it to Ben-Avraham after the formation of Israel. Abramowicz was also used by Crusaders who came home from the Middle East.

  • Origin: Slavic, Jewish
  • Meaning: Father of many
  • Pronunciation: Ah-BRAE-moh-wihz
  • Variations: Abramovich, Abramowitz, Abramovitz
  • Namesakes: Witold Abramowicz, a Polish scientist and recipient of the Knight’s Cross of the Polonia Restituta Cross in 2019. Daniel Abramowicz, an American football player for the San Francisco 49ers.
  • Popularity: Abramowicz is rare worldwide and mostly used in Poland, where it ranked 1,005th in 2014.
Familial, Traditional

Antos

Antos was a Hungarian name based on the first name Antal and Anton, both versions of Anthony. In Latin, it’s based on Antonius, meaning “value,” and is still somewhat common in Poland today.

  • Origin: Latin, Polish, Hungarian
  • Meaning: Worthy of praise
  • Pronunciation: AHN-tos
  • Variations: Antoś, Antoš
  • Namesakes: István Antos, the Hungarian Minister of Finance from 1957 to 1960. Václav Antoš, a Czech swimmer who competed in the 1924 Summer Olympics.
  • Popularity: Antos is rare worldwide and mainly used in Poland, where it ranked 1,972nd in 2014.
Unique, Ancient

Babiak

Babiak has Polish and Slavic origins that point to “baba,” meaning “old woman” or “grandmother.” It also means “coward” when used as Babic, but this ode to the matriarch seems like the coolest meaning around.

  • Origin: Polish, Ukrainian
  • Meaning: Grandmother
  • Pronunciation: BAA-bee-Ack
  • Variations: Babyak
  • Namesakes: Miron Babiak, a Polish sea captain who commanded an Antarctica research ship. Todd Babiak, a Canadian writer and CEO of Brand Tasmania.
  • Popularity: Babiak is extremely rare worldwide and primarily used in Ukraine, ranking 1,367th in 2014.
Unique, Rare

Baczewski

Baczewski was a surname for someone from Bacze in Poland. It’s also a version of the first name Bacz, a nickname for Bartłomiej, otherwise known as Bartholomew. The Baczewski name is so well known as a spirits company that it’s used as a synonym for vodka.

  • Origin: Polish
  • Meaning: From Bacze
  • Pronunciation: Bah-CHUW-Skee
  • Namesakes: Józef Baczewski, the Polish head of the J.A. Baczewski spirits company who exported to other European countries at the end of the 19th-century.
  • Popularity: Baczewski is rare worldwide and mostly used in Poland, where it ranked 1,925th in 2014.
Geographical, Traditional

Balik

Balik is a Polish and Slovak version of Bal, a nickname for Baltazar, or Balthazaar. It might also be associated with the Turkish “balyq,” meaning “fish,” a much more everyday meaning.

  • Origin: Polish, Slovak
  • Meaning: God protect the king
  • Namesakes: Jiři Balik, a Czech Agroscientist at the Czech University of Life Sciences Prague.
  • Popularity: Balik is rare worldwide and mainly used in Indonesia and Poland.
Religious, Ancient

Barol

Barol is composed of “sol,” meaning “salt” and “woda,” meaning “water.” It’s also a surname of Spanish origin commonly found in Qatar and the Philippines.

  • Origin: Polish
  • Meaning: Saltwater
  • Pronunciation: BAH-roll
  • Variations: Baral
  • Popularity: Barol is very rare worldwide and primarily used in Papua New Guinea.
Uncommon, Unusual

Bartosz

Bartosz is one of many Polish and Slavic names based on Bartłomiej. It’s the Polish variation of Bartholomew and also means “furrowed,” for one of the more serious Polish last names around.

  • Origin: Polish
  • Meaning: Farmer’s son
  • Pronunciation: BAHR-tosh
  • Namesakes: Jakub Bartosz, a Polish footballer for Puszcza Niepołomice. Joanna Bartosz, a Polish gymnast who competed at the 1972 Summer Olympics.
  • Popularity: Bartosz is rare worldwide and mostly used in Poland, ranking 43rd in 2014.
Traditional, Common

Bialy

Bialy also means a “light-complexioned man” in Polish. It has Eastern Ashkenazic origins and uses the Polish root “biały,” meaning “white.” Bialy was used for blond men but isn’t found very often today.

  • Origin: Polish, Jewish
  • Meaning: White-haired man
  • Pronunciation: Bee-AH-Lee
  • Namesakes: Leszek Biały, the Polish ambassador to Panama since 2017.
  • Popularity: Bialy is rare worldwide and mainly used in Egypt.
Regal, Uncommon

Bilinski

Bilinski is a Polish surname for someone from Bielino, Poland. Because it ends in “-ski,” Bilinski also refers to a “son of” or “descendent of” name that is less familiar today.

  • Origin: Polish
  • Meaning: From Bielino
  • Pronunciation: Bih-LINN-Skee
  • Variations: Bielinski
  • Namesakes: Marek Biliński, a Polish composer of electronic music and winner of the most popular multi-instrumentalist in Poland from 1981 to 1985. Leon de Biliński, a Polish-Austrian Minister of Finance of the Republic of Poland, in 1919.
  • Popularity: Bilinski is very rare worldwide and primarily used in the U.S.
Uncommon, Geographical

Borek

Borek is a Polish and Jewish surname for a person hailing from Borek. It’s based on the Polish “bór,” meaning “pine forest” and the diminutive suffix “-ek.” Borek is also associated with the Polish “borowik,” meaning “forest mushroom.”

  • Origin: Polish, Jewish
  • Meaning: Mushroom
  • Pronunciation: BOHR-eck
  • Variations: Börek, Borěk
  • Namesakes: Tomáš Borek, a Czech footballer for FC Horky and Jizerou. Scott Borek, an American ice hockey head coach at Merrimack College in Massachusetts.
  • Popularity: Borek is very rare worldwide and mostly used in the Czech Republic, where it ranked 575th in 2014.
Unique, Geographical
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Broz

Broz refers to a “descendant of Broz.” It’s also a nickname for the Greek name Ambrose, meaning “divine” and “forever.” Broz can also appear as Ambroży in Polish and is found in Croatia and the Czech Republic.

  • Origin: Slavic, Greek
  • Meaning: Immortal
  • Pronunciation: BRAAZ
  • Variations: Brozek
  • Namesakes: Aleksandra Broz, a Croatian theater and television director and the granddaughter of the Yugoslav president Josip Broz Tito. Josip Broz, a Serbian politician and grandson of Yugoslav leader Josip Broz Tito.
  • Popularity: Broz is very rare worldwide, mainly used in the U.S., and ranked 1,605th in Croatia in 2014.
Ancient, Religious

Bukowski

Bukowski was given to someone who came from Bukow, a common place name in Poland, Ukraine, and Belarus. It’s one of the many Polish surnames that end with ski, which indicates “from.”

  • Origin: Polish
  • Meaning: Dweller near a birch tree
  • Pronunciation: Boo-KOW-Skee
  • Variations: Bukowsky, Bukowiecki, Bukowky
  • Namesakes: Charles Bukowski, a German-American writer known for his column Notes of a Dirty Old Man. Piotr Bukowski, a German water polo player who competed at the 1996 Summer Olympics.
  • Popularity: Bukowski is rare worldwide and primarily used in Poland, where it ranked 170th in 2014.
Traditional, Geographical

Cena

Cena was a Polish nickname used for a “trader” or “dealer.” In Italian, Cena also means “supper” and is based on the Latin “caenum,” meaning “mud.”

  • Origin: Polish
  • Meaning: Price
  • Pronunciation: SEH-Nah
  • Namesakes: John Cena, an American wrestler signed to WWE. Marcone Cena, a Brazilian footballer for Doze.
  • Popularity: Cena is rare worldwide, mostly used in the Philippines, and ranked 582nd in Albania in 2014.
Unique, Nickname

Chrzan

Chrzan may mean “horseradish,” but it’s also a nickname for an “indolent man.” It’s also the name of a town in the western part of Poland.

  • Origin: Polish
  • Meaning: Horseradish
  • Pronunciation: CHER-zaan
  • Namesakes: Jan Chrzan, a Polish landscape painter, activist, and artistic director of the Association of Polish Visual Artists ZPAP.
  • Popularity: Chrzan is very rare worldwide and mainly used in Poland, ranking 1,594th in 2014.
Nickname, Uncommon

Cisek

Cisek is a diminutive of the Polish “cis,” meaning “yew tree.” It’s also related to the nickname Cisy, meaning “swarthy,’” and is a city in southern Poland.

  • Origin: Polish
  • Meaning: Yew tree
  • Pronunciation: CHEH-sack
  • Variations: Çişek
  • Namesakes: Wieslaw Cisek, a former Polish footballer for the Polish national team from 1987 to 1988.
  • Popularity: Cisek is rare worldwide and primarily used in Poland, where it ranked 1,241st in 2014.
Geographical, Nickname

Czarny

Czarny is a Polish and Eastern Ashkenazi Jewish nickname for someone with black hair or a dark complexion. It literally means “black” in Polish and often appears as Charney in America.

  • Origin: Polish, Jewish
  • Meaning: Black hair
  • Pronunciation: CHAR-ney
  • Variations: Czerney, Czerny, Czernay, Czarny
  • Namesakes: Leszek Czarny, a 13th-century Polish prince of the House of Piast. Zawisza Czarny, a 14th-century Polish knight, and nobleman whose black armor is kept at the Jasna Góra Monastery.
  • Popularity: Czarny is rare worldwide and mostly used in Poland, ranking 1,568th in 2014.
Nickname, Regal

Dabkowski

Dabkowski was given to anyone from a place with “dąb” in its name, meaning “’oak.” Polish towns like Dąbki or Dąbkowice fit the bill. The Polish national anthem is also known as Dąbrowski’s Mazurka, meaning “Poland is Not Lost.”

  • Origin: Polish
  • Meaning: Oak grove
  • Pronunciation: Dahm-BROW-Skee
  • Variations: Dombrowski
  • Namesakes: Stanislawa Dabrowski, an Australian humanitarian and winner of the Order of Australia medal in 1998. Stina Dabrowski, a Swedish TV co-host on the variety show Nöjesmaskinen.
  • Popularity: Dabkowski is very rare worldwide and mainly used in the U.S.
Geographical, Uncommon

Demko

Demko is also a common Ukrainian surname, meaning “descendant of Demian.” It originated as the Greek Demetrious, meaning “giver of grain,” and is a Polish nickname for Demjan.

  • Origin: Polish, Ukrainian
  • Meaning: Devoted to Demeter
  • Pronunciation: DEHM-Kow
  • Namesakes: Thatcher Demko, an American ice hockey player for the Vancouver Canucks. Michelle Demko, an American soccer player for the U.S. women’s national team.
  • Popularity: Demko is rare worldwide, primarily used in the U.S., and ranked 875th in Slovakia in 2014.
Ancient, Nickname

Deptula

Deptula comes from the Polish “deptać,” meaning “to tread on something.” It’s very rare and obscure but is a good example of an old, yet classic, Polish name.

  • Origin: Polish
  • Meaning: To tread
  • Pronunciation: DEP-Toow-Lah
  • Namesakes: Zbigniew Deptuła, a Polish member of the Sejm from 2001 to 2005. David Deptula, the American Dean of the Mitchell Institute of Aerospace Power Studies.
  • Popularity: Deptula is very rare worldwide and mostly used in the U.S.
Uncommon, Nickname

Dolak

Dolak is a name for someone “in the lower part of a village.” Dolak is composed of the Polish “dolu,” meaning “down.” The nickname Dola means “destiny,” which makes Dolak one of the cooler Polish family names on our list.

  • Origin: Polish
  • Meaning: Fate
  • Pronunciation: DOH-lack
  • Variations: Doľák
  • Popularity: Dolak is very rare worldwide and is mainly used in Poland.
Uncommon, Geographical
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Dombrowski

Dombrowski is another version of the Polish Dabrowski. It’s based on the place names Dąbrowa and Dąbrówka, used for places with “oak groves.”

  • Origin: Polish
  • Meaning: Oak grove
  • Pronunciation: Dom-BROW-Skee
  • Variations: Dobrowski, Dobrosky
  • Namesakes: David Dombrowski, the American President of Baseball Operations for the Philadelphia Phillies. Jan Dombrowski, a Polish bobsledder who competed at the 1956 Winter Olympics.
  • Popularity: Dombrowski is rare worldwide, primarily used in the U.S., and ranked 1,313rd in Germany in 2014.
Traditional, Geographical

Dragan

Dragan is a typical Slavic name used in Poland, Romania, and Slovenia. It’s based on “drag(a),” meaning “beloved.” Dragan is also a short form of Dragoslav, meaning “dear glory.”

  • Origin: Slavic
  • Meaning: Descendent of Dragan
  • Pronunciation: DRAA-Gahn
  • Namesakes: Iosif Drăgan, a Romanian-Italian businessman and founder of the Butan Gas company. Ioan Drăgan, a Romanian footballer for FC Brașov.
  • Popularity: Dragan is rare worldwide, mostly used in Romania, and ranked 87th in Moldova in 2014.
Powerful, Familial

Dziedzic

Dziedzic comes from a Polish word given to “one who rented land to another.” It also means “heir” and “successor” in a long line of Polish landowners.

  • Origin: Polish
  • Meaning: Landlord
  • Pronunciation: JEH-jihts
  • Variations: Dziegiel
  • Namesakes: Katarzyna Dziedzic, a Canadian beauty pageant contestant, crowned Miss International Canada in 2003. Augustyn Dziedzic, a Polish weightlifter who competed at the 1952 Summer Olympics.
  • Popularity: Dziedzic is rare worldwide and mainly used in Poland, ranking 114th in 2014.
Unique, Ancient

Florek

Florek means “descendant of little Flor” in Polish. It’s also a nickname for the first name Florian, meaning “flowering.”

  • Origin: Polish
  • Meaning: Flowering
  • Pronunciation: FLOH-reck
  • Namesakes: Dann Florek, an American actor best known for NBC’s Law & Order. Justin Florek, an American ice hockey player for the South Carolina Stingrays of the EDHL.
  • Popularity: Florek is rare worldwide and primarily used in Poland, ranking 436th in 2014.
Nickname, Familial

Franko

Franko is another version of the Polish Franciszek, or Francis. It’s based on the Latin Franciscus, also once meaning “French man.”

  • Origin: Slavic
  • Meaning: Free man
  • Pronunciation: FRAEN-Kow
  • Variations: Fránkó
  • Namesakes: Sam Franko, an American violinist with the New York Philharmonic. Martina Franko, a Canadian soccer player for the Vancouver Whitecaps.
  • Popularity: Franko is rare worldwide, mostly used in the U.S., and ranked 526th in Slovakia in 2014.
Nickname, Unique

Gacek

Gacek is the Polish word for a bat. It’s also another version of the nickname Gac, taken from the first name Gawel.

  • Origin: Polish
  • Meaning: Bat
  • Pronunciation: GAH-sek
  • Namesakes: Piotr Gacek, a Polish volleyball player for the men’s national volleyball team between 2005 and 2010.
  • Popularity: Gacek is rare worldwide and mainly used in Poland, ranking 809th in 2014.
Unusual, Nickname

Glazewski

Glazewski was a name given to a place called Głażewo in the Masovian Voivodeship in Poland. It’s hardly used today but is one of the many Polish last names based on a geographical locale.

  • Origin: Polish
  • Meaning: From Głażewo
  • Pronunciation: Glah-ZOO-Skee
  • Variations: Gtaszewski
  • Popularity: Glazewski is very rare worldwide and primarily used in the U.S.
Uncommon, Geographical

Gorniak

Gorniak comes from the Polish Górny. It may have been given to a person from Górna or Górne in Poland. Gorn also means “mountain” and “mine” in Polish, while “iak” means “man.”

  • Origin: Polish
  • Meaning: Miner
  • Pronunciation: GORE-nee-ahk
  • Namesakes: Edyta Górniak, a Polish pop singer in the Tony Award-nominated Polish musical Metro.
  • Popularity: Gorniak is very rare worldwide and mostly used in the U.S.
Familial, Geographical

Grosz

Grosz is a Polish Jewish name based on “groschen,” meaning “coin of small value.” It’s also associated with the German-Polish “Groß,” meaning “large.”

  • Origin: Polish, Jewish
  • Meaning: Coin
  • Pronunciation: GROSCH
  • Namesakes: Károly Grósz, the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party General Secretary from 1988 to 1989. Stephen Grosz, an American psychoanalyst with articles in the Financial Times and Granta.
  • Popularity: Grosz is very rare worldwide and primarily used in the U.S.
Uncommon, Nickname

Gulan

Gulan is an alternative version of Gula. It’s also a Croatian nickname originating from the Turkish “gulam,” meaning “captured man.” Gulan is also a Kurdish girl’s name, meaning “month of roses.”

  • Origin: Polish, Turkish
  • Meaning: Swelling
  • Pronunciation: GUW-Lahn
  • Variations: Gullan, Gullane
  • Namesakes: Nikola Gulan, a Serbian footballer for Swedish club BK Häcken. Genco Gulan, a Turkish artist with work at the Pompidou Center Paris.
  • Popularity: Gulan is rare worldwide, mostly used in Pakistan, and ranked 941st in Afghanistan in 2014.
Unusual, Nickname
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Hajduk

Hajduk is a Hungarian word for “a footman in Cossack uniform.” In Polish, it means “armed retainer of a nobleman.” Hajduk may also relate to the Turkish “haidut,” meaning “bandit.”

  • Origin: Polish, Ukrainian
  • Meaning: Drover
  • Pronunciation: HIEY-Duuke
  • Variations: Hejduk
  • Namesakes: Anja Hajduk, the German State Secretary in the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action since 2021.
  • Popularity: Hajduk is rare worldwide and mainly used in Poland, ranking 343rd in 2014.
Traditional, Ancient

Helminski

Helminski is based on the German first name Helmann when combined with the Polish “-ski” suffix. It was also used as a nickname for someone with fair hair or a light complexion.

  • Origin: Polish, German
  • Meaning: Bright man
  • Pronunciation: Hell-MIHN-Skee
  • Variations: Helman, Helmin
  • Namesakes: Kabir Helminski, an American writer and one of the most famous translators of Rumi.
  • Popularity: Helminski is extremely rare worldwide and primarily used in the U.S.
Nickname, Familial

Iskra

Iskra is a nickname for a “sprightly person,” originating with the meaning “spark.” It’s been used for everything, from a Russian satirical magazine to a town in Bulgaria and a Slovenian telecommunications company.

  • Origin: Slavic
  • Meaning: Spark
  • Pronunciation: IYS-Kraa
  • Popularity: Iskra is rare worldwide, mostly used in Poland, and ranked 344th in Slovenia in 2014.
Unique, Nickname

Jagoda

Jagoda is also a girl’s name and a common surname in Poland and Croatia. It also means “berry” and is a nickname for a person who sells strawberries or berries.

  • Origin: Polish, Jewish
  • Meaning: Strawberry
  • Pronunciation: Yah-GOW-Dah
  • Variations: Jagode
  • Namesakes: Flory Jagoda (born Flora Papo), a Bosnian Jewish–American guitarist known for Sephardic songs. Dhamma Jagoda, the first Head of the Drama Unit at the DriLankan TV channel Rupavahini Corporation.
  • Popularity: Jagoda is rare worldwide and mainly used in Sri Lanka, where it ranked 705th in 2014.
Unusual, Common

Janiga

Janiga is based on the popular personal name Jan, the equivalent of John. It’s also used in Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Poland.

  • Origin: Polish, Slovak
  • Meaning: Gift of God
  • Pronunciation: Jan-IHG-ah
  • Variations: Jañiga
  • Namesakes: Carly Janiga, an American gymnast and gold medalist in the FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Cup competition in 2010.
  • Popularity: Janiga is very rare worldwide and primarily used in Poland.
Uncommon, Familial

Janowicz

Janowicz is based on Jan, another version of John. It first originated in West Prussia and Poland, where it was a name for noble medieval families. Janowicz is the Polish version of Johnson.

  • Origin: Polish
  • Meaning: Son of John
  • Pronunciation: Yae-noh-VIHCH
  • Variations: Jaskiewicz
  • Namesakes: Ryszard Pędrak-Janowicz, a Polish luger and gold medalist at the FIL World Luge Championships. Victor Janowicz, an American football player for the Washington Redskins.
  • Popularity: Janowicz is rare worldwide and mostly used in Poland, ranking 1,234th in 2014.
Regal, Familial

Jesko

Jesko is one of many Polish surnames based on the personal name Jan/John. It also appears as a shortened surname for the Polish Jeszkowhich. Jesko also means “the soldierly one,” with 84% of Jeskos existing in the U.S.

  • Origin: Polish
  • Meaning: The brave one
  • Pronunciation: JHEHS-Kow
  • Variations: Jeske, Jescho
  • Popularity: Jesko is extremely rare worldwide and mainly used in the U.S.
Rare, Powerful

Kamiński

Kamiński is made up of the Polish “kamien,” meaning “stone” or “rock.” It was a name given to people who worked as stone carvers or in quarries.

  • Origin: Polish
  • Meaning: One who comes from a rocky place
  • Pronunciation: Kah-MIHN-Skee
  • Variations: Kamińska, Kamińscy
  • Namesakes: Michał Kamiński, a Polish politician and chairman of the European Parliament from 2009 until 2011. Wojciech Kamiński, a Polish basketball coach for Legia Warszawa of the Polish Basketball League.
  • Popularity: Kamiński is rare worldwide, primarily used in the U.S., and ranked 689th in 2014.
Rare, Traditional

Kanarek

Kanarek means “canary” and was a nickname for anyone who was birdlike. It was a Jewish artificial name often created out of German or Yiddish words.

  • Origin: Polish, Jewish
  • Meaning: Canary
  • Pronunciation: Kah-NAAR-ehk
  • Namesakes: Irving Kanarek, an American criminal defense attorney known for representing Charles Manson. Yael Kanarek, an Israeli-American artist known for using the Internet in art.
  • Popularity: Kanarek is very rare worldwide and mostly used in Poland.
Uncommon, Unusual

Kapusta

Kapusta is the Polish, Slovak, and East Slavic word for “cabbage.” It was first given as a name for a cabbage grower or a funny nickname for a person thought to have a cabbage head.

  • Origin: Polish
  • Meaning: Cabbage
  • Pronunciation: Kah-POOS-tah
  • Namesakes: Peter Kapusta, a Canadian ice hockey player for the Providence Reds. Tomáš Kapusta, a Slovak footballer for FK Senica.
  • Popularity: Kapusta is rare worldwide, mainly used in Poland, and ranked 413th in Slovakia in 2014.
Unusual, Nickname
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Kawczyński

Kawczyński is given to someone from Kawczyn or Kawczyno, in Poland. It may arise from the Polish “kawka,” meaning “jackdaw.” A jackdaw is a small gray crow that is as rare as this name.

  • Origin: Polish
  • Meaning: Grey crow
  • Pronunciation: Kahv-CHIHN-Skee
  • Variations: Kawczyñski
  • Namesakes: Daniel Kawczyński, a British Special Advisor to Prime Minister David Cameron.
  • Popularity: Kawczyński is very rare worldwide and primarily used in the U.S.
Uncommon, Geographical

Klimek

Klimek means “descendant of little Klim” in Polish. It’s a pet name for Klemens, based on the Latin Clemens, meaning “merciful.” Klimek is also a boy’s name today.

  • Origin: Polish
  • Meaning: Merciful
  • Pronunciation: KLIH-Mihk
  • Variations: Klimuk
  • Namesakes: Antonín Klimek, a Czech historian specializing in the history of the First Czechoslovak Republic. Johnny Klimek, an Australian musician, known for his film scores.
  • Popularity: Klimek is rare worldwide and mostly used in Poland, where it ranked 138th in 2014.
Familial, Unique

Klus

Klus is a Polish nickname taken from “kłusak,” meaning “trotter.” Trotter means a racing horse or a pig’s foot, depending on your preference. It’s also a German place name based on “kluse,” meaning “monk’s cell” or “narrow passage.”

  • Origin: Polish, German
  • Meaning: Trotter
  • Pronunciation: KLOOS
  • Variations: Klaus, Kloss
  • Popularity: Klus is very rare worldwide and mainly used in Poland.
Uncommon, Ancient

Kolton

Kolton is a Polish and Jewish version of Koltun. It also refers to a Polish plait hairstyle. Kolton is also a nickname for someone with unkempt hair.

  • Origin: Polish, Jewish
  • Meaning: Mophead
  • Pronunciation: KOWL-Tahn
  • Variations: Koltun
  • Namesakes: Paul Kolton, an American executive and chairman of the American Stock Exchange. Tamara Kolton, an American non-denominational rabbi and the first person ordained a member of the Humanistic Jewish movement.
  • Popularity: Kolton is very rare worldwide and primarily used in the United States.
Nickname, Uncommon

Kopernik

Kopernik refers to a “copper miner” or “copper smelter.” It’s also associated with the village of Koperniki in southwestern Poland. Polish family names ending in “-nik” often refer to professional titles once given.

  • Origin: Polish
  • Meaning: Miner
  • Pronunciation: KOH-pehr-Nick
  • Namesakes: Nicolaus Copernicus (born Mikołaj Kopernik), a Polish Renaissance mathematician known for a model of the universe with the Sun at its center.
  • Popularity: Kopernik is very rare worldwide and mostly used in Russia.
Uncommon, Geographical

Kowalczyk

Kowalczyk originally meant “son of the smith,” an occupational name. It’s also a diminutive of “kowal,” meaning “blacksmith,” once a very traditional occupation.

  • Origin: Polish
  • Meaning: Blacksmith
  • Pronunciation: Koh-VAHL-Chek
  • Variations: Kowalska, Kowalski
  • Namesakes: Henryk Kowalczyk, the Deputy Prime Minister of Poland since 2021. Walter Kowalczyk, an American football player for the Philadelphia Eagles.
  • Popularity: Kowalczyk is uncommon worldwide and mainly used in Poland, ranking 4th in 2014.
Familial, Common

Krajnik

Krajnik refers to “a man who lived in a place on the edge of the village.” It may be associated with Kraj, an actual place, or “kraj,” meaning “end border” in Polish.

  • Origin: Polish
  • Meaning: Living on the edge of the village
  • Pronunciation: KREYE-Nick
  • Variations: Krajni, Krajný
  • Popularity: Krajnik is very rare worldwide, primarily used in Poland, and ranked 859th in Slovenia in 2014.
Geographical, Unique

Kruk

Kruk is a Polish and Ashkenazic Jewish nickname based on “kruk,” meaning “raven.” In Dutch, Kruk also refers to someone who uses a crutch or walking stick.

  • Origin: Polish, Jewish
  • Meaning: Raven
  • Pronunciation: KROOK
  • Namesakes: Elżbieta Kruk, a Polish politician in the Sejm since 2005. Petro Kruk, a Ukrainian sprint canoer who competed at the 2008 Summer Olympics.
  • Popularity: Kruk is extremely rare worldwide and mostly used in Cambodia.
Nickname, Unusual

Krzyżewski

Krzyżewski is taken from the place name Krzyżewo, which exists in various locations in Poland. It may consist of “krzyz,” meaning “cross,” and “ewski,” meaning “from.”

  • Origin: Polish
  • Meaning: Cross
  • Pronunciation: Krey-SHEF-Skee
  • Variations: Krzyżewska, Krzyżewscy
  • Namesakes: Michael Krzyzewski, an American college basketball coach at Duke University from 1980 to 2022. Juliusz Krzyżewski, a Polish radio host who read a message from President Ignacy Mościcki in 1939.
  • Popularity: Krzyzewski is very rare worldwide and mainly used in the U.S.
Geographical, Rare

Kuzio

Kuza means “old cow” in Polish and is used as a funny nickname. When appearing as “kuzia,” it’s something once said to drive horses away in the countryside or on a farm.

  • Origin: Polish
  • Meaning: Old cow
  • Pronunciation: KOO-ziy-Oh
  • Variations: Kuzia
  • Namesakes: Taras Kuzio, a British academic at the National University in Kyiv, Ukraine.
  • Popularity: Kuzio is very rare worldwide and primarily used in Poland.
Rare, Unique
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Lachut

Lachut is a derivative of Lach. It’s a nickname for a “raggedy person,” from “łachy,” meaning “rags” and “old clothes.”

  • Origin: Polish
  • Meaning: Rags
  • Pronunciation: LAH-shoot
  • Variations: Łachut
  • Popularity: Lachut is very rare worldwide and mostly used in the U.S.
Nickname, Rare

Lewandowski

Lewandowski originally meant “one who came from Lewandow,” or from “Lewand’s settlement.” It’s also based on the Polish “lewenda,” meaning “lavender,” and is a derivative of the first name Levant.

  • Origin: Polish
  • Meaning: Lavender
  • Pronunciation: Leh-vaan-DOH-Skee
  • Variations: Lewandowska, Lewandowscy
  • Namesakes: Konrad Lewandowski, a Polish science fiction writer and winner of the Janusz A. Zajdel Award in 1995. Mariusz Lewandowski, a Polish footballer named Polish Footballer of the Year in 2009.
  • Popularity: Lewandowski is uncommon worldwide and mainly used in Poland, ranking 3rd in 2014.
Traditional, Geographical

Lewinsky

Lewinsky was originally given to anyone from Lewiny in Poland. It’s also based on the Jewish name Levin, a form of Levy or Levite. The Polish “lew,” meaning “lion,” was often used at the beginning of many first names.

  • Origin: Polish, Jewish
  • Meaning: Lion
  • Pronunciation: Lew-IHN-Skee
  • Variations: Lewinski
  • Namesakes: Monica Lewinsky, an American White House intern involved in a scandal with President Bill Clinton. Elḥanan Lewinsky, a Hebrew writer, considered the author of the first science fiction work in Hebrew.
  • Popularity: Lewinsky is very rare worldwide and primarily used in the U.S.
Uncommon, Geographical

Luczynski

Luczynski is one of many Polish last names based on places. It was originally given to people from locations like Łuczyna or Łuczynów, both in Poland.

  • Origin: Polish
  • Meaning: From Łuczyn
  • Pronunciation: Loo-CHIN-skee
  • Variations: Luczynsky, Luczynska
  • Popularity: Luczynski is rare worldwide and mostly used in the U.S.
Uncommon

Machak

Machak might have originally appeared in Poland as Maczak. It was a nickname for Maciej, a Polish version of Matthew. Machak also means “tom cat” in Croatian. In other Slavic cultures, it means “to dunk” or “poppy seed.”

  • Origin: Polish, Slavic
  • Meaning: Gift of Yahweh
  • Pronunciation: MAH-chak
  • Variations: Mačak
  • Popularity: Machak is very rare worldwide, mainly used in Thailand, and ranked 679th in South Sudan in 2014.
Ancient, Nickname

Maciag

Maciag is based on the Polish first name Maciej, a version of Matthias or Matthew. It means “big Maciej” for the head of this particular Polish family.

  • Origin: Polish
  • Meaning: Gift of God
  • Pronunciation: MAH-Choog
  • Variations: Maciej
  • Namesakes: Paweł Maciąg, a Polish-American professor and director of the Leadership at the Polish-Slavic Federal Credit Union, the largest in the U.S.
  • Popularity: Maciag is very rare worldwide and primarily used in the U.S.
Unusual, Uncommon

Magda

Magda is more common as a woman’s first name based on Mary Magdalene. It’s a shorter version of the Slavic Magdalena and means “maiden” in German.

  • Origin: Polish, Hungarian
  • Meaning: Woman of Magdala
  • Pronunciation: MAAG-Daa
  • Variations: Magdolna
  • Popularity: Magda is rare worldwide, mostly used in Poland, and ranked 1,233rd in Hungary in 2014.
Unique, Religious

Marko

Marko is a variation of the Polish and Slavic Marek, or English Mark. Though Polish and Jewish, it originated with the Latin Marcus and is very common in Brazil today.

  • Origin: Polish
  • Meaning: Dedicated to Mars
  • Pronunciation: MAAR-Kow
  • Namesakes: Béla Markó, a Hungarian-Romanian politician who competed in the 2004 Romanian presidential election. Helmut Marko, an Austrian racing driver, and advisor to the Red Bull GmbH Formula One teams.
  • Popularity: Marko is rare worldwide, mainly used in Tanzania, and ranked 51st in Slovakia in 2014.
Ancient, Powerful

Mazur

Mazur is a Polish and Jewish name for someone from Mazury or Masuria. Though Mazury was once located in East Prussia, it’s part of Poland today.

  • Origin: Polish, Slavic
  • Meaning: From Mazury
  • Pronunciation: MAE-Zer
  • Variations: Mazurowa, Mazurowie
  • Namesakes: Magdalena Mazur, a Polish TV presenter on MTV Poland. Aleksandr Mazur, a Ukrainian heavyweight Greco-Roman wrestler and world title holder in 1955.
  • Popularity: Mazur is uncommon worldwide and primarily used in Poland, ranking 13th in 2014.
Unique, Geographical

Michalowski

Michalowski also means “descendant of Michal.” It refers to Michael and is also associated with someone from Michałowice in Poland.

  • Origin: Polish
  • Meaning: One who is like God
  • Pronunciation: Mih-kah-LAVF-Skee
  • Variations: Michalowska
  • Namesakes: Aleksander Michałowski, a Polish pianist known for performing works of Chopin and J.S. Bach. Mark Michalowski, an English author and editor of Shout! Magazine.
  • Popularity: Michalowski is rare worldwide and mostly used in the U.S.
Familial, Religious
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Minkus

Minkus may have German origins, based on “magin,” meaning “strength,” and “gōt,” meaning “Goth.” In Polish, a “minka” is someone who “makes faces,” otherwise known as a joker.

  • Origin: Polish, German
  • Meaning: Strong Goth
  • Pronunciation: MIHN-kuhs
  • Namesakes: Ludwig Minkus, the Jewish-Austrian Composer of Ballet Music for the St. Petersburg Imperial Theatres. Christian Minkus, a 19th-century member of the Frankfurt Assembly in Germany.
  • Popularity: Minkus is very rare worldwide and mainly used in Germany.
Uncommon, Nickname

Motyka

Motyka is the Polish word for a “hoe,” a gardening tool used to destroy weeds. It’s also found in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Ukraine as a nickname for a hoe.

  • Origin: Polish, Slavic
  • Meaning: Hoe
  • Pronunciation: Moh-TEE-Kaa
  • Namesakes: Stanisław Motyka, a Polish skier who competed at the 1928 Winter Olympics. Grzegorz Motyka, a Polish historian, focused on Poland–Ukraine relations.
  • Popularity: Motyka is rare worldwide and primarily used in Poland, where it ranked 485th in 2014.
Unique, Unusual

Nejman

Nejman is a Polish, Ashkenazic Jewish, and German version of Neumann. Najman is the closely-connected Yiddish version. It refers to anyone who gets “a new start in a strange town or country.”

  • Origin: Polish, Jewish
  • Meaning: New man
  • Pronunciation: NEY-man
  • Variations: Najman
  • Popularity: Nejman is very rare worldwide and mostly used in Poland, where it ranked 1,754th in 2014.
Unusual, Ancient

Nowaczyk

Nowaczyk also means “descendant of a new man” and is another version of Nowak. It originated in East Prussia with a medieval noble family who later became Barons in what is now Poland.

  • Origin: Polish
  • Meaning: Newcomer
  • Pronunciation: Noh-VAH-chek
  • Variations: Nowick, Novicki
  • Popularity: Nowaczyk is rare worldwide and primarily used in Poland, where it ranked 139th in 2014.
Regal, Nickname

Nowak

Nowak is a Polish and Jewish nickname for a “newcomer” to anything from a country or place to an occupation. It’s based on the Polish “nowy,” meaning “new.” Nowak is the top surname in Poland and is also quite common in Germany.

  • Origin: Polish, Jewish
  • Meaning: Newcomer
  • Pronunciation: NOH-Vahk
  • Variations: Novak
  • Namesakes: Wanda Nowak, an Austrian high jumper who competed at the 1936 Summer Olympics. Lisa Nowak, an American NASA astronaut and former U.S. Navy captain.
  • Popularity: Nowak ranked 1,524th worldwide and is mainly used in Poland, ranking #1 in 2014.
Traditional, Nickname

Ogorek

Ogorek is the literal Polish word “ogórek,” meaning “cucumber.” It may have been given to someone who was a gardener or seller of cucumbers at one time.

  • Origin: Polish
  • Meaning: Cucumber
  • Pronunciation: OH-goh-Rek
  • Popularity: Ogorek is very rare worldwide and mainly used in the U.S.
Uncommon, Nickname

Olenski

Olenski is a Polish geographical surname for the inhabitants of Polish places like Olesno or Oleszno. It may have also referred to Olen, a village in modern-day Belarus.

  • Origin: Polish
  • Meaning: From Olen
  • Pronunciation: Oh-LEHN-Skee
  • Variations: Olenska, Olensky, Olinski
  • Namesakes: Mitchell Olenski, an American football player for the Detroit Lions.
  • Popularity: Olenski is very rare worldwide and primarily used in the U.S.
Uncommon, Geographical

Padula

Padula is a nickname for a person “unsteady on his feet.” It’s composed of the Polish “padac,” meaning “to fall down.” Padula is also a common Italian surname meaning “dweller at the swamp.”

  • Origin: Polish, Italian
  • Meaning: Unsteady person
  • Pronunciation: PAH-doo-Lah
  • Namesakes: Andrea Padula, a Swiss footballer for Bellinzona. Mary Padula, an American politician in the Massachusetts Senate from 1983 to 1991.
  • Popularity: Padula is rare worldwide, mostly used in Italy, and ranked 1,706th in Uruguay in 2014.
Unique, Nickname

Piascik

Piascik is based on the Polish “piastować,” meaning “to nurse.” “Piasta” also means “hub of a cartwheel” and is connected to the first name Piast. Piast was a famous medieval hero called “Piast the Wheelwright” who is still known today.

  • Origin: Polish
  • Meaning: To nurse
  • Pronunciation: Piy-ASH-Tik
  • Popularity: Piascik is very rare worldwide and mainly used in the U.S.
Uncommon, Nickname

Piróg

Piróg is a nickname based on the most famous Polish dish, Pierogi, which are savory dumplings. It most commonly appears in Russia since the Slavic root “pir” also means “banquet” and refers to a slightly different Russian version of the dumpling dish.

  • Origin: Polish
  • Meaning: Pierogi (food)
  • Pronunciation: PIY-rohg
  • Popularity: Piróg is very rare worldwide and primarily used in Russia.
Nickname, Rare
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Polka

Polka is a German nickname used for a person from Poland. It’s also a short form for Apolonia and means “one who walked with a cane” in Czech-Slovakian.

  • Origin: Polish, Slavic
  • Meaning: Polish woman
  • Pronunciation: POHL-kaa
  • Variations: Polki
  • Popularity: Polka is very rare worldwide and mostly used in the U.S.
Traditional, Uncommon

Przybylowicz

Przybylowicz is another version of the surname Przybyła, meaning “foundling.” It’s an example of Polish surnames with a “-wicz” suffix, which means “son of” or “family of.”

  • Origin: Polish
  • Meaning: Foundling
  • Pronunciation: Przh-BEE-low-Vicz
  • Namesakes: Marcin Przybyłowicz, a Polish film composer for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.
  • Popularity: Przybylowicz is very rare worldwide and mainly used in the U.S.
Rare, Unusual

Radomski

Radomski is a surname given to someone from the Polish city of Radom. It’s associated with the Slavic first name Radomir. In Germany and the Czech Republic, Radomski means “one who made wheels.”

  • Origin: Polish, Slavic
  • Meaning: One who made wheels
  • Pronunciation: Rah-DOM-Skee
  • Variations: Radomska, Radomsky
  • Namesakes: Mikołaj Radomski, a 15th-century Polish composer of religious polyphonic music. Dale Radomski, a Hawaiian stuntman for TV series like Jake and the Fatman.
  • Popularity: Radomski is rare worldwide and primarily used in Poland, where it ranked 312th in 2014.
Traditional, Geographical

Regula

In Polish, “regula” means “rules.” It may have been a nickname for an administrator or someone in charge. When based on the Latin “regulus,” it means “little ruler” or “little king.”

  • Origin: Polish
  • Meaning: Rulemaker
  • Pronunciation: REG-yoo-Lah
  • Namesakes: Lauren Bay-Regula, a Canadian softball pitcher and bronze medalist at the 2020 Summer Olympics. Ralph Regula, an American politician and the second longest serving Republican member of the House of Representatives.
  • Popularity: Regula is rare worldwide and mostly used in India.
Uncommon, Nickname

Rozum

Rozum is a Polish nickname for a very smart person. It means “mind intelligence” and “mental reasoning” in Polish.

  • Origin: Polish, Slovakian
  • Meaning: Intelligent person
  • Pronunciation: ROH-zuhm
  • Popularity: Rozum is extremely rare worldwide and mainly used in Slovakia.
Rare, Nickname

Rucki

Rucki is a variation of the Polish surname Rudzki. It was also given as a name for someone from Ruda in Poland. Combined with “-zki,” meaning “ore,” it may indicate a town with lots of metalworks.

  • Origin: Polish
  • Meaning: From Ruta
  • Pronunciation: ROO-Kee
  • Variations: Rudzki
  • Namesakes: Jean Lambert-Rucki, a Polish avant-garde artist in the Art Deco movement.
  • Popularity: Rucki is very rare worldwide and primarily used in Poland.
Geographical, Unique

Sabala

Sabala is also a Slovak name based on “sabol,” meaning “tailor.” It means “powerful” and “mighty” in Hindi. The nickname Sabata was used to distinguish between Polish Goral highlander families.

  • Origin: Polish, Sanskrit
  • Meaning: Tailor
  • Pronunciation: Saa-BAH-laa
  • Variations: Sabol
  • Namesakes: Sabała, a 19th-century Goral-Polish musician and folk singer in the Tatra Mountains.
  • Popularity: Sabala is rare worldwide, primarily used in the Philippines, and ranked 884th in the Dominican Republic in 2014.
Unusual, Nickname

Sambor

Sambor was a Slavic first name composed of “sam,” meaning ‘himself” and “alone” and “bor,” meaning “’to fight.” It also means “alone in battle” for the brave little soldier out on the front.

  • Origin: Polish, Jewish
  • Meaning: To fight alone
  • Pronunciation: SAAM-bore
  • Namesakes: Sambor II of Tczew, a 13th-century duke of Pomerania and prince of Lubiszewo Tczewskie.
  • Popularity: Sambor is very rare worldwide and mainly used in Poland, ranking 1,669th in 2014.
Traditional, Powerful

Serafin

Serafin is based on the medieval Latin “seraphinus” and Hebrew “serafim.” It refers to the highest order of angels, like the female name Serafina.

  • Origin: Polish, Hebrew
  • Meaning: Burning ones
  • Pronunciation: SEH-rah-Feen
  • Variations: Serafino
  • Namesakes: Catharina Serafin, a Prussian patient on whom the first cardiac pacing experiments were done in 1892. Tullio Serafin, an Italian conductor and Musical Director at La Scala.
  • Popularity: Serafin is rare worldwide and primarily used in Poland, where it ranked 243rd in 2014.
Ancient, Religious

Sikora

Sikora is the Polish word for “coal mouse.” It’s also associated with the Slavic word for “birds of the Paridae family.” Sikora could then be a nickname for a small, bird-like person.

  • Origin: Polish, Slavic
  • Meaning: Titmouse
  • Pronunciation: Sih-KAW-ruh
  • Variations: Sikori, Sykora
  • Namesakes: Kacper Sikora, a Polish singer and winner of Poland’s Got Talent in 2011. Krzysztof Sikora, a Polish politician and Assembly Chairperson from 2006 to 2010.
  • Popularity: Sikora is rare worldwide and mostly used in Poland, ranking 35th in 2014.
Nickname, Geographical
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Siwik

Siwik is a nickname given to a “gray-haired” man. It’s based on the Polish “siwy,” meaning “gray.” It may be unrelated, but Polish Siwki also refers to a traditional Easter procession.

  • Origin: Polish
  • Meaning: Grey-haired man
  • Pronunciation: SIH-wikk
  • Popularity: Siwik is very rare worldwide and mainly used in Poland, where it ranked 1,831st in 2014.
Nickname, Unique

Sladek

In Polish, Sladek means “trap.” In the Czech Republic, Sladek was a nickname given to a “brewer of beer,” taken from “slad,” meaning “malt.”

  • Origin: Polish, Czech
  • Meaning: Ambush
  • Pronunciation: SLAAH-dek
  • Variations: Sládek
  • Namesakes: John Sladek, an American science fiction author known for surreal novels. Peter Sládek, a Slovak footballer for ŠK Odeva Lipany.
  • Popularity: Sladek is very rare worldwide and primarily used in the U.S.
Nickname, Rare

Sliwa

Sliwa is the Polish word for “plum.” It was used as a surname for someone who grew, sold, or lived near plum trees.

  • Origin: Polish
  • Meaning: Dweller near a plum tree
  • Pronunciation: SLEE-wah
  • Variations: Śliwa, Šliwa
  • Namesakes: Curtis Sliwa, an American activist and founder of the Guardian Angels. Mar Gewargis III (born Warda Sliwa), the 121st Catholicos-Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East.
  • Popularity: Sliwa is very rare worldwide and mostly used in the U.S.
Nickname, Rare

Smigel

Smigel comes from the Polish verb “śmigać,” meaning “to move swiftly.” It may have originated as Smigiel, meaning “rung of a ladder.” Smigel is also a derivative of “śmigać,” meaning “to swish or crack (a whip).”

  • Origin: Polish
  • Meaning: To move swiftly
  • Pronunciation: SMAHY-guhl
  • Variations: Smigiel
  • Namesakes: Christian Smigiel, a former Argentine footballer for the Argentine national team. Robert Smigel, an American comedian, known for his Saturday Night Live “TV Funhouse” cartoon shorts.
  • Popularity: Smigel is very rare and mainly used in the U.S.
Rare, Nickname

Sokol

Sokol means “falcon” in Polish and was used for a falconer or a nickname for someone who looked like a falcon. Sokol also means “dweller at the sign of the falcon.”

  • Origin: Polish, Czech-Slovakian
  • Meaning: Falcon
  • Pronunciation: Sokół
  • Variations: SOH-kohl
  • Namesakes: Alois Sokol, a Czech fencer who competed at the 1948 Summer Olympics. Tomislav Sokol, a Croatian politician and Member of the European Parliament since 2019.
  • Popularity: Sokol is rare worldwide, primarily used in Ukraine, and ranked 175th in Slovakia in 2014.
Traditional, Nickname

Stanislawski

Stanislawski is a name given to a person from Stanisław. It also means “Stanisław’s place.” As a first name, Stanisław means “to become glorious.”

  • Origin: Polish
  • Meaning: Become glorious
  • Pronunciation: Staa-nis-SLAUW-Skee
  • Variations: Staniszewski, Staszewski, Stanikowski
  • Namesakes: Włodzimierz Stanisławski, a Polish field hockey player who competed at the 1980 Summer Olympics. Gary Stanislawski, an American politician and member of the Oklahoma Senate from 2008 to 2021.
  • Popularity: Stanislawski is very rare worldwide and mostly used in the U.S.
Geographical, Traditional

Stefanowicz

Stefanowicz originates with the first name Stefan. Stefan is the Polish, German, and Russian form of Stephan, which began as the Greek Stephanos, meaning “crown” or “garland.”

  • Origin: Polish
  • Meaning: Son of Stefan
  • Pronunciation: Stef-AH-noh-Vich
  • Namesakes: Maurycy Stefanowicz, a Polish musician with the rock band Vader.
  • Popularity: Stefanowicz is rare worldwide and mainly used in Poland, ranking 1,371st in 2014.
Familial, Traditional

Swatek

Swatek is a name given to a person who arranged marriages in Poland. It’s based on the Polish “swat,” meaning “matchmaker.”

  • Origin: Polish
  • Meaning: Matchmaker
  • Pronunciation: SWAAH-tek
  • Variations: Świątek
  • Namesakes: Barret Swatek, an American actress appearing in films such as Lethal Weapon 4. Edwin Swatek, an American swimmer who competed at the 1904 Summer Olympics.
  • Popularity: Swatek is extremely rare worldwide and primarily used in Indonesia.
Rare, Nickname

Szala

Szala is a nickname for a “short-tempered person.” It’s based on the Polish “szaleć,” meaning “to rage.” It was additionally used as a term for a “merchant from Szala” and also means “scales.”

  • Origin: Polish, Hungarian
  • Meaning: Bad temper
  • Pronunciation: SHAH-laa
  • Variations: Szála
  • Popularity: Szala is very rare worldwide and mostly used in Poland.
Uncommon, Nickname

Tobola

Tobola is a derivative of the Polish first name Tobiasz, a version of Tobias. It’s also based on the Polish “toboła,” meaning “bundle,” and was used to describe a travel bag.

  • Origin: Polish
  • Meaning: Bundle
  • Pronunciation: Toh-BOW-lah
  • Popularity: Tobola is very rare worldwide and mainly used in the U.S.
Rare, Familial
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Trzcinski

Trzcinski was a name for someone from various locations in Trzcin. It’s made up of the Polish “trzcina,” meaning “reed.” Trzcinski may have originated in Krakow, Poland, and arrived in Brooklyn, NY, in the early 20th-century.

  • Origin: Polish
  • Meaning: Reed
  • Pronunciation: Ter-ZIN-Ski
  • Variations: Trzciński, Trzcińsko
  • Popularity: Trzcinski is very rare worldwide and primarily used in the U.S.
Geographical, Unusual

Wisniewski

Wisniewski was a name for someone “who came from Wisznia.” It uses the Polish “wiśnia,” meaning “cherry,” and means “from the town of the cherry tree.”

  • Origin: Polish
  • Meaning: Cherry tree
  • Pronunciation: Wihz-NOO-skee
  • Variations: Wisniewska, Wiszniewski, Wisniowski
  • Namesakes: Keith Wisniewski, an American mixed martial artist for the UFC. Steve Wisniewski, an American football player for the Oakland Raiders.
  • Popularity: Wisniewski is rare worldwide, mostly used in the U.S., and ranked 3rd in Poland in 2014.
Geographical, Traditional

Wojcik

Wojcik also means “small Wójt.” Wójt is the Polish version of the German “Vogt.” Wojcik varies from the 4th to the 8th most common surname in Poland.

  • Origin: Polish, German
  • Meaning: Son of Wójt
  • Pronunciation: WOYE-Cek
  • Variations: Wojczik, Wojczyk, Wojszyk
  • Namesakes: Denis Wojcik, an American author of the 2010 book Evil Behind the Smile. Łukasz Wójcik, a Polish glider pilot and winner of the 2008 Polish national championships.
  • Popularity: Wojcik is very rare worldwide and mainly used in Poland.
Rare, Familial

Wolanski

Wolanski was originally given to those living in places called Wola or Wolany. It’s also associated with the Polish first name Wolan, a nickname for Wolimir.

  • Origin: Polish
  • Meaning: From Wolan
  • Pronunciation: Woh-LAAN-Skee
  • Variations: Wolanska
  • Namesakes: Janusz Wolański, a Polish footballer for Wisłok Wiśniowa. Sabina Wolanski, a Polish Holocaust survivor, and writer of Destined to Live: One Woman’s War, Life, Loves Remembered.
  • Popularity: Wolanski is very rare worldwide and primarily used in the U.S.
Traditional, Geographical

Zadroga

Zadroga is a more specific Polish family name, meaning “beyond the end of the road.” It’s made up of the Polish “za,” meaning “beyond,” and “drogą,” meaning “road.”

  • Origin: Polish
  • Meaning: Over the road
  • Pronunciation: Zah-DROGH-ah
  • Popularity: Zadroga is very rare worldwide and mostly used in Poland.
Geographical, Rare

Zawislak

Zawislak is a name given to a person presiding “over the Vistula.” The Vista River is the longest in Poland. It’s composed of the Polish “za,” meaning “beyond,” and “Wisła,” meaning “Vistula.”

  • Origin: Polish
  • Meaning: Over the Vistula
  • Pronunciation: ZAH-wiss-Lak
  • Variations: Zawislák
  • Namesakes: Sławomir Zawiślak, a Polish politician in the Sejm. Dariusz Zawiślak, a Polish graphic designer and founding member of the Polish Film Academy.
  • Popularity: Zawislak is very rare worldwide and mainly used in the U.S.
Geographical, Rare

Zelinski

Zelinsky is a Polish and Jewish surname taken from “zielony,” meaning “green.” It could refer to an inexperienced person, one who is young, someone appearing “green,” or a person from Zelenki in Ukraine.

  • Origin: Polish, Jewish
  • Meaning: Green herb
  • Pronunciation: Zeh-LINN-Skee
  • Variations: Zelewski, Zielinski, Zelinsky
  • Namesakes: Jeff Zelinski, a Canadian football player with the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Indrek Zelinski, an Estonian football coach for the Estonia national team.
  • Popularity: Zelinski is very rare worldwide and primarily used in the U.S.
Rare, Nickname

Zielińska

Zielińska is based on the Polish “zieleń,” meaning “green.” It also refers to “vibrancy” and “youth.” It may have been given to someone from Zielona or Zielonka in Poland. Zielińska appears as Zelinsky or Saleznicky in Germany and was Poland’s 8th most common surname in 2009.

  • Origin: Polish, Jewish
  • Meaning: Green
  • Pronunciation: Zeh-LINN-Skaa
  • Variations: Zieliński
  • Namesakes: Ewa Zielińska, a Polish Paralympian athlete and bronze medalist at the 2008 Summer Paralympics. Izabella Zielińska, a Polish pianist and recipient of the Gold Cross of Merit.
  • Popularity: Zielińska is extremely rare worldwide and mostly used in Poland.
Geographical, Unique

Zygmont

Zygmont is associated with the German first name Sigmund. It also means “victorious hand.” Zygmont is based on the German “’sige,” meaning “victory,” and “munt,” meaning “protector.”

  • Origin: Polish, German
  • Meaning: Conquering protection
  • Pronunciation: SIG-mont
  • Variations: Zigmunt
  • Namesakes: Jerry Zigmont, an American jazz trombonist, and member of Woody Allen’s New Orleans Jazz Band.
  • Popularity: Zygmont is very rare worldwide and mainly used in the U.S.
Powerful, Unique

Zywicki

Zywicki is made up of the Polish “żywy,” meaning “alive” and “vivid.” It was used for a person who came from the Polish town of Zywy. Zywicki is also a nickname for “polisḥzywy,” meaning “live wire.”

  • Origin: Polish
  • Meaning: Live wire
  • Pronunciation: Zihy-WICK-ee
  • Variations: Zywick, Zywickie
  • Namesakes: Jeff Zywicki, a Canadian lacrosse player for the Toronto Nationals. Todd Zywicki, the American Chair of the Academic Advisory Council of the Bill of Rights Institute at the McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum in Chicago.
  • Popularity: Zywicki is very rare worldwide and primarily used in the U.S.
Rare, Geographical
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Polish Family Names FAQs

How Do Polish Surnames Work?

Polish last names usually use the family name of the husband and/or father. Sometimes the last name is hyphenated to reflect both the mother’s and father’s family name. Suffixes are also typically used for many Polish names, like “ski” or “wicz.” Other Polish surnames were originally nicknames based on an occupation or trait. Geographical Polish last names are grounded in a place, often from where a family lived.

Why Do Polish Last Names End With Ski?

Many Polish names end in “ski,” which means “from.” It’s often used for people from a particular area or town. Surnames that let you know where someone’s family or clan came from were once very common. Many of them have survived today with a long line of ancestors in tow.

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About the Author

Maryana Vestic

Maryana Vestic is a Brooklyn-based writer, editor, and food photographer with a background in entertainment Business Affairs. She studied film at NYU, Irish Theatre Studies at Trinity College Dublin, and has an MFA in Creative Writing Nonfiction from The New School. She loves cooking, baking, hiking, and horror films, as well as running a local baking business in Brooklyn with her boyfriend.
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