n the country of 40 million Poles there are 400,000 different last names and almost thousand times less first names. Compared to other countries, like the USA for instance where I had a hard time sometimes to distinguish between female and male names - in Poland there is a clear distinction. All female names end with "a". Some female names originate from the male names (although less than in the past) but they have a strictly different ending. Here are the examples of male and female names that originate from the same core:
- Stanislaw (male) - Stanislawa (female)
- Antoni (male) - Antonina (female)
Polish children are usually given two names, from these names at least one is usually from Christian tradition, because of the baptism and strong influence of religion in lives of Poles. There are about 600 Slavic names, unfortunately they are becoming less popular although some of them are coming back according to the newest statistics from 2004, especially these of East Slavic origin like Mikolaj and Igor. Other popular Polish names of Slavic origin include: Bronisław, Mirosław, Sławomir, Mieczysław, Radosław or Jarosław. The Slavic names have interesting origin, for instance Wladyslaw means somebody who wanted to have a power, Bolesław - somebody blessed with fame or Bogumił - somebody who is loved by God.
The most popular and transcendent (always popular) first names are of Hebrew and Christian origin. Some of the names of foreign origin have many forms in Polish language, some of them sound very different than their original names.
Latin names and their Polish equivalents:
- Latin: Ignatius - Polish: Ignacy/Żegota,
- Latin: Stephanus - Polish: Stefan/Szczepan
- Latin: Adalbertus - Polish: Adalbert/Wojciech
In the past the names were usually given after the ancestor with the same name (often the son had a name of the grandfather) or after the patron of the day when the child was born.
There is some difference between the most popular names given to children born in the countrysite - these names are usually more traditional as compared to the names in town which depends more on the temporary fashion. There are also some slight differences between the names given in different regions of Poland. For instance the name Helena is very popular among mountainers, some names of German origin were popular in generation of my mother in Silesia (borderland with Germany). In the mixed marriages in Eastern Poland if an orthodox Ukrainian married Roman-Catholic Polish woman - their sons have eastern Slavic names and their daughter Christian or Hebrew names.
Polish parents cannot give a child any name they wish like in the USA where some film stars are giving their children unusual names; for instance Gwyneth Paltrow named her baby daughter Apple. For the sake of the children the amount of the names is limited to certain certified although quite broad variety which is also updated from time to time with the newly adopted names.
The characteristics of Polish language is using the diminutives, especially referring to the first names. Some of these diminutives do not sound at all as the names they come from. For instance Karol Wojtyla who became later a pope, John Paul II, was called commonly Lolek, when he was a boy. Another example:
- Ziutek is diminutive of Józef
- Ziuta is diminutive of Józef's female form - Józefa
I have a first name Jagoda, which means "blueberry" and I was called as a girl: Jagusia, Jagódka, Jagunia - these are common diminutives for a girl. Now I am still called Jaga, which is a common diminutive for an adult. When I was at school I did not know anybody with this name, there was not even Jagoda in the calendar in that time, now it is on July 2nd. But later Jagoda became more popular, right now, according to Warsaw's recent civil registry this name was 45th the most popular baby-girl name in 2004. Read more about my name in the article Polish Customs, Tradition and Folklore by Sophie Hodorowicz Knab .
Some names are popular from generation to generation, some other are popular for a couple of years then they disappear and the reappear after some time or are replaced by completely new set of names. Trends are changing - for instance when I was born (early 60-es) the most popular trendy names that since then disappeared where: Dorota, Beata. Iwona, Renata for girls, and Mariusz, Dariusz for boys Of course next to the trendy names there is a variety of Christian and hebrew names that are ALWAYS popular independent on any new fashion or trend. Among them are: Anna, Maria, Joanna, Katarzyna, Agnieszka, Magdalena, Małgorzata, Barbara, Wojciech, Piotr, Paweł, Jan, Tomasz, Marek, Maciej, Krzysztof.
The most popular 10 names in 1998 (from the area of the whole Poland) and in 2004 (Warsaw)
|girls - 1998 Poland ||girls - 2004 Warsaw||boys - 1998 Poland||boys - 2005 Warsaw|