Names in Poland

Polish names are charming and musical. Although I am American we gave our daughter a Polish name. I think it is a little more unusual and we just like the sound of it. Łucja ( first name) Weronika (middle name).

Example of how crazy Polish first and last names are

However, not all name is Polish flow so smoothly or even comprehensible. Further, if you have ever heard them spoken quickly by a soft-spoken Pole you might agree. For example, there is a funny Polish movie about a Polish man captured by the Germans in WWII. The man being questioned by the German officer has to state his Polish name. It was:
„Jak rozpętałem drugą wojnę światową” Grzegorz Brzęczyszczykiewicz

The officer had no idea how to transcribe these sounds to record his name.
Here is a clip from this, I recommend you watch it to get intitated into Polish surnames and Polish Christian names.

Needless to say some Polish names sound funny to the English-speaking ear. But I assure you they are as normal as ‘Kate’, ‘Mark’ and ‘Lucy’, to Poles (Kasia, Marek i Łucja) . You just have to get use to them.

People can be identified by gender of their surname and first name

One of the first things about Polish names that you will notice after staying in Poland for a while is that every girls name ends with an A. At the same time a guy’s name cannot with and a, unless it is a diminutive form of the name (such as Kuba is a diminutive form of the name Jakub (Jacob in English). This is why I was a little bit shocked when I first went to the USA and one of the guys I met introduced himself as Dakota. I thought it had to be a nickname.
The good thing about it is you can look at the name and already know whether it is a man or a woman you are dealing with. There is no gender confusion when you are looking at or hearing a name. I mean once you are introduced you know who you are talking to. The Polish language is like that. If you want to hire a pretty Polish girl you can tell on the application just by the name.
I do not even know why they put the question about gender in all those Polish forms. They are probably just for foreigners. In America for instant you can never really be sure about someone’s gender until you meet hem in person. The USA is quite libertarian when it comes to names, too. You can name your kid Apple or In God We Trust (although I’m not sure how that story ended) or change your name to Princess Consuela, like Phoebe off of “Friends”. This kind of stuff will not happen in Poland, as the Civil Registry is making sure you do not get too crazy with the name. Maybe it’s a good thing.
No one really cares about whether or not your middle name matches your first name. American people seem to be very concerned about this, but here it is more about the patron or the person that you are named after. You rarely use the middle name anyway, so it’s all about the meaning of it.
The most popular girl names in Poland for girls:

  1. Anna
  2. Katarzyna or Kasia, and
  3. Joanna or Asia
  4. Magdalena or Magda
  5. Sylwia

For me they sound lovely.

Polish girl names diminutives
Polish girls are linquistic masters and can make any name sound sweet

Polish diminutives

Polish love to play with diminutives. For example, I call my daughter Lula, Lulie, LuLu baby Lu baby Łu, Lucyka, etc. This is not only common with kids but adults. Especially girls in Poland speak this way., it is like they have their own language.
Every Polish name has at least 2 diminutive forms, that is a less formal name, used by your parents and friends. You might not be familiar with this as it is very Slavic. Those are used to show affection, it is like calling a cat a kitty.

So the name is Izabela but a mother would call her me Izunia, and maybe a Grandma might say Isia. You can do that with every name there is. In the Polish languages. As soon as you have a Polish girl friend she will start changing your English name to a sweet name in Polish, you will see.
Old fashionable names for Polish babies – retro and vintage
Right now there is a tendency to give babies old-fashioned, vintage names, which I think is a good thing. It is way more classy than some foreign names that sound strange and unnatural with a Polish last name. They were quite popular a few years ago. It is now generally considered redneck to name your kid a foreign name, especially one with the letters v or x, which are not even a part of Polish alphabet. Unless you are foreign of course, if this is the case then you can do whatever you want and no one will blame you.

Name Day

It’s just like another birthday – you get wishes, flowers and gifts (no cake though, but you are supposed to throw a party or at least a little get together and sweets are a must). It really is not as popular anymore but want to honor the Saint with your name. It is more a European thing.

Every day a different pair of names is celebrated, sometimes there is three. You can look it up in the calendar, but it also shows on screens on the bus, newspapers, flower stands etc. Some names repeat a couple of times a year and in that case the closest one after your birthday is the one you celebrate. However, not everyone does. It is more of an older generation thing, my impression is that most young people do not even know when their name day is.

This is a brief view of  imię i nazwisko in Poland.






2 responses to “Names in Poland”

  1. Mazsolika

    After reading your article I must aree with it all the way. I’m Polish and I married Hungarian who (as I think about it now) doesn’t really make these all what I have already done with his name… but still calls me very warm way. I have never thought about it, but it is really the truth what you have written because I like his name but from the time we were dating I fast imagined my own name to call him and now almost everyone calls him as i used to call:D So.. I had to find out sth other just for us 🙂 Yes, Polish women don’t have problems with imagination of new names to call people they love and whether you are a foreigner or not, you can be sure it will happen, it is just the case of time. 🙂

  2. Katherine W

    Thank you for explaining something I didn’t understand. I am doing the family tree for my father’s family, all Polish both sides. I couldn’t understand why every Mary was called Mamie and or Mae. Now it all makes sense.

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