Polish Last Names

Polish Last Names


Traditional Polish last names change depending on the sex.


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One of the particularities of the Polish surname system is that the surname of a woman often differs from that of her husband or father. Today this is most noticeable in the adjectival names like Kowalski – the wife's name is Kowalska. However, in the past the system of feminine surname suffixes was much more elaborate, reflecting not only the sex but also the marital status of a woman. This basically means that one could tell whether a woman was married or maiden just upon hearing her last name.

A woman who was never married used her father's surname with the suffix -owna or -anka - the form depending on the final sound of the masculine surname (-owna for consonant-ending, -anka for vowel-ending). Examples: Kordziak (father) – Kordziakowna (daughter), Morawa – Morawianka.

A married woman or a widow used her husband's surname with the suffix -owa or -'na / -yna: Examples: Nowak – Nowakowa, Koba – Kobina; Puchala – Puchalina


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