Welcome to the World (Poland), an analysis of Polish Naming Trends


Well, I am still in the process of completing my manuscript, hopefully I should be done soon, but in the meantime, here is a list of babies born in Toruń the last year a long with my analysis of Polish baby naming trends based on the below findings. All of these are from the Polish newspaper, Gazeta Wyborcza. I am going to be posting these for the following Saturdays with each major Polish city.

I provided pronunciation and the full name, plus the English equivalent. Poles tend to introduce babies via the diminutive form so the proper form will be in parenthesis. Also, middle names have only recently become popular and most of these babies will just have one name.

I divided the names up under several categories of recent name-trends.

I have also provided the occurrence of the name, so if you see, for example, x 2, next to a name, that is the amount of babies who had that name.

Classics

These are names that have always been common in Poland

Boys

  • Adam x 5 (AH-dahm)
  • Adaś x 5 [full name, Adam, (AH-dahsh)]
  • Aleksander x 8 (ah-lek-SAHN-dare)
  • Aleksander Krzysztof
  • Aleksander Stanisław
  • Aleks x 4 [full name, Aleksander]
  • Alex [full name, Aleksander]
  • Artur (AR-toor, English Equivalent: Arthur)
  • Bartek x 2 [full name either Bartłomiej or Bartosz. English equivalent: Bart]
  • Bartłomiej x 2 (bar-TWOH-myay. English Equivalent: Bartholomew)
  • Bartosz x 6 (BAR-toshe. English Equivalent: Bart or perhaps roughly, Barton)
  • Błażej x 2 (BWAH-zhay. English Equivalent: Blaise)
  • Dawid x 5 (DAH-veed)
  • Filip x 13 (FEE-leep)
  • Filip Bruno
  • Filip Czesław
  • Filip Szymon (FEE-leep, SHIH-mone)
  • Jakub x 11 (YAH-koob. English equivalent, Jacob or James)
  • Jakub Antoni
  • Jakub Sylwester
  • Jan x 8 (YAHN. English Equivalent: John)
  • Jan Paweł (YAHN PAH-veuw)
  • Jaś x 5 [full name, Jan, (YAHSH, YAHN). English Equivalent: Jack]
  • Jerzy (YARE-zhih. English Equivalent: George)
  • Karol x 4 (KAH-role. English Equivalent: Charles)
  • Konrad x 4 (KONE-rahd: English Equivalent: Conrad)
  • Konrad Seweryn (KONE-rahd, SEV-eh-rin)
  • Kubuś x 2 [full name, Jakub, (KOO-boosh). English Equivalent: Coby]
  • Krystian x 3 (KRIS-tyahn)
  • Krzysiu x 4 [full name, Krzysztof, (KZHIH-shoo, KZHIHSH-stofe)
  • Łukasz x 2 (WOO-kahsh)
  • Leszek (LEH-shek. There is no English equivalent for this. It is an old Polish name, but many Poles in the United States would often anglicize this to Les or Leslie)
  • Maciej x 2 (MOT-chay. English Equivalent: Mathias)
  • Maciej Andzej (MOT-chay; AHND-jay)
  • Maciek (full name, Mateusz, (MAH-chek, MAR-cheen). English Equivalent: Matt]
  • Maciuś x 2 [full name, Mateusz, (mah-TAY-oosh, MAH-chyoosh). English Equivalent: Matt]
  • Mateusz x 12 (mah-TAY-oosh. English Equivalent: Matthew)
  • Mateusz Robert (mah-TAY-oosh, roh-BAIRT)
  • Michał x 9 (mee-HOW)
  • Michał Kacper (mee-HOW, KAHT-spare)
  • Mikołaj x 8 (mee-KOH-why. English Equivalent: Nicholas)
  • Miłosz x 2 (MEE-woshe. This is an old Polish name with no English equivalent)
  • Mirosław (MEE-roh-swahf; mee-ROH-swahf. This is an old Polish name with no English equivalent).
  • Oskar x 4 (OSE-kar)
  • Oskar Czesław (OSE-kar, CHES-swahf)
  • Oskar Oliwier
  • Paweł x 4 (PAH-veu. English Equivalent: Paul)
  • Piotr x 4 (PYOTR. English Equivalent: Peter)
  • Piotr Tadeusz (PYOTR, tah-DAY-oosh)
  • Piotruś [full name, Piotr (PYOH-troosh)]
  • Radosław (rah-DOH-swahf, or RAH-doh-swahf, see Stanisław, below. There is no English Equivalent. This is an old Slavic name, but many Poles in the United States would often anglicize this to Roger, Rod, Roderick or Rodney)
  • Robert (ROH-bairt)
  • Stanisław x 2 (stah-NEE-swahf; or STAH-nee-swahf, the former is the proper pronunciation though certain people will pronounce it the latter way. This is one of the quintessential Polish male names. The official English translation is Stanislaus, but, Poles in the United States almost always anglicized this to Stanley)
  • Stasiu x 2 [full name, Stanisław, (STAH-shoo). English Equivalent: Stan]
  • Staś x 2 [full name, Stanisław, (STAHSH). English Equivalent: Stan]
  • Tomasz x 3 (toh-MAHSH)
  • Wojciech x 2 (VOY-chyehk. This is an old Polish name. There is no English equivalent. Its German equivalent is Adalbert and occasionally, this form was used in the United states)
  • Wojtuś [full name, Wojtek, (VOY-tek; VOY-toosh)]

Girls

  • Agatka (full name, Agata; English form Aggie)
  • Alicja x 4 (ah-LEET-syah; English form, Alice)
  • Ania x 3 [full name, Anna, (AHN-yah); English form, Annie]
  • Anna x 2 (AHN-neh-nah)
  • Basia x 5 [full name, Barbara, (BAH-shah; bar-BAH-rah); English form, Barbie]
  • Emilia x 5 (eh-MEEL-yah; English form, Emily)
  • Emilka x 3 (full name is Emilia; English form, Emmie)
  • Ewa (EH-vah. English form Eve or Eva)
  • Joanna x 4 (yoh-AHN-neh-nah. This one is obvious but it can also operate as an equivalent for Jane or Joan)
  • Karolina x 2 (kah-roh-LEE-nah; English form, Caroline)
  • Karolinka [full name, Karolina]
  • Kasia x 2 [full name, Katarzyna, (KAH-shah), English form, Kathy, Kate or Katie]
  • Katarzyna (kah-tah-ZHIH-nah; English form, Katherine or Catherine)
  • Kinga x 4 (KEEN-gah; English form, Cunigonde)
  • Magdalena x 4 (MAHG-dah-LEH-nah; English form, Madeline, Madelyn or Madeleine)
  • Małgosia x 2 [full name, Małgorzata, (mow-GOH-shah; mow-go-ZHAH-tah); English form, Maggie or Peggy]
  • Maria x 3 (MAHR-yah; English form, Mary)
  • Marta x 6 (English form, Martha)
  • Martusia (full name, Marta, (mar-TOO-shah); English form, Marti or Patsy]
  • Marysia x 7 [full name, Maria, (mah-RIH-shah); English form, Molly]
  • Olga Sylwia (OLE-gah, SILV-yah)
  • Sylwia (SIL-vyah)
  • Weronika x 4 (veh-ROH-nee-kah)
  • Weronika Anna

Modern Classics

These names may feel like classics, but they actually only became more common or popular within the last 30 years and some are even starting to wane in popularity.

Boys

  • Arek [full name, Arkadiusz, (AH-rek)
  • Arkadiusz x 2 (ar-KAH-dyoosh)
  • Damian x 2 (DAHM-yahn)
  • Dominik (DOME-mee-neek)
  • Sebastian x 2

Girls

  • Aleksandra x 4
  • Aneta (ah-NEH-tah)
  • Daria
  • Diana (dee-AH-nah)
  • Dominika (doh-mee-NEE-kah)
  • Ewelina Nikola (EV-eh-LEE-nah, NEE-koh-lah. English Equivalent: Evelyn Nicole)
  • Klaudia x 3 (KLOWD-yah)
  • Janina (yah-NEE-nah. English Equivalent: Jeannine)
  • Monika (moh-NEE-kah)
  • Natalia x 8 (nah-TAHL-yah)
  • Ola x 3  [full name, Aleksandra, (OH-lah)]
  • Oliwia x 7 (oh-LEEV-yah)
  • Paulina (pow-LEE-nah)
  • Wiktoria x 12 (veek-TOR-yah)
  • Żaneta Antonina (zhah-NEH-tah, AHN-toh-NEE-nah. A Polonized form of the French, Jeannette, this was first introduced in the 19th-century and became especially common in the 1960s)

Well, Hello! I haven’t seen you in 100 years!

Like in the United States and the U.K., many vintage names have made a comeback. What is interesting about Polish vintage names is that they reflect a time and culture that  no longer exists in Poland. In 1912, Poland was an extremely diverse country, hosting several different ethnic groups and religions. It was the home of one of the largest Jewish communities in the world, and many Polish citizens were of German, Ukrainian and Lithuanian ancestry, among others. After the devastation of World War II and the movement of borders, Poland became a 99.9 % Roman Catholic country and an ethnically homogenous one at that. By the end of the 1940s and all the way until the 1990s, German-ness was considered taboo and due to the oppression of the Soviet Union, so was anything associated with Russian culture. As a result, many names that were common pre-World War II, such as Hubert, Greta, Lena, Igor and Nikodem, went out of fashion.

Though Poland is considered one of the most homogenous countries in Europe, many Poles claim a mixed heritage. It is not uncommon to meet Poles who may have had a Jewish, German or Ukrainian grandparent. In recent years, many young Polish parents have looked to their family tree for unusual names. No longer are Ukrainian and German names hands-off, and Jewish names are being rediscovered and revived. Here is a list of names found in the Toruń birth announcements which reflect these recent trends:

Vintage

These were names that were popular among Poles regardless of ethnicity 100 years ago, which have fallen out of usage and have now experienced a new surge in popularity

Boys

  • Antek [full name Antoni, siblings: Klarcia (Klara) and Zosia (Zofia). English Equivalent: Tony]
  • Antoni x 5 (AHN-toh-nee; English equivalent, Anthony)
  • Antoś x 4 [full name Antoni, (AHN-toshe). English Equivalent: Anton or Tony)
  • Bogusz (BAW-goosh. The closest English equivalent to this would perhaps be Godfrey)
  • Cezary x 3 (tseh-ZAH-rih; English form, Caesar)
  • Florian x 2 (FLOR-yahn)
  • Franciszek x 9 (frahn-TSEE-shek; English equivalent, Francis)
  • Franciszek Andzej (frahn-TSEE-shek, AHND-jay)
  • Franciszek Antoni
  • Franek x 2 [full name, Franciszek; English equivalent, Frank]
  • Ignacy x 2 (eeg-NOT-sih; English equivalent, Ignatius)
  • Ignaś x 2 [full name, Ignacy, (eeg-NOT-sih; eeg-NAHSH; English form, Iggy or Nash)
  • Jędrzej Bogdan (YEND-jay, BOKE-dahn; This is really a Medieval form of Andrew. The more common modern Polish form is Andzej)
  • Julek 
  • Julek Andzej (YOO-lek, AHND-jay)
  • Julian x 5 (YOOL-yan)
  • Julian Jakub
  • Kacper x 9 (the Polish form of Casper)
  • Kacper Adam (KAHT-spare, AH-dahm)
  • Kajetan (KYE-yeh-tahn)
  • Kornel x 2 (English equivalent, Cornelius)
  • Kornel Filip
  • Onufry (aw-NOOF-rih; English form, Humphrey)
  • Seweryn (SEV-eh-rin; English form, Severin or Soren)
  • Teodor (English form, Theodore)
  • Tymoteusz x 2 (TIM-moh-TAY-oosh; English form, Timothy)
  • Tymoteusz Jan
  • Tytus (TIH-toos; English form, Titus)
  • Wiktor x 9 (VEEK-tor; English form, Victor)
  • Wiktor Norbert

Girls

  • Adela
  • Amelia x 7 (ah-MEL-yah)
  • Amelka (full name, Amelia)
  • Aniela (ah-NYEH-lah; literally meaning, angel, used as a form of Angela)
  • Antonina x 9 (ahn-toh-NEE-nah)
  • Antosia [full name, Antonina, (ahn-TOH-shah)]
  • Gabriela x 2
  • Gabrysia x 5 [full name, Gabriela, (gah-BRIH-shah); English equivalent, Gabby or Brielle]
  • Helena (heh-LEH-nah. English Equivalent, Helen)
  • Izabela x 3 (ee-zah-BEH-lah; English equivalent, Isabella or Isabel)
  • Konstancja x 2 (kone-STAHNT-syah; English form, Constance)
  • Kornelia x 3 (kore-NEL-yah; English form, Cornelia)
  • Laura x 3 (LOW-rah)
  • Liliana x 4 (leel-YAH-nah; English form, Lillian)
  • Łucja x 3 (WOOT-syah; English form, Lucy)
  • Michalina (mee-hah-LEE-nah)
  • Stefania (steh-FAHN-yah, English form, Stephanie)
  • Zosia x 13 [full name, Zofia, (ZOFE-yah; ZOH-shah); English form, Sophie]

German Revival

Boys

  • Bastian
  • Edward (ED-vart)
  • Emil x 2
  • Eryk (EH-rik)
  • Eryk Jan
  • Fabian x 2 (FAHB-yahn)
  • Gustaw Jan (GOO-stahf, YAHN)
  • Hubert x 6 (HOO-bairt)
  • Iwo (EE-voh)
  • Leon x 3
  • Maks
  • Maksymilian x 5 (mock-sih-MEEL-yahn)
  • Maksymilian Dariusz
  • Maksymilian Julian (mock-sih-MEEL-yahn, YOOL-yahn)
  • Olaf x 2
  • Witold (VEE-told)

Girls

  • Klara
  • Lena x 16 (LEH-nah)
  • Lena Maria
  • Lenka x 3 (Pet form of Lena)
  • Matylda (mah-TIL-dah)
  • Otylia x 2 (aw-TIL-yah)

Judaica

Since the fall of the Soviet Union, there has been a renewed interest in the legacy that the Jews of Poland have left. Though the Jewish community was not what it once was, many Poles have dug through their family trees to find, unbeknownst to them, that their family was actually Jewish. Due to the oppression and anti-Semitism of the Soviet regime, many Polish Jews who had survived the Holocaust changed their names, assimilated into Polish society, keeping their origins a secret even from their own children. Since Poland’s independence in 1989, especially in large cities, many Poles have taken up an interests in Jewish culture, some even re-converting back to Judaism. This can be reflected in recent naming trends. Below are some names that have not been used since pre-WW II, many of them used exclusively among the Jewish community of Poland but are now experiencing a trend among young Polish parents of today

Boys

  • Daniel x 2 (DAH-nyel)
  • Gabriel Stanisław
  • Jeremi (YEH-reh-mee)
  • Nataniel (nah-TAHN-yel)
  • Rafał (RAH-fow. English Equivalent, Raphael, also occasionally used among Christians in years past, the name was always more common among Jews, until recently)
  • Szymon x 9 (SHIH-mone. English Equivalent: Simon)
  • Szymon Łukasz (SHIH-moon WOO-kahsh)

Girls

  • Ada
  • Estera (es-TEH-rah)
  • Hanna (HAHN-neh-nah. Also occasionally used among Christians in the past, the name was always far more common among Jews until recently)
  • Hania x 5  [full name, Hanna, (HAHN-yah)]
  • Zuzanna x 6 (zoo-ZAHN-neh-nah. Also occasionally used among Christians in the past, the name was always far more common among Jews until recently)
  • Zuzia x 5 [full name, Zuzanna, (ZOO-zhah). English Equivalent would be Susie]

Russian/Ukrainian Imports

During the Soviet era, Poles resented the Russian occupation and more likely than not, would never give their child a Russian or “Eastern Polish” name. Before World War II, these names were especially common among inhabitants in former regions of Poland that are now in the Ukraine or border cities, where many people were uncertain of their ethnic identity. These people even spoke a dialect that was a complete admixture of Belarusian, Polish, Russian and Ukrainian. They were called, the Tutajzia (literally meaning, “from right here”).

In recent years, these names have experienced a steady revival and are no longer considered taboo or too “Russian” or “Eastern”.

Boys

  • Borys x 4 (BOH-ris)
  • Borys Tomasz (BOH-ris, TOH-mahsz)
  • Igor x 7 (EE-gore)
  • Nikodem x 3
  • Tymon x 5 (tih-MONE)

Girls

  • Anastazja Agnieszka (ah-nah-STAHZ-yah, ahg-NYESH-kah)
  • Lara Helena
  • Mila (MEE-lah)
  • Milena (mee-LEH-nah)
  • Nadia x 7 (NOD-yah)
  • Nina x 5
  • Roksana x 2 (roke-SAH-nah)

New Names, Foreign Imports and Rare Gems

Roman Patricians

Each generation seems to have a name from outside of Poland that becomes exceedingly popular. It becomes so popular that it is forgotten that it is not even Polish at all and joins the category of “Modern Classics.” What is interesting about these imports is that they are almost always “Polonized.” Hence, Brian becomes, Brajan, Annette becomes, Aneta and Jeannette is Żaneta.

By the end of the 19th-century, Poland started to explore French names. In the 20th-century, Polish parents, for whatever reason, looked to Spanish or Italian names if they wanted something unique and different, but one source has never changed since Medieval Times. That is the nomenclature of Ancient Rome. In the 18th-century, names such as Wespazjan, Westyna and Oktawian were introduced. In the 19th, it was Klaudiusz, Kamil and Klaudia among others, and today it is Adrian, Adrianna and Marcelina. Below is an example of some Roman nobles and ladies found in the Toruń birth announcements.

Boys

  • Adrian x 5
  • Kamil
  • Marcel x 4 (MART-sel))
  • Patryk x 3 (PAH-trick)

Girls

  • Adrianna x 2 (ah-dree-AHN-neh-nah)
  • Adrianna Ewa (ah-dree-AHN-neh-nah, EH-vah)
  • Donata (doh-NAH-tah)
  • Julia x 13 (YOOL-yah)
  • Julia Ewelina (YOOL-yah, EH-veh-LEE-nah)
  • Julia Maria
  • Julka x 3 (usually a short form of Julia, (YOOL-kah); English form, Julie]
  • Justyna (yoo-STIN-ah; English form, Justine)
  • Justynka [full name, Justyna, (yoo-STIN-kah)]
  • Julianna x 3 (yoo-lee-AHN-neh-nah)
  • Liwia x 2 (LEEV-yah)
  • Marcelina x 3 (mart-seh-LEE-nah)
  • Marcelina Sabina
  • Martyna x 4
  • Martynka [full name, Martyna (mar-TIH-nah; mar-TIN-kah)]
  • Oktawia (oke-TAH-vyah; English form, Octavia)

Americana and Celtisms

The United States has also somewhat contributed to Polish naming trends and in more recent years, the U.K., below is a list of English and Celtic names that appear in the Toruń birth announcements

Boys

  • Alan x 5 (AH-lahn)
  • Brajan (BRY-yahn)
  • Oliwier x 3 (OH-lee-vyare)

Girls

  • Jassica
  • Malwina (mahl-VEE-nah)
  • Nikola x 6 (nee-KOH-lah)
  • Vanessa Marika

Southern Europe

When it comes to naming their children, if you want to think outside the box, Poles tend to look to Spanish or Italian names for inspiration. Here are some examples as found in the Toruń Birth Announcements

Boys

  • Ksawery x 7 (ksah-VEH-rih. English/Spanish Equivalent: Xavier)
  • Marcangelo (dad is Italian, mom Polish)

Girls

  • Blanka x 4 (BLAHN-kah. Polonised form of the Spanish, Blanca)
  • Blanka Martyna
  • Ines
  • Ksymena (ksih-MEH-nah. A Polonised form of the Catalan, Ximena)
  • Marita

New Introductions from various countries:

These are names that appear in the Toruń which have only been in usage within the last 10 years and are imported from various countries:

  • Lila (LEE-lah)
  • Marika x 2 (mah-REE-kah; influenced by the Frisian or Dutch, Marieke)
  • Sandra x 2 (this name has only recently come into usage in Poland, despite being very common in other countries)

Nature Names

Nature names have only recently started to become more common. The Polish Naming Council always recommends against the usage of common words, there are some traditional ones, such as Jagoda (berry), which was originally used as a diminutive form of Jadwiga and Kalina (viburnum). Here are a list of nature names as found in the Toruń

  • Jagoda [berry; (yah-GAW-dah). Originally a diminutive form of Jadwiga, now used as an independent given name due to its coincidental meaning of “berry” in Polish]
  • Jagoda Anna
  • Kalina [viburnum. This name was popularized by Henryk Sienkiewicz as the name of Roman slave girl in Quo Vadis. It is alluded that she is of Slavic origins, but her name is Romanized as Calina, it coincides with the Polish word for viburnum]
  • Kalina Natalia (kah-LEE-nah, nah-TAHL-yah)
  • Lilia (LEEL-yah; English form, Lily)
  • Pola x 5 [POH-lah. This name was originally a diminutive form of Apolonia, but is now almost exclusively used as an independent given name. It coincides with the Polish word for field and has some patriotic conotations as the word for the country, “polska” is believed to derive from a Slavic source meaning, “land of fields.” This would possibly roughly be a Polish cognate to the modern and trendy English name, Meadow]
  • Maja x 13 [MYE-yah; originally used as a diminutive form of Maria, it has been used exclusively as an independent given name due to its association with the Polish word for the month of May]
  • Maja Daria
  • Maja Zofia (MYE-yah, ZOFE-yah)
  • Majka [full name, Maja, (MIKE-ah; like Micah)]
  • Róża x 2 (ROO-zhah; English form, Rose. Also the Polish word for the color pink and the rose flower)

Let’s cut to the chase

In Poland, a Katarzyna is rarely ever called by her full name, she almost is always called Kasia by her friends and family. Diminutives are extremely important and well-loved in Polish society, but it has only been very recently that diminutives have been used as independent given names. Below are examples of diminutives used exclusively as independent given names in the Toruń birth announcements.

  • Iga x 4 [EE-gah; originally a diminutive form of Jadwiga or Ignacja, it is now used exclusively as an independent given name and has become extremely popular]
  • Kaja [KYE-yah; originally a diminutive form Kajetana, Kazimiera or Katarzyna, it is now used exclusively as an independent given name, possibly being popularized by the Polish pop-singer of the same name]
  • Zosia Agnieszka [mostly a diminutive of Zofia, it has recently been occasionally used as an independent given name in Poland]

6 thoughts on “Welcome to the World (Poland), an analysis of Polish Naming Trends

  1. I found that fascinating, especially with the pronunciation guide. I had fun trying to pronounce all the names. I can’t help think, though, that little Justynka might not fare so well in an English speaking environment (you-stink-a)

    • This is a problem I have personally encountered plenty of times throughout my life. I live in the Chicago area and there are many recent Polish immigrants. Justynka is always a shock when the parents see that other kids are laughing at their little Justynka. It always has to be explained to them why yelling, Justynka down the street may be a hindrance to their child. In any case, it is always ends up being anglicized to Justine.

  2. What a great read! I’m always interested in names that would compliment my Polish last name, since the “oosh” ending is so odd in America that my husband’s family choose to Americanize it. My mom’s maiden name, a short form of my husband’s grandma’s name, and the feminization of my grandpa’s name are all on this list. My husband also likes Kasienka.

  3. Kasienka is pretty, it is almost always used as a diminutive for Katarzyna, but I have seen so many parents use diminutives as full fledged first names that it probably wouldn’t be so odd. Plus, in the United States, anything goes, Kasienka can easily pass as an independent given-name in America.

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