Saturday, September 22, 2012

Czech surnames - origins

There are thousands of Czech surnames. Some of them have Czech origin, other German, some of them are easy to be understand, some of them not. But - how were they created? What are their origins? Do you want to know origin of your Czech surname and you are not able to find it in the article? Don't hesitate to ask in comments!

First surnames appear in Bohemia and Moravia in the middle ages. Those surnames were a lot different from the current ones - they were not stable, they often changed generation to generation and were more a description of a person than anything else. And this is exactly the way how the surnames were created - surname described the person who had it. 

Almost all people had some surname at the end of 18th century. And as Emperor Josef II. made many changes he also ordered that everyone has to choose one surname from those he was already using and he and his family will carry this surname in future. 

Yes, there were people who were using more than one surnames. How could this happen? Most common case is so called household surname. It's the case when new owner of the house overtakes surname of previous owner. This is very common in Southern Bohemia, but you can run into such case anywhere in Bohemia and Moravia. I'll publish a blog post about these cases in future because this topic needs separate post.

There are four types of surname "roots": from first name, from occupation, based on a place of origin and based on personal attributes. We have to take into account that two different languages were used in Bohemia and Moravia in the past - Czech and German. Therefor you'll see both Czech and German surnames in the registries. 

Surnames created from first name
If you have two cousins who have the same first name, what is the easiest way how to say who belong to which family? Use his father's name. And this is exactly how the surnames from the first name were created. If someone was Martin, son of Jakub, he was called Martin Jakubův. Tomáš, son of Jan, was called Tomáš Janův. And how to differentiate between father and son with the same surname? Using diminutive. Father is Jan, son could be Jeník. And what about his son? He could be Pavel Jeníkův or Pavel Jeník. 

There are hundreds of surnames which are based on first names. Vávra or Vavroch are from Vavřinec, Kuba, Kubal, Jakoubek, Kubát are from Jakub, Janota, Janáček, Janoušek from Jan, Pavlík, Pavlica, Poulíček or Pavelka from Pavel...

Surnames created from occupation
There was another way how to differentiate among more people having the same first name - using their occupation as a desription. Jan Sedlák was Jan, farmer. Jan Tesař was Jan, the carpenter. Jan Kovář was Jan, the blacksmith. If someone has surname Bednář, it is very probable that first bearer of this surname was a cooper. 

Other surnames from occupation are for example Barvíř, Kaplan, Horník, Písařík, Sedláček, Kožušník, Zahradník, Myslivec or Kramář. 

Surnames based on place of origin
If someone new came to the village, he was often called Novák, Nový or Novotný, because nový means new. If it was known where he came from then the place of his origin was taken as a surname. For example, if someone came from mountains, he was often called Horák or Horský because hora means mountain. If someone came from town Týn, he was called Týnský because suffix -ský creates an adjective. 

Here are some other examples: Vltavský (from Vltava), Bezděkovský (from Bezděkov), Rosický (from Rosice), Kopecký (from hills because kopec means hill), Žďárský (from Žďár or from forest as žďár = forest).

Surnames based on personal attributes
Was someone always in a hurry? He was called Spěchal because spěchat means to be in a hurry. Someone had black hair? He was called Černý as černý means black. Was he old? Well, surname Starý was perfect for his with starý meaning old.

There are again thousands of such surnames. Some of them are very indirect and it's not easy to say how those were created. But some are clear. Bezruka for example - bez means without, ruka means hand. So it was someone who lost his hand - in war, because of his work, in an accident? We can't tell, but there must have something really sad (and interesting, right?) happen...

115 comments:

  1. i have read and been told that our surname, Kučera, means "curly hair". Is this correct? Thanks
    Dave


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    1. Yes, it's correct. Kučeravý = curly, kučera = frizzle; metaphorically the one who has curly hair.

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  2. Some of my favorites are Kratochvil and Stiastny--I love that people were known for their humor or happiness! I also have a Kleinhampl back there (little jumping man??) I'm told that Čubr is Old Czech for Satureja hortensis (the herb summer savory in English)--is that true?

    As to double surnames, yes, they are making me crazy. Some people have too many, and some don't have any at all. I think Josef II is my hero for making everyone pick one and stick with it!

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    1. Yes, čubr is old name (but Slovak, not Czech) for Satureja.

      Kleinhampl - my dictionary says it is created from German name Heimbrecht, where heim = home and brecht = great, ie. small great home. :)

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  3. Hi Blanka! Where would the surnames Mikus and Svehla originated? What do they mean? Judy from Canada

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    1. Mikus is from first name Mikuláš (Nicholas), Švehla is from old Czech word švehlat which means to chirp.

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    2. Mikuš is a short form of Mikuláš (Nicolas), probably of Slovak origin, it is quite common in areas close to Czecho-slovak border.
      Švehla seems to originate in a verb "švehlat" (old word meaning "speaking uselessly"). This surname is most common in South Bohemia.
      You can use www.kdejsme.cz to see, how many people with this name live in Czech republic and where. (It gives different results for Mikus and Mikuš and also for woman forms with -ová in the end).
      http://www.kdejsme.cz/prijmeni/Mikuš%20Mikušová/hustota/
      and
      http://www.kdejsme.cz/prijmeni/Švehla%20Švehlová/hustota/

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    3. Thank you both!! Will check out the websites. I'm sure enjoying finding out more about my Czech side along with the culture, food and places. Hope one day to come visit but till then the computer will be my guide. Thanks for the the informative blog!! Judy from Canada

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  4. Thank you for your continually great posts, I find them incredibly interesting and very helpful in my personal research. So glad I found your blog! All my best, Jen Baldwin, Colorado

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  5. Hi Blanka,
    In my extended Czech family, (from the small village of Stáj in Okres Jihlava) we have the names Bambulá, Chvátal, and Pavlíček. In the past I had tried to search for the origins of these surnames. Would you have any Clues on their origin or meaning?

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    1. Bambula is a word meaning pompom, but for a person, it suggests that he was a bit simple or silly.
      Chvátal originates in a verb "to hurry".
      Pavlíček is little Pavel (Paul).

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  6. Hi Blanka
    I have easy Czech names (Kovar, Nemec, Sedlak). But what about Sirovatka? That one is not so common...

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    1. Hi Judith, Sirovátka is also easy, you just have to exchange i to y - syrovátka means whey. It could have been someone who had pale skin.

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  7. Hi Blanka,
    I have found your blog very helpful. My surname is Čouza from Southern Bohemia. It seems to be a very uncommon name. What does it mean? Thank you, Marian from Massachusetts.

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    1. Hi Marian, well, it's tough one. I think it has the same origin as Jouza which is from first name Josef, but I'm not too sure about it. I will try to find more.

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    2. As I found here (
      http://kramerius.nkp.cz/kramerius/handle/ABA001/10376752 ) Čouza is or was a hamlet sowhere around České Budějovice, but I haven't found it on any historical map.
      But I still see this possible, because this surname is common in Ledenice in the same area. (Well, that still doesn't explain the origin of the name itself.)

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    3. I checked the above site. Čouza means samota - solitude or loneliness. In the church records in the 1770s Thomas Czouza the oldest son of Vaslav Czouza lived at #26 at the house named Czouza. The house is located on the east side of Ledenice about 500m from the village square. On the 1st Military Survey map there is a group of buildings outside of Ledenice at that location with no other houses nearby. Maybe that's how they were named. Thank you for your help. Marian from Massachusetts.

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  8. Hi Blanka,any idea about Balik surname?
    i understand that many years ago was Balak or Balka.
    thanks.

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    1. Balík means package. Anyway, surnames beginning with Bal- were usually created from first name Baltasar.

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    2. thanks a lot Blanka.

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  9. Greetings Blanka, All my Czech ancestors come from the Southern Bohemia region and almost all of them seem to have 2 names. Here are some of the more unique names in my family tree:
    Lapice (house name, originally Barta) from Jednoty #59, Novosedly nad Nežárkou
    Trenda from Třitim #18, Týn nad Vltavou
    Bastyř from Ponědraž #16, Lomnice nad Lužnicí
    Štícha originally from Ratiboř #16, Roseč and later from Novosedly nad Nežárkou became Bicek (house name). any clues on these 4 names would be appreciated. Thanks! Michael

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    1. Hi, Michael. I don't know, whether you already know it, but I found someone, who has the same names and places in his family tree ( http://xtree.cz/se_vizitka.php?osoba=723220 ). If you would like to contact him, his e-mail adress is robon(et)inbox.com
      Lapice is weird, I tried to search it, but still no clues. The same with Bicek.
      Baštýř was a person taking care of fishponds.
      Štícha derives from a first name Štěpán (Stephan).

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  10. Hi Blanka,

    The family story handed down is that our surname Brusak comes from a creek named Brusse. My father's family comes from Steken and Cejetice in Southern Bohemia. I have noticed there is a village near by named Brusy. In some family records from the mid-1800's the surname is spelled with a double "s." Could there be a nearby creek with a similar name? Are we really named for a creek?

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    1. Hi, according to bellow-mentioned book, the surname Brusák and Brušák are derived by adding a common Czech suffix -ák to a place-name Brusy or Brusnice, so I suppose there is no need to search for a creek, it is quite logical that a family has been named after a village they lived in or immigrated from (and a village after a nearby creek or vice versa).
      A doubled letter in Czech name written in German or Latin can suggest a need of a graphical record of a consonant this languages haven't or considered different from their own, quite similar consonants. So written with ss, Brussak was possibly a try to write a later š, that is pronounced the same way as e.g. sh- in "should".
      As you can see here (http://www.kdejsme.cz/prijmeni/Brušák/hustota/ X http://www.kdejsme.cz/prijmeni/Brusák/hustota/ ) my interpretation seems to be validated by the localisations of these variants of the surname.
      A link for a book I mentioned above: http://www.archive.org/stream/naepijmenstudie00kotgoog/naepijmenstudie00kotgoog_djvu.txt

      I hope this helped you to enlighten your familiar surname orgin.

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    2. Hi Gehenna,
      Thank you so much for your information. I am sorry I could not include the diacritical marks, but they are as you noted in your first link; the "s" is pronouced as "sh." My knowledge of the Czech language is minimal, but my sister's is better. When I mentioned the double "s" in the mid-1800's document, she told me it was impossible because the Czech language does not contain double consonants. Your explanation settles our dispute. We can both be right. This is a wonderful website filled with so much and such a variety of information. Many thanks to you and Blanka for all the work you do and the information you share.

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  11. Thank you so much for your blog! We have been working non-stop on our Bohemian genealogy ever since we found out that our ancestors are in the online registries from the Pilsen and Litomerice archives. We have found so much useful info on your blog, so thank you so much for taking the time to do it!

    Most recently we have been working on our Panowitz/Panovecz line. I believe '-itz' means 'son of', but we don't know what Pano might mean, or where the name may have originated. Two other surnames we would be interested in finding out about are Moris/Moras/Mras/Mraz and Kohl/Khol -- I thought khol meant coal miner, but my sister found khol translated as cabbage, so not sure which is correct. Thanks!

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    1. Hi Stephanie - you know what is interesting? I'm working on Panovec line too. This line originates most probably in Prcice in Central Bohemia - what about yours? Surname probably comes from first name Pankrác.

      Kohl is from coal, but Khol comes from German first name Karl - it's diminutive is Khodl which was transformed to Khol.

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  12. Dear Blanka,
    the name Wawrinsky or Vavrinsky means they came from Vavrinec?

    My great-grandmother was from this family (Wawrinsky), they lived in North-Hungary (now Slovakia).

    Many thanks.

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    1. Yes, it is very possible that they came from a village called Vavrinec (http://goo.gl/maps/6c8hb), and that this village was named after a saint, whom a local church or chapel was consacrated, in this case Saint Laurence.
      Interesting is, that this church is Greek-Catholic, as well as 97% of inhabitants of this village.
      You can even see the interior of the church: http://panoramy.sme.sk/panorama/1571/vavrinec-greckokatolicky-kostol-interier-po-rekonstrukcii/?pr=1574&p=1578

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  13. Hello I was wondering if you could help me? I have a friend whose father came to america from Bohemia and she states they were known as gypsies, so is there truth to this? His name i belive was Joseph Edl. I have had difficulty finding info on the Edl last name. Thanks

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    1. Edl is a Czech form of German word Edel (http://www.surnamedb.com/Surname/Edel).
      I found no evidence of gipsies with this name, but as their lifestyle was quite untraceable, it is not impossible. But I personally doubt it: our ancestors were "a bit" xenophobic and I cannot believe that they would allow the people they liked even less then Jews to use a name meaning noble and especially in German (considered superior language, those days).
      Isn't it possible, that your friend misunderstood the "joke"? Because what certainly can be used for naming gipsies, is the word Bohemian :)
      (And, I just want to clarify, that what is called gipsies or bohemians in English, is a chosen migrating lifestyle, often connected with some kind of show; but what is meant by gipsies in our country - especially in old registers - are (in past also migrating) people from Indian origin, with darker complexion, so if your friend have old photographs, she very possibly could tell herself, whether or not they were of this origin. More information can be find here http://romove.radio.cz/en/article/18913 .)

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    2. NO I believe her father came from Bohemia or what is now Czech-Republic. She still has family living there. Her father came over on the boat to Ellis Island and not sure if they stayed on the east coast but do know he went to Chicago but left as he felt he was not treated well especially for his clothes and eventually settled in the southern part of the state of Wisconsin. She says that she is definitely Bohemian(gipsy, gypsy) but that she does not know alot of the history as they didnt tell people they were gypsy because it was looked as a derogatory group of people so they didnt talk about it to anyone and she could not even get her mother or father to tell her much. She did say that her father could speak Bohemian but she only knew certain words but that she is not fluent in it. She is about 87 years old and I know that her father met her mother while on the boat coming to America and i dont know how long he was here before they married and started having children? I know she has told me that she knows she also has Cirny(sp?) somewhere in her family genealogy. She is one of my most beloved clients(a friend) that i have and I am trying to find information for her to give to her this Friday as a gift so whatever you could help me with would be greatly appreciated! Thanks

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    3. Would it be possible to try to get any further information (at least any name of village, any date of birth or whatever?). Edl/Edel is in Bohemia quite wide-spread name and this would help us to find, what is true.
      I really din't want to tell you she is not from our country :)

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    4. Ellis Island knows one Josef Edl:
      First Name: Josef
      Last Name: Edl
      Ethnicity: Austria, Bohemian
      Last Place of Residence: Tynee, Austria
      Date of Arrival: Jan 25, 1908
      Age at Arrival: 20y Gender: M Marital Status: S
      Ship of Travel: Amerika
      Port of Departure: Hamburg
      Manifest Line Number: 0030

      I think it is possible that this is her father, because I found no other Josef Edl (or other alternative spellings) from Bohemia among immigrants.
      I will try to find something more, but further research has to be arranged with Blanka.

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  14. My great great grandparents were from Ksice. Their names were Roehlig and Christl. Is there a meaning for these names? Thank you.

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    1. Your ancestors with names Roehlig and Christl should be from German ethnics in Czech who had lived for centuries in Ksice before migrated to America. Both surnames are German surnames with no special meaning in Czech or other Slavic languages.

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    2. Christl was derived from the first name Christoph or Christian.

      Röhlig (Roehlig) - here I have no explanation, tried to find, but wasn't successful.

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  15. My great-grandparent's surnames were Šestak (paternal) and Riha (or Rihava, Rihova) (maternal). I have read that Šestak is a very rare surname. On the surname map, it shows that in 2010 and 2011 there were only two people in the Czech Republic with this name. I read somewhere that the name means "sixer"- whatever that is. Google translate says it means "penny" in modern Czech. There are Rihas all over the Czech Republic. Can any of this point me in the direction of a location to start researching?

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    1. Hello, the rarity of the surname Šestak depends - was it really written with "short" A? Because Šesták is not so rare surname... Šesták was a small coin, something like dime or nickel.

      When your family came to US? Did you locate immigration records?

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  16. My great grandmother Anna Riha supposedly met Joseph A. Krenek on the boat coming over. His petition for U.S. citizenship stated he was born in Austria in 1840 and landed in Baltimore, MD in Sept. 1869. I can not find him on any manifest. Does anyone have a clue as to name meanings and/or origins.

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    1. Říha is very common surname which was created from first name Řehoř (Gregor). Křenek is derived from the word křen which means horse-radish. It's also quite common surname, most common in Eastern Moravia (area of Rožnov pod Radhoštěm) where today lives almost 1/6 of all people who has this surname, so I would start in this area.

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    2. Also, Bohemia wasn't recognized by the USA so most of the census records and citizenship applications in Wisconsin listed Austria (as in Austria Hungary Empire) by default, no matter what the citizen claimed. http://history.state.gov/countries/czechoslovakia
      All my Wisconsin immigrant ancestors are listed from Austria and they were all German Bohemians.
      https://www.google.com/maps/ms?msid=215697862021750342710.0004c5172e2886dfadfda&msa=0&ll=49.955638,12.802505&spn=0.294662,0.737457

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  17. Hi, great blog!

    What can you tell me about the surnames Kundratek and Veseley?

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    1. Hi Ursula, thanks!

      Kundratek is diminutive of Kundrát, which comes from first name Konrád. Veselý (Veselej) means happy, joyful.

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  18. Happy New Year !

    This blog was a joy to read. Very informative.

    I started researching my family tree 24 years ago. In that time I have added many interesting Czech family names. All of my Czech ancestry came from East Bohemia, particularly a 25-mile radius around the city of Litomyšl. Years ago I created a family name list and have tried to find out what each surname means. But there are a few that I have had no luck. Here they are:

    Brunclík =
    Frodl =
    Hondl =
    Honl =
    Kribský =
    Trubař =
    Umá (German spelling: Umme)
    Urbele =
    Vobejda =

    Any translations for these family names would be very much appreciated. Thank you. Jason

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    1. Frondl, Hondl, Honl seems came from German surnames. Despite they were listed from Bohemia when entering Ellis island, but they should of German ethnics of Eastern Bohemia (parts of Austrian kingdom).

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  19. Can you tell me the meaning of my gggrandparents names. Both of them were cigarmakers in New York City. Waclar Karela or Karel and Antoinette Pekarek. thanks Karen

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    1. Karela might be from Karel (Carl), I think that origin in Italian Carell as a short version of Carosello (Carousel) is a bit far-fetched.
      Pekarek is a diminutive from Pekař (Baker).

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  20. Hi Blanka,

    Great post, I'm very interested to see what my surname would be translated to. I believe part of my family was in western Bohemia, so i'm not sure exactly the etymology of the name, (either german or czech) either way I have a few names I was wondering if you could decipher.

    Janachovsky
    Ourada

    any information would be wonderful. I have a general idea of the first one, maybe a decendent of a jana who was a farmer or something? let me know, and once again great artical!

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    1. Janachovský seems to be a typical example of a surname derived from the first name Jan (John).
      Ourada could be:
      1) from word úrada (meaning counsel)
      2) from word ouřada (a slight mockery version of úředník, meaning officer).

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  21. Thus far, I have traced my family back to the village of Libakovice as far back as the mid-1700s. The surname is Rajchart. I've found three different households, but have yet to find a common relative between them. Any thoughts as to the meaning of Rajchart?

    Thanks so much for all of the interesting information on your blog! It has helped me a great deal!

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    1. It is a dialectal form of Richard.

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    2. Source http://www.ptejteseknihovny.cz/uloziste/uog001/puvod-prijmeni-rejchrt

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  22. Can you tell me anything about the surname Duczek. Family history suggests Bohemian origin in the 1800's.

    Thanks
    Ken

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    1. Hi, this surname is today in Silesia ( http://www.kdejsme.cz/prijmeni/Du%C4%8Dek/hustota/ ), so it suggest a Polish origin. And the Polisk surname Duczek is:
      1) from duczeć (to moan)
      2) dialectal ducza (hole; tube; basket)
      3) Deutscher (German, Prussian)
      I like the third one most, because Němec (Czech form of German) is a quite common surname.
      The reasons, why Germans occured in otherwise Czech, Moravian or Silesian villages were many: it could be a specialist of a new industry, that the owner of manor wanted to grow there; also it could be a steward appointed by German nobility; it could be a soldier; or the borderline (or other unpleasant places to live, like mountains) was also a place, where concentrated the suddenly unwelcomed protestants... I think these are the most common ones.

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    2. Thank you for you insight. I too feel the third scenario fits well, since much of the family married spouses with German sounding surnames, eg Hering or Nering, Blas, Ruhr, Dietrich, and Ludwar. But I don't claim to know any name origins. The furthest back was found to be Anton Duczek who married Christina Hering/Nering in Rosch Bukowina Austria circa 1793. Christina was born in Rosch in 1767. Rosch being near Czernowitz. My dad, grandparents and great grandparents all spoke a form of german. Dad did say it was a little different than some other german speaking new Canadians, when as a young man he was asked to translate into english. Does this support the third idea? Thanks again.
      Ken Duczek

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  23. Hello, I am wondering about surnames for Bohemian, Moravian and Slovak gypsy families. Are there certain names that signify this?
    Thanks!
    S

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    1. Hi, by coincidence, I am working on the overview of Moravian Gypsy families. There are 5 different groups of Gypsies living in Czech republic (Czech, Moravian, Slovak, Hungarian and "Olachian" - this is a word from Walachian, originally from Romania), if we do not consider also strolling companies as gypsies, which is common in English meaning of this word.
      But the most common surnames can be found on wikipedia ( http://cs.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romov%C3%A9#Tradi.C4.8Dn.C3.AD_p.C5.99.C3.ADjmen.C3.AD ).
      As examples, there are quoted:
      "Olachian" surnames Horváth, Oláh, Balog and Lakatoš
      Slovak and Hungarian Demeter, Sivák, Žiga a Németh.
      Czech, mostly vagant families Růžička, Vrba, Janeček, Procházka, Charvát, Petržilka.
      Moravian, during the time settled commonly on the borderlines of former manors, Daniel, Ištván, Herák, Holomek, Malík, Kýr, Murka.
      There is mentioned a group of German speaking Gypsies living close to the Czech-German borders with names Bamberger, Richter, Klimt, Lagryn.

      Also there is a remark of typical Gipsy first names: Erika, Koloman, Etela, Gizela, Eržika, Sandra, Gejza, Imrich, Zoltán, Tibor, Margita, Elemír, Dezider, Marika, Attila or Aladár - those are all common names in Hungary or Slovakia, but special in Bohemia and Moravia.
      But it has to be said, that in past, they preferred their children being christened by the most common names of catholic tradition like Marie, Anna, Josef, Jan, which makes it a bit confusing, whilst they also have only two or three surnames in one settlement.

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  24. My mother's maiden name is Pechousek, and I've wondered about it's meaning. Is it related to the Latin/Roman root Pesc? Another family names is Krucek. I believe they lived in the area of Moravia. They emigrated to the USA in the late 1800's, before Ellis Island.

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    1. All the names beginning with Pech- have two possible sources:
      1) a first name Peter, with original meaning rock
      2) originally German word "pecher", i.e. someone working with pitch. (I think, that the oldgermanic original root-word for pitch and pech was the same one, but I am too lazy to search for a proof :D). I have to mention that Czech synonyms for pitch are pech and smůla, both meaning also bad luck. (So you can consider this a "third" possible origin).
      Krůček is a deminutive from krok, so it means "small step".

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  25. First, thank you for all the help you are giving to family historians.

    I wonder if you can give me any information at all on my mother's maiden name, Kotchka. I don't know if this is anything close the original spelling (on various US documents, it's also spelled "Katchka" and "Kotski"). My great-grandfather was Joseph Kotchka; my great-grandmother was Louise Bista (again, not sure about the spelling). I believe they immigrated to the US in the early 1890s, but I can't find any immigration records to support this. On death certificates and Census records, their places of birth are given variously as Bohemia, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia. I'm at a dead end, so any insight at all would be much appreciated!

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  26. I've recently discovered that my gradmother was Czech, daughter of Czech immigrants. She was apparently orphaned at a young age, so though her adoptive family kept her original family surname, Rostochil/Rostocil/Rostozil,the family, including my father, did not know her parents' country of origin. Do you have any information about the Rostochil surname? I'm still trying to find out when my great-grandfather, Frantisek Rostochil, came to the U.S., but any information about the family name you might have would be much appreciated.


    Thanks for your excellent site. I've already learned so much about my ancestors homeland.

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  27. I'm looking for any information of the surname Pavelka. It's my grandmother's maiden name, but I know nothing more than that. Anything you can offer would be GREATLY appreciated!!

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    1. I'm specifically looking for a Frank Pavelka. I found him on the Ellis Island Manifest and it says that he was from Kutna; Bohemia, Austria. I know that borders have changed a lot since he came over about 100years ago, but I'm trying to nail down an exact location. The only thing I could find on a map was Kutna Hora, Czech Republic. But I'm not sure if that's the right place. Do you know where/how I can look for where specific people may have lived? If it helps, I know a few more names of Frank's brothers. I believe they all came to the states.

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  28. Would you be able to help me out with the name Pauček? My husband's grandfather (August Pauček) immigrated to the US in the first half of the 20th century. I'm trying to put together a family tree and really struggling with finding any information.

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  29. I'm trying to find out the origin and meaning of the name Maicum. I've went through several countries and can find nothing definitive. I came across another site that stated it had probably Czech origins. The name occurs in my tree in the early-mid 1600's and with a change to machaan right before or right after immigration to the US. Is it one of the first name's as a last name? Any information that you can provide will be greatly appreciated. Thank you

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  30. This is a wonderful blog! Thank you so much for all of the wonderful resources. My surname is Titera. The earliest ancestor we know of on that line was Šimon Titíra (I have seen a number of different spellings through the generations) who lived near Mělník in the late 1500s. I know it is a very uncommon surname. Do you have any idea of the origins? Some of the other surnames I have not been able to find the origins of (also from Bohemia) are Hostak and Šubr. Thank you so much for your help!

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    1. Hi Linda, thanks for your appreciation. Titera? My schoolmate from high school has the same surname and he is also researching his ancestors - if you are interested, I can contact him to connect you two.

      Titera comes from word "titěrný" which means someone or something small, ie. first Titera could have subtle stature or he was just short.

      Šubr comes from šubrat which means to make dirty. Hostak comes from first name beginning with Host- (Hostibor, Hostivoj and so on).

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  31. Thank you this is a very interesting blog! I have a couple of different family lines with Bohemian ancestors. I found your blog trying to research them. Do you know anything about Sneida or perhaps Snejda? The other line I am trying to research is Drudik. The surnames look somewhat different from the names people have listed in the comments here perhaps due to all the changes that happened in that region before my family left in the late 1800's. The Snejda line became Snyder once they arrived in the US in the late 1890's. The Drudik became Drudick and they arrived in the US in 1891. There is no information for any of them from before they came to the US. If you have any thoughts or information on these names it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

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  32. Hello Blanka,
    Do you know the meaning and origin of the last name Hamak? I was always told that my ancestors were from Bohemia, Czechoslovakia, and Austria. I have spent many hours online trying to find out what my last name means and it's origin, but cannot find anything. Hope you can help. Thanks!

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    1. Hamák most probably originated from the first name Abraham.

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  33. Any possibility that Krucik could be Czech? I can't, for the life of me, figure out where it originated from.

    ~Mike

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    1. Yes, Krucik (Kručík) might be Czech or Slovak surname. It could originated from word "kručet", rumble.

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  34. Hi. Thank you for this article. Does anyone know of the surnames kletchka or kletcka , sabatka, or prokop. From bohemia, marovia, and austrian areas?

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  35. Any information on the surname Derle, Drla, Dela, Dele, Born in Austria and lists mother tongue as Bohemian.

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  36. The saddest name is one that a relative had "Smutny" = sad. The poor chap immigrated to America and learned that his name was nearly as bad in English "smut", as it was in Czech. So, since he was a tailor, he changed his name to Schneider.

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  37. Hi, im publishing a book and I need help with Czech surnames. can you give me at least two examples of surnames of wealthy or classy people. otherwise just give me some rare Czech surnames. thank you

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  38. Hello:
    My maiden name was PONEC....I have many with the surname via
    Actapublica...I have been told the origin may have been Spain
    and/or France. Do you have any idea what it means?

    Also do you have any information regarding DRZKOV...NE of Prague
    about 50 miles. I am interested in the name of the church, school
    and cemetery in that town. I cannot get a reply from them.

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  39. Hello, I am interested in the origin of the surname Strokal. Can it be of Czech origin? Would appreciate your anwer.

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  40. Do you have any information on the name Zatloukal? It was my mother in-laws name. She came from Moravia & came here in 1953 with her husband Karel Kopecky from Prague & their son Karl.

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  41. Thank you so much for putting this great resource together. It is so interesting and so full of great information.
    I am having terrible trouble researching the surname HOLY. As you may guess, I get church names when I try to search anywhere. I think Holy means bare..?
    I also strike out with Sirocka, and Drgac.
    Thanks for any help you can give!

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    Replies
    1. I believe it can mean bare or bald.

      Delete
  42. Hi, I am curious to know if anyone can tell me more about my ancestors name. I was told they came from Moravia and their surname was something like Bullitschek not sure of exact spelling it was changed to Bolerjack upon coming to america any help would be greatly appreciated.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bulíček is Czech surname, not too common (abt 800 men and women) - http://www.kdejsme.cz/prijmeni/Bul%C3%AD%C4%8Dek/hustota/

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  43. My given name is Pizinger. In Trebon records I am able to find birth records for my great-great-great grandfather, Jozef Pizinger and I know from talking to Czech relatives with the same surname that we come from Albretrice nad Vlatvou, Vodnany and Temelin. I was there last summer and visited Temelin, then hiked to Tyn nad Vlatvou, but was not able to make it to the other places as I was in school in Prague at the time.

    No one seems to know what the surname Pizinger is from or what it means. I have seen it spelled Pisinger (with the accent above the s that makes it a sh sound) and I've heard the Pisinger cake mentioned a few times, which is ironic since my grandfather was 100% Czech-American and a baker, as was my father....and I have strong inclinations towards baking as well. We also have Kudlata/y, Bartos, Holka and my great grandmother was a Krchmar.

    I am also wondering if any of these are traditionally Jewish surnames. I had some DNA testing done and it shows that I am approximately 6% Jewish (can't remember the name of the type, starts with an A) and I have been told that means that I have a great or great great grandparent who was Jewish. I did find Pisinger on the wall at Terezin and some survivors with the same name, but our line was Catholic.

    Help?

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    Replies
    1. The surnames of Pizinger, or Pisinger is really a strong German surnames patrons. I can not find the words or even the meaning of the words in our Czech language. It is not the word of Slavic root languages.
      Your ancestor should be of a German minority ethnics in Czech before migrated to US.
      Or from Czech people who had an ancestors of German ethnics with this surname, but had assimilated into Czech community for generations.
      This cases are common in Czech. Some of them still retain their original Germanic ancestor surnames, i.e Pizinger (or Pisinger), Klaus, Dientsbier, Berger, etc.

      Delete
  44. Is the surname "Conczella" possibly to Czeck name? Have been looking for years.
    If so, where in the country might it have come from? Thanks.

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    Replies
    1. It could be derived from surname Končela, Končel - member of municipal council.

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  45. How wonderful a blog! I will definitely be following you. My G.Grandmother was from a small village outside of Prague. Her married name was Duffek. I have seen the name with only one "f". Do you know if it is the same or why? Also her maiden name was Fiana or Faina. Could you tell me anything about these names? Much appreciated for your time and effort. CZ information is so hard to come by!

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    1. Double f in surnames was often caused by its transcription from Czech to English and/or German. So Dufek and Duffek are most probably the same names.

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  46. Hello! My grandmother's father's name was Joseph Libecajt or Liebzeit depending on who was telling the story! Her mother's name was Maria Vonesova. I believe they came from near Prague. Any info on those names? We've been told that Libecajt means love/joy! Thanks for your time! Karol

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    1. Hi Karol, Liebzeit means "time of love" or "lovely time". :) Voneš is derived from first name Ondřej.

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  47. Hi there, I have a quick question. A few years ago before her death I had met my estranged great aunt who told me that my mothers name was shortened to kapika upon entering the country. This woman was "losing it" to be honest near the end so I'm not sure about the truth to that statement and mother is unsure of it either. Could anyone tell me if the name kapika is an actual czech surname or if i should be looking for another name (a longer or varied version) to trace our lineage

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    Replies
    1. Czech surname is Kapík - probably your mother's name was shortened from Kapíková to Kapika.

      Delete
  48. Do you have any information on the surname Hudrlik? Our 2nd Great Grandfathers death certificate from chicago Illinois says that he was born July 1871 in Chrudim Bohemia. Also his mother was Katerina Kroulik. Do you know the meaning and origan on the Kroulik surname? Thanks!! By the way, I LOVE your blog!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hudrlík comes from a German word for hat-maker. Kroulík is most probably from the adjective okrouhlý (round) where first letter was ommited.

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  49. Do people have the last name Czech? I received an email and their last name was Czech. I think it was a spoof email. I searched the web and couldnt find anything to confirm it either way.
    Thank you

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  50. I've been reading around and I haven't had any luck in trying to find out what exactly Varejcka means. It's not a very common last name in American, my family is the only family that I know of that has this last name. If anyone can help me out, I would be indebted to you. Thanks much.

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    Replies
    1. Varejčka comes from "vařečka", spoon (wooden one used to mix/stire the food).

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  51. Before a recent trip to Europe, I tried to research possible relatives of my grandmother, who was Bohemian. I have struggled to find a meaning for the name Talich. The only information I could find was on a string quartet by that name. Would anyone be able to tell me what the name means, and how common of a name it is? Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Talich is not too common surname, it's most common in Pelhrimov district - http://www.kdejsme.cz/prijmeni/Talich/hustota/

      I had problem finding its meaning, it's probably derived from word "tál" (hot plate used for cooking).

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  52. Hi Blanka! I just happened to stumble upon your blog this morning!

    I'm not super great at studying genealogy and keeping a family tree like some other people are. :/

    I know my dad's side of the family is Czech and German and the maternal side of the family are Germans from Russia.

    My last name is Holkup. I heard a sort of rumor at a family reunion that it was possibly shortened when my ancestors arrived at Ellis Island. From my research, I think It was Holkupova. But there are Holkup's in Czech Republic (I read through all the comments on this post and visited the websites mentioned... I didn't know my ancestors possibly came from southern Czech Republic... awesome!) so I'm not sure.

    Holkup isn't a common last name in the USA, so if someone runs into a Holkup, I'm related to them somehow! :)

    The 100-or-so comments on this post shows that you're very busy answering other people's questions about their genealogy and doing your own research. You are one busy lady! :)

    May I ask what Holkup or Holkupova means in Czech?
    My great grandmother's maiden name was Ferderer. I think that's German, but if it's Czech, is it okay if you (or others) translate that too?

    Thank you SO MUCH for running this blog and having resources available for people who are researching their family histories!

    Valentine <3

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  53. Hi Blanka,
    I am very new to this and recently found out that my biological father's family immigrated to the US in the early 30's. The ancestor was Rudolph John Buday. Immigration paperwork lists his birthplace as Prusland, Czechoslovakia. Was hoping to find out more and with adoption there is no family stories or background to fall back on. Thanks, Julia.

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  54. Hello there. I'm hoping you can help me. I seemed to be the only one in my family interested in our history. No one really knows the true origins of our last name and it is rather uncommon. I translated Dobeš into Dobe which is time. My father makes and sells grandfather clocks for a living, go figure. Do you have any idea about the Dobeš origins or know where I can find out.

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    Replies
    1. Hello, Dobeš comes from the first name - Dobeš is Czech version of the name Tobiáš (Tobias).

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  55. I need help locating the village of my ancestors. Kaplan (meaning chaplain) was the surname of my 2x great grandfather and 2x great grandmother maiden name was Jenista. All I know is that she came from a town/village in “Bohemia S E” called something like Okratz Bohemia or Okraty or Okratz. Also the surname if Zeman may have been a friend to them here in the states. Can you help me figure this mystery out?

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    Replies
    1. Hello, do you have any document where the name of the village is written? I wasn't able to find any village fitting the name (or be at least similar to it) and written form could help. Thanks.

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  56. Hello I'm wondering if anyone could help me out with this. My opa came over from Czech in the 40's/50's and upon immigrating our last name was shortened...I don't know what it was before but that's what I'm hoping to find out. My opa passed away a few years ago so I have a lot of unanswered questions. Our last name is Olmr I'm pretty sure but not certain that prior to coming to canada it was Olmrová? Does that make sense? I just want to try and trace my family history so any help or suggestions is greatly appreciated :) thanks in advance

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    Replies
    1. Hi Amanda, Olmrová is a female form of surname Olmr, so most probably some of your female ancestors came to Canada with this surname?

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  57. Interesting article!. My ancestors (Zbytovsky) originated in the small village of Zbytov, located between Jimramov and Dalecin - thus the surname Zbytovsky.

    Thanks so much for all the work you do and information that you provide.

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  58. My grandfather came from Bohemia when he was very young, with his parents. The name on the ship's passenger list is spelled Cisar. I think I've located the Kamen they may have originated from, maybe. Is there anything you can tell me about this Czech last name?

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  59. I'm having trouble finding my surname anywhere. The original spelling is Šupak I think. I havent even found it on any ship logs, but I've narrowed down that they immigrated to Texas, United States in the 1860s. This site has fabulous info, if you can find anything, that would be great! Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. Oh, and census info says they came from Bohemia if that helps.

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  60. Hi Blanka,
    I know my grandmother's family was originally from Vienna (I think), but the surname is Kurdal, is that by any chance bohemian czech? I cannot find any information anywhere, but I know she grew up in Odry (they moved there). Thanks!

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