Monday, July 18, 2022

Surnames reffering to the physical appearance

Last month poll decided that this month I'll write about those surnames which reffer to the physical appearance of the first person who got that surname. So - what kind of surnames we can find in this "category"?

There are surnames which mention something what was typical for that person. It could be hair, physical feature or anything else. One of the most common Czech surnames is Kučera - which reffers to hair. Kučera means a lock of hair, so the first Kučera was someone who had curly hair. If someone had a lot of hair, his surname might be Vlasatý (meaning hairy). On the other hand, someone with no hair was called Lysý.

If he had red hair, he might have been given surname Červený (meaning red), Rezavý or Rezek (both from the red hair). Black-haired people were often given surname Černý (meaning black). Bílý was someone who had fair, almost albino hair. And Šedivý (gray) was most probably someone whose hair turned gray in very young age.

Anothere surname of that type could be Silný - it has two different meanings, strong or obese. But if one was obese, he was most probably called Tlustý (exact meaning is fat as adjective). Someone who was tall was named Vysoký. Someone small was Malý. If someone was really thin, he was called Hubený.

Then there are surnames which reffer to some oddity in the appearence. Čtyřprstý (four-fingered) was someone who had just four fingers on one of his hands. Beznoska had very tiny nose (it means "without nose") - or he didn't have a nose at all, he might have lost it in a fight or battle. Jednooký was someone who had just one eye. Chromý was someone disabled - one of his legs was shorter, he wasn't able to use one of his arms etc.

There is number of such surnames and those listed here are just examples. Sometimes you need to know Czech very well to be able to decide if your surname falls to this category...

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  1. Hoping to help my friend with his maternal Spena name. Borotice and Dusnicky origins (Bohemian)

  2. Nouza origin in Bohemia and meaning of name.