40 Polish Last Names/Surnames With Meanings And Origins

40 Of The Most Popular Polish Last Names (With Meanings And Origins!)

November 30, 2020 Updated January 7, 2021

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Mohammed Ajwad/Unsplash

Polish last names, like many others in the region, tend to be based on occupations/jobs, places, or nicknames. Etymologically speaking, these three categories are known as cognominal, toponymic, and patronymic, respectively. Around the 13th century, it became trendy for people to add the suffix -ski (which means “of”) to their last names. It still remains one of the biggest clues that a name is Polish — roughly 35 percent of the 1000 most popular Polish surnames have the -ski suffix. Between the 15th and 17th centuries, most people had three names: a given name, a clan name, and a last name. Then, between the end of the 17th century and mid-19th century, most of the population dropped their clan names, with the focus then placed on the family name; many of which remain.

You’ll also see Slavic names among Polish last names. Legend has it that when these names were given, the bearer was meant to fulfill the prophecy of the name’s meaning. But when a ban on pagan names was imposed with the Council of Trent, these old Slavic names — and their suffixes used to create surnames — all but died out. As is true with naming in many cultures, though, trends and customs have seen several evolutions over time. In the 19th century, Poles reclaimed the old Slavic names and suffixes out of patriotism. Some of these are still in use today.

Did you know that Poland is the ninth largest country in Europe? But that isn’t the only cool thing you should keep in mind about this Eastern European nation. For one, it shares a border with seven other countries including Russia, Lithuania, Belarus, Slovakia, Ukraine, the Czech Republic, and Germany. (That’s a lot of neighbors!)

Its official name is the Republic of Poland and within their culture, they value health, faith, adaptability, generosity, justice, nobility, tradition, stoicism, sentimentality, and optimism. Poland is a vast country filled with millions of people with a million stories and in their culture, last names can give you a glimpse of it.

Ready to learn more? Here are 40 popular Polish last names, along with their meanings and origins.

Do you want to learn more last names from other countries? We’ve gathered surnames from around the world to satiate your curiosity. Check out our bounty of SpanishMexican, and Brazilian last names!

    1. Bosko
      Meaning: Barefoot
      Origin: Polish/Slovak
    2. Budny
      Meaning: Hut, cabin
      Origin: Polish
    3. Chlebek
      Meaning: Bread
      Origin: Polish
    4. Dabrowski
      Meaning: Oak grove
      Origin: Polish
    5. Dudek
      Meaning: Derived from hoopoe, a crested Old World nonpasserine bird
      Origin: Polish, Ukrainian, Czech, Slovak
    6. Dziedzic
      Meaning: Landowner
      Origin: Polish
    7. Gorecki
      Meaning: Mountain
      Origin: Polish
    8. Jabłoński
      Meaning: Derived from jabłoń, meaning “apple tree”
      Origin: Polish
    9. Jagoda
      Meaning: Berry
      Origin: Polish
    10. Jankowski
      Meaning: Habitational name for someone from Jankow, Jankowo, or Jankowice
      Origin: Polish
    11. Jaworski
      Meaning: Habitational name for someone from Jawory or Jaworze; derived from jawor, meaning “maple”
    12. Kaczka
      Meaning: Duck
      Origin: Polish
    13. Kaczmarek
      Meaning: Innkeeper
      Origin: Polish
    14. Kaminski
      Meaning: Stone, rock
      Origin: Polish
    15. Kowalski
      Meaning: Blacksmith
      Origin: Polish
    16. Kozlowski
      Meaning: From the town of the goat
      Origin: Polish
    17. Król
      Meaning: King
      Origin: Polish
    18. Kwiatkowski
      Meaning: Habitational name for someone from Kwiatkow, Kwiatkowo, or Kwiatkowice; derived from kwiatek, meaning “flower”
      Origin: Polish
    19. Laska
      Meaning: Grace, mercy
      Origin: Polish
    20. Lewandowski
      Meaning: Lavender
      Origin: Polish
    21. Majewski
      Meaning: Habitational name for someone from Majewo
      Origin: Polish
    22. Malinowski
      Meaning: Habitational name for someone from Malinow, Malinowo, or Malinowka in Poland or Malinov, Malinova, or Malinovka in Ukraine; derived from Slavic malina, meaning “raspberry”
    23. Nosek
      Meaning: Small nose
      Origin: Polish
    24. Nowak
      Meaning: New
      Origin: Polish
    25. Olszewski
      Meaning: Habitational name for someone from Olsze, Olszew, Olszewa, or Olszewo
      Origin: Polish
    26. Pawlak
      Meaning: Patronymic from first name Pawel, meaning “little”
      Origin: Polish
    27. Ryba
      Meaning: Fisherman
      Origin: Polish
    28. Sniegow
      Meaning: Person from a place with snow
      Origin: Polish
    29. Stępień
      Meaning: A plodder, someone with a slow gait
      Origin: Polish
    30. Szymanski
      Meaning: Habitational name for someone from Szymany in Konin or Lomza voivodeships
      Origin: Polish
    31. Wiater
      Meaning: Wind
      Origin: Polish
    32. Wiśniewski
      Meaning: Habitational name for someone from Wisniewo, Wisniew, or Wisniewa; derived from wiśnia, meaning “cherry”
      Origin: Polish
    33. Witkowski
      Meaning: Habitational name for someone from Witkowo, Witkow, or Witkowice; derived from the first name Witek, meaning “to guide the people”
    34. Wojciechowski
      Meaning: Habitational name for someone from Wojciechowo or Wojciechow
      Origin: Polish
    35. Wójcik
      Meaning: Son of Wójt
      Origin: Polish
    36. Wozniak
      Meaning: Caretaker
      Origin: Polish
    37. Wróbel
      Meaning: Sparrow
      Origin: Polish
    38. Zabek
      Meaning: Tooth
      Origin: Polish
    39. Zając
      Meaning: Hare
      Origin: Proto-Slavic
    40. Zieliński
      Meaning: Green
      Origin: Polish