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Kalemba-Malecki Etymology

A brief document about the name origins of the surnames in the Kalemba-Malecki geneaolgy.

Etymology is the study of word origins. Surnames arose when the use of the given first name became impossible to distinguish one family or person from another. Mind you, the origins of surnames first started with the nobles. Polish peasant surnames did not become firmly fixed until about the 18th century. By nobles adopting surnames, they could ensure that property ownership passed from one generation from another easily, and that paying taxes and martial activities would be more organized. Surnames originated from all different sources; fathers name (patronymics), place of origin, occupation, plants, animals and physical characteristics. Of course, when Poles and other Europeans arrived in the New World, the names were shortened, changed and or adopted to fit the English alphabet (Polish has 23 letters, with no q, v, or x). So the name Los in Polish (the l has a slash through it) which sounds like 'WOSH' in English, may have become Wosh or even Losch or Losh. You can see how messy it can get!
Fortunately, most of my ancestor's surnames did not recieve similar treatment when they arrived in America. Kalemba, however, did receive some adjustment. Though it is pronounced the same in Poland as it is here, it is spelled differently. There was no m - the Polish e with a hook underneath it is pronounced 'em'. So my great- grandfather and his brothers added the m and no one was the wiser! I only rediscovered the change after obtaining marriage certificates and Polish Surnames: Origins and Meanings by William F. Hoffman.
And now the origins...
burza, storm, disturbance

A misspelling of Czseszweski - name element from Czeslaw (first name)

English adjustment of Derlega (the e has a hook underneath it) unknown at this time

drag (the a has a hook underneath it), pole, rod

dyndac, to dangle, suckle, or Ukrainian didko, grandfather, old man

closest similarity is with the east Polish and Ukrainian equilivant of Theodore - Feodor

grusza, pear-tree

kaleba (the e has a hook underneath it), a thin old cow, an obese woman!!

unknown at this time

closest similarity is with kier, hearts (card suit)

archaic klecha, lay church attendant

kowac, to forge metal or kowal, a smith

lakomy (the l has a slash through it), greedy, gluttonous

maly (the l has a slash through it), small, also a name root, and many place names

mir, peace

Family tradition stated this name as meaning 'never die', in fact my great- grandfather Frank Niesmiertelny lived up to this meaning - he died at 91 (and was a heavy smoker!). A fellow Pole informed me "that "niesmiertelny" means "immortal" in Polish. It is a commonly used adjective, which is formed from words "nie" (no, not; negation) and "smierc" (death; "s" and "c" in this word are accented). "-elny" is a suffix used to form the adjective." There you have it!

nowy, new, specifically newcomer

potrzebowac, verb meaning to need or have need of

Puz- is from Pyz- which is pyza or puza, meaning chubby-faced person. Also a Italian name - transplated Italians?

rys, lynx, or rysa, dash or crack

sikora, a titmouse and many place names

verb stanac (the second a has a hook underneath it), to stand up, root stan- meaning 'stand, become', as in Stanislaw

walegac sie (the l has a slash through it and he e has a hook underneath it), to loaf, loiter

English adjustment of Wesolowski (the l has a slash through it) from wesoly, merry or cheerful

English adjustment of Wnek (the e has a hook underneath it) from wnuk, in old Polish wnek, grandson

wrobel, sparrow

wyka, vetch, or from root wyk- as in nawyk, habit or custom

And there you have it - a brief lesson on Polish etymology. For more explanation, I highly recommend William Hoffman's book on Polish surnames. It is published by the Polish Genealogical Society of America.

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