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Created by Administrator Account in 12/27/2009 3:09:51 AM


Just wanted to see if you have any information on the origin or meaning of my ancestry surnames: Wojda and Lapinski [Wojda is covered in a separate note.]

Lapinski in Polish is usually spelled with a slash through the L and an accent over the N, so it should look this this when typed - Łapiński.

Łapiński is pronounced roughly "wah-PEEN-skee." As of 1990 there were 8,410 Polish citizens by this name. The largest numbers lived in the following provinces: Warsaw 899, Białystok 2,731, Łomża 505, and Suwałki 460. This data indicates the name is found all over the country but is concentrated to a significant extent in northeastern Poland.

Polish name expert Kazimierz Rymut mentions this surname in his book Nazwiska Polaków [The Surnames of Poles], saying it can have two derivations. It can refer to the name of a village or settlement or other place the family was connected with at some point centuries ago, with a name beginning Łapin- or something similar. He specifically mentions Łapino in Kolbudy district of former Gdansk province as one place that some Łapińskis are known to have come from. But there are other places with similar names that this surname could refer to.

Also this surname can come directly from the root seen in the noun łapa, "paw," and in the verb łapać, "to grab, paw." Łapiński could be interpreted literally as "[kin] of the paw" or "[kin] of the one who grabs." So there are at least two possible derivations.

I would add this: since this surname is especially common in northeastern Poland, it is worthwhile checking to see if there is a specific place it might refer to in that area. There are several villages with the name Łapy plus a second part near Białystok -- Łapy-Dębowizna, Łapy-Pluśniaki, Łapy-Szołajdy -- as well as a village with the simple name Łapy. Since they're very close to each other, chances are at one time they were all part of one big settlement or estate, but later were subdivided and distinguished by adding a second part to the name.

I must say that if a given Łapiński family does turn out to have roots in northeastern Poland, "one from Łapy" is a very plausible origin for this surname. But if a family turned out to come from the Gdansk area, a connection with that village of Łapino becomes more likely. And you never know when the name may simply have referred to the kin of a guy with big hands, or one who tended to grab for everything. As I said, only research into a specific family's history might clear that up... But if your research leads you back to northeastern Poland, I'd say "one from Łapy" is a very good possibility.

If you'd like to see a map of where Łapy is, go to and enter LAPINO and then click on "Pokaz miasto." It will show links to Łapy and Łapy-Kołpaki, another nearby village. They all are right together, so just click on the first one. You'll get a map showing the Łapy area, as well as a smaller map showing where it is located in terms of Poland as a whole. You can print the map, save it, zoom in, etc.

If the Łapino near Gdansk turns out to be relevant to your name, you can get a map of it, too, at, by searching for LAPINO. It actually shows up as both LAPINO and LAPINO KARTUSKIE ("the Lapino near Kartuzy"). Click on either one and you'll get a map.

Copyright © 2003, 2004 W.F. Hoffman. All rights reserved. Used by permission.



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