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Created by Administrator Account in 12/28/2009 1:20:00 PM


I am working on a project for my high school english class and am looking for any information available on my family name Burzynski. Any information you can supply, I would appreciate greatly. Thank you very much!

In Polish this name is spelled with an accent over the N and is pronounced roughly "boo-ZHIN-skee" (where "zh" is the sound heard in "Zhivago" or "rouge"). As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 9,583 Polish citizens named Burzyński. They lived in large numbers all over the country; there was no one area with which the name was associated to the point that we can say "There's where a Burzyński family came from" without doing detailed genealogical research.

The basic root of this name is seen in the noun burza, "storm, brawl, disturbance," of which Burzyński is an adjectival form. So in some cases the name probably started out meaning "kin of Burza," referring to one who was called that because he was always causing a disturbance or looking for a fight. But in many cases it probably refers to the name of a place, which in turn got its name from an owner or founder named Burza. Thus the name can mean "one from Burzyn." There are at least two places by that name, one in the general area of Łomża in northeastern Poland, another not far from Tarnow in southeastern Poland.

The thing is, Polish surnames developed centuries ago, and often came from the name of a field or hill or little settlement, names used only by locals, that would be unlikely to appear on any map or in any gazetteer. So the place this name refers to may be quite obscure, or may even have disappeared or renamed or absorbed into another community centuries ago. The surname may refer to either of the two Burzyns on modern maps, but it may refer to some other place that no longer shows up on maps because it was renamed or it disappeared long ago.

To summarize, this is a moderately common name found all over Poland, and it comes ultimately from some connection with the root burz- meaning "brawl, disturbance, storm." It could have begun as a name for the kin of one with a stormy temperament, but it also could have started as a reference to a place the family came from, which in turn took its name from that root (probably by way of a fellow who owned or founded it who was called Burza). Only successful genealogical research might enable one to establish the exact social, historical, and linguistic context in which the name came to be associated with a given family. But in general it's fair to say it usually means "kin of the stormy guy" or "one from the stormy guy's place."

Copyright © 2002 W.F. Hoffman. All rights reserved. Used by permission.



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