Dzięgiel - Dziengiel - Gengle - Jingle
Created by Administrator Account in 12/31/2009 1:33:36 PM


I am looking for information on only 1 name. Dziegiel is how it was written on the baptismal records held in Tarnow. My great-grandfather was born in Iwkowa, immigrated in 1903 and changed our name to Gengle in 1920.

In Polish this name is usually spelled Dzięgiel -- using the Polish nasal vowel written as an E with a tail under it and pronounced much like "en." Since that nasal E sounds a lot like "en," and since spelling of surnames has always been inconsistent, it is not unusual to see the name spelled Dziengiel sometimes, even in Poland. Either spelling, Dzięgiel or Dziengiel, is pronounced roughly "JENG-yell."

I should add that in English-speaking countries this name Dzięgiel has often been spelled phonetically as Jingle. If you hear a Pole say it, it does sound quite a bit like our word "jingle." So don't be too surprised if you find relatives who spell it something like Jingle. But that would happen only in English-speaking countries, never in Poland.

Gengle is obviously a slightly different phonetic spelling. Pronounce the Polish word and it's easy to see why an immigrant might say, "Well, these Americans can't seem to spell or pronounce Dzięgiel right, so I'll spell it a way they can handle." Or sometimes they pronounced their names and an official wrote it down the way it sounded to him. That's how these alternate spellings got started.

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 and is now available online as a searchable database), there were 1,565 Polish citizens named Dzięgiel. The largest numbers lived in the following provinces: Katowice 119, Kraków 306, and Tarnów 305. The name is found all over Poland, but is most common in the southcentral to southeastern part of the country. Your ancestors come from the area where it is most common, therefore. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, what I've given here is all I have.

If you'd like to see the various spellings of this name still found in Poland (though the variants are quite rare), go to and type in DZI*GIEL in the box, then hit
. The list that comes up shows all names beginning DZI-, followed by any combination of letters, followed by -GIEL and any endings. It's an interesting list. If you need help reading the data, I wrote an article on the subject in the latest issue of Gen Dobry!, the free e-zine of PolishRoots.

Polish name expert Prof. Kazimierz Rymut mentions this name in his book Nazwiska Polaków [The Surnames of Poles]. He says it appears in records as early as 1570 and comes from the noun dzięgiel, the name of a plant in the parsley family, which is called "angelica" in English.

This name suggests an ancestor was somehow connected with that plant. Perhaps he lived in an area where it was very common, or he/she liked to eat it or use it in cooking, or smelled like it, or wore a bouquet of it -- there must have been some kind of connection that was obvious to people at the time, or the name would never have "stuck." But centuries later it can be difficult to figure out exactly what the connection was. We just know there must have been some reason why it made sense to nickname a guy after this plant.

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