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Created by Administrator Account in 1/2/2010 7:59:02 AM


I was wondering if you had any information on my last name. It is Cieszynski.

In Polish this name is spelled with an acute accent over the N, and is pronounced roughly "cheh-SHIN-skee."; so I spell the name Cieszyński.

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 3,242 Polish citizens by this name. They lived all over Poland, with particularly large numbers in the following provinces: Bydgoszcz 191, Gdansk 612, Katowice 146, Olsztyn 133, Rzeszow 163, Slupsk 156, Torun 737, and Wloclawek 197. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, so I can't tell you how to find that info.

This data tells us a Cieszyński family could come from practically anywhere in Poland, but there are significant concentrations in northcentral Poland.

Polish name expert Prof. Kazimierz Rymut mentions this name in his book Nazwiska Polakow [The Surnames of Poles]. He says it appears in records as early as 1418, and just means "one from Cieszyn" or Cieszyna or Cieszyno or Cieszyny -- there are a number of different places with these names. The only way to tell which one a specific family came from would be through genealogical research, which would allow one to focus on the exact area that particular Cieszyński family came from and thus on a nearby place with an appropriate name.

There is, for instance, a famous and fairly large town Cieszyn down in southcentral Poland, on the border with the Czech Republic, and Cieszyński could refer to a family's connection with that place. But all those Cieszyńskis up in Gdansk and Torun provinces are less likely to have names referring to that Cieszyn all the way down in southern Poland. Their name is somewhat more likely to refer to a Cieszyna or other similar place name closer to home. That's why one has to know what part of Poland a family came from before it's possible to suggest which place the surname refers to.

Cieszyński could also come from short forms of ancient pagan names such as Cieszybor and Cieszymir and Ciechosław, in which the first part of the name means something like "joy" or "consolation." Thus Cieszybor probably meant "joy-battle" (may he enjoy battle); Cieszymir probably meant "joy-peace" (may he find joy in victorious peace); Ciechosław probably meant "joy-glory" (may he find joy in glory). These names produced nicknames or short forms such as Ciech, Ciecha, Ciesza, etc.; the guttural -ch- tends to become -sz- when suffixes are added, so that names beginning Ciech- and Ciesz- are from the same source.

Once those names Ciech or Ciesza or whatever existed, Cieszyn would develop from them, meaning "[kin] of Ciesza or Ciech" or "[place] of Ciesza or Ciech." Then Cieszyński could develop as a way of saying "kin of Ciesza's kin" or "one from Ciesza's place." The latter is probably applicable in most cases, as I said above -- it would mean "one from Cieszyn" or "one from Cieszyna," which in turn means "one from Ciech's/Ciesza's place." However, it is possible the surname Cieszyński could refer not to a place but rather to the extended family of a fellow named Ciech or Ciesza or something similar.

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




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