Krause - Krivosika - Kryvosika- Krzywosika
Created by Administrator Account in 10/17/2009 2:56:57 PM


Laurence Krupnak sent me a copy of his note, in response to Julia's questions about the name Krzywosika, writing:

...The name Krivosika may have vulgar meaning or connotations which I do not know. I can say that in Ukrainian language the root word kriv- means "crooked," like a lame person, not necessarily that a man's penis is crooked or deformed. "Crooked" in Polish language is krzywy. I believe your grandfather probably received so much locker room joking that he just decided to change his name to Krause.

I read Julia's note, and might be able to add a little to the discussion.

The root krzyw- in Polish and kryv- in Ukrainian mean the same thing, "crooked," in a physical sense (not necessarily in a criminal sense, as in English). And the verbs sikać in Polish and sykaty in Ukrainian both mean basically "to squirt" and have the vulgar meaning of "to piss"; according to my dictionary, Ukrainian sikaty has a related meaning, "to blow one's nose," and sik is "juice, sap." So whether the name started out meaning that, Polish Krzywosika and Ukrainian Kryvosyka would sound like they meant "crooked-piss," with all the accompanying speculations about exactly why a person would piss crooked. (I don't think the Ukr. y and i interaction here is necessarily significant, but the spellings with y are presumably a bit more "correct"). Such names are not uncommon in Polish (or in Ukrainian either, from what I've seen). Sometimes I find names with meanings that imply such intimate knowledge of a person's body or habits that I find myself wondering "How on earth did anyone know enough to give this guy such a name?" Names like these can be terribly cruel (and hilarious, so long as you're not the one everybody's laughing at!).

The interesting thing is, I'm not sure the name started out meaning that. In Polish, for instance, there is a name Krzywosz that dates from around 1439; it probably started as a nickname for a person with a deformity, maybe lame or with a crooked limb. Now the thing is, in Polish and to some extent in Ukrainian the suffix -ik is often added to roots to form a name. So the name may have started out as something like Polish Krzywosik, Ukr. Kryvosik, and meant "son of the cripple" - still not a particularly nice name, granted, but not nearly so graphic and vulgar as "crooked piss." But we see the suffix -a added sometimes to names, so that may be how Kryvosik turned into Kryvosyka, just meaning "of the cripple's son." Once that form was around, anyone hearing it would have a tendency to break it down differently, not kryv-os-ik-a but kryvo- + sika.This often happens, a name starts out meaning one thing, but as the centuries pass and people forget what it originally meant, they modify it slightly to something readily comprehensible; or sometimes they give a name a malicious twist just out of meanness.

Either way, I can certainly understand why a man with such a name might get into fights and be glad to change it at the first opportunity. Krause, by the way, is a German name meaning "curly-haired," but he probably chose it because it had a similar sound but wasn't so likely to provoke cruel jokes. It's a shame he got jeered at anyway as a German.

I have no data on Ukr. surname frequency or distribution, but it might be useful to mention that in Poland as of 1990 there were 368 people named Krzywosz, at least 1 named Krzywoszek (data for that name was incomplete), 6 named Krywopust (which offhand looks to me as if it might mean something similar, except maybe dealing with ejaculation rather than urination!), 1 named Krywosłyk, and 1 named Krywosz (the names with Kryw- rather than Krzyw- are likely to be Ukrainian rather than Polish). There's a real catalogue of bodily ills, too, names such as Krywoborodenko (crooked beard), Krywohławy (crooked head), Krywonis (crooked nose), Kryworuka (crooked hand), Krywoszeja (crooked neck), etc.

I can't be sure my "cripple's son" theory is valid, but it is plausible, and I thought it worth mentioning. To a Pole or Ukrainian this name would sound like a rather vulgar but funny nickname, no question -- but that doesn't necessarily mean the name started that way.

Copyright © 1998 W.F. Hoffman. All rights reserved. Used by Permission.