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Gucwa
Created by Administrator Account in 2/8/2010 9:50:53 AM

 


I am interested in finding out the meaning of the surname Gucwa. If you have any info, I would appreciate it.

Gucwa, pronounced roughly "GOOTS-vah," is a moderately common name by Polish standards. As of 1990 there were 1710 Polish citizens by that name, living all over Poland, with the largest numbers in the southcentral and southeastern part of Poland, in the provinces of Katowice (164), Krakow (163), Nowy Sacz (278), and Tarnow (455).

I have a book by a Polish name expert that focuses on names from that region, and it mentions Gucwa, saying that it may come from a short form of the old Germanic first name Guttwein or Gottwin. This is not as implausible as it might seem; it is credible that Poles might modify that name into Gucwa, and historically large numbers of Germans have lived in those regions. So absent any more definitive source, I'd have to say that's the best explanation I can offer.

The Germanic name was introduced in the area centuries ago with German soldiers, prisoners of war, and colonists who came to settle in southcentral and southeastern Poland, and over time Poles modified that name Guttwein or Gottwin, which sounded very foreign to them, into something a little more consistent with their phonetic preferences. They took Guttwein, dropped the last few sounds, turned the T sound into the "ts" sound spelled as a "c" in Polish, and changed the ending to -wa, a suffix that shows up fairly often in Polish names.

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

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