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Charłos - Harłos
Created by Administrator Account in 3/7/2010 1:53:58 PM

 


...I am researching my family's roots and would like to know if my surname means anything. My ancestor was born in Zrenica, Posen and had the following variations of the surname: Harlos, Harłos, Charłos.

The variations all make sense: in Polish h and ch are pronounced exactly the same, kind of like our h but a bit more guttural, and we often see names spelled either way without it necessarily having any significance. The ł is pronounced like our w, so the name would sound like "HAR-wose" (rhyming with the Spanish name "Carlos") -- and we often see it and the normal l confused, partly because in some regions of Poland there was a preference for one over the other, partly because foreigners are confused by the ł and often just write it as l (e. g., when Poles emigrated).

This is not a very common name in Poland. As of 1990 there were only 4 Polish citizens named Harłos, 2 living in Poznan province and 2 in Zielona Gora province (I'm afraid I don't have access to further data, such as first names or addresses). There were 13 named Charłos, 6 in Gdansk province and 7 in Leszno province.

None of my sources discuss this name, so I'm left to look in dictionaries for terms that might have been its source. I note that in Polish there is a root charł- that means "poor person, beggar, wretch"; I also see there's a Ukrainian root that Poles would spell the same way and means the same thing. So while the words beginning with charł- are not all that common, they do exist, and they refer to a poverty-stricken person, a wretch, a beggar; and it seems likely Charłos is a name deriving from that root. While -os is not one of the more common suffixes we see added to Polish roots to make names, it's hardly unheard of, either.

All in all, that's the best guess I can make -- that the name comes from some rather rare words that all means basically "person who was poor and having a very tough time of it."

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


 

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