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Indyk - Indyka
Created by Administrator Account in 5/12/2010 1:57:56 PM


... I am hoping you can help me. I am interested in my surname, Indyk (Yndyk?) which my grandfather carried over to America in the early 1900s from Galicia (Blizianka). I understand this is the same surname of Martin Indyk, American ambassador to Isreal. I have not been able find any information except an obscure village in Holland (Indijk). Is there any relation?

I doubt the village in Holland has any connection (although when it comes to names you never know!). According to Polish surname expert Kazimierz Rymut the Polish name Indyk comes from a noun indyk, which means "turkey." Please note that the name has none of the comic overtones in Polish that it has in English! It's just one of a great many surnames taken from the names of birds and other animals. I suppose a fellow might have gotten that name originally as a nickname, referring to some connection with turkeys. He might have raised them, sold them, like to eat them, walked like one, wore clothes that somehow reminded people of a turkey -- the exact connection is hard to reconstruct centuries later, and probably in different cases the name developed from different connections.

As of 1990 there were 855 Polish citizens named Indyk, and another 636 named Indyka, which is basically the same name, meaning perhaps "of the turkey" rather than just "turkey." The name is found all over Poland, but the largest numbers are in the provinces of Krosno (178) and Rzeszów (182) in southeastern Poland -- part of what used to be Galicia. Note that my sources cover only Poland in its current borders, so there may well be plenty of Indyk's living in western Ukraine, which was also part of Galicia. The root is the same in Ukrainian, Indyk (as we'd spell it when transliterating from Cyrillic), and means "turkey, turkey-cock," and also "presumptuous young man."


I contacted you some time ago with a request for info on the Indyk surname and possible ties to Holland and the town of Indijk (a.k.a. Indyk). I appreciated the info and I thought I would give you an update for your files. I found this web page that you might be interested in: Dutch populace

It talks about a mass migration of Dutch (Mennonites) into Poland, then Russia in the mid 1500s. It talks about the Dutch as reclaimers of swamp land. The name Indijk may have been derived from their profession. The Dutch verb "indijken" means: to build a dyke around a lake or swamp, in order to pump the water out.

The information about indijken is fascinating, and in some cases certainly could be connected with the Indyk surname. It seems to me Polish onomastics experts are justified in saying that most Slavs bearing the name Indyk would get it from some connection with the word for "turkey" somewhere along the line; the origin of the word and name Indyk has been traced back to Latin indicus, and predates the immigration of the so-called Olendry (Hollaender) into Slavic lands. But the info you cite certainly makes the argument plausible that in some cases it could be of Dutch derivation instead. I intend to add this info to my Webpage in the near future.

You see why I hesitate to make sweeping dogmatic statements without qualifying them at least a little? It may seem gutless, but the truth is there's always an exception to the rule. And in name research we run into this sort of thing rather often. The same word (pronounced the same, if not spelled the same) can develop in different places, totally independently, with no link in meaning. Then somewhere along the line the Dutch dikers and the Slavic turkeys get together just long enough to confuse us!

By the way, it's ironic you quoted that page -- they don't mention it there, but I'm the one who translated that article from Polish to English (eight years ago -- can it really have been that long already?)

...You indicated that the largest numbers of Indyks are in the provinces of Krosno (178) and Rzeszów (182) in southeastern Poland. Aren't these cities along the same river?

Yes, they are, on the Wislok river. It'd be fascinating to learn if there's any mention in the town histories of Dutch immigration and dike-building.

Copyright © 2000 W.F. Hoffman. All rights reserved. Used by permission.



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