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Created by Administrator Account in 5/12/2010 5:45:32 PM

... I have just visited your site on the net and thought that you may be able to assist with the origins of the family name Kapera. The name is thought to have come from the Kraków area in recent times. I noticed after searching the net that there is a school/suburb in Estonia called Kapera.

This is one of many names that are hard to pin down exactly. For one thing, it could easily be a variant of the name Kopera, from kopra, "dill," or kopr, "copper"; we often see names with -o- showing up with variant spellings with -a-, and Kopera is a fairly common name (1,752 Poles named Kopera as of 1990)... By contrast, there were 864 Poles named Kapera, with the largest numbers living in the provinces of Katowice (56), Kraków (374), and Tarnów (55). So southcentral and southeastern Poland definitely seems to be the main area for this name.

It might also be a variant of Kasper, "Casper." There is mention in records from 1452 of a "Caper," and apparently that was from Casper, so it seems clear sometimes the -s- drops out.

If the root is, in fact, kaper, there are a couple of possible derivations. There is a noun kaper that comes from the Latin word for "goat," and there are other Polish names that come from Latin words; and the Polish word for "goat," kozioł, is the source of some of the commonest names in the country. So that is at least feasible... Also, there is a term kaper meaning "pirate," coming from a Dutch word. Finally there is a verb from Ukrainian, kaparyty, meaning "to be poor, miserable," so in some areas the name could come from that and be applied to a poor, sickly wretch.

Unfortunately, I have nothing that allows me to pick one of these and say, "Yes, this must be it." I can only present the possibilities. If you'd like to see whether Polish scholars have come up with anything more solid on this name, you could try writing the Anthroponymic Institute in Kraków.

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



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