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Babicki
Created by Administrator Account in 5/16/2010 3:33:39 PM


..The family tradition says that Babicki means "ladies' man." Can you confirm this? (My grandparents come from an area that is now Belarus)...

Well, it could possibly mean that. The root bab- in Polish (also Russian, Belarusian, Ukrainian, etc.) does mean basically "woman," and several words from that root do mean "ladies' man." We can't rule out the possibility that that's what the name meant when first applied to your family.

In general, though, Babicki is more likely to have started as a reference to the name of a place the family was associated with; if they were noble, they owned it, if they were peasants they worked there, or if merchants, they traveled there often on business. There are several possible place names that could spawn the name Babicki, including Babica and Babice, and unfortunately there are quite a few villages by those names (not just in Poland). So the sound, scientific answer is to say that this surname means "coming from Babica or Babice"; and most likely later on, once people had forgotten what the true origin was, they proposed a perfectly simple and natural explanation based on what the name sounded like. And in individual cases it might even be right! But I'm afraid most of the time the truth's a little more boring. Instead of "ladies' man," it probably just meant "one from Babica/Babice"; those places, in turn, may have gotten their names from some association with women, but there's evidence that baba was sometimes used in names to mean "hill, elevation, free-flowing river" (supposedly by some rather far-fetched analogies with the female body!?).

Sorry to be a killjoy, but I'll say this -- compared to some names I interpret for people, this is a fine one. The other day I had to tell a woman her ancestral name means "pees crooked," and I had to tell a man his name meant "manure." In comparison with a lot of Polish names, this one is pretty nice!

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

 

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