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Kosmatka
Created by Administrator Account in 7/4/2010 3:56:21 PM

 


... A couple of months ago you helped me with the surname Hechlinski. I am now wondering if you could also help me with the origin of the name Kosmatka. I appreciate any information you can provide.

Many names with the root Kosma- come from the first name Kosma (cmp. the rather rare name in English Cosmo), but this one probably comes from the root kosmaty meaning "mophead, shaggy-haired." The suffix -ka is a diminutive, so the literal meaning of the name is "little mophead," but the word kosmatka is also used as a term for a kind of bird, the wood-rush (Latin name Luzula). So it's difficult to say in a given case whether a person got this name because he was the son of a hairy guy, or if it referred to the bird; sometimes people got bird names because they liked that kind of bird, or wore clothes the same color as a kind of bird, or reminded people of that bird in some other way.

As of 1990 there were 555 Polish citizens named Kosmatka. The largest numbers were in the provinces of Bydgoszcz (107), Pila (59), and Skierniewice (222) -- the first two are north and west of central Poland, and Skierniewice province is just west of Warsaw, almost smack-dab in the middle of Poland. I'm not sure why the name is clumped this way, with two big concentrations separated by a fair amount of distance, but that's the pattern that shows up. Then there are small numbers of Kosmatka's scattered in many other provinces.

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

 

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