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Created by Administrator Account in 3/6/2012 3:46:38 PM


… I'm hoping you can help me. My wife and I have been trying to research her family but cant seem to get any where with her family name. Can you tell me anything about the name " Gorzkiewicz"

Names starting with Gor- are a challenge in Polish, because that root has several different meanings, and it can be terribly difficult to straighten the tangle out and figure which one is applicable to a particular name. The root can refer to góra, "mountain, elevation," or it can refer to gorzeć, "to burn," or it can refer to gorzki, "bitter"; it can also appear in old Slavic pagan compound names such as Gorzysław ("one who burns for glory," or "one of burning glory"), because such names were often abbreviated, so that Gorzek or Gorzko could easily have started as a short form or nickname for a fellow with one of those names. So about the best I can do is make an educated guess.

The suffix -ewicz is easy, at least, it means "son of." So we're dealing with a name "son of Gorzk-." I would think this would be the first name Gorzko (or possibly Gorzek), so the name was probably first applied to sons or kin of a man named Gorzko. He might have gotten that name because he had a bitter disposition, but I think it's more likely he had one of those names from the ancient pagan names such as Gorzysław; that's usually the way it works out in these cases, according to the experts. So I believe the surname means "son of Gorzko," with Gorzko being a kind of nickname for Gorzysław or a similar name. If so, the surname is probably pretty old -- a 1394 entry in a legal record mentions a fellow named either Gorzek or Gorzko (the name is Latinized, so it's hard to say for sure which form was meant in Polish).

As of 1990 there were 1,173 Polish citizens named Gorzkiewicz; they lived all over the country, but the largest numbers were in the provinces of Bydgoszcz (81), Kalisz (138), Lodz (351), which are all roughly in central and west central Poland. However, significant numbers people by this name appeared in the other provinces, so we can't really point with any certainty to any particular area and say "Here's where the Gorzkiewicz'es come from." Most likely the name developed independently in many different parts of the country.

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



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