Created by Administrator Account in 5/1/2012 1:34:46 PM


… is the name Bryk covered in your book? I'm interested in its etymology. In your opinion, is it common for a surname, such as Bryk, to be found in Jewish as well as Catholic families (predominantly the latter, I think)?

Bryk is mentioned in the book, although with 30,000 names in 400 pages, you can imagine I don't have room to give a whole lot of detail on any one them... Polish name expert Prof. Kazimierz Rymut says Bryk can come from two roots: from the old Latin first name Brictius, which was used more often in Poland centuries ago (it's almost unheard of today) in forms such as Brykcy and Brykcjusz; or from the verb root brykać, "to frisk, gambol." The form Bryka shows up in documents as early as 1397. Personally, I suspect Bryk derives in most cases from the first name -- surnames derived from first names are very common in Polish, and the Poles often took the first part of a name, dropped the rest, and used that first part as a new name or nickname, often adding suffixes.

Now what I just said applies mainly to Polish Christians. Alexander Beider's book on surnames of Jews in the Kingdom of Poland (the part under Russian rule roughly 1772-1918) does mention Bryk as a surname borne by Jews, especially in the areas of Maków, Zamość, Biłgoraj, Stopnica, and Warsaw. He says this name, when used by Jews, usually comes either from Yiddish brik, "bridge" (compare German Bruecke) or from an acronym of Ben Rabiy Yaqoyv Qopl, "the son of Rabbi Jacob Koppel"... By the way, it is not at all unusual to find that Christians and Jews have names that look exactly the same but had different derivations. So among Christians the derivation would probably be from the first name Brykcy/Brictius or the verb meaning "frisk, gambol." But for Jews it would come from the usages I just described.

As of 1990 there were 3,278 Polish citizens named Bryk, so it's a moderately common surname. The bryk's were distributed fairly evenly over the country, with a slight concentration in southeastern Poland.

I imagine most of those Bryk's are Christians, simply because the Jewish community was utterly devastated by the Nazis, and you find very tiny numbers for most distinctively Jewish names. But when dealing with families who emigrated before World War II, the name could easily be either Christian or Jewish.

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