Osiewała - Osiwała
Created by Administrator Account in 5/4/2012 12:23:59 PM


… My grandfather was from Lodz, Poland and his last name was Osiwala. Born in Lodz, 20/Oct/1890, given name: Ignatius. Other spellings are Osiewala and Osiwalla.

Ignatius is the Latin form of the name Poles call Ignacy -- I just wanted to mention that so that if you run across that form, you will recognize it and have no doubt that the names are, indeed, equivalent.

Osiwala is a little tricky, because Osiwała could possibly be a variant of another name, or it could be an independent surname with its own meaning -- it could come from the verb osiwieć, meaning "to turn grey." The -ała suffix (also often seen as -ala or -alla) usually implies continual or repeated performance of the action, or manifestation of the trait, denoted by the first part of the name. Osiwała, in effect, would be a name given a person whose hair had turned grey, probably prematurely and due to worry and care. This is plausible. The only thing against this explanation is that we'd expect the form to be Osiwiała, not Osiwała, that is, there really should be an extra -i- stuck in after the w. Also, it might be more likely to see the ending -y, not -a, on the name as borne by a man.

The other possibility is that it's a variant of Osiewała -- which, in fact, you mention as a form you've encountered -- and that comes from the verb osiewać, "to sow, sift." Thus Osiewała would mean "the sifter, the sower."

As of 1990 there were 52 Poles with the name Osiwała, living in the following provinces: Warsaw 8, Jelenia Góra 6, Kalisz 5, Katowice 5, Konin 3, Łódź 18, Opole 2, Piotrków 2, Zielona Góra 3. (Unfortunately I have no access to further details, such as first names or addresses; what I've given here is all I have.) There were 423 Osiewała's, with the largest numbers in the provinces of Kalisz (127), Łódź (81), and Sieradz (96), and less than 30 in several other provinces.

Since Osiewała is the more common name, it seems likely that Osiwała is just a variant form of it. The pronunciation of both is very similar, "oh-shee-VAH-wah" (Osiwała) vs. "oh-sheh-VAH-wah" (Osiewała), in other words the only difference is that in Osiwała that i is pronounced like our long e, in Osiewała the ie is pronounced like our short e. So that's the most likely derivation. But I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the possibility that, at least in some cases, Osiwała might be a name in its own right, meaning "one whose hair has turned grey."

Even if you wrote Polish name experts, I'm not sure they could answer this question for you without detailed information on your specific family. So what I suggest is that you continue your research -- obviously concentrating on the region of Łódź, since your facts and the data above suggest that's one of the main places this name is found -- and see which form predominates in the records. If you see it spelled Osiwała or Osiwiała more often than not, it may refer to a grey-haired person. But if Osiewała is the form you encounter more often, that "sow, sift" root is probably the right derivation. All things being equal, that's the one I'd put my money on... If you would like to write name experts in Poland and get their opinion, see the Introduction to my page on Polish surnames, specifically the paragraph on the Pracownia Antroponimiczna in Krakow.

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