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wuness



Joined: 11 Oct 2021
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Post Posted: Mon Nov 01, 2021 8:24 pm      Post subject: Origin of surnames Olsztynski and Wujek
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Could you help me identify the origins of Olsztynski and Wujek. Thank you. wuness
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dnowicki
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Joined: 28 Dec 2011
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Location: Michigan City, Indiana

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Post Posted: Thu Nov 04, 2021 7:30 am      Post subject: Re: Origin of surnames Olsztynski and Wujek
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wuness wrote:
Could you help me identify the origins of Olsztynski and Wujek. Thank you. wuness


Hi Dave,

According to William (Fred) Hoffman’s Polish Surnames:Origins and Meanings Olsztyński originates from the name of the town of Olsztyn, which during the time of the Partitions was in East Prussia. Wujek comes from the Polish word Wuj which means uncle. Polish distinguishes maternal and paternal uncles. Wuj is a maternal uncle and Stryj is a paternal uncle.

I hope this info helps.

Dave
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wuness



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Post Posted: Thu Nov 04, 2021 12:30 pm      Post subject:
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Thanks Dave. If I understand naming protocols correctly, can i assume the -ski ending means the name originated with nobility in Olsztyn. If that's true, is it possible a family crest exists somewhere?

I knew Wujek translated to uncle, but I couldn't see how that would become a surname. I seem to remember many, many years ago that "Wujek" also suggested a warrior. Is that possible? Thanks again. Dave
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dnowicki
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Location: Michigan City, Indiana

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Post Posted: Thu Nov 04, 2021 2:22 pm      Post subject:
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wuness wrote:
Thanks Dave. If I understand naming protocols correctly, can i assume the -ski ending means the name originated with nobility in Olsztyn. If that's true, is it possible a family crest exists somewhere?

I knew Wujek translated to uncle, but I couldn't see how that would become a surname. I seem to remember many, many years ago that "Wujek" also suggested a warrior. Is that possible? Thanks again. Dave


Hi Dave,

The idea that Polish surnames which end in -ski indicate a connection to nobility is an urban legend which refuses to die. The ending -ski (and -cki) in Polish surnames simply indicates that the surname is an adjective. Not all adjectival surnames in Polish end in -ski or -cki. Many are just straight up plain old adjectives like Niespodziany (Unexpected) or Mokry (Wet). (There was a plumber in the neighborhood where I grew up whose surname was Mokry...kind of ironic and yet appropriate for a plumber.) Polish (and English) surnames are usually either nouns or adjectives. Examples of surnames which are nouns would be names like Woźniak (Carter) or Pająk (Spider), etc., etc. Many of the -ski surnames do have a connection to a place but usually are just indicative of where one’s ancestors lived. It is quite possible that one of your Olsztyński ancestors originally was from Olsztyn but without any noble connection.

Wujek is a diminutive of Wuj and there are plenty of Polish surnames which are derived from and indicative of familial relations. How and why that type of surname came to be associated with a particular individual can be difficult to know but the reality is that it was not an uncommon occurrence. I’m not sure where the idea of connecting Wujek to a warrior came from but, as far as I know, there is no connection. A warrior in Polish is a wojownik, a word which linguistically is connected to the word for war (wojna). Bottom line is that there are surnames which are connected to war and warriors but Wujek isn’t one of them.

Also, it is important to keep in mind that not all peasants had/used surnames prior to the end of the 18th Century and that surnames remained fluid well into the first part of the 19th Century. Sometimes one can figure out how and why a surname came to be used and how it changed. One of my maternal ancestors, whose name was Kajetan and who died in 1804, was a cart-wright (stelmach) and during his lifetime he and his family used the surname Stelmaszek. After his death his widow and children continued to use that surname but by 1820 they began to use the surname Kajetaniak, a change which is not hard to understand. Unfortunately, not all surname changes are that easy to understand.

I hope this explanation helps a bit.

Dave
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