Polish Language Blog

Naming children in Poland Posted by on Dec 31, 2017 in Culture

How are children’s names chosen in your country? Do you follow ancient naming traditions or are modern names more popular? Do you pass names down through family generations or invent new ones?

Many Polish names are rooted in the names of Christian saints. It is quite common for people to celebrate their name-day, which is the day dedicated to their patron saint, in the same way that they celebrate their birthday.

Most Polish names actually have two forms; the formal version and the diminutive, which is a shorter and more widely used form of the original name. Katarzyna becomes Kasia. Małgorzata becomes Gosia. Barbara becomes Basia. Joanna becomes Asia.

Image by Kasia Scontsas


Adding another layer of complexity, most Polish names, as well as many Polish words, can have multiple diminutive forms. By adding endings like –ka, -siu and –ek to names, the speaker expresses a level of intimacy with the person. Literally translated, these endings essentially mean cute or small.

So, for example, a woman’s formal name may be Katarzyna. Her colleagues and friends may call her Kasia. Parents and people who know her well may call her Kaśka or Kasiulka.

In the country of 40 million Poles there are 400,000 different last names and almost thousand times less first names. Compared to other countries, like the USA for instance where I had a hard time sometimes to distinguish between female and male names – in Poland there is a clear distinction. All female names end with “a”.

Polish children are usually given two names, from these names at least one is usually from Christian tradition, because of the baptism and strong influence of religion in lives of Poles. Although in my family all of us (I have 2 brothers) were given just one name.


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About the Author: Kasia

My name is Kasia Scontsas. I grew near Lublin, Poland and moved to Warsaw to study International Business. I have passion for languages: any languages! Currently I live in New Hampshire. I enjoy skiing, kayaking, biking and paddle boarding. My husband speaks a little Polish, but our daughters are fluent in it! I wanted to make sure that they can communicate with their Polish relatives in our native language. Teaching them Polish since they were born was the best thing I could have given them! I have been writing about learning Polish language and culture for Transparent Language’s Polish Blog since 2010.


  1. Diana Cobos:

    My grandparents emigrated from Poland. In my family our middle name derived from the saint’s day on our birthday. So my middle name (September 4) was Rozalia. After a few sibling more tho this custom discontinued.

  2. Bernard Piorkowski:

    Enjoy the info on Poland, my father came to the USA in 1910. I am searching my Polish genealogy finding many Piorkowski’s coming here.

  3. Judith:

    Please, what would “Gwendolyn” be in Polish, both formal and diminutive? Thank you.

  4. Natalia:

    Great article, I ended up here as I am currently pregnant with my second daughter and me and my partner are struggling to find a name for her that we both like as he is English and not keen on zuza lol

  5. Kris:

    My one set of grandparents (dad’s side) were Jan and Helena Porwicz. My other grandmother was Kazimiera Urbanska and married a Wojewoda. She was born in 1889 came from Poland to the U.S. at the age of 16 and lived to be 102 yrs. of age.