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Polonius3 1,000 | 12,448  
21 Mar 2009 /  #1
The majority of Polish last names ending in -ski originated as toponymic nicknames, although many could have also started out as occupational or patronymic nicknames. A case in point is Kowalski - either someone associated with the village forge (kuźnia) such as the blacksmith himself or his son or helper. But it can also have come from such places as Kowale (Smiths, Smithville, Smithbury).

With names ending in -owski or -ewski, nearly all of them are of toponymic origin and used to indicate someone hailing from a given hamlet, estate, village or town; Kowalewski from Kowalewo, Makowski from Maków.

The point is that if your surname is Makowski, that means that its original bearer probably had nothing to do with poppies, but simply happened to live in Maków, Makowo or Makowszczyzna (Poppyville, Poppytown). Just as in the English-speaking world it is highly unlikley that someone from Bakerville actually works as a baker.
OP Polonius3 1,000 | 12,448  
21 Mar 2009 /  #3
Indeed, there were Nowaks who renamed themselves Nowakowski, Kołodziej > Kołodziejski, Brzoza > Brzeziński, etc.
Polson 5 | 1,771  
21 Mar 2009 /  #4
Polonius3, do you know anything about the surname Kupka?
And Szczotka or maybe Strzutka...?
OP Polonius3 1,000 | 12,448  
25 Mar 2009 /  #5
Kupka - from kupka meaning heap or pile (also excrement); possibly toponymic from Kup, Kupowo, Kupienin; kup- root also derived from kupić (to buy), kupiec (merchant).

Szczotka - brush (from grooming not painting); toponymic from Szcztokowice (Brushsonville).

Strzutka - could be attempt at respellign Szczotka; no-one uses this name in today's Poland.

Archives - 2005-2009 / Genealogy / KOWALSKI -- BLACKSMITH'S SON OR BLOKE FROM SMITHVILLEArchived