I was inspired by some comments in one of the threads to make a general thread on this topic. I'm no expert on surnames so maybe some other people will join in and share their knowledge (or I will add something later), but I can provide some basic info.
The most common suffix in Poland and considered typically Polish is, of course, the suffix -ski
The most common Polish surname with this suffix (and the second most common of all Polish surnames after surname "Nowak") is "Kowalski" and its English equivalent is the surname "Smith".
Other suffixes in this group are -cki
(Btw, suffixes similar to Polish -ski
can be found also in Ukrainian, Russian, Belarusian, Czech and Macedonian surnames).
Now I'd like to write a bit about the suffix -owicz
since Nickidewbear wrote something that I was also explained once - one Russian guy wrote that surnames ending in -ovich
are surnames of Jews coming from the Belarus and Ukraine area. But he also claimed that all of the liberal opposition in Russia consists of Jews lol or that most of the members of NKVD were Jewish, so, you know, I've decided to check it myself :)
So, the suffix -owicz
isn't typically Jewish. Jews lived in a multicultural territory and their surnames were often getting suffixes used in the area they inhabited, apparently.
From what I've read suffixes like -icz
denote Eastern origin, namely - Ukraine or Belarus
They were often connected to a father's first name (so it was a kind of "son of" - example in today's Poland - a Polish MP, Krystyna Pawłowicz). So yes, someone with the surname ending with -owicz could be Jewish, but not necessarily. If your surname has the suffix -owicz you may very well have Tatar
roots like, for example, a Polish sculptress Magdalena Abakanowicz, who's father, Konstanty Abakanowicz, came from a Polonized Tatar family.
But it could also denote Armenian
roots, examples of such surnames with Armenian backround: Agopsowicz, Awedykowicz, Axentowicz, Isakowicz, Torosowicz (example in Poland nowadays: a priest of the Catholic Church and the Armenian Catholic Church, father Tadeusz Isakowicz-Zalewski).
Robert Makłowicz, a Polish journalist and culinary critic, has, among others, Armenian and Ukrainian roots.
Or you could have Lemko
roots (Mankowicz, Pankowicz).
From what I've read even the biblical root of the surname can be confusing because Armenians and Tatars were using them too.
Other typical suffixes of the Ukrainian group are -uk
(Andrzejuk, Antoniuk, Chilimoniuk, Filipiuk, Grygoruk, Jasiuk, Kononiuk, £ukaszuk, Pawluczuk, Pietruczuk). Example: a Polish singer Maciej Maleńczuk, a Polish writer Olga Tokarczuk.
Also, for example: -on
(for example: Tymoszenko, Poroszenko in Ukraine), -czenko
(Iwanczenko, Pawluczenko), -iszyn
(coming from Western Ukraine, example of such surname in Poland: a Polish MP Joanna Senyszyn).
The most common Belarusian suffixes (at least in Podlasie area in Poland, I guess):-icz
(Błahuszewski, Lewoniewski), -ko
(Aniśko, Chwiećko, Mojsiuszko, Panasko, Rećko), -ejko
(Dubiejko, Guziejko, Litwiejko, Siergiejko), -uszko
(Klimuszko, Popiełuszko), -ik
(Aksiucik, Auchimik, Dzienisik, Hawrylik, Himik, Hościk, Kondrusik, Wojciulik), -uć
(Gryguć, Trypuć), -ul
(Kiercul, Szczesiul, Taudul), -un
(Brechun, Ciesiun), -enia
(Bielenia, Hajduczenia, Jurczenia), and also -yk
(Aluszyk, Amielanczyk) and -uk
Famous surnames of Belarusian origin are, for example: Sapieha, Mickiewicz, Sienkiewicz, Iwaszkiewicz, Bartosiewicz, Kościuszko, Moniuszko.
Suffixes of Lithuanian origin are, for example: -as, -us, -is
(examples in Poland: a Polish sociologist and political scientist Jadwiga Staniszkis, a Polish actress Maria Pakulnis).
Surnames of Russian origin usually end with -ow, -ew, -jew, -iew, -in
(Pushkin, Putin - in Russia). But there are apparently exceptions from this rule, for example, Grzegorz Miecugow, a Polish journalist, is of Armenian-Georgian origin.
Examples of suffixes of Jewish origin: -owicz, -sztajn, -stein, -er, -man, -berg, -el, -baum
(examples in Poland: a Polish journalist Seweryn Blumsztajn, a Polish journalist Bronisław Wildstein, a Polish film director Jerzy Hoffman, etc.) Of course there are people of Jewish origin with surnames ending in -ski
So, as you can see, the surname or its suffix alone may not be enough to find out what exactly is your ethnic backround, often you have to dig a little deeper :)
One of our certificates of belonging to the national or ethnic communities are without a doubt the names. As far as first names are changing constantly, even under the influence of seasonal fashion, the name remains a more durable element that indicates the origin of a person or his ancestors. It often happens that the owner did not realize the connection between the name and his own origin.