Ever wondered what the most (and least) popular first names in Poland are right now? What do these contemporary naming habits tell us about Poland?
As a rule, Poles are a rather conservative bunch when it comes to naming babies. Yet there have been observable trends over previous generations. Judging by how the top 10 list of most-given baby names has evolved over the years, Poles are slowly turning away from traditional Slavic names.
A look at the list of the top 10 boys' names given in Poland in 2015 (below) is a good indicator of this overall trend; In fact, among these names only the last one, Wojciech, can be considered a traditional Slavic name. The remaining nine are either names of Biblical or Latin Christian origin.
Most Popular Polish Boy Names (2015)
Create bar charts
Find the whole list here
Traditional Slavic names, some of them dating back to the pagan Medieval era, appear far behind. Names borne by many a grandfather nowadays appear low on the list, like Tadeusz (No. 76), Kazimierz (No. 93), Władysław (No. 126) or Zbigniew (No. 141). Moreover, some of the most (arche)typical Slavic names like, Czesław (No. 208) or Mirosław (No. 215) occupy the absolute bottom of the list with only 5 babies each in 2015.
So what happened?
These results are particularly striking when one compares them with the rankings of first names given in Poland across the 20th century. Stanisław (today No. 19) used to rank among the most popular Polish names for the most part of the early 20th century, topping the list in the 1920s, and featuring in the top 5 until the 1950s. Tadeusz*, which came up as No. 76 in 2015, ranked in the top 10 in the 1950s. Zbigniew, which was No. 5 in the 1960s, is No. 141 today, only some 50 years later.
The majority of these names were used throughout the whole 19th century and much of the 20th century as demonstrations of Polish patriotism. On the other hand, Miłosz which is today one of the three most popular Slavic names (No. 23), can hardly be considered a popular name throughout the 20th century (though it did become quite a famous Polish surname thanks to Czesław Miłosz)
What's the situation with girls' names in Poland AD 2015, then? Here's the top 10:
Most Popular First Names in Poland in 2015 (GIRLS)
Create bar charts
The full list reveals a similar pattern in regard to girls' names. While Slavic names in Poland were never as popular with girls as they were with boys, only a couple of decades ago girls used to be called names like Czesława, Stanisława, Jadwiga, and Danuta. Today, the first two of these didn't even make it onto the list, while the latter two appear as No. 110. and No. 155.
And what does it all mean?
Considering that the top 50 names make up 90% of all the names in use, in the future you will have to be very lucky to meet someone with one of these old-school Slavic names, like Lech, Jarosław or Kazimierz. So expect that on your future trips to Poland, in say 20 years, you're certainly bound to meet many fewer Czesławs and many more Alans.
Two decades ago the latter name hardly made the list. Last year it ranked at No. 20, with some 2,872 instances of use. New names like Alan along with Natan (No. 31) or Nataniel (No. 70) definitely mark a change in Polish naming habits, and set a new tendency.
As for girls, this can be said about names like Lena (No. 2), Amelia (No. 7), or Nikola (No. 15): their immense popularity only dates back to the last decade.
So is it time to say goodbye to the old-school Slavic names borne by generations of Poles, and open up to the new wave of names? Time will tell.
And what are the most popular traditional Slavic names in Poland?
Most popular names of Slavic origin in Poland (Boys, 2015)
(The first number is the place on the list of the most popular Polish names in 2015; the overall number of children given the name in 2015 follows)
10. Wojciech – 5469
19. Stanisław – 3164
23. Miłosz – 2749
62. Przemysław – 609
69. Radosław – 485
76. Tadeusz* – 415
81. Mieszko – 309
93. Kazimierz – 225
126. Władysław – 76
137. Sławomir – 52
141. Zbigniew – 43
154. Jarosław – 34
169. Bolesław – 21
170. Gniewko – 21
172. Leszek – 19
174. Bronisław – 17
184. Ziemowit – 13
192. Bogumił – 10
208. Czesław – 5
215. Mirosław – 5
Learn more about traditional Polish Slavic names and find out their true meanings.
*Note that whilst Tadeusz is not technically of Slavic origin, it became the archetypal Polish Slavic name.
Author: Mikołaj Gliński, 10 August 2016