Maybe you have Polish heritage and want to give your child a baby name relating to Polish culture. Or maybe you’re simply interested in naming trends around the world. Here’s a list of the ten hottest names for boys and girls to give you some idea of what’s most fashionable in Poland today.
Some of these names are traditional, some more modern, but certainly there are several that could be, or already are, used more widely.
Julia has been the queen of names since 2001, when it reached Number 1 after climbing the charts through the 1990s. Polish parents seem to like gentle, feminine sounding names for girls, and Julia definitely is in this class.
The initial J takes on a vowel sound somewhat like a Y, making the pronunciation YOOL-ya.
There was a song for kids about a doll called Zuzia that was popular at roughly the same time Zuzanna started rising significantly, which could be one reason for its popularity. Zuzia is the most common nickname, but there are also Zuza, Zuzka, Zucka, and Zuzanka.
Zofia is classy and traditional, strong and feminine, the Polish spin on the internationally favorite Sophia. It sounds very serious and lady-like, but can be adjusted to younger bearers with some charming pet names, such as Zosia (as in Girls actress Mamet), Zocka, Zosieka, Zocha, or more creatively Zofijka or Zofisia.
The strict naming laws that ruled for years in Poland forbade (among other things) the use of nicknames as full names, which may be why so many parents like to do just that these days. Lena is a nickname for the also-stylish Helena or Magdalena, or any other name ending in –lena – and we have quite a lot of those in Poland.
Lena may be a nickname name, but it has nicknames of its own, for example Lenka, girly and cute.
One contributor to Maja‘s popularity was Maya The Honey Bee, a television anime series that was very popular in Poland. Many little Majas are jokingly called Maja the Bee for a joke, sometimes shortened to Majka or Majeczka.
The classic Anna, the Number 1 name for females of all ages in Poland, is giving way for the next generation to Hanna, a new, more dynamic and energetic favorite. Hanna is still very traditional, in use since the 12th century. Hanna nicknames include Hania, Hanka, Hanusia and Haneczka.
As in many other European countries, Amelia is conquering more and more parents’ hearts. It was popularized by a medical series broadcasted in early 2000’s, where one of the fictional babies bore this name. Pet names include: Amelka, Amelcia, Ami, and Mela.
An elegant, classy name, with a pretty much the same aristocratic vibe as Alice has in English-speaking countries, Alicja is a timeless classic that’s only recently become widely popular. It is most often nicknamed to Ala, rather sadly, in my opinion, because the full Alicja – pronounced ah-LEETZ-yah — sounds so great.
Maria is the second most popular name for Polish females of all ages after Anna. Considered a granny name by many, it was overwhelmingly popular for centuries, but now many parents who like Maria’s traditional vintage feel are coming back to it. Maria is also very often used for religious and family reasons, like Mary in the US.
Aleksandra is a long, regal, powerful sounding name that managed to outstrip the no-less regal Aleksander to become one of the most popular names of the second half of the last century. Popular as a first name among millennials, hardly anyone uses the full form, with the most common nickname Ola thanks to the name’s original long form Oleksandra.
Some more original Aleksandras may want to be called Sandra, but that can be hard to achieve in Poland, since the name Aleksandra seems to be inseparably connected to the nickname Ola in an average Pole’s mind. Ola is well-used in books, songs, and nursery rhymes. Other nicknames can be Olka, Olenka, or maybe Ala.
The Polish form of Anthony is a perfect example of Polish parents turning back to the traditional for baby names. Antoni was hugely popular in the first half of 20th century, then fell out of favor for decades to finally enter the top 50 again in early 2000s. Most common diminutive is probably Antek, other diminutives include Tosiek, Tolek, Tolo, Tunio, or Anti.
Like Jacob in the US, Jakub – pronounce YA-koob — is one of the undisputed rulers in Polish names’ popularity rankings in recent years. This name has known in Poland since the 13th century, but it was only in the 1970s that it started to significantly increase in popularity, reaching Number 1 in 2000 and staying in that position until 2015.
A fun fact regarding this name is that its most popular nickname – Kuba – is one of the very few masculine names in the Polish language that ends in -a, an ending that’s usually reserved for girl names. Other nickname options are Kubus or Jakubek. An older, kind of archaic form of Jakub is Jaksa or Jaxa, which, although still rarely used, seems to be liked by more and more parents.
Although it’s a feminine name in the English-speaking world, Jan – pronounced yahn – is the usual form of John in countries like Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, and Poland. Jan is said to be the most popular name borne by men in Poland. It has ranked high since the early 2000s and is also a very common name among the older generations. Jan is also a popular, safe and traditional middle name choice. Common nicknames include Janek, Jas, Jasiu, and Jasiek.
Biblical names, particularly those originating from the New Testament, are extremely popular for boys here. Szymon, along with much less used Symeon, is a Polish form of Simon. Pronunciation is shih-MAWN.
Like Antoni, Franciszek is a very traditional name that had been popular for centuries, then fell out of favor in the second half of last century only to come back in early 2000s. Probably not the easiest name to pronounce for an English speaker – it’s something like frahn-CHEE-shek — Franciszek is a Polish form of Francis. Its nickname, Franek, seems a bit more usable abroad.
Filip had never been as popular in Poland as it has been in recent years. It has all that Polish parents seem to like in a name: It’s solid but not harsh, has extreme nickname potential, is short, and – yes, it’s biblical! I think it could also be an interesting alternative to Philip for American parents seeking something creative, but not too out there. Some nickname possibilities are Filipek, Fil, and Filus, but it allows really a lot of creativity and options could be never-ending.
Since the late 90s, Aleksander is getting more and more attention, after years of being in the shadow of its feminine form Aleksandra. In fact, all the Aleks– names are in the spotlight now: Aleksander, Aleks, and even quite niche Aleksy are getting more attention. Aleksander’s most common nickname is Olek, because of the archaic form Oleksander. The letter X hardly exists in the Polish alphabet, but many parents find the letter x more appealing in names than ks, which results in Alex and Alexander climbing up fast as well. Other than Olek, Aleksander can be nicknamed Alek, Olus, Alik, Ksander, Sander, or Sandi.
Mikolaj, pronounced mee-KO-wie, is a form of Nicholas. It was very popular amongst the nobility in the middle ages, but was rarely used in modern times until the 90s. Most popular nicknames are Miki, Mikolajek, or Mikul.
A genuinely Polish, timeless name, Wojciech consists of two Slavic elements – voji meaning “soldier”, and tekha “joy, comfort, solace”. There aren’t many Slavic names that are very popular in Poland right now, so Wojciech seems to be a bit of an exception to the rule. It has been always more or less popular and liked by many generations. While there are many famous Wojciechs that have been contributing to this name’s success, the one who is most important is Saint Wojciech, patron saint of Poland. Nicknames include Wojtek and Wojtus. Pronunciation, which would undoubtedly prove difficult for English speakers, is something like VOI-chekh.
Kacper (or the more anglo-friendly Kasper) is a Polish form of Jasper. Kacper has been strongly associated with one of the Three Kings – Jasper, Melchior and Balthazar – and given particularly to the children born on the 6th January, their feast day. The only nickname that is more commonly used is Kacperek.
Which ones do you like the most? Would you use any of them for your own child?
A lover of names from all around the world and everything behind the art of naming, Emilia Lind is a native Pole who lives in Poland. A language geek, proud and doting cat mummy, Lind loves all things Celtic and Nordic. You can find her at My Inner Mishmash, where she sometimes posts about names.