What did your ancestors do: some Ukrainian surnames can tell you the occupation of your ancestors

By Jurassic JennApr 29, 2024 10:57 AMLast Name Meanings
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What did your ancestors do?
What did your ancestors do?. Source: honchar.org.ua

Surnames can tell us a lot about the ancestors of its bearers - where they lived, their social and property status, and even their character and individual traits. SSPDaily told more about it.

Surnames associated with an occupation are especially interesting. Because they not only tell about the craft or profession of a person's ancestors, but also provide information about the state and development of the national economy in general at that time, according to the website of the Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute.

For example, Bondars and Stelmakhs, what did they do? Bondars were craftsmen who made barrels and wooden buckets, while stelmakhs were craftsmen who made and maintained carts and sleds. Today, such words have disappeared from the active vocabulary of the Ukrainian language, being replaced by modern fashionable names of professions. However, the surnames remain, which allows us to trace how certain professions were called in ancient times and what types of activities and crafts existed in general.

The most common surnames, except for Bondar and Stelmakh, which came from the names of crafts, but which are not always possible to guess what kind of activity they mean, are:

  • A potter was a craftsman who made dishes and tiles from clay.
  • A furrier was someone who made fur from leather and sewed fur products.
  • A caster was a craftsman who made belted armor.
  • Gunner - a craftsman who made and maintained cannons
  • Bortnyk - someone who was engaged in forest beekeeping
  • Gutnyk - a craftsman who made glassware and other items.

Some surnames are derived from humorous nicknames given to our ancestors because of their activities. Ukrainians have always had a good sense of humor.

Among these surnames:

  • Dubohryzenko - this is how carpenters could be nicknamed.
  • Mukosiienko was a nickname for a miller.
  • Tiahnyshkira was a joking name for shoemakers.
  • Skloboi was a glassmaker.
  • Zaplyusvychka is a nickname for a sexton, a person who serves in a church.
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