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What Are The Most Common Czech Surnames?

If you want to learn more about your family history, your surname is a good starting point. Surnames provide many clues about your family’s traditions, culture, and homeland. For people with Czech surnames, your last name may tell you more about an ancestor’s trade, place of origin, or even physical characteristics.

What are the most common Czech surnames? Keep reading to learn more about what these common last names mean and how they change depending on the bearer!

Types of Czech Surnames

Czech surnames can commonly be divided according to these four naming patterns. Here’s a quick explanation of their origins and how they gained usage over multiple generations.

Occupational Surnames

Sometimes, a person’s occupation would be added to their given name to let people know what trade they practiced. This eventually became their surname. For example, Jan Kovar was “Jan the blacksmith”.

These are some examples of Czech occupational surnames:

  • Smolak: A surname that refers to someone who distills pitch, taken from the Slavic word “smola” for “resin”
  • Žitnik: Taken from the Slavic word “zito” which means “rye”; refers to a baker or rye trader
  • Struna: A Slavic surname taken from “struna”, which means cord; refers to a string-maker
  • Ševčík: A Czech occupational surname meaning “cobbler”
  • Řezník: A name with Slavic and Czech roots that means “butcher”
  • Kladivo: Taken from the Czech word for “hammer” and is traditionally used by blacksmiths
  • Horník: A surname with Czech and Slavic origins that means “miner”
  • Hajek: Taken from the Czech word “háj” meaning “woods”, this last name refers to a woodsman or animal keeper

Descriptive Surnames

This type of last name was typically derived from a physical characteristic of the person who would first bear it. Others were descriptions of the original bearer’s personality.

These are examples of descriptive Czech surnames.

  • Suchý: Derived from the Czech word for “dry”, means “thin person”
  • Zima: Taken from the Slavic word for “winter”, refers to someone with a chilly personality
  • Hlaváč: From the Czech word “hlava” meaning “head”, refers to someone with an odd head shape
  • Kyselý: Taken from the Czech word for “sour”, refers to a bearer known for their bad moods
  • Marek: A surname with Polish and Czech roots taken from the given name “Marek”, meaning “warlike”
  • Hrubý: A surname that means “crude” or “coarse” in Czech

geographic surnames

These Czech surnames tell you more about the hometown of their first bearers. For example, a person with the Czech surname “Slezák” was someone from the old region of Silesia, an area now divided between Germany, Poland, and the Czech Republic.

While some of these surnames would specify towns or regions, others would describe the land that the person lived in. For example, a person with the surname “Souček” can trace this name back to an ancestor who lived near a tree knot, while a person whose Czech ancestor lived near a hill would have the surname “Kopecký”.

If you’re uncertain about the origin of your Czech surname, find out if it translates into a landmark or a description of a place in the Czech Republic. This can give you more information about your ancestors’ hometown.

Surnames Derived From Animals, Food, Fruits, And Flowers

A unique Czech surname convention is one that reflects food and nature, such as plants, birds, and produce. Here are some Czech surnames that are derived from these things:

  • Sýkora: Surname that means “bird-tit” in Czech
  • Kafka: Derived from the Czech word “kavka”, which means “jackdaw”
  • Doubek: Means “small oak tree” in Czech
  • Myška: Surname that means “mouse” in Czech
  • Slanina: Derived from the Czech word for “bacon”
  • Cibulka: Czech surname that means “little onion”
  • Jezek: A Czech last name that means “hedgehog”
  • Konvalinka: A Czech surname that translates into “lily of the valley”
czech bridge

Types of Czech Surnames

The ending of Czech surnames also depends on whether the bearer is male or female. Traditionally, women are given their father’s surname at birth, then take on their husband’s surname when they marry. However, the suffixes of these surnames from their husbands are changed to reflect the bearer’s gender.

There are rules for forming the feminine counterpart of these surnames. Here’s how they basically work.

  • A male surname derived from a noun is modified by the feminine suffix “-ova”. For example, when Elise takes on her husband’s surname “Navrátil”, this surname is modified with the feminine suffix “-ová”, so her married name is Elise Navrátilová.
  • If the male surname is taken from a male adjective, the woman’s surname is simply the female equivalent of that adjective. For example, with a girl whose father’s surname is “Cerny”, meaning “black”, her surname would be “Cerna”.
czech sculpture

The Most Common Czech Surnames

These are the most common Czech surnames and their meanings. Scroll down to see if yours is here – you may be surprised at the origins of your name!

  1. Novak: With over 70,000 recorded bearers as of 2014, this is one of the most common Czech surnames. Taken from the Slavic “noy” which means “new”, it describes a newcomer to a village.
  2. Svoboda: This is the second-most common Czech surname as of 2014, and it’s derived from the Czech word for “freedom”. This surname traditionally referred to a freeman, a person who is not a serf.
  3. Novotný: The third-most common Czech surname, this is similar to “Novak” as it also refers to a person who is new to an area.
  4. Dvořák: This Czech surname was used to refer to a farmer, as it was derived from “dvůr”, the Czech word for “farm”.
  5. Cerny: One of the oldest Czech surnames, this was taken from the Czech word for “black” and was used to describe someone who had dark hair or skin.
  6. Procházka: This surname means “walk” in Czech and was used to describe traveling tradesmen like millers or butchers.
  7. Kučera: Taken from the Czech word for “curl”, this meant the bearer had curly hair.
  8. Veselý: Derived from the Czech word for “happy”, this referred to a cheerful or good-tempered person.
  9. Horák: Taken from the Czech “hora” meaning “hill” or “mountain”, this surname means “highlander”.
  10. Krejčí: This is a Czech occupational surname meaning “tailor”.
  11. Růžička: This Czech surname translates into “little rose” in English.
  12. Beran: This Czech and Jewish last name is taken from the Czech word meaning “ram” and refers to a person with curly hair.
  13. Fiala: This surname means “violet” in Czech” and is used to describe a person who lived near violet fields.
  14. Horník: This Czech occupational last name was often used by miners.
  15. Adamík: This Czech surname is taken from the given name “Adam”.
  16. Beneš: One of the most common Czech last names, it’s derived from the given name “Benedikt”.
  17. Sedlák: This surname was used by a rich farmer who owned a piece of land called a “sedlák”.
  18. Sedláček: This Czech last name was used to refer to a person who owned a larger piece of land than a Sedlák.
  19. Čermák: A surname that means “redstart” in Czech, this is a reference to the name of a common European songbird.
  20. Jelínek: This last name means “little stag” in Czech.
  21. Hruška: This surname means “pear” in Czech and was used to refer to someone who grew or sold pears.
  22. Čech: This Czech surname used to describe someone from Bohemia, a region now part of the Czech Republic.
  23. Fišer: An occupational surname with roots in the German last name “Fischer”, this last name means “fisherman”.
  24. Holub: Taken from the Czech word for “dove”, this surname was used to describe a person who was peaceful and even-tempered.
  25. Pavlovsky: Derived from the given name “Pavel”, this described a person who was from the area of Pavlov Pavlovice in South Moravia.
  26. Kovář: This occupational Czech surname was used by blacksmiths.
  27. Chalupa: Taken from the Czech word for “cottage”, this surname was used to refer to a peasant who owned a piece of land just large enough to hold a cottage.
  28. Němec: This surname means “German” in Czech. It was also used to describe people who could speak German but not Czech.
  29. Bartos: This Czech surname is a form of the given name “Bartolomej”.
  30. Kolar: This Czech occupational surname means “wheelwright”.
czech people

Learn More About Your Family History Through Surnames

Your last name can hold a lot of information about your family tree and origin. Your surname could tell you more about your ancestors’ original trade, hometown, or even their physical features. 

If your last name is one of the Czech surnames we’ve listed here, you may want to look up your family origins. One great place to start is your old family photo albums.

Get your vintage photos restored at a professional studio like Image Restoration Center. Once they’re restored, you can show them to your relatives and ask more about your family’s roots. This is a great chance to learn inspiring, amazing stories about your ancestors!

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