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Czech name

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Czech names are composed of a given name
Given name
A given name, in Western contexts often referred to as a first name, is a personal name that specifies and differentiates between members of a group of individuals, especially in a family, all of whose members usually share the same family name...

 and a surname
A surname is a name added to a given name and is part of a personal name. In many cases, a surname is a family name. Many dictionaries define "surname" as a synonym of "family name"...

. Surnames used by women differ from their male counterparts.

Given names

In the Czech Republic, names are simply known as jména ("names") or, if the context requires it, křestní jména ("Baptism names"). The singular form is jméno. Generally, a given name may have Christian roots or traditional Slavic pre-Christian origin (e.g. Milena
Milena (name)
Milena is a popular female given name of Slavic origin derived from word "mil" meaning "gracious", or, alternatively, "dear". It is the feminine form of the male name Milan. It is currently the most popular name for baby girls born in Armenia...

, Dobromira
Dobromir (given name)
Dobromir - is a Slavic origin given name built of two elements: dobro "good" + mir "prestige, peace". Feminine form is: Dobromira.Notable bearers:*Dobromir Chrysos, was a leader of the Vlachs...

, Jaroslav, Václav, Vojtěch
Wojciech a Slavic root pertaining to war and "Ciech" meaning joy, with the resulting combination meaning "The joy of war" or "smiling warrior"...


During the Communist era, parents needed a special permission form to give a child a name that did not have a name day
Name days in the Czech Republic
In the Czech Republic, each day of the year except national holidays corresponds to a personal name. People celebrate their name day on the date corresponding to their own given name....

 on the Czech calendar. Since 1989, parents have had the right to give their child any name they wish, provided it is used somewhere in the world and is not insulting or demeaning. However, the common practice is that most birth-record offices look for the name in the book "Jak se bude vaše dítě jmenovat?" (What is your child going to be called?), which is a semi-official list of "allowed" names. If the name is not found there, offices are extremely unwilling to register the child's name.

Czech parents remain somewhat conservative in their choices of baby names. In January 2004, the most popular boy's names were Jan (John), Jakub (Jacob or James) and Tomáš (Thomas). The most popular girl's names were Tereza (Theresa), Kateřina (Katherine) and Eliška (Liz).
Throughout all the nine years, the name Tereza is ruling among girls born in January every year. There are much
more girls of that name than those of the name on the second position. For six years, the second position belonged
to little girls named Kateřina, who have lost recently to Eliška, later to Adélka and most recently to Karolína.
Promotion of Eliška upwards to the most popular names was patient and slow, while Adélka kept near the top more
steadily (during the last five years she kept the second to fourth position and only in 2007 she fell to the sixth).
Quick jump in popularity belongs to Natálie, who remains for six years between the third and seventh position.
Anna is celebrating her comeback to the fourth position (her fame was overshadowed only in 2002). Top positions
were gradually cleaned out by Nikola (from the previous fourth position she left the first fifteen completely and later
came back to around the tenth position). Kristýna holds tight among the top ten for eight years (the trend is,
however, decreasing in the long term). Jumper of the last three years is probably Karolína (on the turn of the
decades she kept right below the top ten, later her fame was waning, however, during recent years she jumped
gradually to the sixth, seventh and even to the second position). Throughout the surveyed period, during the first
four years popularity of Barbora was growing dynamically, but from 2003 she is on the tenth to fourteenth position.
In the beginning of the period, Veronika was very popular; during five years she fell from the sixth position to the
twelfth and later came back to the top ten for a while in 2006. Lucie was in the bottom among the most popular
names during the last nine years, however, recently she can be found in the end of the top ten list and her
popularity seems to gradually increase.

Names, like all nouns in the language
Czech language
Czech is a West Slavic language with about 12 million native speakers; it is the majority language in the Czech Republic and spoken by Czechs worldwide. The language was known as Bohemian in English until the late 19th century...

, have grammatical case
Grammatical case
In grammar, the case of a noun or pronoun is an inflectional form that indicates its grammatical function in a phrase, clause, or sentence. For example, a pronoun may play the role of subject , of direct object , or of possessor...

s; that is, they change depending on their role in the sentence. For example, one would say Pavel kouše sendvič ("Paul bites a sandwich"), but Pes kouše Pavla ("A dog bites Paul") and Pes ukousl Pavlovi prst ("The dog bit Paul's finger off"). Unlike the very closely related Slovak language
Slovak language
Slovak , is an Indo-European language that belongs to the West Slavic languages .Slovak is the official language of Slovakia, where it is spoken by 5 million people...

, Czech has a vocative case
Vocative case
The vocative case is the case used for a noun identifying the person being addressed and/or occasionally the determiners of that noun. A vocative expression is an expression of direct address, wherein the identity of the party being spoken to is set forth expressly within a sentence...

, a form of a word used only when calling or addressing someone. For instance, one would say, Pavle, pozor pes! (Paul, watch out for the dog!).


While Czechs share relatively few given names, there are tens of thousands of Czech surnames.

Czech surnames (singular and plural: příjmení) are similar in origin to English ones. Typically, they reflect a personal characteristic of someone's ancestor (such as Malý, "Small"); where he was from or where he lived (e.g. Polák, Pole); what he did for a living (Kovář, "Blacksmith"); or the first name of a relative (Petr, "Peter"). Many Czech surnames, such as Sokol ("Falcon") or Zajic ("Hare"), are the names of animals. What is not shared with English but is similar to North American native languages is the extremely colorful nature of some Czech surnames, such as Skovajsa (Hide yourself), Skočdopole (Go jump into a field), Osolsobě (Salt your own meal), Ventluka (Knocking outward).

German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

 surnames are also common in the Czech Republic; the country was part of the Austrian Empire
Austrian Empire
The Austrian Empire was a modern era successor empire, which was centered on what is today's Austria and which officially lasted from 1804 to 1867. It was followed by the Empire of Austria-Hungary, whose proclamation was a diplomatic move that elevated Hungary's status within the Austrian Empire...

 before 1918 and had a large German population until World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...


The most common Czech surnames are Novák
Novák, Novak or Nowak is a surname in a number of Slavic languages, and one of the most popular surnames in many Slavic countries, namely the Czech Republic, Croatia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Poland and Russia....

 ("Newman"), Svoboda
Svoboda (surname)
Svoboda is a common surname. Svobodová is a Czech and Slovak feminine form of the surname.In the Czech language it used to refer to "free men"...

 ("Freeman," literally "Freedom"), Novotný
Novotny (surname)
Novotný is a Czech and Slovak surname. Notable persons with that surname include:* Antonín Novotný, Czechoslovakian president* Antonín Novotný , Czech chess composer...

 (same origin as Novák), Dvořák (from dvůr, "court") and Černý
Cerny may refer to:* Cerny, Essonne, a commune in the Arrondissement of Étampes in France* Cerny , etymology and people with the surname Černý or Cerny...


Female surnames

As in English-speaking countries, Czech females traditionally receive their father's surname at birth and take their husband's name when they marry. However, the names are not exactly the same; the endings differ to fit into the Czech language's systems of gender
Grammatical gender
Grammatical gender is defined linguistically as a system of classes of nouns which trigger specific types of inflections in associated words, such as adjectives, verbs and others. For a system of noun classes to be a gender system, every noun must belong to one of the classes and there should be...

 and of possessive adjective
Possessive adjective
Possessive adjectives, also known as possessive determiners, are a part of speech that modifies a noun by attributing possession to someone or something...

s. For example, the tennis players Cyril Suk
Cyril Suk
Cyril Suk III is a former professional tennis player. A doubles specialist, Suk has won one Grand Slam men's doubles title and four Grand Slam mixed doubles titles during his career....

 and Helena Suková
Helena Suková
Helena Suková is a former professional tennis player from Czechia. During her career, she won 14 Grand Slam titles, 9 of them in women's doubles and 5 of them in mixed doubles...

 are brother and sister; Suková is the feminine form of Suk.

Czech female surnames are almost always feminine adjective
In grammar, an adjective is a 'describing' word; the main syntactic role of which is to qualify a noun or noun phrase, giving more information about the object signified....

s. There are several ways of forming them, depending on their male counterpart.

If a male surname is a masculine adjective
In grammar, an adjective is a 'describing' word; the main syntactic role of which is to qualify a noun or noun phrase, giving more information about the object signified....

 (ending in -ý), the female surname is simply the feminine equivalent. Thus, a girl whose father's surname is Novotný would have the surname Novotná .

If a male surname is a noun
In linguistics, a noun is a member of a large, open lexical category whose members can occur as the main word in the subject of a clause, the object of a verb, or the object of a preposition .Lexical categories are defined in terms of how their members combine with other kinds of...

, the female surname takes the suffix
In linguistics, a suffix is an affix which is placed after the stem of a word. Common examples are case endings, which indicate the grammatical case of nouns or adjectives, and verb endings, which form the conjugation of verbs...

 -ová, making it a feminine adjective:
  • Novák becomes Nováková
  • Horáček becomes Horáčková
  • Svoboda becomes Svobodová

A few Czech surnames do not differ for men and women in the nominative case (the case used for the subject
Subject (grammar)
The subject is one of the two main constituents of a clause, according to a tradition that can be tracked back to Aristotle and that is associated with phrase structure grammars; the other constituent is the predicate. According to another tradition, i.e...

 of a sentence. Those include surnames whose male form is genitive plural
In linguistics, plurality or [a] plural is a concept of quantity representing a value of more-than-one. Typically applied to nouns, a plural word or marker is used to distinguish a value other than the default quantity of a noun, which is typically one...

, (e.g. Jirků, Janků) and those whose male form is an adjective with the suffix -í (e.g. Tachecí, Jarní). Note that these are only identical in two of the seven grammatical cases; in the other five, the male and female forms differ, as per the soft adjective declension.

Because gender-marked suffixes are essential to Czech grammar, Czechs will usually add a feminine suffix to the surnames of foreign as well as Czech women. Thus, American first lady
First Lady
First Lady or First Gentlemanis the unofficial title used in some countries for the spouse of an elected head of state.It is not normally used to refer to the spouse or partner of a prime minister; the husband or wife of the British Prime Minister is usually informally referred to as prime...

 Michelle Obama
Michelle Obama
Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama is the wife of the 44th and incumbent President of the United States, Barack Obama, and is the first African-American First Lady of the United States...

 is referred to as Michelle Obamová in the Czech press. This phenomenon is not universal, however. In recent years, there has been lively discussion whether or not to change foreign female surnames in public use (such as in media references etc.). Supporters of abandoning this habit claim that adding a Czech female suffix to a foreign surname means deliberately changing a woman's name and is therefore both misleading and inconsiderate, whereas traditionalists point out that only by adding the suffix can the name be used as a flexible feminine adjective within a naturally sounding Czech sentence. Although the discussion continues, the majority of newspapers and other media still use the "adopted" versions.

Until 2004, every woman who married in the Czech Republic and wanted to change her name had to adopt a feminine surname, unless her husband was a foreigner whose name ended in a vowel or she was a registered member of a Czech minority group, such as the Germans. A law passed in 2004 allows all foreign women, and Czech women who marry foreign men, to adopt their husband's exact surname.

As in English-speaking countries, some Czech women decide to keep their maiden name after marriage or adopt a double surname. A couple can also agree to both adopt the woman's surname, with the husband using the masculine form.

Surnames in the plural

Surnames that are nouns in the masculine singular:
  • Novákovi - the Nováks
  • rodina Novákova - the Novák family
  • bratři Novákovi - the brothers Novák
  • sestry Novákovy - the sisters Novák

All forms of the surname Novák are possessive adjective
Possessive adjective
Possessive adjectives, also known as possessive determiners, are a part of speech that modifies a noun by attributing possession to someone or something...

s in the plural; their endings depend on the gender and case.

Surnames that are adjectives in the masculine singular:
  • Novotní - the Novotnýs
  • rodina Novotných - the Novotný family
  • bratři Novotní - the brothers Novotný
  • sestry Novotné - the sisters Novotný

All forms of the surname Novotný are adjectives in the plural; their endings depend on the gender and case. The form Novotných is in the genitive case.

See also

  • Czech declension
    Czech declension
    Czech declension describes the declension, or system of grammatically-determined modifications, in nouns, adjectives, pronouns and numerals in the Czech language. There is a system of 7 cases in Czech...

  • Czech orthography
    Czech orthography
    Czech orthography is a system of rules for correct writing in the Czech language.The Czech orthographic system is diacritic. The háček is added to standard Latin letters for expressing sounds which are foreign to the Latin language...

  • Czech language
    Czech language
    Czech is a West Slavic language with about 12 million native speakers; it is the majority language in the Czech Republic and spoken by Czechs worldwide. The language was known as Bohemian in English until the late 19th century...

  • Czech name days
  • Slovak name
    Slovak name
    Slovak names - consist of given names and the family name. They are very similar to the Czech names.-Given name:Generally may have Christian roots or traditional Slavic pre-Christian origin...

  • Slavic names
  • Slavic surnames