A primer on Czech names

Off the top of my head, my only Czech character I can think of is my Artur Sklar, but I’ve long been a lover of Czech culture, language, and literature. One of my favorite poets is the late Jaroslav Seifert, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1984. I added him to Find a Grave quite a long time ago. He was such a special person, with the courage of his convictions, great respect for women, and unafraid to stand strong against the Bolsheviks, Nazis, Soviets, and postwar Czech authorities.

Artur Sklar appears in my hiatused WIP The Strongest Branches of Uprooted Trees, and will also appear in the planned sequel Sweet Miracles (early postwar Newark) and a much-later volume, Aliyah After All These Years, to be set in 2008. He’s also appeared in Cinnimin and my hiatused WIP with the working title Malchen and Pali. He’s from Košice, which was annexed to Hungary in 1938.

Pronunciation:

As my Czech professor said, it’s a complete myth that Czech doesn’t have any vowels. While there are certainly some words without any vowels, that’s not the norm. However, there are still some tongue-twisting sounds. Most famously tricky is Ř, which is pronounced like a trilled R coupled with a Ž, or RZH. It’s one syllable. Other difficult sounds are Ň (similar to the Spanish Ñ and the Italian GN), Ď d’ (similar to the Serbian Đ, or DJ), and Ť ť (TJ). Then there are CH (pronounced like the guttural CH in loch or Chanukah), Ě, Č (like the Russian CH and Polish CZ), Š (Russian SH and Polish SZ), Ů, Ý, and Ž (Russian ZH). C is pronounced like the Russian TS.

Surnames:

Like surnames from many other places, many Czech surnames are taken from professions, personal characteristics, places of origin, birds (a very popular origin), ancestors, animals, plants, foods, and adjectives. Owing to the area’s history, there are a number of surnames of German origin. These surnames may or may not be phonetically translated into Czech (e.g., Štajn vs. Stein). There are also many surnames in diminutive form (e.g., Kocourek, Cibulka, Kalousek, Poláček).

Women’s surnames typically take the -ová ending; e.g., Novák becomes Nováková. However, women’s surnames don’t take this suffix when the male form is genitive plural (e.g., Janků), nor when the male form is an adjective ending in -í (e.g., Jarní). Foreign surnames frequently have -ová added, though if the woman is Czech herself, and not just visiting or being written about in the paper, her foreign origin surname won’t be declined.

Common Czech names and their nickname forms:

Female:

Adéla
Adriana
Agáta
Albína
Alexandra
Alžběta (Eliška) (Elizabeth)
Amálie
Anastázie
Andrea
Anna (Aneta)
Antonie
Apolena
Barbora (Bára)
Beáta
Bohumila, Bohuslava
Boleslava
Božena
Branislava
Cecíle
Dagmar
Danica
Daniela (Dana)
Darina
Darja
Dobroslava
Dominika
Dorota
Doubravka
Drahomíra, Drahoslava
Dušana (Dušanka) (Soul)
Edita
Emílie
Erika
Ester
Eva
Františka (Frances)
Gabriela
Hana
Hedvika
Helena (Lenka)
Ilona
Irena (Irenka)
Jana (Janička)
Jarmila
Jaroslava
Jiřina (Georgia)
Johana
Jolana (Yolanda)
Judita (Jitka)
Justina, Justýna
Kamila
Karolína (Kája)
Kateřina (Katka)
Klára
Klaudie
Kornélie
Kristina, Kristýna
Kveta (Flower)
Ladislava
Libena (Love)
Libuše (Love)
Livie
Ljuba (Love)
Lucie
Ludmila (Lída)
Lýdie
Magdaléna (Magda)
Mahulena (Malena)
Maria, Marie (Maja, Madlenka, Marika)
Markéta (Margaret)
Marta
Martina
Matylda
Melánie
Michala
Mila
Milada
Milana, Milena
Miloslava
Miroslava
Monika
Naděžda (Nad’a) (Hope)
Natálie
Nikola
Noemi
Olga
Olivie
Pavla, Pavlina
Petra
Radana
Radmila, Radomila, Radomíra, Radoslava (Radka)
Regina
Renáta
Romana
Růžena (Rose)
Sabina
Sára
Šárka
Silvie
Šimona
Slavěna
Stanislava
Štěpánka (Stephanie)
Svatava
Světlana
Tamara
Tat’ána (Tatyana)
Tereza, Terezie
Václava (Vendula)
Valéria, Valérie (Artur’s mother)
Věra
Veronika
Viktorie
Vladimíra
Vladislava
Vlastimila (Vlasta)
Zdena, Zdeňka
Zdislava
Zlata (Zlatica)
Žofie
Zora (Zorka)
Zuzana (Zuzka, Zuzanka)

Male:

Adam
Alexandr (Aleš)
Alexej (Aleš)
Alois (Aloysius)
Andrej, Ondřej
Antonín
Augustín
Aurel
Bartoloměj
Bedřich (Frederick)
Benedikt
Blažej (Blaise)
Bohdan
Bohumil, Bohumír, Bohuslav
Boleslav
Bonifác
Bořivoj
Branislav
Ctibor
Ctirad
Dalibor
Dalimil
Daniel (Dan)
David
Dobromil, Dobroslav
Dominik
Drahomír, Drahoslav
Dušan (Soul)
Edvard, Eduard
Emanuel
Emil
Erik
Evžen (Eugene)
Ferdinand
Filip
František (Francis)
Gabriel
Ignác
Ivan
Jáchym (Joachim)
Jakub
Jan (Janek)
Jarmil (Jarek)
Jaroslav, Jaromír (Jarek)
Jindřich (Heinrich, Henry)
Jiři (George)
Johan
Jonáš
Josef
Karel (Charles)
Kazimír
Klement
Konrád
Kryštof (Christopher)
Ladislav
Leoš
Libor
Lubomír (Luboš)
Ludvík (Luděk)
Lukáš
Marek
Marián
Martin
Matěj, Matouš, Matyáš (Matthew)
Maximilián
Michal
Mikoláš, Mikula, Mikuláš (Nicholas)
Milan
Miloš
Miloslav (Miloš)
Miroslav (Mirek)
Mstislav
Oldřich
Oliver
Pavel (Paul)
Petr
Přemysl (Přemek)
Radomír, Radomil (Radek, Radim, Radko)
Radoslav (Radoš)
Radovan (Radoš)
Radúz
Řehoř (Gregory)
Roman
Rostislav
Rudolf
Samuel
Silvestr
Šimon (Artur’s father)
Slavomír
Stanislav
Štěpán
Tadeáš (Thaddeus)
Teodor
Tibor
Tomáš
Václav, Věnceslav
Valentin
Vavřinec (Laurence)
Viktor
Vilém (William)
Vincenc (Cenek)
Vladimír (Vladan)
Vladislav
Vlastimil, Vlastislav
Vojtěch
Vratislav
Zbygněv (Zbyněk)
Zděnek
Zdislav
Zikmund

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4 comments on “A primer on Czech names

  1. Arlee Bird says:

    Well that’s a pretty comprehensive list of names. I’ve got some Czech stamps from my days of stamp collecting. I’ve also got checks from the bank, but don’t use many since now I mostly do banking online. I also like Chex mix–especially those new sweet kinds like the Turtle flavor and the sweet and salty.

    Now I’m being silly I guess. Sorry.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

    Like

  2. I love your depth of research, and names fascinate me.

    Like

  3. […] FYI: Though there will be a fair amount of overlap between this post and my previous post about Czech names, there will be still be differences. Contrary to popular perception, Czechs and Slovaks […]

    Like

  4. Alexis Duran says:

    Hey, I just discovered this post. My relatives on my mother’s side are czech and I’ve made some pathetic attempts to learn the language- it’s a tough one. My grandmother’s name was Ludmilla Zahradnikova. Love it!

    Like

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