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Lithuanian Surnames


Lithuanian surnames

By tradition, Lithuanians have two names - the surname, inherited from one's father (more rarely, from mother) and the given name. Surnames appeared in Lithuania with the introduction of Christianity when at baptism people were given a Christian name which was, as a rule, used before the ethnic name. This was how from the very beginning Lithuanians got surnames of foreign origin. Among the privileged classes surnames took root much sooner (in the first half of the 15-th century) where as among the peasants surnames became established as late as the 17-th century or even later. To the present time 50,000 surnames have been registered in Lithuania. The majority of them are of foreign origin derived from proper or common nouns of other languages.

Surnames of Lithuanian or Baltic derivation constitute rather a small percentage. Their origin is usually traced to ancient Lithuanian personal names such as Budrys, Girdenis, Tylenis, Vilkas, Amantas, Bukantas, Rimgaila, Vizgirda, Tarvydas. Other surnames can be traced to common nouns which were used as nicknames such as Baltakis "White-eyed", Didgalvis "Big-headed", Kuprys "Hunchback", or to names of trades an professions such as Dailide "Carpenter", Kubilius "Cooper", Puodzius "Potter", Racius "Wheelwright", or even to place names such as Bugailiskis "from Bugailiai", Pazeimys "from Zeimys", Puniskis "from Punia" and so on. Surnames of foreign origin came to Lithuania at different times and in different ways. There are surnames of Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Slavic, Germanic, Tatar and other origin. Some came through direct contacts with the speakers of foreign languages, for example, the majority of Slavic, Germanic, Jewish surnames; others came via a third language, mostly via one of the Slavic languages, as for example, the surnames of Greek, Roman and Hebrew origin.

The greatest number of Lithuanian surnames and first names are derived from Greek names which came to Lithuania via the Slavic countries or Western Europe together with Christianity, for example, Aleksas, Aleksandras, Andrius, Dionizas, Eugenijus, Ipolitas, Jeronimas, Jurgis, Kipras, Kristupas, Leonidas, Petras, Steponas, Zenonas. Moving from language to language these names changed their outer form and became the linking elements between different languages. A lot of them developed into surnames, for example, Andrius (from Gr. Andreas "manly, courageous") gave the following surnames Andraitis, Andriulis, Andriejauskas, Andriukaitis, Andriukevicius, Endrasius, Endriukaitis, Indriulaitis and others, 245 surnames have been derived from Petras, 170 from Grigas, 160 from Jurgis, 145 from Steponas, 140 from Ambraziejus, 115 from Aleksandras.

The most frequent surname in Lithuania is Kazlauskas, the second place in popularity belongs to Petrauskas.

One of the peculiarities which strikes the foreigner is the difference between the male surnames and those of married and unmarried women. The surnames of married women are formed by dropping the en- ding of the male surname and adding the suffix - iene, for example, Katilius - Katiliene, Varnas - Varniene, Zujus - Zujiene (or Zujuviene). Thus, the suffix - iene carries the same meaning as the English Mrs. used before a married woman's name. The surnames of unmarried women are formed by adding the suffixes - aite, - yte, - ute, - te, for example, Katilius - Katiliute, Zujus - Zujute, Varnas - Varnaite, Banys - Banyte. The second half of the 20-th century saw the emergence of a new tradition for married women, artists in particular, to use their maiden names.

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Common Questions

Q. What's the difference between a Coat of Arms & Family Crest?
A. A coat of arms technically refers to the cloth covering worn by knights over their armor to display their arms. Arms are the correct term used to describe what we call today a Coat of Arms or Family Crest, with a Crest being the charge (symbol) over the helmet, so both terms coat of arms and family crest are the same thing.

Q. Why is the Surname History Origin and Coat of Arms Origin different?
A. The history reflects certain information about the surname, but as people move around and names change Coats of Arms may be granted in different countries, but we may have other origins available (see question below).

Q. I want a different Coat of Arms origin than that displayed do you have any more origins for this surname?
A. Yes it is possible we would advise you order via our main website

Q. I can't find my surname on your database, what should I do?
A. This database is not a complete listing for every surname we have a coat of arms for, if you contact us, we will do a search on your surname to see what we have available.

Q. I need to see the Coat of Arms before I order?
A. As we draw each coat of arms on a per customer basis, we are unable to send samples or display all our coats of arms on our database.

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When searching for a coat of arms from countries other than England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, they are reffered to by different names, in

Germany: Wappen, Familienwappen, Blasonierung, Heraldik, Wappenschablonen
Netherlands: Wapen, Wapenschid, Heraldiek, Familiewapen
Sweden: Slaktvapen, Heraldik
Denmark: Familievaben
Poland: Herby, Herb, Herbu, Herbarz
France: Armoiries
Spain: Heraldica de Apellidos, Escudo, Heraldaria

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