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Updated March 27, 2024

Table of contents

Family name origins & meanings

  • Ukrainian, Polish, Sorbian, Czech, Slovak (Kozák), and Hungarian (Kozák) : ethnic name for a Cossack, a member of a people descended from a group of runaway serfs who set up a semi-independent military republic in Ukraine in the 15th and 16th centuries. The Cossacks became noted for their military prowess. The word Cossack is of Turkic origin, but most European languages borrowed it from eastern Slavic (Russian, Ukrainian kazák, kozák). This term also came to be used as a nickname for a pert fellow, a devil-may-care blusterer.
  • Polish and Czech (Kozák) : metonymic occupational name for a goatherd, from a diminutive of Koza.
  • Jewish (Ashkenazic) : nickname from Yiddish kozak ‘warrior’, ‘brave man’ (a Ukrainian loanword), a derivative of 1.

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