-ski

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-ski ending: A standard adj. ending in Polish, cognate with English -ish. In surnames -ski originally indicated association with a place, but soon came to be regarded as equivalent to French de or German von, and so indicative of gentry status. In many but by no means all cases, the bearer was indeed lord of the estate or manor to which the name referred. Later, the suffix came to be used much more widely to form surnames, being attached indiscriminately to given names (as Adamski), nicknames, and occupational names (as Bednarski), as well as to habitation names.

The suffix -ski is also found as an ending of Russian surnames, but these are generally of Polish origin or formed under Polish influence. The Czech cognate suffix -sky is very much less common, and tends to be more strictly associated with habitation names. -ski is also found as a suffix of E Ashkanazic Jewish surnames. By the time most Jews on Polish territory were acquiring family names, in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, it was already very widely used as a general surname suffix. In Jewish surnames, therefore, it is found attached to several different kinds of stems, including some of non-Slavic origin, as in the E Ashkanazic surname Kohansky. In English-speaking countries, most Jews bearing surnames with this suffix spelled it -sky.

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