NOWAK - Surname Meaning and Origin

What Does the Last Name Nowak Mean?

Nowak is a Polish surname that means "new man in town."

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The Polish surname Nowak means "new guy in town," from the Polish root nowy (Czech nový), meaning "new." The Nowak surname was also occasionally bestowed on one who converted to Christianity (a new man). Nowak is the most common surname in Poland and is also very common in other Slavic countries, especially the Czech Republic, where Novák tops the list of most common surnames. Novak is also the most common surname in Slovenia and the sixth most common surname in Croatia. Nowak was also sometimes Anglicized as Novak, so it can be difficult to count solely on spelling to determine the surname's origins.

Surname Origin: Polish


Where Do People With the Surname NOWAK Live?

Individuals with the Nowak last name are found in the greatest numbers in Poland, followed by Germany and Austria. The greatest concentration of individuals with the Nowak surname is found in south and central Poland, especially the voivodeships (provinces) of Wielkopolskie, Swietokrzyskie, Malopolskie, Slaskie, and Lubuskie. The Polish-specific surname distribution map on calculates the population distribution of surnames down to the district level, identifying over 205,000 people with the Nowak surname living in Poland, with the majority found in Poznań, followed by Kraków, Warszawa, Łódź, Wrocław, Sosnowiec, Będzin, and Katowice. 

The Novak surname is found in the greatest density in Slovenia, according to Forebears, followed by the Czech Republic, Croatia, and Slovakia. It is also about twice as common in the United States as compared to Nowak.

Famous People With the Surname NOWAK or NOVAK

  • Bob Novak - American TV talk show personality
  • Kim Novak - American film actress
  • Jan Nowak-Jeziorański - Polish journalist and WWII hero (he added Nowak as a nom de guerre)
  • Lisa Marie Nowak - former American astronaut

Genealogy Resources for the Surname NOWAK

Nowak Family Genealogy Forum
Search this popular genealogy forum for the Nowak surname to find others who might be researching your ancestors, or post your own Nowak surname query.

FamilySearch - NOWAK Genealogy
Access over 840,000 free historical records and lineage-linked family trees posted for the Nowak surname and its variations on this free genealogy website hosted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. - NOWAK Genealogy & Family History
Explore free databases and genealogy links for the last name Nowak.

NOWAK Surname & Family Mailing List
RootsWeb hosts a free mailing list for researchers of the Nowak surname. They also have one for Novak. Browse or search the archive, or subscribe to submit your own Nowak or Novak query.

The Nowak Genealogy and Family Tree Page
Browse genealogy records and links to genealogical and historical records for individuals with the Polish surname Nowak from the website of Genealogy Today.

Polish Genealogy Databases Online
Search for information on Nowak ancestors in this collection of Polish genealogy databases and indexes from Poland, the United States, and other countries.

References: Surname Meanings & Origins

  • Cottle, Basil. "Penguin Dictionary of Surnames." Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1967.
  • Menk, Lars. "A Dictionary of German Jewish Surnames." Bergenfield, NJ: Avotaynu, 2005.
  • Beider, Alexander. "A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from Galicia." Bergenfield, NJ: Avotaynu, 2004.
  • Hanks, Patrick and Flavia Hodges. "A Dictionary of Surnames." New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.
  • Hanks, Patrick. "Dictionary of American Family Names." New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.
  • Hoffman, William F. "Polish Surnames: Origins and Meanings." Chicago: Polish Genealogical Society, 1993.
  • Rymut, Kazimierz. "Nazwiska Polakow." Wroclaw: Zaklad Narodowy im. Ossolinskich - Wydawnictwo, 1991.
  • Smith, Elsdon C. "American Surnames." Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1997.
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Your Citation
Powell, Kimberly. "NOWAK - Surname Meaning and Origin." ThoughtCo, Oct. 29, 2020, Powell, Kimberly. (2020, October 29). NOWAK - Surname Meaning and Origin. Retrieved from Powell, Kimberly. "NOWAK - Surname Meaning and Origin." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 22, 2023).