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Novak (in Serbo-Croatian and Slovene; Cyrillic: Новак), Novák (in Hungarian, Czech and Slovak), Nowak or Novack (in German and Polish), is a surname and masculine given name, derived from the slavic word for "new" (e.g. Polish: nowy, Czech: nový, Serbo-Croatian: nov / нов), which depending on the exact language and usage, translates as "novice", "new man", "newcomer", or "stranger".

It seems to originate, at least by common occurrence, in the province of Upper Silesia, when Germanic stock moved into the upper Oder river region, the slavs referred to the "new men" as "Nowaks".[1] Another theory is that "new man" refers to a person who has converted to Christianity or to a new arrival in a city. It was also used for newcomers to an army and as an occupational surname for people who used the slash-and-burn method to create new arable land—novina.[2] It is pronounced almost the same way in most languages, with the stress on the first syllable. The main exception is Slovene, which places the stress on the last syllable.

It is the most common surname in the Czech Republic,[3][4] Poland,[5] and Slovenia,[6] and the sixth most common in Croatia. It is also found in Romania and Moldova, in the Novac form, and among Ashkenazi Jews in various forms depending on their country of origin.[7]


The surname is usually spelled Novák in Czech, Slovak, and Hungarian, Nowak in Polish and German, Novak (Cyrillic: Новак) in Serbo-Croatian, Slovene, Russian, Ukrainian, and Belarusian.

In specific countries[edit]


As of 2009, Nowak (Polish pronunciation: [ˈnɔvak]) is the most common surname in Poland, having surpassed Kowalski.[5] Its plural is Nowakowie ([nɔvaˈkɔvjɛ]). Nowak is used by both male and female individuals. The archaic feminine version is Nowakowa ([nɔvaˈkɔva]). Related surnames include Nowakowski (feminine: Nowakowska; plural: Nowakowscy), Nowacki (feminine: Nowacka; plural: Nowaccy), Nowakowicz (gender-neutral), and Nowakiewicz (gender-neutral).

Nowak is the most common surname in nine voivodeships (administrative units) of Poland, and second in another. It is ranked first in Greater Poland Voivodeship (35,011), Silesian Voivodeship (31,838), Lesser Poland Voivodeship (23,671), Łódź Voivodeship (15,460), Lower Silesian Voivodeship (13,217), West Pomeranian Voivodeship (7,444), Opole Voivodeship (5,538), Lubusz Voivodeship (5,444), and Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship (5,538), and second in Subcarpathian Voivodeship (9,301).

There are two noble families of Polish origin with the surname Nowak:

Czech Republic and Slovakia[edit]

Novák is widespread in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. In both countries, the feminine form is Nováková. It is the most common surname in the Czech Republic.[3][4]


Novak is the most common surname in Slovenia with more than 11,000 sharing it.[6] There are however significant variations between regions: it is very common in central Slovenia (in the regions around Ljubljana and Celje), as well as in parts of southern Slovenia and eastern Slovenia (Lower Carniola, Prekmurje). It is much less common in northern and western Slovenia; in the Goriška region on the border with Italy, it is quite rare. The rank of the surname Novak in the Slovenian statistical regions: 1st in the Central Slovenia Statistical Region (3,422) and Savinja Statistical Region (1,380); 2nd in the Southeast Slovenia Statistical Region (1,231) and Mura Statistical Region (1,040); 3rd in the Drava Statistical Region (1,732); 5th in the Upper Carniola Statistical Region (963) and Lower Sava Statistical Region (380); 6th in the Coastal–Karst Statistical Region (228); 8th in the Central Sava Statistical Region (192); 10th in the Carinthia Statistical Region (238); 11th in the Inner Carniola–Karst Statistical Region (228); 131st in the Gorizia Statistical Region (171).

Other countries[edit]

In Croatia, Novak is the sixth most common surname.[8]

In Serbia and Montenegro, Novak is a given name, while Novaković is found as a common surname.

In Germany, Nowak is 159th (c. 31,000) and Noack is 270th (c. 22,000), together with different spellings (c. 64,000), with some concentration in the Ruhr area, around Salzgitter and Lüchow-Dannenberg and as Noack in Lusatia.


Novak and Novák surname[edit]



Novakov surname[edit]

Nováková surname[edit]

Nowak surname[edit]

Novak given name[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Re: Origin of Nowak -". Retrieved 2020-01-16.
  2. ^ Izvori priimkov. Imenoslovec prof. Pavle Merku.
  3. ^ a b "Mužská příjmení - občané ČR a cizí státní příslušníci - 20 nejčetnějších". Archived from the original on 2015-11-17. Retrieved 2015-11-16.
  4. ^ a b "Ženská přijmení - občanky ČR a cizí státní příslušnice - 20 nejčetnějších". Archived from the original on 2012-03-19. Retrieved 2015-11-16.
  5. ^ a b Statystyka najpopularniejszych nazwisk występujących w Polsce in 2009 Archived 2013-09-28 at the Wayback Machine ("The most popular surnames in Poland in 2009"). Retrieved August 19, 2013.
  6. ^ a b "Database of first names and family names". Demography and Social Studies. Statistical Office of the Republic of Slovenia. 1 January 2010. Archived from the original on 13 November 2010. Retrieved 3 July 2011.
  7. ^ Laurence Urdang. The Last Word: The English Language: Opinions and Prejudices. OmniData. 2008. p. 228.
  8. ^ "Most frequent surnames, by Towns/Municipalities, 2011 Census". Census of Population, Households and Dwellings 2011. Zagreb: Croatian Bureau of Statistics. December 2012.