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Some of the more interesting Croatian surnames

How many people with Croatian origin live outside Croatia?

(Photo credit: Ivan Vukovic/ www.instagram.com/dubrovnik_tourist_guide)

There are over 33,000 surnames registered in Croatia, according to data from the previous census. 

Whilst surnames like Horvat, Knežević, Kovačević and Babić are among the most common, there are also a number of rare, and often humourous, surnames registered if they were to be taken literally.

For example, there are over 10 people with the surname Kokoš (meaning hen in English), Guzanović (buttocks) and Salata (salad). There are 22 people with the surname Zalogaj (nibble), 30 with the surname Motika (hoe/pickaxe) and 737 with the surname Škrtić (frugal). 

The surname Drakula (dracula) is more common than one would think with 56 registered in the last census.

There were also other humourous surnames registered, such as Kajgana (scrambled eggs), Zlomislić (evil thought), Bedaka (moron), Krivac (culprit), Rat (war), Popijača (drinks stronger), Osoba (person), Tulum (party), Opet (again), Litra (litre) and Keš (cash). 

One of the most common forms of surname is use of the origin of the people who carry it. Surprisingly, there are 12 people living in Croatia with the surname Katar (Qatar) and Litva (Lithuania) and 13 with the surname Paragvaj (Paraguay).

Besides changing surnames due to marriage, surnames are often changed in Croatia by workers returning from living abroad but are rarely changed because the surname is unusual or funny, the Zagreb office for general administration said.

“Last year there were 1,932 cases, that number has been similar most years with a variation of 10-15 cases a year,” Asja Ettinger from the Zagreb office of administration told RTL Direkt.

From Slavonia in the east to Neretva in the south, there are a number of surnames which date back centuries. For years, first and last names have been maintained in Croatia to keep traditions alive. Linguist Domagoj Vidović commented on the difference between names from the Dalmatia and Slavonia regions of the country.

“In the north, surnames often had German or Hungarian origins, whilst in some towns often surnames were named after the person’s trade or craft. In the south, there was always a different culture of life and the surnames there reflected that,” he said.

“Croatia is a country with an incredible number of poets, so its apparent people like rhymes. I remember my colleague Ljubica Tikvica. It is up to parents to decide names but they should just avoid names that could be problematic in 20 years time,” he concluded.

A list of all the registered surnames can be found here. The Central Office of Statistics does not publish surnames that less than 10 people have.


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