Symbols behind Names

When etymology tells a story

Heraldry is a science, an art and a passion for many. Experts compete with knowledge, using very sophisticated words to describe the shape, layout, colours, and symbols of coats-of-arms (Herb). Polish libraries are full of armorial books (Herbarz) listing clans, comparing designs, explaining symbols and telling stories. 

Heraldry highlights that families names attached to frequently reflect the main symbol of a coat of arms.   Regarding the millstone coat of arms, this is the case for the Paprzyca in Poland and for all the related names in Bohemia. The PDF document above develops the relevance of symbols behind names. 

Symbols and names in Bohemia 


In the German family names variants (Weitműhl, Weitműhler, Weitmil, Weytmyl), we find the words Müller (miller) and Mühle (mill).  Weit means strong or far. These names would convey the image of  a “far miller” or “far mill”, suggesting the distance between the 8 boys and their mother.


The Czech family names Woitmil/Veitmile/ Waytmillar/Waytmille have no specific etymology and reflect a phonetic writing of the German name. However, a family line added Krabice or Krabitz, using the name Krabice z Veitmile. In Czech the word krabice means box. This image refers to the image of the eight baby boys put in a box. The Czech name Krabice z Veitmile is Krabitz von Weytmyl in German, with a phonetic transcription of Krabice into Krabitz.

Symbols behind names in Poland 


We don’t know which one of the families mentioned above came to Poland during the first half of the 13th c. These knights are identified with the name Kuszaba by the first Polish historians and heraldists. Very early, the word paprzyca is mentioned in the description of the coat of arms.


An early Latin definition of the word paprzyca  reads  “ferrum molendinare” which relates both to the eye of the millstone and the central iron axe of rotation.  Indeed, in the first Polish armorial books mentioning the Kuszaba, we can read about  “ferrea paprzyca” (Chigi – 1520), “cum ferrea papczycza” (unknown – 1575) or “páprzycá żelázna” (Paprocki - 1578). Polish historians and genealogists agree that this clan began to use the name Paprzyca a few years after their arrival. They argue that these foreign knights from Bohemia wanted to use a common name easy to memorize.