Croatian last names - why the -ić?

Croatian last names

Have you ever wondered why the majority of Croatian last names end in –ić? In fact, the answer is quite simple!

The ending –ić is a (male) diminutive suffix, which was traditionally combined with either the name or profession of the (usually male) parent to create what is known as a patronymic (or matronymic) surname.

Forming surnames in this way was a traditional practice in many languages. The suffix –ić is typical in several other south Slavic languages (e,g, Serbian, Bosnian, Montenegrin) and is roughly equivalent to the Scandinavian –sen, (Danish, Norwegian) or –sson (Swedish, Icelandic).

Father's first name (patronymic surnames)

As mentioned above, most Croatian surnames are patronymic, i.e. derived from the first name of the child's father. Here are a few common examples:

– child of Ante

– child of Filip

– child of Jure

– child of Stjepan

Mother's first name (matronymic surnames)

Matronymic surnames, albeit far less frequent, also exist in Croatian.

Women who their offspring were named after were either women who were particularly appreciated in a community or were “marked” by some more or less fortunate events, such as becoming pregnant out-of-wedlock or becoming a widow at an early age.

– child of Ana

– child of a baba (Slavic for an old woman)

– child of Marija

– child of Zora


Surnames are sometimes also constructed from the parents' profession:

– fisherman – child of a fisherman

– blacksmith , , – child of a blacksmith

– sailor , – child of a sailor

– knight , – child of a knight

The most frequent Croatian surnames

Here’s the list of the 20 most frequent Croatian surnames, according to several sources:

Some facts on Horvat, the most popular Croatian surname!

, the most frequent surname in Croatia, doesn’t end in –ić, but is common for a different reason: the name Horvat comes from the Croatian word Hrvat (Croat).

It was estimated that of 4.3 million Croatians more than 22,000 have the last name (according to the 2011 census). Related surnames such as or – i.e. “son of Horvat” are also not uncommon.

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