Lithuanian Language: All in the Family

BY Prof. Casimir Dobilas


Most of us are aware o f how old and rich the Lithuanian language is. We also know how strong were the ties which bonded Lithuanian families and kept them together through good and bad times. Nowhere is this more evident than in the names which Lithuanians used, and still use to this day, for family members and the relationships between them.

In an article published in the journal Gimtoji Kalba (Native Language) in 1965, the linguist Pranas Skardžius gives a list of names which were used throughout the centuries to designate the various members of the family and the ties which bound them together. 1998-05-15-LHERITAGE-02

To some many of the names on the list may seem strange, or completely unheard of, such as avynas (mother’s brother, uncle), laigonas (brother-in-law), or šeirys (widower). Although used in the past, some names were considered too archaic and were eventually forgotten. But linguists believe that most of the names listed here are very much alive and are still being used by many in rural areas.

It is worth noting that in the daily spoken language several names are often used to designate a single family relation. At the same time, the same name might be used to indicate several different relations. And some names are more common in one dialect than in another.

This multitide of names can be grouped into several categories: Some are extremely old and are still being used in their original form; others have changed over time and carry only a hint of their ancient origin; still others have originated in more recent times; and finally, there are those that were borrowed from other lenguages.

Today, when family ties are not as strong as they were in the past and don’t seem to have as much significance, it is difficult for us to grasp the complexity of many of these names and how they relate to our own families.

We thank the Rev. Juozas Vaišnys, S. J., editor of Laiškai Lietuviams (Letters to Lithuanians), for allowing us to reproduce this list of family relation names.

NOTE: If there is a feminine variant for the same name, the feminine ending is also given. (The group of names beginning with the prefix Diev- on the opposite page is one exampie of how complex and colorful the naming of family relations among Lithuanians can be).

Anyta — vyro motina = mother-in-law.

Augintinis,-e — paimtas auginti svetimas vaikas = foster child, fosterling.

Avynas — motinos brolis, dede = mother’s brother, uncle.

Brolaitis,-e — brolio sunus, brolio dukte = brother’s son, brother’s daughter (see brolenas, brolecia.)

Brolava (and broliava) — broliu giminyste – brotherhood (see brolyste) Brolecia — brolio dukte, brolaite = niece.

Brolenas — 1. brolio sunus = brother’s son, nephew. 2. dedes ar tetos sunus = male cousin (see pusbrolis.)

Broliavaikis (and brolvaikis) — brolio vaikas = brother’s child, nephew (see brolenas.)

Broliene — brolio žmona = brother’s wife, sister-inlaw

Brolyste — broliu giminyste, brolava = brotherhood.

Dede — tevo ar motinos brolis – uncle.

Dedenas — dedes sunus = uncle’s son.

Dediene — dedes žmona; uncle’s wife = aunt.

Dieveraitis — dieveries sunus = son of husband’s brother.

Dievere — vyro sesuo = husband’s sister, sister-in-law (see moša)

Dieverecia — dieveres dukte = daughter o f husband’s sister.

Dieverenas — dieveres sunus = son of husband’s sister.

Dieveriene — dieveries žmona – wife o f husband’s brother, sister-in-law.

Dieverija — vyro broliai = all the husband’s brothers.

Dieveris — vyro brolis = husband’s brother, brotherin-law.

Dukraite — dukters dukte, anuke = granddaughter.

Dukterecia — brolio ar sesers duktebrolecia, seserecia = niece.

Dukterenas — dukters sunus = grandson (see vaikaitis)

Dvyniai — du tuojau vienas po kito tos pacios motinos pagimdyti kudikiai, dvynukai – twins.

Dvynys,-e — kas gimes kartu su kitu, dvynukas = twin.

Dvynukas,-e — (see dvynys, dvyniai)

Giminaitis,-e — tos pacios gimines žmogus\ giminietis, gentis = kinsman, kinswoman, relative, blood relation.

Gimine (plural gimines) — 1. giminaiciai, seima, paderme, karta = relatives, family, ancestry, lineage. 2. (see giminaitis, -e.)

Giminystes — giminine sasaja, giminiškas artimumas; = relationship, kinship.

Gimtadienis — (see gimtuves)

Gimtuves — 1. gimimo diena, gimtadienis – birthday. 2. gimtadienio šventeiškilme, puota ta proga – birthday party.

Ibrolis — brolio teisemis ivaikintas svetimas bernaitis – stepbrother.

Idukra (and idukre, iduktere) — idukrinta, dukters teisemis priimta svetima mergaite = foster-daughter.

Imote — netikra motina, svetima, vaika isisunijuse ar isidukrinusi moteris = foster-mother.

Isesere — sesers teisemis ivaikinta svetima mergaite; = stepsister.

Isunis — sunumi priimtas, isunytas svetimas vaikas – foster-son.

Itevis — netikras tevas, svetima vaika isisunijes, ar isidukrines vyras – foster-father.

Ivaikis — prisiimtas (isunytas ar idukrintas) vaikas – adopted child, foster-child.

Laigonas (or laiguonas) — žmonos brolis, svainis; = brother-in-law.

Marti, marcia— (uošviu namuose gyvenanti) sunaus žmona = daughter-in-law.

Moša — vyro sesuo = husband’s sister, sister-in-law.

Mošenas — mošos vyras = sister-in-law’s husband.

Našlaitis,-e — vieno ar abieju tevu netekes vaikas = orphan.

Našlys,-e (or šeirys,-e) — vyras, kurio žmona mirusi, arba moteris, kurios vyras mires = widower, widow.

Nuotaka — tekanti moteris, jaunoji = bride.

Palikuonis,-e — po tevu palikes sunus arba palikusi dukte = descendant.

Pamote — netikra motina, tevo žmona jo vaikams iš ankstesniu santuoku = stepmother.

Patevis — netikras tevas, motinos vyras jos vaikams iš ankstesniu santuoku = stepfather.

Pobrolis — netikras brolis, pusbrolis, patevio ar pamotes sunus iš ankstesniu santuoku = stepbrother. Pobrolis is different from pabrolis (or pabrolys) who is the bestman at a wedding.

Podukra — netikra dukte, žmonos ar vyro dukte iš ankstesniu santuoku = stepdaughter.

Podukraite — vaikaicio,-es (sunaicio, dukraites) dukte = granddaughter.

Posenole — vieno iš senoliu sesuo = great-aunt.

Posenolis — vieno iš senoliu brolis, tevu dede = greatuncle.

Posesere — netikra sesuo, patevio ar pamotes dukte iš ankstesniu santuoku, pussesere – stepsister, half-sister.

Posunaitis — vaikaicio (sunaicio) sunus = greatgrandson

Posunis — netikras sunus, žmonos ar vyro sunus iš ankstesniu santuoku = stepson.

Povaikis — netikras vaikas, posunis ar podukra = stepchild.

Preikšas — antras i našles namus nuejes vyras, užkurys = widow’s second husband.

Prosenele — senoles motina = great-grandmother.

Proseneliai — senoliu tevai – great-grandparents.

Prosenolis — senolio tevas, prosenelis = greatgrandfather.

Protevis — tevo tevas, senolis = ancestor, forefather.

Provaikaitis — vaikaicio vaikas = great-grandchild.

Pusbrolis — 1. dedes ar tetos sunus, brolenas = male
cousin. 2. (see pobrolis)

Pussesere — 1. dedes ar tetos dukte = female cousin.2. (see posesere)

Santuoka — susituokimas, susituokeliu gyvenimas = marriage, married life.

Senole — tevo ar motinos motina, senele = grandmother.

Senoliai — tevu tevai, seneliai – grandparents.

Senolis — tevo ar motinos tevas, senelis = grandfather.

Seserecia— 1. sesers dukte = niece. 2. (see pussesere.)

Seserenas — sesers vaikas, sesers sunus, seseraitis, seserynas = sister’s child, sister’s son, nephew.

Seseryste — seseru giminyste – relationship o f sisters, sisterhood.

Seservaikis — sesers vaikas, seseraitis, seserenas = sister’s child.

Sunaitis — sunaus sunus, vaikaitis, anukas = grandson.

Sunenas — brolio ar sesers sunus, sunaus ar dukters sunus = nephew.

Sutuoktuves — susituokimas, tuokimosi iškilmes = marriage, wedding ceremony.

Sužadetuves — susižadejimas, susižadejimo iškilmes = betrothal.

Sužieduotuves — susižiedavimas, susiziedavimo iškilmes, žiedynos = engadgement.

Svaine — žmonos sesuo = sister-in-law.

Svainija — svainiai ir svaines kartu = all the inlaws (male and female) together.

Svainis — 1. z/j/ra žmonos brolis = brother-in-law.2. t/y/vw = sister’s husband. 3. z’jyro ar žmonos sesers vyras = husband’s or wife’s sister’s husband.

Šeirys,-e — (see našlys,-e.)

Šešuras — vyro tevas = father-in-law.

Teketi — eiti už vyro = to marry, to join (a woman) to a man as his wife. This word applies only to women. For a man, the word used is vesti.

Tekybos — tekejimas, ejimas už vyro = marriage of a woman to a man.

Teta — tevo ar motinos sesuo = aunt.

Tetenas — tetos sunus, tetos vyras = uncle.

Uošve — žmonos motina = mother-in-law.

Uošviai — žmonos tevai = wife’s parents.

Uošviene — uošvio žmona = mother-in-law.

Uošvija — uošviai, uošviu namai, uošvyne = in-laws, in-laws’ home.

Uošvis — žmonos tevas – father-in-law.

Užkurys — (see preikšas.)

Vaikaitis,-e — vaiku vaikas (anukas) = grandchild.

Vaikyste — vaiko amžius, vaiku giminyste su tevais = childhood.

Vedybos — vedimas, žmonos emimas = marriage.

Vesti — imti žmona (kalbant apie vyra) = to marry, to join (a man) to a woman as her husband, to take a wife.

Žentas — dukters vyras = son-in-law.

Žmona — ištekejusi moteris, pati = wife.