Explore the Family Name Nowak

The meaning of Nowak

1. Polish, Rusyn (from Poland), Sorbian, and Jewish (eastern Ashkenazic): nickname for a newcomer to a place or someone new to a profession or occupation, from a derivative of Polish and Sorbian nowy ‘new’. This surname is extremely common in Poland, and also very frequent in Germany (see also 2 below). 2. Germanized or Americanized form of Czech and Slovak Novák, and Slovenian, Croatian, Serbian, Ukrainian, Rusyn, and Jewish Novak, both generally meaning ‘newcomer’. Compare Nowack. Some characteristic forenames: Polish Andrzej, Janusz, Jozef, Stanislaw, Zbigniew, Janina, Jerzy, Boguslaw, Casimir, Lech, Piotr, Tadeusz.

Dictionary of American Family Names, 2nd edition, © Oxford University Press, 2022.

How common is the last name Nowak in the United States?

Based on the Decennial U.S. Census data, the popularity of the surname Nowak experienced a slight decrease from 2000 to 2010. In 2000, it was ranked as the 1777th most popular surname in the United States, but by 2010, it had fallen to the 1902nd position, marking a 7.03% drop. Despite this fall in rank, the actual count of individuals with the Nowak surname slightly increased during this period, from 18,515 to 18,891, indicative of a modest 2.03% hike. However, when observing the proportion per 100,000 people, there has been a decrease of 6.71%, moving from 6.86 to 6.4.

Proportion per 100k6.866.4-6.71%

Race and Ethnicity of people with the last name Nowak

The ethnic identity associated with the Nowak surname saw some interesting shifts between 2000 and 2010, according to the Decennial U.S. Census. The largest representation remained within the White demographic, despite experiencing a minor decline of 1.01% from 97.10% to 96.12%. Hispanic representation under the Nowak surname grew by 57.58%, moving from 1.32% to 2.08%. There was also a significant increase in Black ethnicity holders of the Nowak surname, growing by 129.41% from 0.17% to 0.39%. Asian/Pacific Islander representation also witnessed a rise of 43.59%, from 0.39% to 0.56%. Conversely, those identifying as two or more races decreased by 15.29%, and American Indian and Alaskan Native decreased by 17.65%.

Two or More Races0.85%0.72%-15.29%
Asian/Pacific Islander0.39%0.56%43.59%
American Indian and Alaskan Native0.17%0.14%-17.65%

Nowak ancestry composition

23andMe computes an ancestry breakdown for each customer. People may have ancestry from just one population or they may have ancestry from several populations. The most commonly-observed ancestry found in people with the surname Nowak is Eastern European, which comprises 44.1% of all ancestry found in people with the surname. The next two most common ancestries are British & Irish (21.9%) and French & German (19.9%). Additional ancestries include Scandinavian, Italian, Ashkenazi Jewish, Spanish & Portuguese, and Indigenous American.

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Eastern European44.1%
British & Irish21.9%
French & German19.9%

Possible origins of the surname Nowak

Your DNA provides clues about where your recent ancestors may have lived. Having many distant relatives in the same location suggests that you may all share common ancestry there. Locations with many distant relatives can also be places where people have migrated recently, such as large cities. If a large number of individuals who share your surname have distant relatives in a specific area, it could indicate a connection between your surname and that location, stemming from either recent ancestral ties or migration.

Based on 23andMe data, people with last name Nowak have recent ancestry locations in Poland and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

RECENT ANCESTRY LocationPercentage
Masovian Voivodeship, Poland62.40%
Lesser Poland Voivodeship, Poland60.80%
Podkarpackie Voivodeship, Poland57.60%
Glasgow City, United Kingdom51.00%
Greater London, United Kingdom51.00%

What Nowak haplogroups can tell you

Haplogroups are genetic population groups that share a common ancestor on either your paternal or maternal line. These paternal and maternal haplogroups shed light on your genetic ancestry and help tell the story of your family.

The top paternal haplogroup of people with the surname Nowak is R-L1029, which is predominantly found among people with European ancestry. Haplogroup R-L1029 is descended from haplogroup R-M420. Other common haplogroups include R-M417 and R-L260, which are predominantly found among people with European and European ancestry. Other surnames with similar common haplogroups are: Kowalski, Kaminski, Urban, Novak, Toth, Zielinski, Wisniewski, Kovacs, Lewandowski, Richter.

The most common maternal haplogroups of people with Nowak surname are: H1, T2b, H. These most commonly trace back to individuals of European ancestry.

nowakPaternal Haplogroup Origins R-M420

Your maternal lineage may be linked to Marie Antoinette

Because it is so dominant in the general European population, haplogroup H also appears quite frequently in the continent's royal houses. Marie Antoinette, an Austrian Hapsburg who married into the French royal family, inherited the haplogroup from her maternal ancestors. So did Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, whose recorded genealogy traces his female line to Bavaria. Scientists also discovered that famed 16th century astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus traced his maternal lineages to haplogroup H.

Maternal Haplo Image

What do people with the surname Nowak have in common?

Spoiler alert: it's complicated. People with the same last name are usually no more genetically similar than a randomly sampled group of people from the same population. That said, people with the same surname are more likely to have similar ancestries than randomly sampled individuals. The reason is the tendency of people with similar cultural or geographical backgrounds to preferentially mate with one another. That's why people who share a surname may be more likely to share traits and tendencies in common than people within the general population. Check out the percentages below to see the prevalences of tastes, habits, and traits of people with your surname compared with prevalences among 23andMe users.



Chocolate Ice Cream

Prefers chocolate flavored ice cream over other flavors.

"Nowak" Surname 37.2%

23andMe Users 41.3%




When sounds made by others, like the sound of chewing or yawning, provoke strong emotional reactions in an individual.

"Nowak" Surname 23.3%

23andMe Users 27.9%



Sugary Drink

Drinks one or more sugary drinks per day.

"Nowak" Surname 23.3%

23andMe Users 21.1%




A severe headache characterized by intense pain, sensitivity to light and sound, and often accompanied by nausea and vomiting.

"Nowak" Surname 15.0%

23andMe Users 16.4%

Are health conditions linked to the last name Nowak?

The short answer is that, if there is an association between surname and health, it's usually more about your ancestry than your name. Individuals with a given surname are no more genetically similar than the general population but often have similar ancestries. The populations of people associated with those shared ancestries often have sets of genetic variations, also known as alleles, in common. Some of those alleles are associated with a greater likelihood of developing certain diseases.

Disease variant frequency by ancestry

Disease allele frequencies in populations associated with the surname Nowak are shown below. Important Note: not everyone with a disease allele will develop these health condition

Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Y402H variant

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of irreversible vision loss among older adults. The disease results in damage to the central part of the retina (the macula), impairing vision needed for reading, driving, or even recognizing faces. The 23andMe Health + Ancestry DNA test includes the two most common variants associated with an increased risk of developing the condition: the Y402H variant in the CFH gene and the A69S variant in the ARMS2 gene. Learn more about Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Eastern European 60.6%

23andMe Users 57.2%