Hi, my name is Daniel, I live in Queensland Australia. I created this website to publish information regarding my obscure surname Braksator. My parents immigrated to Australia from Poland in the early 1980s and we are a small family. The surname doesn't sound particularly Polish, and certainly there is more to the story than my family has been able to tell me.

Ever since I was a young child I have speculated on the meaning and origin of my name. I encountered a salesman selling surname-related trinkets. He typed Braksator into his computer and it brought up an interesting history from England in the middle ages, a family crest, and even a family symbol - the dragon. As cool as it to have a dragon and a crest, something didn't seem right about this. We have no family history in England, and I couldn't find anything that would give this credibility. Most likely this computer system would generate a fake entry for unknown surnames to give the salesman something to print out and sell. There is also no such thing as a family crest - this is a common misconception regarding coats of arms and such which bear a surname, but the surname referred to a specific soldier or knight, and not to his family. This guy was a peddler of lies.

In the mid 1990s with the advent of the World Wide Web and I was able to track down a clan of Braksators in the United States, living in the areas of Maryland and Pennsylvania. They too had a Polish history, and no idea where the surname came from. A theory floated to me by them at the time was that it was a fake name invented by Polish immigrants in (late 19th century?) America - and perhaps they were trying to say "Back door". Just a funny story of course, as I decend from a contemporary contingent of Braksators in the Katowice urban area of southern Poland. My father was specifically from a large family in Sosnowiec. Many of my cousins and other relatives bearing this surname have moved away from the area in more recent times, even to other countries across Europe and the UK, and to other western nations.

The etymology of Braksator

Let's jump right into it with the etymology.


braks·a·tor (brăks-ā′tər)

  1. One who brews beer; a brewer.

  2. A person who makes or deals in malt.

[Polish, variant of Braxator, from 14th century Medieval Latin Braxiator.]

Full disclosure here; the above definition is not quoted from any one source, it is not a word found in a modern Polish dictionary, nor do I believe anybody uses this vernacular to refer to a modern Brewer or Maltster. It is the definition I've written based on my cobbled together research. I don't even pronounce Braksator the way I've suggested here, preferring to use a stronger "tor" sound on the end as spoken by my Polish relatives, and to clearly differentiate the syllable from "ter" or "ta". I pronounce the a sounds without the Polish sounding "ah" accent as in start, I use an a like in sat, though I strongly believe the second a should sound like the one in ate. I've also made the call to combine the s into the syllable with the k, and not with the a as the pronounciation used by my parents would suggest, and this decision was based on my limited understanding of the Medieval Latin origin and how words with a similar origin and structure are pronounced. Of course this advice would and should change based on your own dialect, and I think the golden rule should be to follow the pronounciation of other latin words ending in ator.

I started putting things together when I discovered a variation of the surname which was more common: Braxator. There are quite a few Braxators in Hungary - an area formerly occupied by the Polish kingdom. One of the distinguishing characteristics of the Polish language is that is has no letter x. So a word with an x in it would become part of the Polish vernacular with a ks instead. Braksator is a Polish-ified version of Braxator.

The real breakthrough came when I discovered a Dutch online encylopaedia with an entry for Braxator. The referenced source for this entry was Braxator - Beer Dictionary also in Dutch.


Een braxator is een oude benaming voor een brouwer of bierbrouwer.

Zie ook; braxiator of brasiator.

A quick machine translation provided me with the following:


A braxator is an old name for a brewer or beer brewer.

See also; braxiator or brasiator.

Wow! Now we're getting somewhere. Following the leads of braxiator and brasiator led to even more supporting information from various online sources.

Braxiator is a 14th Century word for a brewer or maltster.


A maltster, a brewer.

If you read about the history of beer's rising popularity in Europe in the middle ages, you may encounter these words. If you conduct some web searches for "braksator", or it's variants along with terms like "brewer" - or even better, Polish words relating to brewers like "Piwowarz" (and other European language versions of these too) you will find further confirmation and perhaps uncover some other interesting information.

The -tor part is the give-away as an occupation, or rather a person or object that performs a certain task. Aviator, gladiator, cantor, etc.. You can check Wiktionary for more about the -tor suffix.

Here is a list of words ending in -tor.

Pretty soon I had traced the origin of the word to Medieval Latin. Here is a list of latin words meaning brewer:

Those are surnames too. The latin braciō means I brew beer (present infinitive: braciāre, perfect active: braciāvī, supine: braciātus). There is indication that old latin church records refer to a place called a braxatorem with respect to an occupation. I think it's pretty clear now that this indicated a brewery.

Armed with this basic information someone more skilled in etymology and linguistics may be able to put together a more definitive history that confirms and builds upon all of this, as well as a correctly structured definition. I'm not the person for that job, but this article is my contribution to those who may be interested.

Some historical points

Polish surnames

In Poland and most of the former Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, surnames first appeared during the late Middle Ages. They initially denoted the differences between various people living in the same town or village and bearing the same name. The conventions were similar to those of English surnames, using occupations, patronymic descent, geographic origins, or personal characteristics. Thus, early surnames indicating occupation include Karczmarz ("innkeeper"), Kowal ("blacksmith"), "Złotnik" ("gold smith") and Bednarczyk ("young cooper"), while those indicating patronymic descent include Szczepaniak ("Son of Szczepan), Józefowicz ("Son of Józef), and Kaźmirkiewicz ("Son of Kazimierz"). Similarly, early surnames like Mazur ("the one from Mazury") indicated geographic origin, while ones like Nowak ("the new one"), Biały ("the pale one"), and Wielgus ("the big one") indicated personal characteristics.

The article goes on to talk about Polish noble surnames (like ones ending with "-ski") that popped up in the 16th century, and were later copied by many other families. Those are the "Polish sounding" surnames. Braksator is definitely one of the earlier style Middle Ages occupation names that sounds less typical of Polish surnames.

More on Polish names:

Polish language and alphabet

Old Polish was spoken between the 9th and 16th centuries, a period during which Romans were spreading Christianity through the Polish pagan culture. Language changes came mostly from Latin via the Czech language and later from Middle High German. During the 12th Century the de facto alphabet in Poland was Latin and it was ill-equipped to handle Polish phonology, and writing was inconsistent as different writers created their own rules some of which eventually made it into the rather unique Polish alphabet. Middle Polish was spoken between the 16th and 18th century, then New Polish up to 1930, and Modern Polish presently. Prior to the standardization of the Polish language, the letter "x" was sometimes used in place of "ks". Efforts for standardization began as early as 1440, but didn't become official until after 1924. Standardizing names originating outside of Poland continues to be an issue.

Borders, and nationality

I don't really have any research to present on this, but one thing to keep in mind when considering the history of the surname is that the further you go back in time things like nationality and borders meant less and less. People lived where they did and spoke whatever language they knew, and were subjected to the rule of some arbitrary royal which meant they were recorded in history as being a certain nationality - even though they may not have known or cared about that. I'll try to expand on this section in the future.

Shortening to Brax or Braks

A lot of people have a little trouble with the surname. It's actually quite simple to pronounce. It's only 3 syllables, there are no awkward combinations of consonants. It's comparable in length to many other easy surnames. Yet some people who look at it in writing simply have a brain meltdown. I live in Australia where people also have a propensity to shorten names. For these reasons my relatives and I have often been referred to simply as Braks or Brax.

My brother even suggested he would like to change his name to Brax. Personally I wouldn't do it, I'm quite proud of the name. However this name has clearly evolved over time, it is changed to suit the cultural and societal needs of the family, and I would not be opposed to someone in the family continuing that progression and adapting a new variant of the name.

It would be nice, though, if the history of the name was not lost and that a child by the surname of Brax could correctly trace the etymology of the name without confusing it with the etymology of the Old English name Brax which has recently grown in popularity as a baby name. That name is a shortening of the English/Irish name Braxton which relates to another name that came from a word meaning badger and is not related to the latin etymology as far as I know.

Perhaps merely the existence of this page could cement these connections in a historical record for long enough that the information is not lost to those people forever.

Now it's your turn

Initially it appeared I was the self-proclaimed authority on this surname, simply because nobody else close to me has ever been able to give me good answers about the name. Since publishing this website I have attracted more Braksators with knowledge that has opened new leads and avenues of research. If you have something to add I would love to keep building this page with new information and corrections. Here's your chance to contribute.