any idea where my great-grandfather's extremely strange name comes from?
Okay, so here's the story. I've been doing some research on my family, and I found that my great grandfather, on my father's line. apparently was forced to change his surname in WW2. Which would mean that I should have had a different name today, had he kept the original. I'm kind of glad that I don't have that name though, because it is extremely complicated. The problem is that I've been trying to find what the name meant, but I had absolutely no luck in deciphering the last part of it.
It's a compound name, VISEGRADAN-GOGONCEA. The first part is easy to understand, since Visegrad is a town in Republika Srpska (in eastern Bosnia, very close to Serbia), and I know my ggfather was at least part Bosnian.After simple Googling of the other part of the name, Gogoncea, I only found references to Romanian people (mainly to some guitarist but also to a politician), so I think it's safe to assume it probably has Romanian origins, or at least it is used by at least one family in Romania. So I asked a Romanian friend of mine (I live in Spain, and there are plenty of them here), he told me how to read it, and he told me the name doesn't sound completely un-Romanian, but doesn't sound familiar either, and certainly is hard to understand where it could have come from.Any help with it, does anyone know anything about this name? I'm starting to think it's made up! :p I've had absolutely no luck in deciphering it.
Again, the name is Visegradan-Gogoncea, and I'm mainly interested in the last part since I could easily find the etymology of the first one.
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I don't know the etymology of Gogoncea but it's definitely Romanian. If you google the name and eliminate Mircea the guitar player and Dan Lilion the politician, you'll still find a number of people who bear that name. You'll find one of them at You'll find others in Galati in the Romanian White Pages at
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You might consider the possibility that Visegradan is Hungarian surname given a Romanian makeover. Visegrád is the name of a Hungarian town, and Visegrádi ia Hungarian surname. After World War I a large chunk of Hungary, namely Transylvania, was transferred to Romania. One result is that a substantial proportion of Romanian nationals are ethnic Magyars who speak Hungarian, and have Hungarian names.
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Re: To Marc: Thanks, that's my conclusion too, that it's Romanian. I'll keep looking for the etymology and meaning :)Re: To Jim:I'm a writer and historian, specialized in Central European history so I know quite a lot about that part of the world, about the Transylvanian issue and the like. :) I was completely aware of the Hungarian Visegrad, but I'm absolutely sure the name is from Bosnia, as my great-grandfather was brought up in a town only 10 km away from the Bosnian Visegrad, and the name was originally spelled with a diacritic above the S, which Hungarian does not use -
(as S is read as a SH in Hungarian without any need for diacritics, while in the Latinization of Bosnian, the S without anything on top is read just like an English normal S).
To everyone reading this: Thanks A LOT for your time and if you know anything about this, please let me know!! Thanks again.
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There are actually two places named Višegrad from what I've been able to determine: one in Republika Srpska and another in Federacija Bosne i Hercegovine. I assume you know which one your ancestor came from. As an aside, Višegrad/Visegrád means 'high fortress'.
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Thanks, I know which one the name comes from, it's the one from the Republika Srpska. :) And I know the meaning too, as I know a few (very few, though!) words in Bosnian.In any case, again, if anyone knows anything about the other name, Gogoncea, I'd be very grateful if you would let me know!
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So still nobody knows the origin of this? I have been able to locate a Romanian word, "gogonea", which apparently is a kind of pickle, from a Romanian language teacher residing in my town, HOWEVEWR:
- according to him there's no way the Romanian language would have ADDED the C there (which apparently is pronounced as a "ch" when followed by E and I) to have GogonCea as a result, since the tendency in the language is the exact opposite, to do away with any africates that appear in such positions in words
- he says that usually surnames in that language are either referring to profession, place of origin, or they are patronymic, not from obscure names for certain kinds of foods...
So apparently I've hit another dead end, since this seems like it's just another good ol' coincidence. :(He also said the "-cea" ending could suggest a Slavic ending for a place of origin, but I haven't been able to locate any placename named Gogon, Gogo, Gogonc, Gogont, Gogonch, etc, anywhere except for some town in Thailand, which I'm pretty sure is not connected to this name. :p
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Hi,Just a longshot, and I doubt if it will be very helpful, but I found this link: the following: Name: Gogonea
Language: Romanian
Meaning: the same as Gogoncea The following link might be more helpful: there posted this message:
"My surname might very well be bastardized, but that's not common at all around here as my language and almost all the surrounding languages have almost perfectly phonetic spellings.The only thing is that my surname is completely weird, aparently it doesn't mean ANYTHING in ANY language that I know of. I've been researching around this apparently, and there are only 2 families with this name - mine, and one from the Romanian town of Galati. Thing is, my family is from an area not very far from there (about 100 km west) so the families might be distantly related.My surname is "Gogoncea" and it resembles the Romanian word of a certain pickle (gogonea), but I really don't think it comes from it, because of 3 reasons:
1) Romanian usually simplifies words, it almost never adds sounds in the middle of a word.
2) the stress is different, in this language the stress stays the same even after transformations that make the word unrecognizable - in fact the stress is probably the most stable feature of the language
3) the "c" is read as "ch" (that's the rule in Romanian - and in Italian too for that matter - a "c" before an "e" or an "i" is read "ch"). This sound doesn't just show up in a word out of the blue. It's generally either generated from a normal, hard "c", or a deformation of other africates. So it's unlikely that the word would have ever evolved from that.The "cea" termination (read almost like "cha", but with a short "e" in there too) is apparently common for Slavic languages. I have no idea.

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In addition one more link, concerning GoRgonAcea:
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Thanks a lot for looking into this!! Unfortunately I don't think it has any connection to the name I was wondering about... It's almost obvious for me (although I could always be wrong) that the name mentioned in those links is related to the Greek mythical creature Gorgon Medusa (which would make a lot of sense considering the biological term the links point me to refers to a particular kind of coral that seems to look a lot like the description of the creature, who allegedly had "living snakes as hair"), and not to that name. Therefore I'm rather sure that this "GoRgonAcea" name is simply coined by scientists based on resemblance with the mythological Gorgon Medusa, and thus very hard to be related to a surname which I know has been in existence for some time.But anyway, thanks a lot! I really appreciate you taking the time to write this!
All the best!
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